(DD-90: dp. 1,060; l. 314'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 8'6"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 100; a.
4 4", 2 1-pdrs., 12 21" tt.; cl. WICKES)
The first MCKEAN (DD-90) was laid down by Union Iron Works, San
Francisco, Calif., 12 February 1918; launched 4 July 1918; sponsored by
Miss Helen La Monte Ely; and commissioned at San Francisco 2O February
1919, Lt. Comdr. Raleigh C. Williams in command.
MCKEAN served in the Atlantic from 1919 to 1922; made a cruise to
European waters between May and July 1919; operated primarily out of New
York and Charleston; and decommissioned at Philadelphia 19 June 1922.
Reclassified APD-5 on 2 August, 1940, she recommissioned at Norfolk 11
December 1940, Lt. Comdr. Thomas Burrows in command, and resumed duty
with the fleet.
Following the outbreak of war in the Pacific 7 December 1941, MCKEAN
departed the east coast 10 May 1942 and reached the South Pacific 20
July to prepare for the invasion of the Solomons. She landed troops at
Tulagi 7 August and during the next several months made escort and
supply runs from bases in New Caledonia and the New Hebrides to American
positions in the southern Solomons. She departed the South Pacific 31
January 1943; and, after completing a cruise to the west coast for
overhaul, she resumed escort and patrol operations between the New
Hebrides and the Solomons 21 June. Between July and November she took
part in amphibious operations in the central Solomons, landing troops at
beachheads on New Georgia and Rendova. In addition she patrolled the
waters off Guadalcanal and up the Slot to New Georgia.
In October she completed preparations for operations n the Treasury
Islands and Bougainville. She landed fighting men on Mono Island 27
October, including a construction team which installed a vital search
radar in less than a week's time. Following the brilliant American naval
victory over Japanese forces in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay during
the darkness of 2 November MCKEAN steamed with a reinforcement convoy to
Bougainville and on the 6th landed marines near Cape Torokina, Empress
Augusta Bay. She carried additional troops to Bougainville 11 November,
thence returned to Guadalcanal for yet another troop run.
With 185 marines embarked, MCKEAN sailed up the slot late 15 November.
As she approached Empress Augusta Bay early 17 November, she was
attacked by a torpedo plane which launched a torpedo off the starboard
quarter. MCKEAN turned to avoid the deadly weapon; but at 0350 the
torpedo struck the starboard side, exploding the after magazine and
depth charge spaces and rupturing fuel oil tanks. Flaming oil engulfed
MCKEAN aft of the No. 1 stack, and she lost all power and
communications. Burning oil on the water killed men who were blown or
jumped overboard. Her skipper, Lt. Comdr. Ralph L. Ramsey, ordered her
abandoned at 0355; at 0400 she began to sink by the stern. He went over
the side 12 minutes later, her forward magazine and oil tank exploded at
0415; and her stacks disappeared at 0418.
Sixty-four of her complement and 52 of her embarked troops died from the
explosions or flames. The survivors were picked up by rescuing
MCKEAN received four battle stars for World War II service.