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Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Monssen DD-436
The first Monssen (DD -436) was laid down 12 July 1939, by
Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash.; launched 16 May 
1940, sponsored by Mrs. Mons Monssen, widow of Lieutenant 
Monssen, and commissioned 14 March 1941, Lt. Comdr. R. N. 
Smoot in command.

Following shakedown and training, Monssen reported to the 
Atlantic Fleet 27 June 1941 as a unit of DesDiv 22. For the 
next 5 months she operated in the northwestern Atlantic, 
from the coast of New England and the Maritime Provinces to 
Iceland, on neutrality patrol. Her escort and patrol duties 
changed from neutral to belligerent 7 December 1941, 
continuing until 9 February 1942 when she entered the 
Boston Navy Yard for overhaul in preparation for her 
transfer to the Pacific Fleet.

On 31 March she arrived at San Francisco, joined TF 16, and 
departed 2 April. Steaming west, she was in the 
antisubmarine screen for Hornet (CV-8) as the carrier 
headed for "Shangri-La" with Lt. Col. J. H. Doolittle's B-
25's on her flight deck. In the early morning hours 18 
April the force was sighted by the enemy and the Army 
pilots manned their planes, ignoring the bad weather, the 
daylight hours, and the additional 168 miles they would 
have to fly over the planned 500 miles to their targets, 
Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe.

Following the launch, the force returned to Pearl Harbor, 
from which it sortied 30 April to aid Yorktown (CV-5) and 
Lexington (CV-2) in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Reaching 
the scene after the battle was over, the force returned to 
Pearl Harbor, arriving 26 May. Two days later they departed 
again, this time for Midway to repulse an expected assault 
on that advanced base. By 2 June, TF 16 had rendezvoused 
with TF 17 and was in position 350 miles northeast of 
Midway. On the 4th the Battle of Midway commenced as 
Japanese carrier planes flew against installations on the 
island. By the 7th, the American forces had won one of the 
decisive battles of history, sinking four carriers and one 
cruiser at the cost of destroyer Hammann (DD-412) and 
carrier Yorktown, and profoundly changing the course of the 

After Midway the force remained at Pearl Harbor for a month 
before departing again for combat. Steaming via the Tonga 
Islands, they headed for the Japanese held Solomons. By 7 
August they were 40 miles from the targets, Guadalcanal and 
Tulagi. On the 7th and 8th, Monssen with Buchanan (DD-484) 
stood off Gavutu and Tanambago, circling those islands and 
providing fire support to units of the 2d Marine Regiment 
as the U.S. Navy struck with the first of its giant 
amphibious assaults. She was then assigned to the screening 
forces guarding the eastern approaches to Sealark, Lengo, 
and Nggela Channels.

She remained in the immediate area through the Battle of 
the Eastern Solomons, which prevented Japanese 
reinforcements from reaching Guadalcanal, and then took up 
duties patrolling the sea routes to Guadalcanal. At the end 
of the month Saratoga (CV-3) was damaged and Monssen was 
one of the ships designated to escort her to the Tonga 

Monssen returned to Guadalcanal 18 September to insure the 
integrity of an Allied supply line and to block Japanese 
efforts at resupply. On 8 November, she departed Noumea 
with two cruisers and two other destroyers as TG 67.4, 
under Rear Admiral Callaghan, as escort for transports 
carrying reinforcements to the marines on Guadalcanal. At 
the same time, another convoy set out from Espiritu Santo, 
covered by one cruiser and four destroyers under Rear 
Admiral Scott. Arriving off Lunga Point on the 12th, a day 
after those from Espiritu Santo they commenced unloading. 
By dusk as reports of Japanese ship movements from Truk 
increased, 90 percent of the transports had been unladen 
despite afternoon torpedo plane attacks, one of which had 
cost Monssen the use of her fire control radar. The 
transports were pulled out, escorted through Lengo Channel, 
and seen safely on their way to Espiritu Santo. Then 
Admiral Callaghans force, heavily outnumbered even with the 
addition of, Admiral Scott's ships reversed course and 
steamed back to engage the enemy in the initial action of 
what would later be called the Naval Battle for 

Shortly, after 0140, 13 November, they sighted the enemy 
fleet, under Vice Admiral Abe, 3 miles north of Kukum. The 
enemy was headed toward Henderson Field to bombard it and 
cripple Allied air operations long enough to sneak in 11 of 
their transports, then en route to relieve their 
beleaguered comrades fighting on the island.

Battle was given at 0150. At about 0220 Monssen forced to 
rely on radio information and optics, was spot lighted, hit 
by some 37 shells, and reduced to a burning hulk. Twenty 
minutes later, completely immobilized in all departments, 
the ship was ordered abandoned. After daybreak Monssen was 
still a floating incinerator. C. C. Storey, BM2c, L. F. 
Sturgeon, GM2c, and J. G. Hughes F1c, climbed back into the 
inferno and rescued eight men still aboard and alive, five 
of whom lived after reaching land. The survivors, 40 
percent of the crew, were picked up at about 0800 and taken 
to Guadalcanal. The ship itself continued to blaze until 
early afternoon, when the waters of Ironbottom Sound closed 
over her.

Monssen was awarded four battle stars for World War II 


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