Mons Monssen was born at Bergen, Norway, on 20 January 1867. He enlisted in the United States Navy in about 1890 and by 1904 had risen in rank to Chief Gunner’s Mate. On 13 April 1904, while he was serving in the battleship Missouri, the ship suffered a tragic fire in her after twelve-inch gun turret that killed 36 of her crew. Chief Monssen entered the burning powder magazine below the turret and fought the blaze by throwing water on it until a hose was passed to him. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for this act of heroism…”1
A Gleaves Class Destroyer, Monssen served in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. Lost during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Monssen was built at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington and reported for duty with the Atlantic Fleet on June 27, 1941.
“Before daylight on that day in March 1942, with 13 officers on board, she grounded in 13 feet of water at the Cape Cod Canal’s buoy 13, a lighted buoy with a burned-out light—bad for the the ship, which returned to Boston Navy Yard for a new bow, but good for the crew, which gained a few extra weeks of leave in Beantown!“5
On 31 March she arrived at San Francisco, joined TF 16, and departed 2 April. Steaming west, she was in the antisubmarine screen for Hornet (CV-8) as the carrier headed for “Shangri-La” with Lt. Col. J. H. Doolittle’s B-25’s on her flight deck. In the early morning hours 18 April the force was sighted by the enemy and the Army pilots manned their planes, ignoring the bad weather, the daylight hours, and the additional 168 miles they would have to fly over the planned 500 miles to their targets, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe.”** 2The victorious fleet spent the next month at Pearl Harbor for R and R (rest and replenishment).
Her final campaign commenced on August 7,1942 as part of the fleet invading Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands providing direct fire support for landings on neighboring islands of Tulagi and Gavutu. On August 25th she sailed in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons preventing a large Japanese convoy carrying reinforcements to the island.
“By 7 August they were 40 miles from the targets, Guadalcanal and Tulagi. On the 7th and 8th, Monssen with Buchanan (DD-484) stood off Gavutu and Tanambago, circling those islands and providing fire support to units of the 2d Marine Regiment as the U.S. Navy struck with the first of its giant amphibious assaults. She was then assigned to the screening forces guarding the eastern approaches to Sealark, Lengo, and Nggela Channels.3
Monssen fought its final engagement in Iron Bottom Sound – so named for the many sunken ships on the bottom in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, precipitated by Japanese efforts to deliver another large convoy to the island with troops and supplies. Departing November 8, 1942 from Noumea, New Caledonia Monssen escorted a convoy of Marines to Guadalcanal arriving on November 12. Later that day, Japanese air attacks disabled her fire control radar.
At 0140 on November 13th, a large Japanese Squadron was sighted heading for the island to bombard Henderson Field to divert the US Navy from intercepting yet another large Japanese supply convoy for now starving Japanese troops on the island.
“Battle was given at 0150. At about 0220 Monssen forced to rely on radio information and optics, was spot lighted, hit by some 37 shells, and reduced to a burning hulk. Twenty minutes later, completely immobilized in all departments, the ship was ordered abandoned. After daybreak Monssen was still a floating incinerator. C. C. Storey, BM2c, L. F. Sturgeon, GM2c, and J. G. Hughes F1c, climbed back into the inferno and rescued eight men still aboard and alive, five of whom lived after reaching land. The survivors, 40 percent of the crew, were picked up at about 0800 and taken to Guadalcanal. The ship itself continued to blaze until early afternoon, when the waters of Ironbottom Sound closed over her.4
Length:348 ft 3 in (106.15 m)
Beam:36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
Draft:11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Propulsion:50,000 shp (37,000 kW); 4 boilers; 2 propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nmi (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement:16 officers, 260 enlisted
Armament: 5 × 5.0 guns, 6 × .05” guns,6 × 20 mm AA guns, 10 × 21” torpedo tubes. 2 × depth charge racks
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