USS O’Bannon. Unconventional Weaponry (A Brief Description of a Funny Confrontation)

USS O'Bannon

USS O’Bannon (DD-450) is a Fletcher-class destroyer laid down on March 3, 1941. She served the United States Navy (USN) in World War II. She was sold for scrap on June 6 1970 with 17 battle stars including the Presidential Unit Citation.

During her World War II service, she briefly trained for war in the Caribbean and participated in the Pacific campaign against the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). She fought in the Guadalcanal campaign in which her assigned squadron, Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesRon 21), was securing the American held Solomon Island. She escorted USS Copahee (CVE-12) on a run to supply depleted American Marines with supplies to continue holding a key airstrip named “Henderson Field”. O’Bannon sighted enemy submarines and fired at them with her 5-inch main battery armament. On Novemeber 12 1942, 16 Japanese torpedo bombers attack American convoy ships. 11 were shot down and O’Bannon fired at 4 of the planes. Word came that a Japanese attack force of battleships, cruisers and destroyers were going to bombard the Americans off the island, and O’Bannon with a underpowered task force, were set to try to turn away the attackers. During the attack, O’Bannon boldly fought Japanese battleship Hiei, getting so close that Hiei guns couldn’t depress far enough to shoot the destroyer. Combined attacks from other American ships, Hiei was set to be scuttled.

On April 5 1943, O’Bannon sighted the Japanese submarine RO-43 on the surface and made to ram it. At the last minute, officers aboard the destroyer decided the sub might be a minelayer and turned hard to avoid the collision. The action brought the destroyer along side the sub. Japanese mariners attempted to man their 3-inch gun battery, O’Bannon deck hands grabbed potatoes out of a supply shed and pelted the potatoes at the Japanese crew. The Japanese believed that the potatoes were hand grenades and threw them back, instead of manning the 3-inch battery. As soon as O’Bannon was far enough away, she opened up with her 5, 5-inch gun batteries and damaged the sub’s conning tower. RO-43 submerged but O’Bannon’s depth charges eventually sunk the sub.

USS O'Bannon Potatoe Commeration

At the end of World War II, she joined her sister ship USS Nicholas, USS Missouri and USS Taylor into Tokyo Bay by order of Admiral William Halsey. She was later decommissioned after overhaul on May 21, 1946.