The United States Navy commissioned 175 Fletcher-class destroyers between 1942 and 1944. They were built by shipyards across the United States for service in WW2 and some served during the Korean War and into the Vietnam War. Ironically, many were sold to the very countries they had fought against: Italy,Germany , and Japan, as well as other navies, where they would go on to have even longer, distinguished careers. Several others were cancelled prior to being laid down.
The Fletcher class was the largest class of destroyer ordered, and was also one of the most successful and popular with the destroyer men themselves. Compared to earlier classes built for the Navy, they carried a significant increase in anti-aircraft weapons and other weaponry, which caused displacement to rise.Throughout the course of World War II, the number of AA weaponry increased resulting in five twin 40 mm Bofors plus seven 20 mm weapons by 1945. Fifty-one were further modified beginning in 1945, replacing the forward torpedo tubes and midships 40 mm twin Bofors with quad mounts for a total of 14 barrels, and the seven 20 mm singles with six 20 mm twins. Three (Pringle, Stevens, Halford) were built (six planned) with aircraft catapults, resulting in the deletion of one 5-inch mount and the after set of torpedo tubes. This alteration was not a success in service and was not repeated. The three destroyers were later converted to the normal Fletcher-class configuration. Nineteen were lost during World War II; six more were damaged and not repaired. Postwar, the remainder were decommissioned and put into reserve.
With the outbreak of the Korean War many were returned to active duty. During this time 39 were refitted, reducing their overall main armament and the number of torpedo tubes. A new ahead-throwing weapon called Weapon Alpha was installed in many of the ships. Others carried trainable hedgehogs.
Specification 'Fletcher' class
Displacement: 2,325 tons (2,924 tons Full load)
Beam: 39 feet 7 inches
Draught: 13 feet 9 inches
Machinery: four Babcock & Wilcox boilers 2-shaft G.E.C. geared turbines
Performance: 60,000 shp for 38 knots
Bunkerage: 492 tons
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 15 knots
Weapons: Guns five 5 inch; four 1.1 inch; four 20 mm Torpedoes: ten 21 inch