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Was Destroyer Greyhound a Real Ship in World War II?

July 10, 2020
4 min read

Apple TV Plus’ ‘Greyhound’ uses the premise of the Battle of the Atlantic to tell a riveting story. Despite not being based on a true story, it takes inspiration from the real events that happened during the war, and with its acute sense of detail, convinces us that the story is closer to reality than fiction. Apart from the commander of the ship, Ernest Krause, another main character in the story is the ship itself. Destroyer USS Keeling, which receives the nickname of Greyhound, is the setting of the story, the cramped space of which is inhabited by Krause and his men, as well as the audience for the entire 90 minutes of runtime. While Commander Krause is not based on a real person, can the same be said for his ship? Was Greyhound a real ship during the Second World War? Let’s find out.

Was Greyhound a Real Ship in World War II?

From what we know about USS Keeling from the movie and the book on which it is based, she has been mentioned as one of the Mahan-class destroyers. Looking into the records of the US Navy, we find that there were a total of 18 destroyers in the Mahan-class series, none of which were named Keeling.

However, if we stray from the details and focus entirely on the nickname granted to the ship, we find that there existed a ship named Greyhound during the Second World War, but she was not an American ship. HMS Greyhound was a G-Class destroyer that was built for the Royal Navy and was launched in August 1935. She served in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940, following which she was also used in the Dunkirk evacuation as well as the unsuccessful Battle of Dakar. Eventually, she was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet, in which she was primarily employed for escorting larger ships. It was during this service that she came face to face with the German dive bombers and was sunk near Crete in May 1941.

Because the story of ‘Greyhound’ is set in 1942, it is possible that author C.S Forester, on whose book the film is based, might have used her name as a nickname for the ship in his book. He was known to pick up historical details and used them in his fiction to give it more legitimacy. Because the real Greyhound was already gone by 1941, him using her name in a storyline of 1942 would not have created any confusion. However, there is no concrete proof that Forester did base his ship on the Royal Navy’s.

Interestingly, when it came to shooting the film, instead of relying completely on sets, the crew of ‘Greyhound’ found another option. They used USS Kidd, a real WWII destroyer, to film the journey of Greyhound. She is a Fletcher-class destroyer and is named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, the first US flag officer to die during the Second World War. She was first launched in 1943 and went in and out of commission during the Korean War and the Cold War. Nicknamed the Pirate of the Pacific, she was used for escorting combatant vessels and aircraft carriers, among other things.

Where is Greyhound Destroyer Now?

After her long years of decorated service came to an end, she was selected to serve as a memorial for Louisiana World War II veterans. Moored on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she is now a museum ship and a National Historic Landmark. Though she did receive restorations over the years, she was never modernized and is the only surviving US destroyer to have retained her World War II configuration. She is on public view, and her mooring is designed in a way that she floats in the river for half the year and is dry-docked out of water for the rest of it.

Read More: Is Ernest Krause in Greyhound Based on a Real US Navy Commander?

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