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  USS McKean DD-90 / APD-5
USN
Wickes Class Destroyer

1,060 Tons
315' 5" x 31' 8" x 8' 6"
4 x 5" guns
2 x 40mm AA
5 x 20mm AA
4 x LCP Landing Craft
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USN c1919

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USN c1942

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USN August 7, 1942

Ship History
Built by Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. Laid down on February 12, 1918. Launched July 4, 1918, sponsored by Miss Helen La Monte Ely. Named in honor of William Wister McKean. Comissioned February 20, 1919 with Lieutenant Commander Raleigh C. Williams in command.

Served in the Atlantic during 1919 to 1922, making a cruise to Europe between May and July 1919, operated primarily out of New York and Charleston. Decommissioned at Philadelphia June 19, 1922.

On August 2, 1940 reclassified as a High Speed Transport designated APD-5. On December 11, 1940 recommissioned at Norfolk with Lieutenant Commander Thomas Burrows in command.

Wartime History
Assigned to captain Lieutenant Commander Ralph L. Ramey.

On May 10, 1942 departed the eastern United States for the South Pacific, arriving on July 20, 1942 to prepare for the invasion of the Solomons.

On August 7, 1942 landed troops at Tulagi at the start of the Guadalcanal campaign. Afterwards, McKean made escort and supply runs from New Caledonia and the New Hebrides to the Solomons, departing January 31, 1943 for overhaul on the west coast.

Returning to the South Pacific, she conducted escort and patrol duties between the New Hebrides and Solomons during June 1943.

During July, McKean landed troops on New Georgia and Rendova and patrolled off Guadalcanal and in "The Slot" northwards to New Georgia. Next on October 27, landed troops including a including a team that installed a search radar in less than a week on the Island.

On November 6, McKean was part of a reinforcement convoy that landed Marine reinforcements near Torokina on Bougainville. Five days later on November 11 she landed more Marines and proceeded to Guadalcanal to embark more Marines for delivery to Torokina.

Sinking History
On November 17, 1943 during the early morning hours, McKean was approaching Empress Augusta Bay off Bougainville aboard were 185 U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) reinforcements bound for Torokina. This destroyer was spotted by G4M1 Betty piloted by SFPO Kobayashi Gintaro from the 702 Kokutai which released its aerial torpedo off the destroyer's starboard quarter.

McKean turned to avoid the torpedo, but was hit at 3:50am on the starboard side causing the after magazine, depth charge spaces to explode, ruptured her fuel oil tanks causing a fire around the aft area and no. 1 exhaust. McKean suffered a complete loss of power and the order to abandon ship was issued at 3:55am. Five minutes later, she began to sink stern first and sank twelve minutes later with her forward magazine and oil tank exploding. In total, 64 crew and 52 troops aboard died during the explosion and sinking at roughly Lat 6° 31′ 0″ S, Long 154° 52′ 0″ E.

In total, McKean received four battle stars for World War II service. The "McKean" received the Navy Unit Commendation award.

Rescue
Afterwards, the surviving crew and Marines were rescued by other destroyers.

References
Navy Source USS McKean (DD-90, APD-5)
Navy Historical Center - USS McKean (DD-90, later APD-5), 1919-1943
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko Betty Units of World War 2 page 78

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Last Updated
April 24, 2018

 

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