Friday, September 25, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Smith and USS Preston

Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Smith (DD-378). In this photo, taken during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (October 1942), Smith can be seen in the distance, after being hit by a crashing Japanese torpedo plane. She survived this battle and earned six battle stars during the war. Photo courtesy of the National Archives, the U.S. Navy, and  

Above: The PWA also provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Preston (DD-379), seen above ca. 1938. The Preston earned two battle stars but sank during the Guadalcanal campaign after taking several hits from Japanese warships. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and

Above: The Smith and Preston, under construction at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard near San Francisco, 1935. Photo courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command

The Smith and Preston could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command ( (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

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