Ships of Pearl Harbor: USS Blue

May 31, 2019

Just over six years before the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, USS Blue (DD-387), a Bagley-class destroyer, was laid down at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She was launched in May of 1937 and was commissioned into service on August 14, 1937, becoming the first ship of the United States Navy to bear the name Blue, in honor of Rear Admiral Victor Blue.

Early Service of USS Blue

USS Blue at sea, ca. 1937 (Image: Naval History and Heritage Command)

For her first year in service, USS Blue underwent the usual shakedown and training cruises before sailing for the Pacific in August, 1938. There, she became the flagship of Destroyer Division 7, Battle Force, and underwent additional exercises with the Battle Fleet until April 1940, when her Division was relocated to Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. For much of 1940 and 1941, she remained in Hawaiian waters, putting her in harm's way on the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

When the attackers came roaring over the naval base, Blue was in port, but was able to avoid sustaining any damage. She escaped into the open waters of Pacific, where she patrolled the area around Pearl Harbor. These offshore patrols lasted until January of 1942, at which point she joined the carrier group accompanying USS Enterprise (CV-6). The destroyer next took part in air attacks on numerous atolls throughout the Marshall Islands. On February 24, 1942, she participated in the attack on Wake Island.

Later in 1942, USS Blue took on escort duties for convoys moving between Pearl Harbor and San Francisco. In July of 1942, she set out for Wellington, New Zealand. After serving with the Battle Force since her early years in service, she joined Task Group 62.2 to provide support for the upcoming Battle of Guadalcanal in August.

USS Blue and the Guadalcanal Campaign

USS Blue rescuing crewmen of HMAS Canberra, 9 August 1942 (Image: Wikipedia)

Though Blue was able to avoid sustaining damage in the attack on Pearl Harbor, she wasn’t so lucky during the Battle of Guadalcanal. She didn't play an active role in the Battle of Savo Island, aside from assisting in the rescue of sailors from the heavily damaged HMAS Canberra. After a few days patrolling off Noumea, New Caledonia, she returned to Guadalcanal before the end of August.

During a patrol of Ironbottom Sound, an area between Guadalcanal and Florida Island known for its large number of shipwrecks, USS Blue was attacked by the Japanese destroyer Kawakaze. The torpedo that struck the American destroyer caused severe damage to the ship, leaving her virtually dead in the water. Nine crewmen were killed and another 21 were wounded. and the rest were rescued when attempts to salvage her failed. On the night of August 23, 1942, after attempts to tow her to Tulagi proved unsuccessful, she was scuttled.

Although her service in World War II was cut short, USS Blue was awarded five battle stars.

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