From: Oregon, USA
The ship that we will follow will be the Gridley, DD-380.
The question of which ship to follow was an interesting one for me. It needed to be a American destroyer that is on the map at the start of the war. This limited the pool to treaty class DDs (Mahan, Bagley, Gridley, Benham, Porter classes, etc.), since I did not want to use an even older destroyer (Clemson or Wickes class). None of the post-treaty class ships (Sims, Benson, Gleaves classes) are on the map at the start of the game.
With the exception of some Mahan-class ships at San Francisco, all the eligible ships are either at Pearl Harbor or at sea with Yorktown or Enterprise. San Francisco is too far from the action and Pearl is too darned close. It would be embarrassing for my chosen ship to be sunk the first morning of the war! That limited my selection to those destroyers at sea with one of the carriers.
I decided to go with DD Gridley, at sea with Enterprise on Dec. 7. I thought that the Enterprise TF would provide a good place to view the start of the war (and I've always been a Big E fan anyway), and I chose one of the four Gridley-class ships there largely because I have material at hand about operations aboard those ships.
Speaking of material, the contrast between the resources available to me for this AAR versus "Small Ship, Big War" is astonishing. Fifteen minutes online garnered me a stack of books with more information about Gridley and similar destroyers than I found in over two years regarding Hibiki or any other Japanese DD.
One final note before we take a closer look at Gridley. The AAR to follow is fictional and is based on a fictional, alternative version of WWII as derived from the game. Crew assignments in this version of history are thus different, and also fictional. My writings are in no way intended to represent actual people or events aboard Gridley. I do hope, however, to honor the spirit of the actual crew and all the crews that fought in the war.
A few notes about our chosen ship are in order. These are brief but we will no doubt learn much more about the ship as we go along.
Gridley was laid down in 1935 and commissioned in 1937. She was constructed by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. at Quincy, Illinois and named after Charles Vernon Gridley, of "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley" fame. The ship was fitted out at Boston Naval yard in 1938.
Gridley was part of the 1935 naval appropriations. Several similar destroyer classes were designed and built at this time, as the United States needed to put people back to work and the Navy needed to get its destroyer force up to Washington Naval Treaty strength. At the time the Gridley and similar classes were built the idea of destroyers as platforms to deliver devastating torpedo broadsides was holding sway and this can be seen in the fact that Gridley carries only four 5" guns but has sixteen torpedo tubes in four quadruple mounts, two on each side.
As a treaty-class destroyer Gridley displaces 1590 tons. The Gridley-class DDs were built on the same basic hull as the earlier Mahan-class destroyers but with a better power plant and a single stack. With four boilers operating at 600 psi and 700 degrees Fahrenheit this is in fact a very fast ship. Her sister ship Maury recorded the highest speed ever for a US destroyer during trials at 42.8 knots.
Anti-aircraft armament consists of a mere four Browning .50-caliber machine guns. There are two depth charge racks at the stern.
Gridley has a pole mast and her crew is justly proud of her rakish appearance. Her strengths are her speed and her devastating torpedo capability. Her major drawback is hull strength and stability. As with many treaty-class ships on both sides the necessity of cramming a lot of weapons onto a small hull has lead to too much topweight. This problem will plague Gridley and her sister ships throughout the war.
At the moment, just before the outbreak of the war, Gridley carries a crew of 7 officers and 156 enlisted men.
Here is what she looks like in the game just before the shooting starts: