|Background - The concept of a destroyer leader, a type that was larger than standard destroyers, was one that arose in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The need
for a specific type of ship, smaller than light cruisers that have traditionally tasked with the duty, but well-armed and with the appropriate accommodations was
becoming apparent. Foreign navies were quicker to embrace this concept but the United States Navy took longer. Beginning in 1919, several designs were evolved
for a destroyer leader but Congressional budget approval was difficult to achieve. Treaty limitations also influenced designs. Finally in 1930, a sketch design for an
1850 ton Leader was presented and, after some modifications, was approved. Eight ships of the Porter class were built under the FY 33 Program and completed in
1936 and 1937.
The class was originally built with eight Mk 12 5-inch/38 caliber guns in four Mark 22 single purpose twin enclosed mounts and two quadruple 1.1-inch mounts.
Anti-aircraft armament was rounded out by a pair of 0.50 caliber machine guns. Porters were fitted eight 21-inch torpedo tubes with a full set of reloads and two
stern depth-charge racks. As aircraft were becoming a greater threat the as-fitted anti-aircraft armament was deemed obsolete and ineffective. As a result, some
ships had mounts 51 and 54 replaced with dual purpose twin mounts and the original 1.1-inch and .50 caliber guns replaced with twin 40mm Bofors and 20mm
Oerlikon weapons. In other ships, mount 52 was replaced by a quad 40mm mount and mount 53 became a single 5 in/38 dual purpose mount for a total of five
5-inch dual purpose guns. Additional light anti-aircraft guns were added to some ships. During the war, Porter was the only loss for this class, sunk at the Battle of
Santa Cruz Islands.
USS Phelps (DD-360) was laid down on January 2, 1934 at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding yards in Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched on July 18, 1935 and
commissioned on February 26, 1936. Phelps saw a lot of action during World War II. She was present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and was credited
with shooting down one Japanese airplane. Phelps participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea and stayed with the Yorktown after she was damaged. Phelps sank the
seriously damaged Lexington with two torpedoes to prevent her capture by Japanese forces. She also saw action in the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal and
Aleutians campaign. She provided gunfire support for landings at Makin Atoll, bombarded Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands campaign and bombarded
Saipan during that invasion. Phelps transited the Panama Canal, arriving at the Charleston Navy Yard on August 2, 1944 for a major refit and armament alterations.
For the duration of the war, Phelps performed convoy escort duties in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. After the war, Phelps was struck from the Naval Vessel
Register on January 28, 1947 and scrapped soon afterwards. Phelps received 12 battle stars for her service in World War II.