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USS Cassin Young (DD-793)
Boston, Massachusetts

Charlestown Navy Yard, part of Boston National Historical Park, has not only USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a museum ship but also USS Cassin Young (DD-793), a destroyer that battled Japanese kamikaze aircraft several times. After the end of World War II, Cassin Young was decommissioned in May 1946. When the Korean War started, many destroyers including Cassin Young were called back into service. After being recommissioned in September 1951, the destroyer continued its service throughout the 1950s until being decommissioned for the final time in April 1960. The National Park Service acquired Cassin Young in 1978, and the destroyer was opened up to the public as a museum ship in 1981 after undergoing an overhaul.

Visitors can tour the destroyer's main deck and enlisted men's quarters below deck, and a National Park Ranger conducts 45-minute tours at scheduled times to other ship areas above and below the main deck. Each tour group is limited to 12 people, since some areas visited are quite cramped. The tour guide focuses more on Cassin Young as a typical WWII destroyer rather than going into details of her history. The guide also tries to make some comparisons between USS Cassin Young and USS Constitution, a short walk away. Children above a certain height can join the tour, and they really enjoy seeing how a destroyer's crew lived in such confined spaces and getting to sit in the captain's chair on the bridge with a battle helmet worn during general quarters.

A brochure available to visitors upon boarding gives Cassin Young's history, including the WWII kamikaze attacks, and the ship's general arrangement as of 1943. Various signs throughout the ship also give brief explanations and a few brief quotes from former crewmen. The enlisted men's quarters below deck have a small exhibit with photos and few other items that summarizes the ship's history. A plaque on the ship's starboard side, where one kamikaze aircraft crashed, commemorates crewmen who lost their lives during the two kamikaze hits. The nearby USS Constitution Museum Store sells J. Scott Harmon's 1985 pictorial history entitled U.S.S. Cassin Young (DD-793) but has no other items related to the destroyer.

Cassin Young faced kamikaze aircraft several times during her assignments at radar picket stations surrounding Okinawa. On April 6, 1945, the date of Japan's first mass kamikaze attack during the Battle of Okinawa, Cassin Young's gunners shot down three incoming aircraft [1]. Later the same day, these gunners were given orders to fire shots to sink the destroyer USS Colhoun (DD-801), which had heavy listing and uncontrolled flooding after being hit by four suicide planes. On April 12, 1945, during Japan's second mass kamikaze attack, Cassin Young and other ships at Radar Picket Station 1 shot down six enemy aircraft, but one kamikaze plane hit the destroyer's mast. When its bomb exploded about 50 feet above the ship and sprayed the decks with shrapnel and debris, one sailor was killed, and 59 others were wounded. At 0326 on July 30, 1945, a kamikaze plane hit the main deck on the starboard side near the forward stack, which resulted in 22 crewmen dead and 45 wounded. Just one day before, the Cassin Young crew had witnessed the sinking of USS Callaghan (DD-792) when hit by a kamikaze aircraft during the night. Cassin Young assisted in rescuing survivors and in fighting off other incoming planes [2].

Admission to Charlestown Navy Yard and to USS Cassin Young is free. The National Park Service has much information and many photos on its web pages about Cassin Young. A two-page PDF file gives the history of kamikaze attacks on Cassin Young with quotes from several crewmembers.

Date of visit: August 22, 2008


1. This statement comes from the Cassin Young brochure published by the National Park Service. In contrast, Harmon (1985, 27) states that Cassin Young fired upon three enemy planes and downed one on April 6, 1945.

2. Foster (2002, 308-9) emphasizes that Cassin Young deliberately tried to draw attention of any potential attackers so that the destroyer Pritchett (DD-561) could pick up survivors from Callaghan.

Sources Cited

Foster, Barry J. 2002. The Last Destroyer: The Story of the USS Callaghan. Haverford, PA: Infinity Publishing.

Harmon, J. Scott. 1985. U.S.S. Cassin Young (DD-793). Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing.