Vessel type: Naval - 4 funnel (stack) Destroyer

Date lost: 19th February 1942

Cause of loss: Enemy attack

Number of Casualties: 91

Discovery date (if applicable): 20th February 1942

Location/water depth: Darwin Harbour at a depth of 27 metres


The USS Peary (DD226) escaped the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1942 and steamed to Darwin for repairs and further assignment. En-route, she was attacked by Japanese aircraft (and one RAAF bomber) resulting on one crew member being killed.

Peary was in Darwin Harbour on 19th February 1942, where she experienced massive and concentrated attacks during the two Japanese raids that day. She attempted to escape the harbour, but at 1045 hours she was struck by 5 bombs that signaled her end.

Although sinking, the ship's crew continued to defend the ship and fight off her attackers, however, she sunk by the stern at 1300 hours with all guns blazing. 91 US Naval personnel, almost her entire compliment, were lost.

The Peary is now a war grave and her gallant sacrifice remains forever in Darwin's history.  


Never say die!

  • The Peary was the first ship of the Asiatic Fleet to be sunk in WW2.
  • The loss of 91 crew represents the US Navy's greatest loss in Australian waters
  • The ship and crew are commemorated every 19th February as part of the Bombing of Darwin commemorations

all images courtesy Norman Cramp

Objects of interest (artefacts, images or other collection items) associated with the shipwreck story.

  • The Peary's forward gun
  • Peary plaque at Darwin Cenotaph
  • Peary porthole
  • Various fittings from the ship
  • Coins recovered from Peary


AMMC Member Institution

Darwin Military Museum

submitted by Norman Cramp

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