USS KIDD (DD-661) Virtual Tour







What is a Destroyer?  What Does She Do?


In a word, a destroyer is a "bodyguard."  We protect the aircraft carriers, battleships, troop ships, and all of the other ships of the fleet from attack by enemy ships, enemy aircraft, or enemy submarines.  We did this by forming a protective screen or perimeter around the main body of ships in a task force.


Destroyers weren't only meant to be on the defensive, however.  These "little" ships were also designed to be quite fast and to pack a powerful punch.  They might rush in against an enemy fleet and launch a surprise torpedo attack or race in close to shore to bombard enemy gun batteries or troop movements.


In short, destroyers are maids-of-all-work, capable of performing all types of naval missions.

Destroyers form a protective screen around the larger ships of the fleet.


Destroyers generally operated in squadrons of eight or nine ships with one of those ships designated as the squadron flagship (command ship).  Each squadron would then usually be divided into two divisions.  Squadrons were known as DESRONs and divisions were known as DESDIVs.  During World War II, the KIDD served in DESRON 48 (Destroyer Squadron 48).  Later, in the Korean War and Cold War years in the Pacific Fleet, she served in DESDIV 152 (Destroyer Division 152).



Ships of DESRON 48












Ships of DESDIV 152







USS ERBEN (DD-631) was squadron leader of DESRON 48 during World War II.  During the Korean War, USS HOPEWELL (DD-681) was division leader of DESDIV 152.


Of the twelve ships named above, today, only the USS KIDD survives.  Of the 175 Fletcher-class destroyers built by the U.S. Navy, only three remain and, of those three, only the KIDD exists in her World War II configuration and appearance.


How Do These Ships Get Their Names?


Believe it or not, the U.S. Navy has a system for naming ships of the fleet.  That system has gradually changed over time, but back in World War II, it worked something like this:


Battleships Named for states with one exception (i.e. ALABAMA, TEXAS, MASSACHUSETTS).


Cruisers Named for large cities (i.e. NEW ORLEANS, BILOXI, SAN FRANCISCO, HOUSTON).


Aircraft Carriers Named for historic ships or battles (i.e. ENTERPRISE, INTREPID, SARATOGA).


Destroyers Named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Secretaries of the Navy, or members of Congress (i.e. KIDD, FARRAGUT, PORTER).


Submarines Named for creatures of the sea (i.e. SWORDFISH, BARRACUDA, THRESHER).


In the late 1950s, the naming system began to change due to politics, the discontinuation of certain types of vessels, and the creation of new types of ships.  Yet even in the modern age, destroyers continue to be named for heroes of the Navy and Marine Corps and civilians who have contributed significantly to the Navy.




Sailors have a different language all their own.  Below is a quick primer to help you better understand what you're seeing and hearing as you make your way through the ship.


Port to your left when facing the bow (front) of the ship.  [Here's a hint to help remember:  PORT has 4 letters; LEFT has 4 letters.  Port is always on your left.]


Starboard to your right when facing the bow (front) of the ship.


Forward in front of you or toward the bow (front) of the ship.


Aft behind you or toward the fantail (rear) of the ship.


Deck the floor.


Hatch a door.  Doors in walls (bulkheads) are called "watertight doors."  Doors in floors (decks) are called hatches.


Ladder an angled stairway or vertical ladder between floors (decks).


There are many, many more terms to learn, but these few terms will help you to better navigate through the ship for now.  Enjoy your tour!




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**Copyright 1997-2006 by Louisiana Naval War Memorial Commission**