Sinking of the USS Reuben James


Thanks to Paul Chastain, FCCS(SW) USN (ret) for sending this in.

USS Reuben James DD-245

For some American sailors, World War II began before December 7, 1941. During the latter part of 1941, U.S. Navy ships provided escorts for convoys bound for Great Britain carrying war materials from our "Arsenal of Democracy."  Because German U-boats (submarines) considered all ships in the convoys fair game, it was only a matter of time before we became involved in a "shooting war."

USS Reuben James DD-245 sinking

Disaster struck in the early morning hours of October 31, 1941. While escorting convoy HX-156, the American destroyer U.S.S. Reuben James was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 115 of 160 crewmen, including all officers. Although not the first U.S. Navy ship torpedoed before the war, the Reuben James was the first one lost. After the news of the sinking reached America, many concerned people wrote letters to the Navy to find out the fate of friends or loved ones.


USS Reuben James DD-245 survivors


Sadly, most of the country ignored the sinking. One who did not was folk singer Woody Guthrie, who wrote his now famous song immediately after the incident: Tell me, what were their names? Tell me, what were their names? Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James? USS Reuben James DD-245, sunk by German Submarine U-552 on 31 October 1941 !




3 minute video

Slideshow of the USS Reuben James DD-245 and German U-552 includes photos of DE-153 and Guided Missile Frigate FFG-57. It is accompanied by Woody Guthrie's song written shortly after the sinking of the USS Reuben James DD-245 on October 31, 1941, five weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked.


Boatswains Mate Reuben James

Reuben James

Guided Missile Frigate USS Reuben James FFG-57 returning to Pearl Harbor after deployment.  It was the last remaining guided-missile frigate homeported in Hawaii and was decommissioned July 18, 2013 after nearly thirty years of distinguished naval service. 

USS Reuben James FFG-57

USS Reuben James (FFG 57), The officers and crew of USS Reuben James hosted nearly 100 friends, family, alumni and honored guests during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Among those who attended were 30 former crew members and their families, including five "plank-owners" (crew members who were assigned to the ship when it was commissioned) and six former commanding officers of the ship. "This ceremony was an opportunity for us to say fair winds, farewell, and "a job well done" -- not only to the crew today but also to the thousands of Sailors who served aboard Reuben James over the years," said Capt. Chris Bushnell, Deputy Commodore of Destroyer Squadron 31. "It was my pleasure to thank "Fightin' 57" and her crew for their fine service and hard work and also to present Reuben James the Ney Award last Thursday." Guest speaker at the decommissioning was retired Navy Captain Faris T. Farwell, former commanding officer of the ship, 1997-1999. CAPT Brent Smith, chief of staff for Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, officiated. The ship returned from deployment in early May, 2013 after participating in a series of bilateral maritime exercises for Cooperative Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in the Seventh Fleet area of responsibility.

USS Reuben James DD-245 Coat of Arms