Allied Warships

USS Rowan (DD 405)

Destroyer of the Benham class

NavyThe US Navy
PennantDD 405 
Built byNorfolk Navy Yard (Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.A.) 
Laid down25 Jun 1937 
Launched5 May 1938 
Commissioned23 Sep 1939 
Lost11 Sep 1943 
Loss position40° 07'N, 14° 18'E

After the Allied invasion of Italy, USS Rowan (Lt.Cdr. Robert Stephens Ford, USN) was screening empty transport ships when a torpedo that was seen on the port side streaked toward them but missed. A second torpedo slammed into her magazine, sinking the destroyer in 40 seconds south-east of Salerno Gulf in position 40°07'N, 14°18'E, 204 officers and men were killed and 71 were rescued by the USS Bristol which includes the Commanding officer.


Commands listed for USS Rowan (DD 405)

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1Lt.Cdr. Beverley Randolph Harrison, Jr., USN23 Sep 193910 Oct 1942
2Robert Stephens Ford, USN10 Oct 194211 Sep 1943

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Notable events involving Rowan include:

13 Dec 1941
HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) departed Simonstown to escort convoy WS 12X to Bombay. This convoy was made up of the US troopships (carrying British troops !!!); Wakefield (24289 GRT, built 1931), Mount Vernon (24289 GRT, built 1932), West Point (26454 GRT, built 1940), Leonard Wood (13712 GRT, built 1922), Joseph T. Dickman (13869 GRT, built 1922) and Orizaba (6937 GRT, built 1918).

HMS Dorsetshire made rendez-vous at sea with the convoy that had departed Capetown earlier that day and was at that time escorted by the US destroyers USS Wainwright, USS Moffett, USS McDougal, USS Winslow, USS Mayrant and USS Rowan. These destroyers parted company with the convoy at 1600C/14 (C = time zone -3). (1)

15 Jan 1942
USS Rowan picks up 6 survivors from the British tanker Coimbra that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-123 off Long Island in position 40°25'N, 72°21'W.

22 Apr 1942
USS Rowan picks up 169 survivors from the American passenger ship San Jacinto that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-201 about 375 nautical miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in position 31°10'N, 70°45'W.

USS Rowan also picks up 18 survivors from the American merchant Steel Maker that was torpedoed and sunk on 20 April 1942 by German U-boat U-654 350 nautical miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina in position 33°48'N, 70°36'W.

11 Jun 1942
HMS P 45 (Lt. H.B. Turner, RN) participated in A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with USS Mayrant (Cdr. C.C. Hartman, USN) and USS Rowan (Lt.Cdr. B.R. Harrison, Jr., USN). (2)

16 Mar 1943
USS Rowan picks up 3 survivors from the American merchant Benjamin Harrison that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-172 in the North Atlantic east of the Azores in position 39°09'N, 24°15'W.

17 Mar 1943
USS Rowan, USS Champlin and the American merchant William Johnson together pick up survivors from the American merchant Molly Pitcher that was torpedoed and damaged by German U-boat U-167 in the North Atlantic about 500 nautical miles west of Lisbon. The Molly Pitcher was abandoned and finally sunk the next day by German U-boat U-521.

Media links

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


Seeley, Lewis E. & Lorraine Seeley Buell
($ 19.95)
(£ 41.99)

Blood on the Sea

Parkin, Robert Sinclair
($ 19.69)
(EUR 25.96)

U.S. Destroyers

Friedman, Norman

United States Destroyer Operations In World War II.

Roscoe, Theodore


  1. ADM 53/114140
  2. ADM 173/17407

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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