Reuben James
Boatswain's Mate

Engraving by
Alonzo Chappel

Ship's Namesake

Reuben James was born in Delaware, Ohio in 1775. A veteran of the quasi-war with France (during which he was captured), James saved the life of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur.

It was during the infamous Barbary Wars that the American frigate PHILADELPHIA was captured by the Barbary pirates.  Having run aground in the pirate capital of Tripoli on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the crew had to abandon ship and formulate a plan of attack. LT Decatur, along with a group of volunteers which included Boatswain's Mate Reuben James, entered Tripoli harbor under the cover of darkness in an attempt to set the PHILADELPHIA on fire so the pirates could not make use of her.

The American volunteers boarded the PHILADELPHIA on February 16, 1804 and were met by a group of the savage Barbary pirates who were guarding their prize.  A furious battle ensued, and during the the bloody chaos of hand-to-hand combat, a villainous pirate made ready to end the life of LT Decatur.  Reuben James, with both of his hands already wounded, in an act of selfless dedication and courage did throw his hand before the cleaving blade!  Willing to give his life in defense of his captain, Reuben James took the blow from the scimitar.  This courageous intervention allowed Decatur to retrieve his pistol and slay his assailant.

Boatswain's Mate James continued to serve under Decatur onboard the frigates CONSTITUTION and CONGRESS. During the War of 1812, he served in the frigates UNITED STATES and PRESIDENT, the latter captured by four British ships on January 15, 1815.  Taken prisoner, James was released after peace was declared and went on to serve in USS GUERRIERE, again under Captain Decatur.

With the cessation of war with Britain, the battles against the Barbary States resumed and on June 17, 1815, GUERRIERE engaged and defeated the Algerian flagship MASHOUDA, a victory that was instrumental in ending the Barbary Wars.

Wounded three times during his wartime service, Boatswain's Mate James was compelled to to retire in 1836 because of declining health and the loss of one leg.  He died on December 3, 1838 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, DC.

Days of Yore

REUBEN JAMES (DD 245) was laid down on April 2, 1919, launched on October 4, 1919 and commissioned on September 24, 1920 with Commander Gordon W. Hines in command.  DD245 was a post-World War I four stack destroyer with a crew of 101.  She was capable of 35 knots and brandished a main armament of four 4-inch guns, a single 3-inch gun and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, REUBEN JAMES saw duty in the Mediterranean from 1921 to 1922.  Based then at New York, she patrolled the Nicaraguan coast to prevent the delivery of weapons to revolutionaries in early 1926.  DD245 was decommissioned at Philadelphia on January 20, 1931.

Recommissioned on March 9, 1932, she again operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, patrolling Cuban waters during the Cuban revolution.  She transferred to San Diego, California in 1934 and returned to the Atlantic Fleet in January 1939.  Upon the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, she joined the Neutrality Patrol and guarded the Atlantic and Caribbean approaches to the American coast.  She was assigned to Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE in 1941.

In March 1941, REUBEN JAMES, commanded by LCDR H.L. Edwards, joined the convoy escort force established to promote the safe arrival of war materials to Britain.  This escort force guarded convoys as far as Iceland, where they became the responsibility of British escorts.  Based at Hvalfjordur Island, she sailed from Argentia, Newfoundland October 23, 1941, with four other destroyers to escort the eastbound convoy HX-56.

While escorting the convoy, at about 5:25am, October 31, 1941, REUBEN JAMES was torpedoed by German Submarine U-552.  She had positioned herself between an ammunition ship in the convoy and the known position of a German U-Boat Wolfpack.  Her magazine exploded and she sank quickly.  Of the crew, 44 survived and 100 died.  All officers including the Commanding Officer were lost.  REUBEN JAMES was the first U.S. Navy ship lost during World War II.

Newspaper headline from
November 1, 1941

(DD 245) Survivors
November 1941

(DD 245) Torpedoed
by U-552 on
October 31, 1941

Civilian Letter to the
Navy Received
November 4, 1941

Telegram from
Chester Nimitz
Informing Family Member
November 1941

Memo from Receiving Ship
After the Sinking
December 5, 1941

Lyrics to "The Sinking of Reuben James"
written in 1941 by
Woody Guthrie

Vintage Envelopes &
Stamps From and About
the USS Reuben James
(DD 245) & (DE 153)

Dennis H. Daniel
(Undated Photo)

Purple Heart
Citation for
Dennis H. Daniel
Yeoman 3rd Class
March 3, 1945

Newspaper Headline
Petty Officer Daniel
After the Sinking
November 7, 1941

(DE 245)
Memorial at Martin's Pt,
Portland, Maine
(Undated Photo)

Please email the webmaster if you have a piece of REUBEN JAMES history that you believe will benefit this website

USS Reuben James
(DE 153)

USS Reuben James &
USS Sims (DE 154) at
Norfolk Navy Yard

REUBEN JAMES (DE 153) was laid down on September 7, 1942, launched on February 6, 1943 and commissioned on April 1, 1943 with LCDR Frank D. Giambattista in command.  DE153 was a Buckley Class destroyer escort with a crew of 213, capable of 23.5 knots.  She had a main armament of two 5-inch guns, three 3-inch guns and three 21-inch torpedo tubes.

First based at Miami, Florida, REUBEN JAMES conducted anti-submarine patrols and provided training in convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare.  In March 1944, she shifted her base from Miami to Norfolk, Virginia.  In June 1944, she escorted a convoy from New York to Norfolk.

Between July 13 and November 7, 1944, she escorted two convoys to the Mediterranean, returning with westbound convoys.  During her first eastbound voyage, nine German bombers attacked her convoy off Algeria on August 1, 1944.  REUBEN JAMES shot down one enemy bomber.

Returning to Boston, she joined an anti-submarine group operating in the North Atlantic.  Operating south of Newfoundland, she was present when USS BUCKLEY (DE 51) sank German Submarine U-879 on April 19, 1945.

Arriving at Houston, Texas on July 4, 1945, she completed conversion to a radar picket ship on November 25, 1945.  Subsequently, she operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean out of Norfolk, Virginia, then was decommissioned on October 11, 1947.  She remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until she was struck from the Navy List on June 30, 1968.  Her hulk was used as a target and sunk on March 1, 1971.

REUBEN JAMES (FFG 57) was laid down on November 19, 1983 and she was commissioned into the Fleet under the command of CDR John J. Kieley, III on March 22, 1986.  Initially assigned to Surface Squadron ONE during post-commissioning trials and shakedown, REUBEN JAMES joined the Red Stallions of Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE in June 1987.

Assigned to Mideast Force on her maiden deployment, REUBEN JAMES participated in twenty-two Operation ERNEST WILL convoy missions, serving as the convoy commander's flagship on ten of those missions.  As a unit of the Pacific Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness Squadron, she was a key participant in the continuing research and development of anti-submarine tactics and equipment, a fitting role in tribute to the men of the first REUBEN JAMES.

In August 1991, REUBEN JAMES moved from Long Beach, California to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  On October 1, 1998, she joined the "Ke Koa O Ke Kai", Destroyer Squadron THIRTY- ONE.

For nine months from July 2002 to April 2003, REUBEN JAMES deployed to the Arabian Gulf and participated in Operations ENDURING and IRAQI FREEDOM.  From February-April 2004, she deployed to the Eastern Pacific in support of counter-drug operations.

Between July-December 2004, REUBEN JAMES went through an extensive modernization and maintenance program, ensuring that she will always be ready to respond when the mission bell tolls.

USS REUBEN JAMES appeared in the movie The Hunt For Red October, and was the first ship to find Soviet Submarine Captain Marko Raimius and his crew of defectors.  Of course, the Soviet Sailors who stood on her foc'sle were not really Soviets - they were actually REUBEN JAMES crew members.  Actor Peter Jason played the role of REUBEN JAMES' Commanding Officer.  REUBEN JAMES also had a prominent role in the book Red Storm Rising.

USS REUBEN JAMES (FFG 57) Ship Specifics

On Station Arabian Gulf
for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM

Moored Golfito, Costa Rica

Firing on and sinking
MV Margyl Margarita
off the Coast of Ecuador

At anchor off the coast of
Phuket, Thailand

Returning to Pearl Harbor
from Counter Drug Operations
in the Eastern Pacific

Launching MK216




Maximum Speed:

Combat Systems:

4000 Tons
Length 453', Beam 45', Draft 24.5'
26 Officers, 18 Chief Petty Officers, 201 enlisted crew members.  An additional 7 Pilot Officers and 18 enlisted personnel embark with the Helicopter Detachment.
Main - Two LM-2500 Gas Turbine Engines with 40,000 shaft horsepower.  One shaft with a controllable pitch propeller.
Auxiliary - Two 350hp Electric Propulsion Units.
30+ Knots
Mk75 76mm Gun
Mk15 Mod 21 CIWS 1B
Two SH-60B Seahawk LAMPS MKIII Helos
Six Mk32 Mod 17 Torpedo Tubes
Mk53 Decoy Launching System (NULKA)
Two Mk38 25mm Chain Guns
Mk92 Mod 6 Fire Control System
AN/SQR-19 Towed Array Sonar
AN/SQS-56 Hull Mounted Sonar
AN/SPS-55 Surface Search Radar
AN/SPS-49 Air Search Radar
AN/SLQ-32(v)5 Electronic Warfare Suite



Coat of Arms


Coat of Arms


Shield: Azure, a cutlass and a scimitar argent in saltire between four stars of the last; on a chief of the second two hawks' head erased and addorsed proper.
Crest: On a wreath of the colors and azure two fouled anchors in saltire proper below a pheon, point up, of the second enflamed proper.
Motto: On a scroll azure doubled the words "BACK WITH A VENGEANCE" in gold.


Shield: The colors blue, gold and white are from the battle streamer for the Barbary Wars (1801-1815) in which Reuben James participated.  The crossed cutlass and scimitar are representative of the two opposing forces, with the cutlass crossed over the scimitar denoting the final victory of the United States over the Barbary pirates.  The four stars are from the battle streamers and also allude to the frigate CONSTELLATION in which James served.  The embattled chief is suggestive of the fortified Tripoli harbor where James performed the heroic act of saving the life of Stephen Decatur.  The two hawks' heads are representative of SH-60B Seahawk helicopters onboard the ship.  Their position facing outward denotes their constant vigilance as the eyes of the ship.
Crest: The crossed fouled anchors are the type used in the original insignia of a Boatswain's Mate, which was James' rating.  The flaming pheon represents the destructive force of REUBEN JAMES.


The coat of arms emblazoned upon a white oval enclosed within a blue collar edged on the outer side with a gold rope and inscribed with the words USS REUBEN JAMES at the top and FFG 57 in base in gold letters.

Commanding Officers

Command at Sea

CDR Richard E. Haidvogel
CDR Logan S. Jones
CDR John M. Figuerres
CDR Edward J. Lester
CDR Carl W. Cramb
CDR Steven L. Richter
CDR Faris T. Farwell, Jr.
CDR William L. Richards
CDR Edward J. Gilmore
CDR Michael A. Calhoun
CDR James C. Day
CDR Nicholas L. Richards
CDR John J. Kieley III

20 Jul 2006 -
15 Dec 2004 - 20 Jul 2006
16 May 2003 - 15 Dec 2004
14 Sep 2001 - 16 May 2003
18 Feb 2000 - 14 Sep 2001
12 Feb 1999 - 18 Feb 2000
20 Jun 1997 - 12 Feb 1999
25 Nov 1995 - 20 Jun 1997
14 Jan 1994 - 25 Nov 1995
20 Mar 1992 - 14 Jan 1994
07 Jul 1990 - 20 Mar 1992
12 Apr 1988 - 07 Jul 1990
22 Mar 1986 - 12 Apr 1988

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