The Fletcher-class was a class of destroyers built by the United States during World War II. The class was designed in 1939, as a result of dissatisfaction with the earlier destroyer leader types of the Porter and Somers classes. Some went on to serve during the Korean War and into the Vietnam War, named for Admiral Frank F. Fletcher was the largest class of destroyer ordered, and was also one of the most successful and popular with the destroyer men themselves. Compared to earlier classes built for the Navy, they carried a significant increase in anti-aircraft weapons and other weaponry, which caused displacements to rise. Their flush deck construction added structural strength, although it did make them rather cramped, as less space was available below decks compared with a raised forecastle.
The United States Navy commissioned 175 Fletcher-class destroyers between 1942 and 1944, more than any other destroyer class, and the design was generally regarded as highly successful. Fletchers had a design speed of 38 knots and an armament of five 5" guns in single mounts with 10 21" torpedoes in two quintuple centerline mounts.
The long-range Fletcher-class ships performed every task asked of a destroyer, from anti-submarine warfare and anti-aircraft warfare to surface action. They could cover the vast distances required by fleet actions in the Pacific and served almost exclusively in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, during which they accounted for 29 Imperial Japanese Navy submarines sunk. In a massive effort, the Fletchers were built by shipyards across the United States and, after World War II ended, 11 were sold to countries that they had been built to fight against: Italy, Germany, and Japan, as well as other countries, where they had even longer, distinguished careers. Three have been preserved as museum ships in the U.S. and one in Greece.
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