Introduction to the USS Monaghan (DD-354)
The USS Monaghan was the last of the Farragut-class destroyers built for the United States Navy during the interwar period. These ships were an attempt by the U.S. Navy to incorporate more advanced design features while adhering to treaty-imposed limitations on size and armament.
Design and Armament
As standard with the Farragut-class, the Monaghan was designed for both speed and manageability. At her commissioning, her main battery consisted of five 127 mm guns, which served as dual-purpose armament capable of engaging both surface and aerial targets effectively.
Modifications and Upgrades
In the early years of World War II, naval combat tactics evolved rapidly, which led to significant alterations in ship armament configurations across the world. The USS Monaghan was no exception to these changes. By 1942, in response to the growing threat of Japanese aircraft, one of her original 127 mm guns was removed to make way for the installation of automatic anti-aircraft guns. This change was emblematic of a shift in strategic priorities — from surface combat to a heavier emphasis on anti-aircraft capability.
The replacement of her main battery gun with anti-aircraft guns reflected a wider trend in naval warfare. The additional AA guns significantly enhanced the Monaghan's capabilities to defend herself and other vessels in her group from enemy aircraft, which were becoming an increasingly common and dangerous threat.
The USS Monaghan had an active and eventful career during the Second World War. She was present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and famously played a role in the defense against the Japanese attack by sinking a midget submarine trying to infiltrate the harbor prior to the main aerial assault.
Her service to her country ended on December 18, 1944, when the Monaghan was caught in Typhoon Cobra, which swept through the Pacific fleet, causing the loss of several ships. The Monaghan capsized and sank with only six of her crew surviving.
USS Monaghan's legacy is entrenched in the history of the United States Navy, representing the transition from interwar naval theory to the hardened realities of World War II combat. Her adaptation from a surface combatant to a more air-defense oriented role illustrates the rapid evolution of naval strategy during this tumultuous period. The changes made to her and her sister ships would pave the way for the design of future destroyer classes, focusing increasingly on versatility and adaptability in reaction to the changing dynamics of naval warfare.