At the first light of dawn 28 February 1942, undetected German submarine U-578 fired a spread of torpedoes at the unsuspecting destroyer. The deadly "fish" sped unsighted and two "or possibly three" struck the destroyer's port side in rapid succession.
According to her survivors, the first torpedo struck just aft of the bridge and caused almost unbelievable damage. Apparently, it exploded the ship's magazine; the resulting blast sheared off everything forward of the point of impact, destroying completely the bridge, the chart room, and the officers' and petty officers' quarters. As she stopped dead in the water, unable to signal a distress message, a second torpedo struck about 40 feet forward of the fantail and carried away the after part of the ship above the keel plates and shafts and destroyed the after crew's quarters. Only the midships section was left intact.