Caldwell class destroyers (1916)

Caldwell class destroyers (1916)

US Navy ww2 USN Fleet Destroyers (1916-1947): USS Caldwell, Craven, Gwin, Conner, Stockton, Manley (DD-69-74)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The Caldwell-class were six destroyers built for the United States Navy between 1916 and 1918. They were the first US Navy destroyers with the caracteristic “flush deck” hull design, the first US Navy destroyers to be equipped with geared steam turbines and with a new lozenge style artillery pattern.
These six ships were named after naval heroes, commissioned 1917-1918, and like the others used for ASW escort in Ireland and afterwards as training vessels in the interwar, the lead ship being discarded in 1936, one in 1939 but the others seeing action in WW2 under British colors. #ww2 #usn #usnavy #royalnavy #usdestroyer #caldwell #flushdecker

The first “flush-deckers”:

The Caldwell class marked a deep evolution of USN destroyer design, a true landmark. They inaugurated for the first time a brand new hull and the many innovations that went with it, a clear rupture with the linear evolution since the prewar Smith and Cassins.
Their origin lied in the Congress Act of 3 March 1915 which stated these destroyers were “to have a speed of not less than thirty knots per hour and to cost, exclusive of armor and armament, not to exceed $925,000.00 each… Provided, that three of said torpedo-boats herein authorized shall be built on the Pacific Coast.”. At the time indeed the Atlantic fleet was fell provided with a generous fleet of “1000-tonners”, leaving the Pacific fleet with obsolete vessels, and few destroyers in general. The admiralty already in 1915 envisioned to beef-up the Pacific fleet, since the rapid buildup of the Japanese Navy was something to be awere of. The US had not only Hawaii as advanced base, but also the Philippines, and apart gunboats, these local forces were ludicrously weak in case of any incident.

A critical situation
“A critical situation”, painting depicting the collision of USS Stockton in 1918

However since the bulk of th action still concentrated in the Atlantic, it’s where efforts were directed, at least until it was decided to discontinue the construction of “classic designs” and impose a new type of mass-produced vessel which could keep the same firepower, stay fast enough to escort the fleet’s battleships as the planned battlecruisers (Lexington class), have a better range for the Pacific, and still be cheaper to built.

So in early 1916, the back-and forth between the admiralty board and Bureau of Ships & Repair (BC&R) asked to create these new challenging designs, came up with a first design to be tested first on a “preserie” of six, the Caldwell class. They were to be the first of the following 279 ordered destroyers order (6 cancelled) in wartime, all based on this new design. In particular, the admiralty wanted to discard the traditional forecastle break, which was considered a structural weakness. Thus, compared to the Sampsons, even without touching on the powerplant and armament, the hull design was particularly cared for.

Clemson class plan: USS Doyen

To solve the structural issue, BuC&R came out with a straighforward solution, a flush-deck design, which posed a lot of design challenges of its own. Indeed, there are basically four kinds of flush-deck solution experimented by many Navy over the years, let’s have a look at these:
1-The “straight flush”: Simplest way, the upper deck was sloped by the height of a full deck level from the prow to the stern in order to preserve seakeeping forward
2-The “sheered flush”: The weather deck stayed flat for most of the lenght, then was sloped upwards gradually or in a streight way up to the bow on the forward section.
3-The “flat flush”: Another solution which consisted in having the same deck height forward and back, overall taller.
4-The “Stepped flush”: A way to decrease the deck height by sucessive steps from the prow to the stern.

The 1st solution was the one chosen by BuC&R (see below) as the simplest to built. The 2nd was seen for example on British WW1 cruisers such as the C and D class, with the same raised forecastle bow section. Many IJN ships also had a particular bow deck curve. The Pensacola class cruisers were also built that way as the German Hipper class.
The 3rd was the one retained on long-range cruisers such as the County class, and others.
The 4th solution was really only proper to the Japanese, on ships such as the Aoba/Furutaka classes, but also the following cruisers. It was rarely seen on destroyers.

The “straight flush” deck configuration was indeed simpler but imposed a serie of internal design revisions. The slope, given the lenght of the ship, was not considerable, about 5 degree, and thus nothing was changed to the inernals, which were sloped as a consequence. The real problem was when the lower decks met this sloped upper deck. A lot of internal volumes redistributions were to be rethought completely. So unlike the straightforward 1000-tonners like the later Sampson class, designers had to really find ways to rearrange all internal spaces to not loose any, and to cope with gravity changed, notably for piping water and steam up, etc. Ths imposed a lot of calculations, but the process started in March 1915, and the first ship, USS Coner, was really laid down only on 16 October 1916. So there had been 2.5 years of design refinements before finding a solution and make this complete design break.

Overall, the design as completed to be tested on the Caldwell left little time to gain experience: The Clemsons ships entered service in late 1917, even 1920 for USS Gwin, and the mass-construction class of the Wickes started right away, in late 1917, when none of the Clemsons hat time to make sea trials. There was a lot of trust put into this unproven design before starting such as massive industrial undertaking. As as we will see in the future, these new “flush deckers” had many problems of their own.

The Wickes and Clemson-class were basically a repeat design, somewhat slower (30–32 knots (56–59 km/h) vs. 35 knots (65 km/h)) and differing in details, notably the forward sheer of the Caldwell class was improved to keep the “A” mount from being constantly washed out, but without success. The Caldwells had a cutaway stern rather than the standard “cruiser stern” of the Wickes-Clemsons and this gave them a tighter turning radius, but these were costly solutions, not retained for mass production.

USS Stockton, booklet of plans

The armament was retained in order to keep some form of stability. The proving concept were the previous Sampsons, which innovative with four triple TT banks, AA guns, and the same old 4-inch (102 mm) guns. The main different is the way they were relocated:
Since the traditional 1000-tonners had them placed behind cutouts on the lower main deck, just after the forecastle cut, which was now eliminated, Engineers chosed to place them on “bandstands” aft of the bridge. The main advantage as to put them well above sea spray, unlike the previous designs. This was retained for the next ships, although still unable to bring more than a three gun broadside.
Internally, the appearance between the Caldwell class also diverged, USS Craven and Manley being “four-stackers” but USS Gwin, Coner and Stockton had three funnels, with a thicker, wider middle stack due to combined boiler uptakes. The Wickes/Clemsons, also for the sake of mass-production simplification stuck to a four identical funnels solution, being zlternatively called “four-stackers” in the interwar.

Detailed Design of the class

Hull and general design

The Caldwell-class destroyers had a 315 feet long long, with a beam of 30 feet, making them roomier, on a displacement of 1,090 tons, still not a radical departure from the traditional “1000-tonners”. They were also still armed with four 4-inch guns, two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes as inaugurated with previous classes. They had a crew complement of 114 officers and men, and only really innovated in hull design, artillery and powerlant arrangements, which nevertheless was a lot for a single design within the rather conservative design practices of the time. If the hull was lightly larger and longer, the flush deck configuration also made the Clemsons lighter than the previous Sampsons, also a way to achieve greater speeds. They retained the same freeboard forward and aft as the “broken deckers” though, to keep seakeeping intact. Their shallow draft meant their propellers would not be deep enough and they were designed with a keel sloping aft.

Plans of USS Caldwell


Still somewhat experimental, the Caldwells tested various machinery systems. USS Coner and Stockton built by Cramp being the first two, followed the original design to the letter:
Three-shaft, direct drive steam turbines (The high-pressure turbine, center shaft exhausting into the two low-pressure turbines outboard). There was however a geared cruising turbine also on the center shaft for fuel economy, preserving range, and still producing a total output of 18,500 shp.

USS Gwin in speed trials

The remaining vessels had this simplified to two shafts, both with geared turbines, but no cruising turbines, for 20,000 shaft horsepower (14,900 kW) and a top speed going from 30 to 32 knots (56 to 59 km/h; 35 to 37 mph). Hence they answered the 1915 demand for faster destroyers as well. As a reminder, the Sampsons were ony capable of 29.5 kts, standard since the Pauldings in 1910.
Thus the second solution was adopted for the mass-produced Wickes-Clemsons.
USS Caldwell (part of this second serie) also experimented an “electric speed reducing gear”, to connect cruising turbines to the main turbines. It was a distant forerunner of the turbo-electric drive used on 1917-18 US battleships designs as well as aircraft carriers.

To be more precise, the ships also varied in boilers:
DD69 had two sets of Curtis geared steam turbines and four Thornycroft boilers
DD70 and 71 two sets of Parsons geared steam turbines and also four Thornycroft boilers
DD72 and 73 three Curtis steam turbines plis a geared steam turbine for cruising and four Yarrow boilers
DD74 had two sets of Parsons geared steam turbines and four Normand boilers

The Wickes Class Destroyers USS Kimberly DD-80, USS Caldwell DD-69 and USS Allen DD-66 at Queenstown Harbor in Ireland in August of 1918, as the crews make ready for sea, showing their stern

Change of speed, change of doctrine ?

It should be insisted on, that the jump from 29 to 35 knots (Wickes) top speed was enormous and opened a brand new range of possibilities for the US Navy.
Outside the US, the first to reach that treshold were the British flotilla leaders of the Lightfoote class, also “four stackers”, which made 34,5 knots in late 1915. This was greater than average destroyers of the time, although the “regular” M-class launched in 1914 were capable of 35 knots already. Contemporaries of the Clemsons, the Scott class flotilla leaders reached 36 kts and the mass-built V-W classes 34. The German B97 class reached more than 36 knots, as the large S113 of the end of the war as much. IJN destroyers such as the Minekaze and following designs were tailored for no less than 39 kts. This new average limit of 36 kts seems indeed the new standard for destroyers, but left these new US destroyers still a knot below average.


Guns: 4x 4-in/50 Mark.

The 4-inch (102 mm)/50 Mark 9 guns were kept from previous designs.
Specs: Weight 6,100 pounds (2,800 kg), 33-pound (15 kg) armor-piercing shells (2,900 feet per second or 880 m/s) range 15,920 yards (14,560 m) at 20°. They were placed still in a lozenge pattern, one axial forward, one aft, both axial, and the last two on an upper position amidsgips, “bandstands” aft of the bridge. They were left unshielded, but rigid shields were installed in some case from 1917 and canvas for the remainder. The game changer was this upper relocation made these broadside guns inensitive to water spray. However the absence of forecastle made the formward gun “wet” most od the time while in heavy weather.
More on

Torpedoes: 4×3 21-in Mk. 8

As the Sampsons, the new destroyer kept the same impressive combination of twelve torpedo tobes in four triple banks, two on each broadside. These tubes were loaded with Bliss-leavitt 21-inches Mark 8 Torpedoes (1915). There were no reloads. in WW2 given the same configuration of interwar USN destroyers such as the Mahan class (16 tubes), new techniques to fire new preset-circular pattern torpedoes gave opened new possibilities. But for the three ships that were sent to the RN, they were used for escort and two of the banks were removed (see later).

The Mods 0, 1, 2 or 2A weighted 2,761 lbs. (1,252 kg), 248 in (6.299 m) long, 321 lbs. (146 kg) TNT charge, settings 10,000 or 12,500 yards (9,140 or 11,430 m) at 27 knots. Powered by Wet-heater and guided by a Mark 8 Mod 1 gyro. The tube banks were staggered for better arcs of fire, located amidships and aft of the funnels, with the port ones closer to the bow. They faced forward and aft depending on their location, but with limited traverse.

AA Guns: 2x 1-pdr Mk.7

These autocannons were placed for and aft, one behind the main gun, at the feet of the bridge, the other superfiring above the aft gun from the quartedeck. Based on the British 1-pdr QF “pompom”. Maxim-Nordenfelt 37 mm 1-pounder Mark 6/7. This was the lineage of the first dedicated anti-aircraft guns adopted by the US Navy, until replacement by the 3 in/23.
Quickspecs: Automatic fire with recoil, ~300 rpm cyclic, belt-fed, mv 1,800 ft/s (550 m/s) range c4,000 yards.
In the 1930s they all received 1930s two Browning 12.7mm/90 hevay macihine guns for AA defence instead of their 1-pdrs. Of course they were removed when modernized.

Armament upgrades and changes

Already the ships varied between themselves in service:
DD69 and 72-74 had the four 102mm/50 Mk IX and 2x 37mm/43 Mk VI/VII precised above, plus their four triple 533mm TT and two DCR (depth charge racks)
DD70 and 71 had the same but one DCT (depth charge thrower or “Y-Gun”) and 2 DCR.
In 1918 all had their 37 mm removed and two 76mm/23 (3-in) Mk XIV guns installed instead. They kept them for the whole interwar.
Caldwell, Coner, Stockton and Manley received also a Y-Gun in 1918.
In the 1930s one 3-in (76mm/23) was removed and two 12.7mm/90 or 0.5-in cal. Browning M1920 HMG were added.
In 1938-1939 at New York NYd, USS Manley was converted as the prototype of fast transport (APD), armed with three 4-in/50 Mk 9 guns (aft one discarded) four single 0.5-in/90 Browning AA and four DCT, 2 DCR. She could carry under favits four LCP(L) or LCP(R) and 120 troops. Her machinery was reduced by half for added range and useful space for the troops. In addition to the their ASW armament, USS Manley received a QCJ sonar.
The ships will be seen more in detail in a future APD conversion article.
In 1942-1944 she would have all her 4-in/50 guns and four Bprnwing AA removed and instead, three 3-in/50 Mk 20 DP guns, a twin 40mm/56 Mk 1.2 Bofors mount installed, and five single 20mm/70 Mk 4, Oerlikon AA guns and presumably an SA, and SE radars.

About the Leeds class

Three ships entered service with the RN as part of the 50 ships deliverd via lend-lease in 1940. These were DD-70 (Craven) as HMS Lewes, DD-72 Coner as HMS Leeds and DD-73 Stockton as HMS Ludlow, all three recommissioned on 23 October 1940. As delivered, they had the new 3-in/23 Mk 14 DP guns and three 0.5-in (12.7mm) Browning AA, plus two DCR. They were refitted with a type 141 sonar and underwent considerable changes during their carrer:
By late late 1940 one 4-in/50 was remived as well as a single 3-in/23, and two of the 21-in TT banks. This was traded for a more modern 5-in/50 Mk 10.19/20, four DCT, and DC stowage increased up to 60 depth charges.
In 1941-1942 they were fitted with a type 271 and type 286 radars.
Later HMS leeds lost two more of her 4-in/50 and the remaining TTs, for two single 3-in/50 Mk 10.19/20 and two 20mm/70 Oerlikon Mk II/IV AA guns.
This was repeated on Lewes and Ludlow, which however gained two twin 40/39 2pdr QF Mk VIII. The type 291 radar was installed before 1944 and one more 20mm/70 Oerlikon Mk II/IV.
At the end of the war, HMS Lewes had two 40mm/39 Mk VIII, five 20mm/70 Mk III, 4 DCT, 2 DCR (60 DCs) as well as the type 271, type 286 or type 291 radars and original type 141 sonar.
HMS Leeds had the same configuration. HMS Leeds ended BU on 3.1947 whereas Lewes was sunk as target on 25.5.1946 and Ludlow on 15.7.1945.

Appearance, Profiles and camo:

USS Conner painted with the Mackay low visibility scheme in 1918. Also called “Disruptive Coloration” or “Low Visibility-Dazzle” System. It combined many colors, including pink and greens, as well as wavy lines, patches, and spots. The latter were its most prominent aspect. The two ships of the class known to have it wore a complicated “chekered” pattern. The other wore the traditional light grey/black lines scheme.

USS Caldwell at Mare Island in 1917 with the same camouflage. Colors are known to have been blue, greens, and pink. See also.

USS Isabel showing a more precise version of this pattern, alternated lozenges in possibly pink and blue-green and other colors of the same tone, separated by white outlines in a checkered pattern. William Andrew Mackay was an American muralist which became a reputed “camoufleur” from his studio in New York. He attempted to achieve low visibility by using small splotches of color in the “Pointilist” art trend, and they produced at a great distance a “nondescript ambient gray” less discernible than the classic “battleship gray.” It was combined with disruptive patterns, breaking the shape of the ship, sense of direction and angle.

USS Craven underway in November 1918, with the classic disruptive black and grey pattern.

USS Caldwell at the same time, with the same variant.

In British service: USS Ludlow just arrived, with a prominent fake bow wave. To see another later example, check the dedicated article below.

USS Caldwell in 1917 with her remarkable McKay LV camouflage

USS Stockton in 1918

HMS Ludlow in 1942

⚙ specifications

Displacement 1,020 tons normal 1,125 tonsFL or 1,125 tons normal, 1,187 tons FL
Dimensions 308/315 ft 6 in x 31 ft 3 in x 11 ft 6 in* (96.16 x 9.53 x 3.51 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts G.E./Curtis Turbines/Parsons/White-Forster turbines 18,500-20,000 shp, see notes
Speed DD 69-71, 74: 32 kn – DD 72-73: 30 kn, 31.7 best trials
Range Circa 2500 nm/10 kts ?
Armament 4× 4-in/50, 2× 1-pdr AA guns, 4×3 21 in (533 mm) TTs
Crew 8 Officers, 8 Chief Petty Officers, 106 Enlisted

*315′ 6″ x 310′ x 30′ 8″/8′ 0 1/2″ mean

Read More


Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-442-3.
Gardiner, Robert, Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906-1921, London: Conway Maritime Press, 1985. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
Gardiner, Robert and Chesneau, Roger, Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922-1946, London: Conway Maritime Press, 1980. ISBN 0-83170-303-2.
Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I. London: Random House Group, Ltd. 2001. p. 147. ISBN 1-85170-378-0.
Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
Fitzsimons, Bernard, General Editor. The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, Volume 5, pp. 510–11, “Caldwell”, and Volume 16, pp. 1717–18, “Leeds”. London: Phoebus, 1978.
Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War I (Ian Allan, 1970), ISBN 0-71100-095-6.
Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War II (Ian Allan, 1965), ISBN 0-87021-773-9.

on uss craven uss manley/ caldwell class RN caldwell.htm
On uss-manley-dd-74-ag-28-apd-1.html

Model Kits

Book: dd-inaction1.html
No kit four so far

US Navy ww2 USS Caldwell (DD-69)

USS Caldwell was launched 10 July 1917 at Mare Island Navy Yard, commissioned 1 December 1917 under command of Lieutenant Commander B. McCandless, and first USN ship named for Lieutenant James R. Caldwell (1778-1804). Assigned to thr Atlantic Fleet, she was based in Norfolk from 8 January 1918. After quick training she was sent to Queenstown, Ireland, arriving on 5 March 1918, early enough to participating in the last wartime patrol and convoy escort missions. They were interrupted as Caldwell helped an experiment of underwater listening devices inder to to equip the allies fleet and better deal with German submarines. In December, USS Caldwell carried troops to Brest in France and joined the escort for President Woodrow Wilson, on SS George Washington en route for the meace taks in Paris.
She returned home as part of the Norfolk Division, Destroyer Force (Atlantic Fleet), assigned to Destroyer Squadron 3 (DesRon 3) operating along the East Coast until the end of 1919. Placed in reserve in August 1920, like many othjer DDs she operated with reduced complement from Charleston, and later Newport in Rhode Island. She waseventually decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 27 June 1922, seeing very little active service. She was not revised for Coast Guard Patols (none of her class did), and instead was was sold for BU on 30 June 1936, the first of the class to be discarded.

US Navy ww2 USS Craven (DD-70)

Launch of USS Craven

She was the second ship of the name, after Commander Tunis Craven (1813–1864). Buil at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, started by 20 November 1917, launched on 29 June 1918 she was commissioned on 19 October 1918. This left her little time to train. Still, she had a long career, and what she missed in WWI, she would make it for in WW2 like three others in her class.

US Navy career

USS Craven trained off the East Coast and Caribbean, also performed torpedo practice as the war ended, and on 3 May 1919 she sailed from New York for Trepassey Bay in Newfoundland, to act as a weather station, tracking Navy seaplanes for a historic crossing of the Atlantic. She was later overhauled and used for Army gun tests at Fort Story in Virginia. Newt she was used as recruitment ship at Hampton Roads, and later at Fall River (Massachusetts) and then Newport in Rhode Island and placed in reserve in Philadelphia on 10 October 1919.

Place in reduced commission she was in service from Charleston (South Carolina) from 10 February 1921, carrying liberty parties between Charleston and Jacksonville, and taking part in fleet maneuvers off Virginia, Narragansett Bay until March 1922. Deactivated in Phuladelphia she was decommissioned by 15 June 1922, mothballed long term.
On 12 November 1939 however she had not been scrapped. Since the name USS Craven has been given to a new destroyer (DD-382), she was recommissioned as USS Conway (after William Conway (1802–1865). From 9 August 1940 she was in limited service, until she was selected for transfer to the RN as part of the presidential lease of 50 destroyers, to recoup the losses in destroyers at the time the Battle of the Atlantic was fierce. She was sent to Halifax on 17 October 1940, Nova Scotia and decommissioned for good from US service on 23 October 1940.

As HMS Lewes, RN

USS Conway was turned over to British authorities as part of the “Destroyers for Bases” Agreement and recommissioned as HMS Lewes (East Sussex, England) a town like the 50 Wickes-Clemsons tranferred and named globally the same way. She had also the British pennant G 68 on 23 October, was prepared and departed Halifax on 1 November for Belfast, Northern Ireland, arriving eight days later.

Her first mission was to look for KMS Admiral Scheer trying to get into the northern Atlantic by the norther route. Missing her, she was sent next to Plymouth for modifications and overhaul. She remained afterward on disposal of CiC Plymouth. Air raids on 21 and 22 April 1941 saw her badly damaged. She was repaired until December 1941.

By February 1942, she was deployed with the Rosyth Escort Force, guarding convoys between the Thames and Firth of Forth. On 9-10 November she spotted engaged German S-boats attacked the convoy off Lowestoft. Later she escorted a troop convoy to the Middle East. At her return she was sent to Simonstown, South Africa, arriving on 18 May 1943. Due to her age she was reused as a target ship for aircraft while keep patrolling for enemy submarines trying to round the Cape.

In 1944, she was reassigned to the Eastern Fleet, but as submarine tender/torpedo target ship. From Durban on 13 August, she arrived at Ceylon in September, and was based at Trincomalee (Ceylon) in her new role, until January 1945. Ttransferred to the British Pacific Fleet, she again acted as target ship for aviation. Sent to Fremantle (Australia) by 11 February 1945, then Sydney on the 20th, she remained there until the end of the war on 15 August. On 12 October 1945, she was declared surplus and stripped off, then used as target and scuttled in the Tasman Sea (off Sydney) on 25 May 1946.

US Navy ww2 USS Gwin (DD-71)

USS Gwin (second Navy named for Lieutenant Commander William Gwin) was launched on 22 December 1917 at the Seattle Construction & Drydock Co. (Washington) and commissioned at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington, on 18 March 1920, expected for a Pacific service, but missing WWI altogether.
Departing Puget Sound on 26 April 1920 she made her shakedown along the Californian coast, crossed the Panama Canal for Newport (arrived 2 June 1920) and hoined operations along the East Coast down to Charleston. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 28 June 1922. She was mothballed, inactive until stricken on 25 January 1937, sold for BU to Union Shipbuilding, Baltimore, on 16 March 1939.

US Navy ww2 USS Conner (DD-72)

USS Conner in 1918
USS Conner was built at Engine Building Company at Philadelphia, commissioned on 12 January 1918.

USN service

Conner sailed from New York City on 12 May 1918, after her sea trials, shakedown and initial training, to escort a convoy to the Azores and Brest in France. From there she escorted convoys inbound to British and French ports, and those outbound up for Bermuda. Like her sisters active in WWI she alternated between answering calls and rescuing crews twice in July, and hunting down for U-Boats after sightings. By November, she made mail and passenger runs between Brest and Plymouth. From 8 May 1919 she was in Plymouth, and sortied to escort SS Lincoln to Brest for the Paris Peace Conference.
Back home, USS Conner joined fleet maneuvers in Narragansett Bay in July-August 1919 and was overhauled at the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 4 October 1919. She was placed in reserve at Norfolk, until May 1921, participating in large-scale fleet exercises. Based in Newport she started training with submarines. Until 29 March 1922 she was based in Charleston, until sent to Philadelphia to be decommissioned on 21 June 1922. Unlike two of her sister she was not stricken and sold for scrap. Instead, she was still avilable in 1940.

In July the US Navy had her recommissioned and rearmed as an escort vessel with only two torpedo tubes banks, the aft 4-inch gun relaced by a single 3-in/50 DP gun, when notified as part of the 50 destroyers transferred to the RN, recommissioned on 23 August 1940, refitted at Philadelphia and sent afterwards to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to be decommissioned for transfer on 23 October 1940.

RN service as HMS Leeds

hms leeds
The same day she was recommissioned with a British crew as HMS leeds. She left Halifax on 1 November 1940 for Belfast, placed Under the Rosyth Command. She started her escorted work in the North Sea (Thames-Firth of Forth) and underwent two air attacks. On 20 April 1942 she helped and assisted the badly damaged HMS Cotswold and towed her into Harwich. During the night of 24–25 February 1944 she also helped to repel German S-Boote attacks. By April 1945 she was placed in reserve, at Grangemouth, Firth of Forth (Scotland) and sold for scrap on 4 March 1947, BU, the last ship of the Caldwell class to disappear.

US Navy ww2 USS Stockton (DD-73)

In US service

USS Stockton was built at William Cramp & Sons at Philadelphia, launched on 17 July 1917, and commissioned on 26 November 1917. She spent the last year of the war escorting convoys from Queenstown in Ireland, spotted and one day engaged an U-boat but failed to sink her. On 30 March 1918 with USS Ericsson she was escorting the troopship St. Paul between Queenstown and Liverpool when Ericsson opened fired on a U-Boat which submerged and launched a torpedo at USS Stockton, which narrowly evaded it. The two destroyers depth charged the U-boat, but the latter escaped. During that night however when manoeuvering, USS Stockton passed in front of the ferry Slieve Bloom, near South Stack Light. The latter sank on 31 March 1918 after the collision while Stockton was stuck in Liverpool for repairs until the end of the war.

USS Stockton returned home in 1919 but went on in limited service with the Atlantic fleet until 26 June 1922, decommissioned and mothballed in Philadelphia. Still extant in 1940, she was selected for transfer, recommissioned on 16 August, proceeded to Halifax, decommissioned on the 23th and transferred the same day to the RN. More than a loan this was a gift, and she was stricken from the USN register by 1941.

RN service as HMS Ludlow

HMS Ludlow in escort work. One photo shows her camouflage in 1942, the second in the background screeing HMS Illustrious. This was one of her frontline duties.
As HMS Ludlow (G57) she multiplied escort missions. She was decommissioned by June 1945, beached in the Firth of Forth (off Yellowcraigs beach) to be used from 15 July 1945 for rocket target to train RAF pilots. It was reported the first below the waterline sank her. Her wreck is still there, just under 20 ft of water, some remains still visible at low tide.

US Navy ww2 USS Manley (DD-74)

First career 1917-1922

Probably of all ships in this class, USS Manley is the one with the most interesting career. Second to be named after Captain John Manley (c.1733–1793) she was built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, launched on 23 August 1917 and commissioned on 15 October 1917. After fitting out in Boston she sailed with Battleship Division Nine (BatDiv 9) on 25 November 1917 to Queenstown in Ireland. She escort her first convoy from there on 19 March 1918, when she rolled against the British auxiliary cruiser HMS Montagua, and the collision was enough to detonate her own depth charges, loosing her stern as well as 33 enlisted men and XO Lt. Comdr. Richard M. Elliot Jr. To add to the misery, fragments pierced two 50-US-gallon drums of gasoline and two 100 US Gal. tanks of alcohol which leaked and caught fire along the deck. The crew saved the ship from certain doom, working late into the night.

She was later towed by the sloop HMS Tamarisk and the the Blazer and Cartmel on 20 March back to Queenstown. She was flooded enough to have just 70 feet (21 m) of her hull under water. Repairs in Liverpool were only completed on 22 December 1918 and she was prepared for home, to participate in east coast exercizes. Instead she trained on the eastern seabourne and on 11 April 1919 was sent t the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea transporting passengers, mail, a small diplomatic staff. By June 1919 she did the same with the U.S. Food Commission in Turkish ports, and in Black Sea. After this unusual cruise she was back to New York on 1 August 1919, decommissioned at Philadelphia on 14 June 1922.

Second career 1930-40

Unlike her sisters she recommissioned on 1 May 1930 to experiment new torpedo-firing tubes based in Newport, Rhode Island. On 19 August she trained with the Scouting Fleet (battle practice) along the eastern seaboard and Caribbean. After crossing the Panama canal she did the same off California, based in San Diego, in 1932. Back to Atlantic service in 1933 she went on in the same testing routine until sailing to Panama on 10 September 1935, joining the Special Service Squadron that patrolling the Caribbean.

USS Erie, Jacob Jones and Manley training midshipmen in the summer of 1937
She was based in Norfolk by February 1937, reassigned to DesRon 10 for training midshipmen. On 26 October 1937 she left Boston with USS Claxton to join Squadron 40-T, protecting US interests in the Mediterranean, as the Spanish Civil War was raging. She operated from Villefranche (France) Naples (Italy) Algiers and Tangiers in French North Africa until relocated to Gibraltar and departing on 29 October 1938 for home, Norfolk. Reclassified a miscellaneous auxiliary on 28 November, redesignated AG-28 the Navy intended to convert her as their first auxiliary and high-speed transport prototype, in order to convert other Wickes/Clemson ships, now obsolete destroyers, since they were all related.

Third career as an APD (WW2)

USS Manley as APD-1 as completed, 23 September 1940.
USS Manley was transformed into an experimental high-speed transport at the New York Navy Yard, completed on 7 February 1939. She made a first marine landing on 21 February from Target Bay, Culebra Island and went on making others along the Virginian and North Carolina beaches and Caribbean, proving the concept well before the war. USS Manley visited California by the spring of 1940 for others drills off Coronado Roads and back on the Atlantic she was redesigned APD-1, as the first operational high-speed transport on 2 August 1940. The team behind with the war ongoing knew that she was a very useful experiment.

Apart training, Manley was used as escort in the Atlantic, first through neutrality patrols, and then in wartime for the US. On 11 April 1942 Manley picked up 290 survivors from SS Ulysses. On she transited the Panama Canal, reporting to the Pacific Fleet, headong for the Fiji and Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 14 August to load equipment for the post-landings phase at Guadalcanal missed by just a week.
She carried bombs, ammunition, and gasoline and sailed with USS Stringham (DD-83) on 16 August, exchanging her cargo for wounded marines, steaming back to Espiritu Santo. She later took in tow the crippled USS Blue (DD-387) to Tulagi but as Japanese were reported coming, it was decided to scuttle the destroyer instead and Manley evacuated the survivors, reaching Espiritu with just two hours of fuel left.
There, she received the mission of sneaking in reinforcements and supplies to Guadalcanal: Her crew removed all topside weight, the non-essential and she was (also the first) painted in jungle green (the first of the famous “green dragons”), superstructures covered by camouflage nets. She made her trip to Guadalcanal on 3 September, rescuing survivors from the APDs Little and Gregory on the 5-6th.

Camouflage patterns fo APD-1, measure 31 12T and 20L

On the 8th at 05:00, she made a surprise landing on Taivu Point, Guadalcanal (1st Marine Raider Battalion), reinforced by paramarines at 11:30. She also bombarded a theior demand the Tasimboko village. The raid was a success which prepared the Marine’s victory in the area. The village was an imporetant Japanese supply base, crammed with supplies and ammunitions, all destroyed. Manley was back to Lunga Point later with more raiders when informed of an impending Japanese heavy ships raid. With 200 marines aboard, she steamed to Lengo Channel with USS McKean (DD-90), but only had fuel for one day’s operations and so headed for Tulagi. ext she was sent to Nouméa in New Caledonia for a refit.

On 31 October 1942 she landed another Marines raider company at Aola Bay in Guadalcanal as part of TF 65 effort, with another on 4 November 1942 and on the 8th. She resupplied at Nouméa on 20 November and came back with torpedoes and towing two PT boats while escorting SS Pomona back to Espiritu Santo. She landed raiders at Lunga Point as well as the boats and torpedoes to Tulagi. The next weeks and months were occupied by the same routine of supply runs though the Solomons.

At last, the worn out veteran was sent for a major overhaul at San Francisco on 12 June 1943. She emerged from Hunters Point Navy Yard on 1 August 1943, bound for Hawaii and escorting a convoy south to Funafuti, Solomons. The campaign there was a win, and she contributed greatly to it.

Back at Pearl Harbor on 14 December 1943 she joined the Vth Amphibious Corps prepared for Operation Flintlock (Marshalls). She was underway on 22 January 1944 with TF 52 and detached with USS Overton (DD-239) for a dawn strike on Carter and Cecil Islands (Kwajalein Atoll) on 31 January. Both were taken.
Next she landed the 7th Cavalry Regiment (reconnaissance troops) on Bennett Islands on 5 February and acted as fire support ship. On the 10th, she was a transport screen for Hawaii and trained there Army troops for future landings.

On 30 May, USS Manley was assigtned to TG 52.15 and took part in the invasion of Saipan, arriving on 14 June, landing troops south of Garapan on the 16th and made a supply run to and from Eniwetok while bombarding Tinian on the 9, 12, and 18 July. On the 22th she was back at FOB Eniwetok and via Kwajalein, she arrived in Pearl Harbor on 9 August. On 10 September she carried 50 tons of explosives for the underwater demolition team work prepared for the invasion of Yap. departing on the 15th via Eniwetok hea arrived off Manus, Admiralty Islands. She learned the operation was canceled and instead attacked Leyte, Philippines, doubling as a fire support mission in Leyte Gulf on 18 October.
She was in screening station south of Dulag, picked up casualties from Ross (DD-563) transferred to USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) and headed for Hollandia with TransDiv 28 on the 21th but stopped en route at Seeadler Harbor in Manus, then escorting a convoy to New Guinea and back. By mid-December she trained at Noemfoor Island, prepared for the invasion of Luzon.

USS Manley after her last refit in 1945

On 4 January 1945 she took part in the landing on Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, and escorted a LST convoy to Leyte Gulf on 18 January.
She landed troops at Nasugbu, Luzon on 31 January and returned to Leyte, refuelled at Mindoro and escorted a convoy to Subic Bay.
She operated with TransDiv 100, carrying six LCI(L)s with 700 assault troops and landed them at Mariveles on 15 February and two days later at Corregidor. On 2 April she carried land-based planes to Okinawa, landed on 7 April 1945. Durin the trip back her sonar operator picked up a signal and she dropped depth charges on a posisble submarine, later screening USS White Plains (CVE-66) and USS Hollandia (CVE-97) to Guam.

The veteran was back to San Diego on 23 May for an overhaul, reclassified DD-74 on 25 June 1945. On 24 July she was sent to Pearl Harbor Navy Yard to be fitted with a catapult, in order to test target drones. Her frontline carrer came to an end. With this role, the old destroyer, last of her class still in service, helped to train gunners and face Kamikaze attacks, but the war ended and she was still in this role in the Hawaiian Islands when steaming on 26 September for San Diego, crossed the Panama Canal to Philadelphia NyD and decommission on 19 November 1945. Stricken on 5 December 1945 she was sold for scrap on 26 November 1946. For her career she earned 5 battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation.

Sampson class destroyers (1916)

Sampson class destroyers (1915-1936)

US Navy ww2 USN Fleet Destroyers (1912-1935): USS Sampson, Rowan, Davis, Allen, Wilkes, Shaw (DD-63-68)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The Sampson-class destroyers were commissioned in 1916-1917, as the follow-up O’Brien/Tucker classes with 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, and last of the “1000-tonners”. Their main innovation was the introduction of four triple-mounts torpedo tubes, giving them a world-beating twelve-torpedo broadside, albeit halved due to their positions. Six ships were built, the last of a 26-ships serie started with the Paulding class. The largest and best of the serie they largely inspired a transitional class, the first “flush deck” Caldwell class, differing on many points.

The last “thousand-tonners”:

General Outlines, Sampson class
The Sampson class were thought at by the admiralty as another incremental step in design. The previous O’Brien/Tucker tried to improved both the armament by introducing 21-inches torpedo tubes, as well as range with different arrangement of turbines and boilers, with VTE and geared turbines for cruising and direct-drive for speed. For the last of these 26 ships in 1915, the Congress authorized six more ships (“torpedo boat destroyers Nos. 63–68”.

It seems on part the limits of the standard hull used from Paulding has been reached. Willing to improve again the speed, the range, and some arrangement for the armament, the admiralty board looked at more radical solutions. One way to see the problem was too look at the hull and see how to improve it, which was reserved for the next Caldwell. As for the DD-63 serie, they still were largely a reboot of the Tucker class with the ordnance proposed to study a triple torpedo tube banks instead of a twin one. Many calculations has to be made by the bureau of construction and repairs in order to have the deck strenghtened, stability rethought, etc. and not having these triple banks weighting too much, causing rolling.

Crew of USS Sampson posing in 1917 – IWM

The gun armament remained the same except for these twelve 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes. This was not only a significant increase over the Tucker class, but on all navies at the time as well.
For example the much larger contemporary Thornycroft type destroyer leader (1916) had only two triple 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes on a 1,480 tons standard. So this was twice the armament on an almost 1/3 lighter tonnage !

Replacing four twin mounts with four triple mounts would in fact remain standard through the mass-production “flush-deck”, starting with thebtransitional Caldwell and all the mass-produced Wickes and Clemson classes commissioned through 1921. These banks however remained on the broadside, so only allpowing six-torpedo spreads. The General Board decision made over centerline torpedo tubes was to have still torpedoes remaining after firing a broadside by default of a reload. Experienced with centerline mounts was also a result of torpedoes striking gunwales. These were Mark 8 torpedo tubes.
The other armament innovation was the introduction of two single anti-aircraft 1-pdr (37 mm) autocannons. The Anti-submarine armament, depth charge rackes and Y-Gun, were added soon after completion for the 1917 ships as they were prepared for escort right away.
powerplant-wise, they still had the same main direct drive Curtis turbines and supplemented with geared cruising turbines either on one or two shafts.

Design of the class

Hull and general design

Same hull albeit longer and bit beamer compared to the Tuckers. The General design was a simple copy-paste of the previous ships. They basically had the very same hull, albeit enlarged further compared to the previous Tucker: 315 ft 3 in (96.09 m) in overall lenght for a beam of 30 ft 7 in (9.32 m) and draft of 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m), all increased figures. Compared to the initial Cassin class (305 ft 3 in x 30 ft 4 in x 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)) shis shown that the beam was narrower, but the added lenght of ten feets improved seakeeping and speed, making for finer hull lines. The typical forecastle had some flare forward, an almost straight bow, a straight section whereas the waterline had none, having a long elliptic shape. The typical stern started rounded at deck level. The same rudder, porpeller struts was kept, with minor changes depending on the powerplant arrangement, but always two shafts.

The forecastle had recesses for the two amidships guns, despite the fact it was proven since the Cassins this arrangement was not the best in heavy weather, as the guns were not well protected from waterspray. The same general design was kept for the bridge, a simple enclosed wheelhouse with an open bridge on top, protected by canvas. Over time, the same beak-like rigid structure was added, and foldable windows while a tarpaulin was affixed semi-permanently on a frame above. Atop of it was a “3” shaped walkway. A platform was accomodated for the same froward projector at the end of it, but also the forward fire control rangefinder.

As for the rest of the deck it was roughly similar with four axial raked funnels, seven air vents intakes, same large deck hatch structure, aft quarterdeck/rado house aft, but its forward section was reshaped as she received her side projector mounted atop a lattice structure. The rest of the details remained the same apart an additional small service boat on davits starboard. The crew was the same, 99-110 of far less depending of the time (when used with the Coast Guard for example).


Virtual copy of the previous Tucker powerplant with two propellers, two shafts connected to Curtis steam direct drive turbines but followed by geared turbines working at lower pressure, mated on four Yarrow boilers for an average output of 17,696 hp (13,196 kW) and top speed of 29.5 kn (54.6 km/h; 33.9 mph). The main difference between them was on USS Allen, Wilkes and Shaw which only one a single shaft. It was on both on the three others.


The crew of USS Allen posing behind the 4-in main gun.
The crew of USS Allen posing behind the 4-in main gun.

Guns: 4x 4-in/50 Mark.

4-inch (102 mm)/50 Mark 9 guns weighing each more than 6,100 pounds (2,800 kg). They carried fired 33-pound (15 kg) armor-piercing (AP) shells exiting the barrel at 2,900 feet per second (880 m/s), reaching a target up to 15,920 yards (14,560 m) at 20° (max) elevation. They were placed the same way for all the thousand-tonners, in a lozenge pattern, one axial on the forcastle forward, two on deck level just abaft its break, and one axial aft on the weather deck. They were lef unshielded, apart canvas ones and rigid shields were installed in 1917 on the forecastle while canvas were installed for the admiships guns.

Looking aft from the bow of the USS Davis DD-65 toward the bridge area and forward guns.

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Torpedoes: 4×3 21-in Mk. 8

These ships were given four triple Bliss-leavitt 21-inches Mark 8 Torpedo Tubes. They started to be introduced in the USN for destroyer use in 1915, so as they were ordered.
Mods 0, 1, 2 or 2A: 2,761 lbs. (1,252 kg), 248 in (6.299 m) long, 321 lbs. (146 kg) TNT charge, settings 10,000 or 12,500 yards (9,140 or 11,430 m) at 27 knots. Powered by Wet-heater and guided by a Mark 8 Mod 1 gyro. The tube banks were staggered for better arcs of fire, located amidships and aft of the funnels, with the port ones closer to the bow. They faced forward and aft depending on their location but had very limited traverse inwards.

AA Guns: 2x 1-pdr

These autocannons were a derivative of the British 1-pdr QF “pompom”. The U.S. Navy adopted the Maxim-Nordenfelt 37 mm 1-pounder as the “Mark 6” before 1898. The Mark 7, 9, 14, and 15 followed and were adopted on US destroyers from the Sampson class onwards. These were the first dedicated anti-aircraft guns adopted by the US Navy, but later replaced by the more capable 3 inch (76 mm)/23.
They were located fore and aft, behind the forward main gun on the forecastle and superfiring on top pf the quartedeck hour aft.
Quickspecs: Automatic fire with recoil, ~300 rpm cyclic, belt-fed, mv 1,800 ft/s (550 m/s) range c4,000 yards.
In the 1930s they all received 1930s two Browning 12.7mm/90 hevay macihine guns for AA defence instead of their 1-pdrs.
Allen was further upgraded in 1940 (see later).


From Kombrig, probably 1918.
Others to come.

USS Rowan, DD-64, in August 1916 as completed.
USS Allen in 1918
USS Allen in 1918 (to come)

⚙ specifications

Displacement 1,111 tons (normal) 1,225 tons (full load)
Dimensions 315 ft 3 in x 30 ft 7 in x 10 ft 9 in (96.09 x 9.32 x 3.28 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts Curtis DDS turbines (+1/2 GST ) 4 Yarrow boilers 17,696 hp (13,196 kW)
Speed 29.5 kn (54.6 km/h; 33.9 mph)
Range Circa 2500 nm/10 kts
Armament 4× 4-in/50, 2× 1-pdr AA guns, 4×3 21 in (533 mm) TTs
Crew 99 in 1916

The case of USS Allen: A “thousand tonner” in WW2

uss allen 1942
USS Allen in 1944 as modernized (to come)

Only ship in her class not scrapped to comply with the Washington treaty after some service in 1925, she was mothballed in Philadelphia but unlike the others not exhumed in 1934-39 to be scrapped. Instead she was recommissioned fully on 23 August 1940, modernized (she received notably a SC radar) and served with the Pacific Fleet as part of DesDiv 80. Present at Pearl Harbor during the attack she survived and was used for advanced training of submariners as defender, but she also patrolled between islands of the Hawaiian chain.
In 1946 when discarded she was the longest-serving destroyer on the Naval Vessel Register.

Modifications: In 1940, she underwent a serie of modifications: The two 1-pdr were removed, but she kept her four main guns, two aft TT banks removed, leaving only the forward ones. She received twelve depht-charge launchers placed where the former TTs previously resided, and two new depht-charge racks aft, plus a modern hull sonar.
She also had a new pole mainmast supporting an SC radar, boats and davits removed, partially rebuilt bridge, funnel cap on her forefunnel, no aft mastbut a small pole, new modern radio, new signal lamps, new direction finder and telemeter, projectors removed, and standard inflatable boats, and other structure modifications and additions.
In 1942 – 1943, she lost her two 12.7mm/90 AA and her two aft TT banks as her aft Y-gun but gained six 20mm/70 Mk 4 AA guns. The SC radar was replmaced by the SA and SE radars presumably. She was noted with an increased displacement to 1152/1433t.

Read More


Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History. NIP
Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I. London: Random House Group, Ltd. 2001.
Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War I (Ian Allan, 1970)
Gardiner, Robert, Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906-1921. Conway Maritime Press 1985.
Gardiner, Robert and Chesneau, Roger, Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922-1946
Public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.


More photos on
On 4 in/50 mk9 ww1 US torpedoes

Model Kits

combrig-70676 sampson and wilkes 1916-1936 1:700 kit
iron-shipwrights uss-allen 1:350


WoW reconstitution of the Sampson class

US Navy ww2 USS Sampson DD-63

USS Sampson was assigned to Division 9 after commission and worjout, Atlantic Destroyer Force for her shakedown training cruiser in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, New York. From 6 April 1917, under command of Lt Cdr Mark L. Hersey, Jr. trained off Provincetown, Massachusetts and was prepared in Tompkinsville on 15 May 1917 to escort her first convoy which to Halifax. From there, she reached Queenstown in Ireland (25 May 1917). She was fitted with twi British-type depth charge projectors at the stern and commenced escort four days later. On 18 June 1917, she rescued survivors of the Monarch and Elele. Others will follow as well as several spottings and/or attacks but ni confirmed kill.
She moved to France after the war, escorted the liner SS George Washington into Brest and was back to Queenstown (14 December), departing for home, entering Brooklyn’s New York Navy Yard for upkeep and by 7 January 1919.

USS Sampson in Hampton Roads, December 1916
After this she was versed to the 4th Division, 2nd Flotilla Destroyer Force, departing on 22 March to the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island for experimental testing of torpedoes and naval mines. By May she sailed to guard the route of NC-4 Atlantic crossing attempt. She ws deactivated from 1 December 1919 until 14 February 1921 in NY and decomm. in Philadelphia NyD in June.
She was stricken on 7 January 1936, sold on 8 September and scrapped in Baltimore.

US Navy ww2 USS Rowan DD-64

USS Rowan in 1916, in dark grey livery

USS Rowan was commissioned at Boston, Massachusetts on 22 August 1916 under command of Lt. William R. Purnell. After sea trials, shakedown in the Carribean, USS Rowan started destroyer force fleet exercises based from Newport in Rhode Island, working along the Atlantic coast in the fall of 1916, alternated with Carribean/Mexican waters winter exercises. She was in Norfolk, by April 1917, and patrolled off the mouth of the York River, before a short overhaul and upkeep in New York, prepared for war in Boston. On 7 May 1917 she departed Boston for Ireland, assigned to DesDiv 7 at Queenstown, starting operations in June.
Hr work alternated convoy escort in and out of British Isles waters and French ports like Brest, and antisubmarine patrols, with occasional rescues. On 28 May 1918 she took part in an U-boat hunt, dropping 14 depth charges and reporting an oil slick, and a “probable kill”.
She left Queenstown on 26 December 1918 for New Yorkn reached on 8 January 1919 and after an ovheraul, resumed exercises along the east coast and Caribbean, but on 29 August, she entered Philadelphia NyD to be placed in reduced commission.
In July 1920 she resumed operations and this went on until March 1922. She was decommissioned again in Philadelphia on 19 June 1922 and was inactive at League Island until stricken on 7 January 1936, sold for scrap on 20 April 1939.

US Navy ww2 USS Davis DD-65

USS Davis was launched sponsored by Miss E. Davis, granddaughter of Admiral Davis (Civil war). She was commissioned 5 October 1916, went through sea trials and shakedown in the Carribean, and was soon assigned to Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, in fleet training and neutrality patrols as her sisters, until 6 April 1917. She was prepared for overseas service while in Boston, and on the 24th, she departed with five other destroyers of the first detachment sent to Queenstown. She arrived on 4 May 1917 and started convoy escort and patrol duties. On 25-28 June 1917 notably the escorted the first American Expeditionary Force convoy to France.
On 24 February 1918, while in patrol with USS Paulding and USS Trippe off the south coast of Ireland she sighted the HMS L2’s periscope, and mistook it for a U-boat. She run at it and opened fire. L2 meanhile spotted them and submerged to 90 feet (27 m), and then 200 feet (61 m) whereas USS Paulding dropped two depth charges. One jammed L2’s diving planes and the unfortnunate sub eventually plunged straight down to the seabed under 300 feet (91 m). Four more depth charges shook her badly and L2’s CO eventually ordered to blow out ballast tanks until she surfaced bow-first. USS Davis then dropped another depth charge very close while all three destroyers opened fire point blank at 1,500 yards (1,370 m).

L2 pressure hull was holed abaft her conning tower, making any new dive impossible, until some of her crew rushed on the conning tower waving hands with a White Ensign, firing a smoke grenade. This prompted a ceasefire. L-2 was escorted by Davis to Berehaven in Ireland for primary repairs. Despite this “blue on blue”, the British command praised the conduct of all involved.
Davis alterbated huntes with occasional rescues, including unusual ones, like on 12 May 1918, 35 survivors of U-103 sunk by the troopship HMT Olympic. On 13 December 1918 USS Davis escorted USS George Washington with the presient aboard to Brest and took part in a naval review. She was back in New York on 7 January 1919, underwent an overhaul and was reassigned to DesDiv 4, Flotilla 8 of the Atlantic Fleet, resuming peacetime East Coast training.

She was in reserve until November 1920 at Philadelphia NyD, League Island but was transferred to Charleston on 3 December to operate from there and Newport but in reduced commission. Back in Philadelphia NyD she was decommissioned on 20 June 1922. By 25 March 1926 she was transferred to the Coast Guard and recommissioned as CG-21, based in New London, Connecticut for the “Rum Patrol” until returned to the USN on 30 June 1933. She stayed decommissioned until stricken, then sold for BU on 22 August 1934.

US Navy ww2 USS Allen DD-66

USS Allen Camouflaged in 1918. She was the only US destroyer to be laid down in 1915 and take part in both conflicts, with 28 years under the flag, although 12 years in reserve made just 16 years. This was far better than all her sisters, which barely served for ten years at best (with the interwar Rum patrol)? But this paled in comparison to Some Fletcher and Sumner/Gearing class which were in service through modernizations from 1942 for some until the late 1980s, so over 38+ years.

In the five months after commissioning, after sea trials and Carribean shakedown cruise, USS Allen joined the destroyer force, Atlantic Fleet for fleet exercizes and patrol, escorting convoys along new England and from 6 April prepared for war.
The night of 30 April to 1st May 1917 saw hers escorting the USS Connecticut when she collided with USS Duncan. On 14 June, she departed New York to escort one of the first troopship convoys to France. She then headed north and arrived in Queenstown, Ireland and started to escort convoys on their last leg in British waters. USS Allen commander was back then Henry D. Cooke. later awarded the Navy Cross. She accompanies convoys both to French and British ports and made in patrols ten U-Boat sightings (and attacks) but failed to male any kill.
On 14 July 1917 USS Allen escorted SS Rhesus and SS Idomeneus when the former signalled a torpedo wake, possibly from U-49 or U-58. She attacked but made not kill. By December 1918 she escorted the presidential liner SS George Washington to Brest in France. Back to Queenstown, she departed after Christmas for home, New York arriving on 7 January 1919.

After an overhaul she resume East Coast/West Indies fleet service, until 22 June 1922. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve but reactivated on 23 June 1925 to be a training platform for naval reservists, based in Washington, D.C. From March 1928, she returned to the Reserve, berthed at Philadelphia. She spent there the next 12 years and on 23 August 1940, unlike all her sisters, she was fully recommissioned at Philadelphia.
After a few modifications she resumed her early interwar service as training ship along the East Coast but was soon reassigned to the Pacific Fleet, entering DesDiv 80, and soon relocated at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as tension grew with Japan. On 7 December 1941, she was moored in East Loch, northeast of Ford Island, southeast of the hospital ship USS Solace (AH-5). She claimed during the attack to have assisted downing three planes.

Right after she was needed for a escorting ships which brought troops to various islands of the Hawaiian chain, also patrolling for IJN submarines. However soon she was reconverted to be used as a “training foe”, work up new submarine crews trained in penetrating ASW defensive positions. Allen acting as the “red” or defender. In this role she trained a very considerable amount of future submarine captains (including aces) on the numerous Gato/Balao and Tench class boats that all went through this advanced training. But to break the monotony she also made training cruises periodically to the United States West Coast and back. Therefore she saw only “mock action” during her service, with Pearl Harbor as the only time she really met a real enemy. There was little else to do for such a “relic”, too slow and small (thrice lighter than a Gearing class !) to take on frontline duties, notably for the sake of standardization.

USS Allen in 1942

In September 1945, USS Allen left Hawaii to Philadelphia, to be at last decommissioned, on 15 October 1945. Stricken on 1 November 1945, she was sold to the Boston Metals Company in Baltimore and her scrapping commenced on 26 September 1946. She earned the title of USN destroyer’s granddady, as longest-serving destroyer in history so far (some WW2 Gearing/Sumner would beat her in the cold war at that, under new flags). She was also the most awarded destroyer of the serie, earning the WWI Victory Medal with “DESTROYER” clasp, the American Defense Service Medal with “FLEET” clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (one battle star) and the World War II Victory Medal.

US Navy ww2 USS Wilkes DD-67

USS Wilkes was outfitting during the winter of 1916-17. She was in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and and after sea trials, in the Newport Torpedo Station before starting fleet maneuvers off Cuba. She was back on the east coast when Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare for neutrrality patrols based in Norfolk, on 7 March 1917.
From April, she escorted French cruiser Amiral Aube from Norfolk to New York and on 15 June, departed to cover the first American troop convoy to Europe bound to Saint Nazaire, France, on the 26th. She headed Portsmouth, arriving for Independence Day and then joined the rest of the destroyer force at Queenstown (6 July).

He role alternated like the others between regukar escort work from mid-Atlantic to Europe, either in British of French ports (Brest and Saint Nazaire), and antisubmarine patrols. The winter of 1917-18 was the mùost gruelling in particular with long night hours in stormy seas making u-Boats sightings rare. She once rescued 23 from SS Purley on 25 July 1917. Christmas 1918 saw her eventually departing Queestwon bound for New York, arriving on 7 January 1919.

After an overhaul she departed in May to act as a picket ship for the first transatlantic flight, for four Navy-Curtiss (NC) flying boats. She was stationed between the Azores and Ponta Delgada on the 17-20 May 1919 and Lisbon, Portugal. She was there on the 27th, present for the celebration among all the 17 destroyer presents along the historical trip. She departed UK on 31 May for New York and reintegrate the destroyer force, Atlantic for 34 months, and in the winter fleet manoeuvers in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, based from Newport, New York and Charleston. She was decommissioned on 5 June 1922 in Philadelphia Navy Yard.

By the summer of 1926 she was “loaned” to the Coast Guard to patrol during the Prohibition, based in New London and started operations from 23 August 1926 under command of Lt. Cdr M. J. Ryan of the USCG, and served in that role for eight years far more than her war time. She ceased activity on 15 March 1934, decommissioned on the 29th, returned to the Navy, stricken on 5 July, sold on 22 August.

US Navy ww2 USS Shaw DD-68

USS Shaw was commissioned on 9 April 1917, so just as the US entered war. After sea trials, she skipped the shakedown and sailed directly from Mare Island on 25 May to New York, being prepared in June for distant service. She sailed with the fourth Expeditionary Force convoy to France.

On 26 June after refuelling from a fleet tanker she arrived in Quiberon Bay, France on 1 July and on Independence Day, she sailed from St. Nazaire to Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland, starting patrol and convoy escort on 10 Julmy and until the end of the war without incident. However almlst a year later on 1st July 1918, she received an SOS from the transport Covington just torpedoes, and rushed to save survivors, finding the ship was under tow, but sank the next day. On 25 September she performed an attack on a sighted U-Boat but had no result.
On 9 October while escorting the giant liner SS Aquitania her rudder jammed as she performed a zigzag pattern, and headed straight for the liner, which struck her at her bow, slicing 90 feet (27 m) of it. Her bridge was mangled and she caught fire (12 sailors lost). Damage control was efficient so that she was saved but evacuated with just 21 men remaining and managing to have her across 40 miles into the nearest port under her own power.
Repaired at Portsmouth until 29 May 1919 she headed back to NyC (17 June) and was overhauled at Philadelphia Navy Yard (2 October) before joining the reserve, decommissioned on 21 June 1922.
On 25 March 1926 she was transferred to the Coast Guard and did her next years of service as part of the “Rum Patrol” until returned to the USN, recomm. on 30 June 1933, but stricken on 5 July 1934, sold for BU on 22 August.

Tucker class Destroyers (1915)

Tucker class destroyers (1914-1936)

US Navy ww2 USN Fleet Destroyers (1912-1935): USS Tucker, Conyngam, Porter, Wadsworth, Jacob Jones, Wainwright (DD-57-62)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The Tucker class were six #USN fleet #destroyers started just as #WWI was about to start. These were also the fourth of the “thousand tonners”, based on their displacement. They were an incremental development of the O’Brien class, with the same 21-inches torpedo tubes, and apparently all fitted with Curtis steam turbines. Built in four private yards, launched in 1915 and completed in early 1916 they had time to train and make their part in neutrality patrols before the US entered the war, before proceeding to ireland and escort convoys until the end of the war (Jacob Jones sunk). The interwar so four of them used as USGC ships during the prohibition, and sold for BU in 1936. #usnavy #unitedstatesdestroyer #worldwarone

Design of the class

The Tucker class displaced around 1,060 long tons (1,080 t) – There were differences between yards: DD 60 actually displaced 1060 tonnes, DD-61 and 62 from New York SB displaced more at 1050 tonnes, and the rest displaced 1090 tonnes, so substantially more than the previous O’Brien, although they were very similar. The greatest change was a narower and longer hull, to maximize output (which was the same) and enable greater speeds. They reached half a knot more indeed despite a slight increase in displacement.

Hull and general design

The Tucker class were longer than the O’Brien, of about 2.5 m meters (8.2 feets), for just over 315 feet (96.1 m) in length. They had a narrower beam of about 30 feet (9.1 m) as compared to the o’Brien’s 31 ft 2 in or 9.5m. The general design was still the very same, with a constant curve deck from the prow to stern, the same “rounded-Vee” shaped poop, collision-guards, same rudder and propeller struts, same typical forecastle with two recesses for the admiship deck guns, same small conning tower bridge and upper platform, same four funnels amidships and four paired vents of independent Natural Ventilation intakes, access hatches aft, then quarterdeck house structure and radio room, with the aft mast planted over, and two equal size composed masts with braced radio cables.
The small bridge only had a chandurb and voice pipes, with the primary steering wheel located below. A second back wheel was installed on top of the quarterdeck house, forward of the mainmast. The structure also was rounded, to allow a better arc of fire for the guns and TTs while maximizing internal space.

The brigde was later encompassed with a rigid breakwater beak structure when prepared for Atlantic Operations in 1917 and received sets of folding windows, but was still open air until 1936, with perhaps an optional tarpaulin as cover. There were also two projectors, the main one being installed on a light platform on top of the prismatic bridge. The second one was located aft pf the quarterdeck house. Each destroyer had a “fleet” of three boats for its 100-men crew, located on davits aft of the funnels, either side of the main deck hatch structure: In order, a liaison boat, a steam cutter (port) and a yawl on starboard. The hull had reinforcement bulges above the waterline amidship, fixed ladders aft of it, and on the prow, external, deck-layed anchors (no porthole). The bow design was the same as all the others, slightly angled. The forecastle had moderate flare forward, and ended in a straight section.


A 1905 Curtis Direct Drive steam turbines (Rankin, 1905. Kennedy’ Modern Engines Vol VI. 1912)
Most had two direct-drive steam turbines of the Curtis type for all yards and a single geared cruising turbine for fuel economy and extend their range (likely same provenance). USS Wadsworth (DD 60) from Bath Iron Works, was the only one equipped with two geared steam turbines only (rated for 17,500 shp) but she was the first first U.S. destroyer were these, for experimentation. Trials and subsequent service proved it was a wise moved as she had the best performances of the whole class. DD57, 61 were rated for 62 17,000 shp, DD58, 59 for 18,000 shp. They had four Yarrow Boilers, double-ended type.

Yarrow Boilers, RN Stokers Manual 1912
Yarrow Boilers, RN Stokers Manual 1912

USS Wadsworth greatly influenced later destroyer designs as a consequence. Initially designed for a top speed of 29.5 knots (54.6 km/h), DD 60 and others exceeded these figures. The class had a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km) using their cruise turbine based on their 310 tons of oil, 290 tons. This improved their range, from an estimated 2,2-300 (no data found) on the O’briens. The latter indeed had a completely different powerplant arrangement, with direct drive Zoelly steam turbines and two triple-expansion steam engines for cruising (not DD-55 which had two geared steam turbines White-Forster boilers). Installed on very similar ships, it helped the General board to determine the best powerplant arrangement.

USS Wadsworth on sea trials, July 1915
USS Wadsworth on sea trials, July 1915

Direct drive propulsion systems used a fixed pitch propeller, with stable rpm but a geared drive propulsion uses a reduction gear on the main shaft connected to the propeller, which can change its pitch according to requirement. This was an ideally flexible solution using the fixed rpm of a shaft generator.
These turbines were connected with four classic steam boilers, which were of the Yarrow type on all ships.


As built they repeated the exact same scheme of the previous classes, four 4-inch (10 cm) guns in a lozenge pattern and four twin 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, eight total (so no spares), and all were equipped with depth charges in 1917 and some acoustic equipments.

Main: Four 4-in/50 Mark 9 (102 mm)

USS Wadsworth in Queestown, Ireland, 1918
4-inch (102 mm)/50 Mark 9 guns weighing each more than 6,100 pounds (2,800 kg). They carried fired 33-pound (15 kg) armor-piercing (AP) shells exiting the barrel at 2,900 feet per second (880 m/s), reaching a target up to 15,920 yards (14,560 m) at 20° (max) elevation. They were placed the same way for all the thousand-tonners, in a lozenge pattern, one axial on the forcastle forward, two on deck level just abaft its break, and one axial aft on the weather deck. They were lef unshielded, apart canvas ones and rigid shields were installed in 1917 on the forecastle while canvas were installed for the admiships guns.
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Torpedoes: 4×2 Bliss-leavitt 21-inches Mark 8 TTs

The Mark 8 really tailored for destroyer use was faster and heavier, and intriduced in 1915 as the ships were completed. They had the following caracteristics:
Mods 0, 1, 2 or 2A: 2,761 lbs. (1,252 kg), 248 in (6.299 m) long, 321 lbs. (146 kg) TNT charge, settings 10,000 or 12,500 yards (9,140 or 11,430 m) at 27 knots. Powered by Wet-heater and guided by a Mark 8 Mod 1 gyro. The tube banks were staggered for better arcs of fire, located amidships and aft of the funnels, with the port ones closer to the bow. They faced forward and aft depending on their location but had very limited traverse inwards.

Depth Charges

In 1917 to perform better as ASW ships, the class was equipped with two depht charge racks (DCR) and later (or at the same time) a single thrower or DCT of the “Y-gun” type. It throwed two depht-charges at once, but the reloading was a long process. The latter were probably of the Mark I type (1916) weighting 100 lbs. (45 kg) with a 50 lbs. (23 kg) wet gun-cotton exploser ad two settings, 25 and 100 feet (8 – 30 m).
Mines were also considered at some point by the General Board but the idea was dropped and there was no equipment (like rails) to hande these anyway.
It was question to equip them with a fast-firing standard 3-in gun, but it is not shown on any photo not corroborated by any data.


These ships were built by four private shipyards: Bath Iron Works, Fore River Shipbuilding Company, New York Shipbuilding Corporation, and William Cramp & Sons. They were laid down between February and November 1914 and launched between April and July 1915 (average construction time one year). Commissioned between July 1915 and May 1916 so circa 8-11 months after launch, they spent quite some time in pre-commission trials and fixes, despite the war goining one already. The class should have been name Wadsworth based on the first completed, European system (July 1915). DD 60 was also the first laid down, on February 1914 but launched in July 1915. USS Tucker, DD-57 was in fact laid down in November 1914, nearly nine months after, but launched in May 1915, so two months prior to DD 60, making her the lead ship by all accounts. The extra delay for DD 60 was of course due to her peculiar powerplant.

Nice typical razzle-dazzle camouflage on USS Wadsworth as she was in late 1917-18 in Ireland. Below is following an overview of all styles when photos exists.

Profile HD of USS Jacob Jones before the US went at war, 1917, by the author

⚙ specifications

Displacement 1090/1060/1150 tonnes standard, 1205 FL
Dimensions 315 ft 3 in x 30 ft 6 in x 9 ft 4 in (96.1/30 m oa x 9.30 x 2.80/84 m/3.18 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts Curtis DDT+ 1 GSTg, 4 Yarrow boilers, 17-18,000 shp see notes
Speed 29.5 knots
Range 2500 nm(20 kts), 310 tons oil
Armament 4 x 1 – 102/50 Mk IX, 4 x 2 – 533 TT, 2 DCR
Crew 99


Tucker as a Coast Guard Ship in the 1930s

All six ships were barely more than repeats of the O’Brien, but with some improvements: A narrower, longer hull which optimized the output and allowed them to reach half a knot better than the previous O’Brien, and 30 knots in sea trials. The greatest game changer was DD-60, USS Wadsworth from Bath Iron Works which was fitted with only two geared steam turbines instead of direct drive ones. This enabled to gat rid of the third cruising turbine and simplified the powerplant considerably, while providing more flexibility at all regimes. Another solution would be tried on the new Caldwell class, but the geared turbines was becoming the new USN standard in WWI, replicated notably with the mass-produced Wickes and Clemsons.

Although this has nothing to do with this class in particular, USS Tucker was only known in WWI documentation as “Tucker”, “Destroyer No. 57” and NOT DD-57, which was a retroactive denomination imposed by the USN staff from july 1920 onwards. It allowed for example to have two ships named the same but differentiated by their pennant. USS Tucker for example was also CG-23, and no longer a “DD” freeing the name for the new USS Tucker (DD-374), a Mahan class destroyer, laid down as theu were still in activited with the coast guard.

Service-wise they all operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean and from April 1917, Queenstown, Ireland, rescuing passengers and crews from sunken ships and making several encounters with U-boats, wit attacks. Conyngham’s commander was commended for a probable “kill” of one U-boat. Only USS Jacob Jones was torpedoed and sunk in action (by U-58), December 1917. The surviving ships were back in 1919, decommissioned and mothballed from June 1922 to free tonnage but four later were modified to serve with the USGC (thus excluded from Washington tonnage), making rounds of “rum patrols” from 1924-1926, as part of the Prohibition measures for the U.S. Navy custody and until 1934-1936, being sold for scrap the latter year. Nothing fancy about them, as a mere incremental improvement but the next Sampson would be the last of the 1000-tonners as this class, now eight years old, was becoming obsolete after many reports dicating changes. The true revolution would came with the first flush-deckers, the Caldwell class.

Read More


Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. New York: Greenwood Press..
Cashman, Sean Dennis (1988). America in the Age of the Titans: The Progressive Era and World War I. New York: New York University Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). U.S. destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (rev. ed.)
Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War I (Ian Allan, 1970)
Naval History & Heritage Command. “Conyngham”. (and others) Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History and Heritage Command.


The Tuckers on
The thousand tonners on
The 4 in/50 gun Mk.9 on
WWI US Torpedoes
On gallery
war diary of USS Tucker on
uss tucker on

Model Kits

The Kombrig 1:700 model. Not much else. The Tucker has been covered as well.

US Navy ww2 USS Tucker DD-57

USS Tucker was commissioned on 11 April 1916 at first under command of Frank Slingluff, Jr.; and later Lt. Cdr Benyaurd B. Wygant and after trials off the east coast she joined Division 8, Destroyer Force for her shakedown and exercises from the east coast to Cuban.
On 6 April 1917 she joined the fleet in the York River and proceeded to Boston NyD to be repared for war.
She departed on 7 May 1917 bound for Queenstown, Ireland with Rowan, Cassin, Ericsson, Winslow, and Jacob Jones, arriving ten days later. On 12 June, she rescued survivors from SS Poluxena and on 1 August, SS Karina, (sunk by UC-75) and this went on until the spring of 1918, escorting convoys in and out, making a few spotting and attacks but no kill registered.
In June 1918, she was relocated to Brest, France. On 1 August she run to assist the torpedoed French cruiser French cruiser Dupetit-Thouars by SM U-62 in the Bay of Biscay.
On 8 August at last she did a clear U-Boat sighting and attacked with depth charges, being reported later by the British Admiralty a “possible kill”. Captain Wygant was authorized to paint a white star on the forward smokestack. After the war ended, USS Tucker ferried passengers and mail between French and British ports, operating from Brest. She departed on 16 December 1918 for Boston, and received an overhaul there.

From July 1919, she trained off Massachusetts and Maine but was placed in reserve in Philadelphia by October, decomm. on 16 May 1921. But she was recomm. as CG-23, by 29 September 1926, modified to serve with the Coast Guard furing the prohibition as part of the “Rum Patrol”. By October 1927 she became flagship of DesDiv 4 and then she was transferred to DesDiv 1. On 4 April 1933, she sailed out to help rescuring survivors of the Navy airship USS Akron.
As the prohibition was voted down in February 1933, on 26 May, USS Tucker was sent back to the Navy at Philadelphia Navy Yard, being decommissioned on 5 June, recom. on the 30th, but seeing no activity and renamed simply “DD 57” in November to free the name for a new destroyer. She was used as a Sea Scout training ship at Sandy Hook but was stricken on 24 October 1936 and sold for BU on 23 December.

US Navy ww2 USS Conyngam DD-58

USS Conyngham was the first USN ships named for Gustavus Conyngham. Commissioned on January 1916 she strarted her shakedown on the east coast and Caribbean and from April 1917, she integrated the first U.S. destroyer squadron sent to Ireland.
Based in Queenstown she started escort missions, rescuing passengers and patrolling. Conyngham’s captain was later credited for a “probable” kill of a U-Boat and painted a white star on his forefunnel. The war ended and she was sent to Brest, and from there, home in December 1918, sent straight to Boston NyD for upkeep.

USS Conyngam stayed in reduced commission until 1921, with little activity in between, and then fully active before full decommission by June 1922. By June 1924, she was transferred to the United States Coast Guard as USCGC Conyngham, CG-2, and patrolled until 1933. Returned to the Navy and simply renamed “DD-58” to free her name she was sold for BY by August 1934.

US Navy ww2 USS Porter DD-59

USS Porter was named the second ship after David and his son David Dixon Porter. Commissioned in April 1916 after sea trials and fixes, she made her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean. A year after by April 1917 she integrated like her sister Conyngham the first squadron sent overseas, patrolling the Irish Sea from Queenstown. She rescued crews, patrolled, made joint attacks and possible lightings, and is credited to severely damage U-108 in April 1918.

Back home in December 1918, USS Porter resumed training off the east coast until decommission in June 1922. By June 1924 however like some of her sisters she was transferred to the US Coat Guard, making a tour of duty for the “Rum Patrol” as CG-7 until 1933. The same year she was renamed simply “DD-59” to free her name for a new flotilla leader lead ship built (Porter class) at the time. She was sold for BU in August 1934.

US Navy ww2 USS Wadsworth DD-60

USS Wadsworth (DD-60), the only one built at Bath Iron Works (Bath, Maine) and first ship to be named for Alexander Scammel Wadsworth was well regarded for her innovative geared steam turbines when commissioned by July 1915. After well awaited sea trials, which were successful, she started her shakedown cruise to the Carribean.
After neutrality patrols off the east coast and in Caribbean from April 1917, she became flagship of the first U.S. destroyer squadron sent to Europe, Queenstown in Ireland. During her numerous patrols alternated with escort work, she rescued passengers and reported several U-boats. However she was transferred to Brest by March 1918, until the end of the war.
She was back home by December 1918 and went through a five-month overhaul. Resuming service she was used as a plane guard for four Navy-Curtiss flying boats crossing attempt. She was under reduced commission in 1920 but was fully reactivated by May 1921, then decommissioned in June followed by 14 years in reserve (Philadelphia Nyd). She was stricken in January 1936, sold for BU in June.

US Navy ww2 USS Jacob Jones DD-61

USS Jacob Jones was the first vessel named in honor of Jacob Jones, commissioned by February 1916. After sea trials and shakedown cruise in the Carribean, USS Jacob Jones took part in neutrality patrols off the New England coast and from April 1917 she was prepared to be sent overseas.
Based from Queenstown, she did regular escort work, patrols in the Irish sea, rescued survivors (notably 300 from the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Orama) with the occasional U-Boat sighting and attack. But she made no “kill” or even was credited with a damaged U-Boat.

On 6 December 1917, she was beinbg transferred to Brest in France, and while she was underway back to Queenstown, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-53. She went to the bottom with 66 officers and men, and became the very first US destroyer sunk in action, and sold of the USN to be lost in WWI. USS Jacob Jones apparently broke in two because she had no time to send a distress call, but U-53 commander (Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose) surfaced to rescue two badly injured crewmen and radioed the American base at Queenstown, giving them coordinates before leaving so that circa 28 crewmen could be saved later.

US Navy ww2 USS Wainwright DD-62

USS Wainwright again was the first USN vessel named in honor of the officers Jonathan Wainwright and his son as well as Commander Richard Wainwright, a cousin. Commissioned by May 1916, she made her shakedown cruise in the Carribean, and trained off the east coast before starting neutrality patrols for a short time. From April 1917 she was prepared for war, and part of the first U.S. destroyer squadron sent to Ireland, Queenstown. She underwent the same routine of escorts and patrols, making occasional rescues and several sighting or run attacks on U-boats, but without any reported kill. She moved to Brest in 1918, and after ending her repatriation escort work, she sailed out Brest in December for home.

After upkeep, she resumed operations and training with the with Atlantic Fleet destroyer force until May 1922. Decommissioned, she was recommissioned and modified by April 1926, and transferred to the United States Coast Guard, making years of “Rum Patrol” duty as CG-24 until April 1934. Returned to the Navy she was immediately recommissioned and decommissioned shortly afterwards to be stricken and sold for scrap in August 1934.

O Brien class destroyers (1914)

O’Brien class destroyers (1914)

US Navy ww2 USN Fleet Destroyers (1913-1936): USS O’Brien, Nicholson, Winslow, Mc Dougal, Cushing, Ericsson (DD-51-56)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The third “1000 tonners”, heavy on torpedoes

The O’Brien class comprised just six ships, third of five classes of “thousand tonners” based on their average 1,016 t displacement. The design was a continuation of previous Cassin/Aylwin, coming from discussions between the General Board of the Admiralty and Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) which proposed new torpedoes. Thus the O’Brien were more than a simple incremental development as being the first USN destroyers sporting the much larger 21 inches (533 mm) torpedoes. The design was repeated on the Tucker class and pushed further with the Sampsons, the last “thousand tonners”.

Closeup of the bridge and crew, DD-52 (USS Nicholson)

Design Development

Six destroyers were planned For the 1913 fiscal year (FY1913) and the General Board determined that six destroyers would be authorized with some limited innovations. They were simply called at first the “DD 51 class” and later the name from the lead ship was chosen, as O’Brien class.

A simple repeat of the FY1912 Cassin-Aylwin was ordered but the chief of BuOrd suggested that these new destroyers could be equipped with ten torpedo tubes and the new 21-inch (533 mm) just adopted. The General Board agreed, but in principle, waiting to recalculate weight distribution. The adoption of the new caliber indeed caused stability issues. In fact BuOrd’s centerline torpedo tubes idea was refused. The same distribution as the previous destroyers and just eight tubes seemed optimal.
The additional weight of the new torpedoes indeed, 5 long tons (5.1 t), around 50 tons with the tubes, forced a reduction of the planned two aft-facing guns for example. It was reduced to a single one forward, resulting in four 4-inch (102 mm) guns in the end. This design was approved on 20 August 1912, authorized by Congress on 4 March 1913.

Construction and Service

The six ships were laid down in four shipbuilders: William Cramp (three), and Fore River, Bath Iron Works, New York Shipbuilding Corp. one each. Keels were laid down between July and November 1913, starting with USS McDougal. But DD-51 was O’Brien and thus, became the class lead ship and namesake. USS Ericsson was the last laid down, and they were launched between April 1915 and January 1915, USS Winslow being the last completed, McDougal the first commissioned in June 1914 and the last in August 1915, USS Cushing being the last commissioned. Total cost for the hull and machinery was $790,000 of the time.

These six destroyers operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean. From April 1917, they were sent overseas, based, like most 800 and 1000 tonners, to Queenstown in Ireland, for dull convoy escort duties until the end of the war. This was mostly uneventful, between false alerts, spottings and rare attacks, and crew’s rescues as ships were routinely sunk by U-boats. At last the class had some visctories: USS Nicholson helped sink U-58 (November 1917) which happened to be the first U-boat sunk by the U.S. Navy. All were back home in January 1919, decommissioned by June 1922. But in 1924, two, USS Ericsson and McDougal were recommissioned with the United States Coast Guard for the “Rum Patrol”. Back with the US in 1932-1933, they were all sold by June 1936 after being in long reserve, ad seeing little service.

Design of the class

The O’Brien class were about the same length as the previous classes, with median displacements around 1,020–1,050 long tons (1,040–1,070 t). The next Tucker and Sampsons would just gain 10 feet (3.0 m) in overall lenght and reach 1,090–1,100 long tons. The armament of four 4-inch (102 mm) guns was similar, but the torpedo armament grew and complement also. The new 21-inches twin torpedo tubes benefited from eight reload torpedoes, like the following two. The new Mark 8 torpedoes were largely untested at the time, but truly successful, a far cry from the trouble-ridden Mark XIV of 1941. They had not secondary artillery nor anti-aircraft guns. Only the next classes adopted a pair of 1-pdr (0.45 kg) guns or 37 mm (1.46 in).

Hull and general design

The O’Brien-class were 305 feet 5 inches (93.09 m) overall long (as the former Cassin/Aylwin), but a tad larger at 31 feet 2 inches (9.50 m vs. 9.25m) and with a standard draft of 9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m), here again, more than the Cassins (9.25 m). They had however the very same lines, with a high forecastle and recesses for the two side main guns of the main deck. They displaced between 1,020 and 1,090 long tons, with an average 1,050 long tons (1,070 t), not that heavy compared to the previous Cassins (1,036 tons/1,165 tons FL) despite their armament upgrade.


The O’Brien class had all two propeller shafts, two direct-drive Zoelly steam turbines, fed by four White-Forster boilers. However they divered in their auxiliary powerplants: Indeed, they diverged depending on their shipyard’s partnerships and subcontractors. Their main powerplant generated on average 17,000 shaft horsepower (13,000 kW) enabling a top speed of 29 knots (54 km/h). But these turbines were known inefficient at low speeds. So they were equipped with additional classic VTE cruising engines for under 15 knots (28 km/h). All except Cushing had these triple-expansion reciprocating engines, a pair for O’Brien, Nicholson, and Winslow, McDougal and Ericsson just one one. Cushing instead was given two more low pressure geared steam turbines. Here is the differences To resume in detail:
DD51-53: Two Zoelly steam turbines and two 2 VTE for cruising plus 4 White-Forster boilers
DD54 and DD56: Two Zoelly steam turbines and a single VTE for cruising, 4 White-Forster boilers
DD55: Two Zoelly steam turbines and two steam turbines for cruising, 4 White-Forster boilers.


Main: Four 4 in (102 mm)/50 caliber guns

Firing the 4-in gun
Firing the 4-in gun.

The serie started with the Mark 7 (1898), first used as secondary guns on the Arkansas class monitors. The Mark 8 were an improved version designed from 1905, but they gave apparently little satisfaction and were reworked from 1910, ending with threat standard Mark 9. Its general performances were such that it became also an allied standard with more than 400 transferred to the British. They were still in service in WW2 on a large quantity of ships by the way.
It was light weight and thus easy to handle, fast-firing, fast revolving and traversing.
These four 4-inch (100 mm)/50 Mark 9 guns weighing each more than 6,100 pounds (2,800 kg). They carried fired 33-pound (15 kg) armor-piercing (AP) shells exiting the barrel at 2,900 feet per second (880 m/s), reaching a target up to 15,920 yards (14,560 m) at 20° (max) elevation.
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The ships had four torpedo tubes placed by pairs along the sides, along the hull amidships.
The initial model planned in 1913 was the recently introduced Bliss-Leavitt 21″ (53.3 cm) Mark 3. But when completed in 1915, they could swap on the Mark 8, really tailored for destroyer use, faster and heavier, and the first 21″ x 21′ (53.3 cm x 6.5 m) USN torpedoes. The latter had the following caracteristics:
Mods 0, 1, 2 or 2A: 2,761 lbs. (1,252 kg), 248 in (6.299 m) long, 321 lbs. (146 kg) TNT charge, settings 10,000 or 12,500 yards (9,140 or 11,430 m) at 27 knots. Powered by Wet-heater and guided by a Mark 8 Mod 1 gyro.

Depth Charges

In 1917-1918 to perform better as ASW ships, the class was equipped with two depht charge racks (DCR) and a single thrower or DCT, which was the “Y-gun”, called that way before its shape. It throwed two depht-charges at once.
The latter were probably of the Mark I type (1916) weighting 100 lbs. (45 kg) with a 50 lbs. (23 kg) wet gun-cotton exploser ad two settings, 25 and 100 feet (8 – 30 m).


The General Board called for two anti-aircraft guns and provisions for laying up to 36 floating mines but it seems the recommendations were not followed. AA guns were first integrated to the next classes, and apparently not the mines. These destroyers never used this capability anyway.

USS O’Brien, Queenstown, Ireland 1918. She is the only one which camouflage has been photographed.

⚙ O’Brien class specifications

Displacement 1,050 long tons normal, 1,171 long tons FL
Dimensions 305 ft 5 in x 31 ft 2 in x 10 ft (93.09 x 9.50 x 2.90/3.23 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts DD Zoelly steam turbines, 2 VTE, 4 White-Forster boilers 17,000 shp (13,000 kW)
Speed 29 knots (54 km/h)
Range 300+ long tons oil, 4,500 nmi () at 16 kn
Armament 4× 4-in/50 guns, 4×2 21-in TTs (16), DCR, DCT, Mines, see notes
Crew 101

Read More


Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the USN, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Greenwood Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). NIP
Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921
Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan.
Cashman, Sean Dennis (1988). America in the Age of the Titans: The Progressive Era and World War I. New York: New York University Press.
Naval History & Heritage Command. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command.
Osborne, Eric W. (June 2005). Tucker, Spencer C (ed.). Destroyers: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. Weapons and Warfare Series. Santa Barbara
Sweetman, Jack (1984). American Naval History: An Illustrated Chronology of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775–Present. Annapolis, Maryland NIP
Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War I

Links the 1000 tonners
Navweaps 4″/50 (10.2 cm) Marks 7, 8, 9 and 10 ww1 us torpedoes
on o’brien class

Model Kits

None found so far. Note a popular subject…

US Navy ww2 O’Brien (DD-51)

uss o brien razzle dazzle
USS O’Brien (DD-51) was built at William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, started in September 1913, launched in July 1914, second USN vessel named in honor of Jeremiah O’Brien and his five brothers which captured on the sloop Unity, a British warship, during the American Revolutionary War.
Commissioned in May 1915 O’brien made the usual Caribbean-east coast training and shakedown cruiser. She was dispatched to rescue the survivors of U-53 off the Lightship Nantucket in October 1916. From April 1917, she was based in Queenstown, Ireland. She made several spottings and attacks, several rescue until the end of te war and was moved to Brest in December 1918. She left in January 1919, but became a picket ship for the NC-type seaplanes trying to cross Atlantic. Decommissioned in Philadelphia by June 1922, she was neverer reactivated as stricken by March 1935 and sold for BU the next months. This scrapping was linked to the Washington treaty tonnage limitations.

US Navy ww2 USS Nicholson (DD-52)

uss nicholson prewar
USS Nicholson was built at William Cramp & Sons, named in honor of 1812 and Civil War brothers.
Commissioned in April 1915 she left the east coast and saied to the Caribbean, trained and took part in neutrality patrols. From April 1917, she was prepared in NyC for overseas service and sent to the Irish Sea patrol from Queenstown. In October 1917, she rescued SS J. L. Luckenbach attacked by U-62, repelled. The latter tried to sink the cargo by gunfire, being apparently short of torpedoes, for three hours when the destroyer arrived. In November, Nicholson Fanning, spotted, tracked and sank U-58, first USN “kill”. In September 1918, Nicholson drove off U-82 after the latter torpedoed Vernon off France.
Back home, she was in reduced commission by November 1919, decommissioned at Philadelphia in May 1922. Stickern in January 1936 she was sold for BU in June the same year.

US Navy ww2 USS Winslow (DD-53)

USS Winslow in sea trials 1915
USS Winslow in sea trials 1915
USS Winslow was another Cramp destroyer (commemorating John Ancrum Winslow, which sank CSS Alabama), commissioned by August 1915; She made her shakedown in the Caribbean and trained on the east coast. She was also sent to rescue suvivors of U-53 in late 1916. From April 1917, she was sent to patrol the Irish Sea and esecorts. She took part in several unsuccessful U-boats hunts, and rescued survivors of many vessels.
Back home in 1919, she was placed in reduced commission by December 1919, decommissioned at Philadelphia in June 1922 (and seeing limited service on the east coast in between). In November she was renamed “DD-53” to free her name and stricken in January 1936, sold in June.

US Navy ww2 USS McDougal (DD-54)

uss mcdougale date unknown
USS McDougal was from Bath Iron Works in Maine (named after David Stockton McDougal, which fought in a 1863 battle off Japan on USS Wyoming), commissioned in June 1914.

She underwent the same routine off the east coast and Caribbean as her sisters, then neutraliy patrols, and was one of the five destroyers sent to rescue survivors of U-53, having aboard 6 crewmen from a sunken Dutch cargo. From April 1917 she was prepared for overseas service and based in Queenstown. She made several unsuccessful attacks on U-boats and rescued survivors. She collided with a British cargo in February 1918, and was repaired until 20 July before being transferred to Brest in France to escort repatriation convoys from November-December.

Back home in early 1919 she resumed operations with the Atlantic Fleet, until August 1919, in reserve, reactivated for little service in mid-1921, then reserve and decommission in Philadelphia by May 1922. By June 1924, she was reactivated after modifications to serve with the Coast Guard’s “Rum Patrol” as USCGC McDougal (CG-6) until May 1933. Renamed “USS DD-54” back in USN, she was stricken in July 1934, sold in August.

US Navy ww2 USS Cushing (DD-55)

USS Cushing, 1915 sea trials
USS Cushing, 1915 sea trials
USS Cushing was built at Fore River Shipbuilding (Quincy, Massachusetts), named about the captain which sank the Confederate ironclad warship CSS Albemarle. Commissioned in August 1915 she alternated her peactime service between the east coast and Caribbean, was dispatched for the survivors of U-53 in late 1916 and was prepared from April 1917, to join the USN DD based in Queenstown. She made many escort missions, several unsuccessful attacks, rescued survivors, was transferred to Brest late 1918, and back home in January 1919, seeing part-reserve and limited commission until decommissioned at Philadelphia in August 1920, never reactivated and stricken in January 1936, sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 USS Ericsson (DD-56)

USS Ericsson as coast guard ship CG-5, Rum Patrol, 1930
USS Ericsson as coast guard ship CG-5, Rum Patrol, 1930
USS Ericsson was built at New York Shipbuilding, Camden, NYC, (named after Swedish-born builder of USS Monitor), commissioned relatively late, in May 1916, and alternating between the east coast and Caribbean, followed by neutrality patrols, and the rescue or survivors from U-53, carrrying 81 passengers from a sunken British ocean liner to Newport. From April 1917 she was prepared for overseas service and one of the first to arrive in Queenstown. Like many DDs of her class, she spotted and made several attacks on U-boats, and rescued survivors.
Back home in 1919, she resumed Atlantic Fleet service until August, and was placed in reserve, and then limited commission, seeing some operaions in 1921, and redecommissioned in Philadelphia, June 1922. She also served with the United States Coast Guard as part of the “Rum Patrol”, pennant CG-5, until May 1932. Discarded in early 1934 she was sold in August.

Paulding class destroyers (1910)

Paulding class destroyers (1910)

US Navy ww2 USN Fleet Destroyers:
Paulding, Drayton, Roe*, Terry, Perkins, Sterett, McCall, Burrows, Warrington, Mayrant (Paulding class, Roe sub-class)
Monaghan, Trippe, Walke, Ammen, Patterson, Sons, Fanning, Jarvis, Henley, Beale, Jouett, Jenkins (Monaghan class)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The first USN oil-fired Turbines Destroyers

The Smith and Paulding were closely similar fleet destroyers sharing similar caracteristics and steam turbines. When the 1000-tonners entered service a few years after they were retroactively nicknamed the “flivvers” in reference to the Ford T. The Paulding-class closely derived from the Smith class, but with torpedo tubes increased from three to six, thanks to new twin mounts which were not heavier than the former single mount. This was such a tour de force that he Smith class were upgraded that way in WWI. They were also the first US destroyers actually solely fitted with oil-fired boilers. These 21 ships were also the first “mass production” of any destroyer in US history. They doubled the US destroyer park close to WWI.

All spent their short WWI career as convoy escorts in the atlantic, with a few U-boats attacks to their credit. The Pauldings on their side were commissioned in 1910–1912 and then reactrivated in 1917-1919 speing the last years in the Atlantic. They were equipped with two depth charge racks to be more efficient in their ASW patrol duties. After V-Day, 12 were transferred to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in 1924–30, used for the “Rum Patrol” (prohibition) and scrapped in 1934–35 following the London Naval Treaty. We can only guess what use they would have been given in WW2. Their light hull was difficult to load and upgerade
and their machinery worn out after all this service years.

The Smith-class destroyers were the first ocean-going destroyers driven by steam turbines instead of the VTE (reciprocating engines) and really a departure of the former glorified sea-going torpedo boats that were essentially the previous bainbridge and Truxtun classes. They were ordered in 1898, during the Hispani-Am war and Flusser constituded with Reid a second modified batch, considered as their own-sub-class. USS Flusser in addition was completed first for the whole class, thus some documentation of the time taking the completion date as marker called the Smith the “Fliser class”. She was not the first launched, and thus modern authors sticks to the same convention and call it almost universally the Smith class.
These anyway were a groundbreaking design, which was quicky followed by a new serie of 21 ships, launched over a long gap 1909-1912


DD-23 to 27, 30-31 appearance

Design differences and sub-classes

The Paulding class were named after Rear Admiral Hiram Paulding (1797–1878) who served from the War of 1812 until after the Civil War. Like the Smith class, they were subdivided into sub-classes, many depending on authors, which sees details strong enough to make the distintion. For the sake of clarity they are all under one roof here.
The 21 ships built had the hull numbers 22 through 42 but sources of the time listed 32 through 42 as the sub-class Monaghan, which featured minor difference. There was also the more obvious (at least externally) 24–28, 30, 31, 33 and 36 as the Roe sub-class, and hulls 32, 35, and 38–42 Monaghan sub-class, distinguished by their funnel configuration (three – Roe, or four – Monaghan and the remainder of the Pauldings).
Jane’s Fighting Ships even had the hulls nubvered 22–42 as “Drayton class” even officially named “Flivver Type” USS Paulding not being the class leader. It should be said class naming conventions changed over time. It’s even worthy of a full video in the future: Indeed, in European navies a class is named after the first ship commissioned while in the US it was more related to the launch. It it settled today as the launch date is now a widely adopted international convention.
On Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships, a clear distinction is made also between the Paulding and Monaghan.

Paulding class

The launch of USS Roe in 1906
The launch of USS Roe in 1906
These ten improved Smiths were authorized in May 1910. The main change was the replacement of former single torpedo tube for twin ones. They also introduced oil fuel, and most (not all) had three shafts. DD-26, 27, 30 and 31 indeed had two turbines, Curtiss for the Fore River ships and Zoelly for the Cramp ships. Cruising stages incorporated the main turbines. On the Cramp, Newport News, Fore River ships their two amidships funnels were trunked together (Roe sub-class). USS Mayrant and Henley were refitted with 13,000 shp Westinghouse Turbines in 1915. Ships of the Paulding class: DD-21 to DD-31, USS Paulding, Drayton, Roe, Terry, Perkins, Sterett, McCall, Burrows, Warrington, Mayrant.

Monaghan class

They were “repeat Pauldings” (hence why often assimilated to the latter) authorized in March 1909 for DD-32 to 36 and June 1910 for DD-37 to 42. All but USS Walke (DD-34) had triple screw propellers, and six (DD-32, 34, 37,
9 and 40) had three funnels like the sub-class Roe. The remaining ships from bath Iron Works and NyC Shipbuilding were “four pipers”. Two were active in the Maxican intervention of 1914 and eight served in the coast guard from 1924. Class: DD-32 to 42, USS Monaghan, Trippe, Walke, Ammen, Patterson, Sons, Fanning, Jarvis, Henley, Beale, Jouett, Jenkins.

Design of the class

Hull and general design

USS Jouett’s bridge design in 1930. It is intersting to show the upgrades of the class over time. They entered service in 1912 with the same barebone bridge platform and flat canvas, then obtained a wave-breaker type structure covered by canvas, then a rigid one, and enclosed bridge with windows added, and shutters for additional protection. This became the standard for USN destroyers until the Wickes/Clemsons.
The very same hull, carefully designed for the Smith class, was also adopted with little changes for the whole Paulding class. The 21 ships only differed in minor accomodation changes and of course their three or four funnels. The artillery was placed the same way as were the torpedo tubes. They had the same profile, with a relatively tall forecastle (compared to the Bainbridges) cutout by two recesses enabling her two forward guns a forward-firing capability. The general deck profile was narrow, with no straight section, but a very elongated, largest amidship hull with very fine entry and exit waterlines.

The superstructure were minimalistic, but inlike the Smith class when built, instead of a crude platform with canvas above the forecastle bridge’s enclosed, rounded map house, there was rigid bridge above, fitted with a massive wavebreaker, doubled for better sealeeping performances, and glassed structure behind, with opening glasses if needed. It was open air though for better visibility. This configuration was retained uninterrupted for the next Cassin, O’Brien, Tucker, Sampson classes. The Caldwell (launched 1917) were the first to introduce both a flish deck and a fully enclosed bridge. The Paulding’s bridge was topped aft by a projector. A second one was located on the quarterdeck house aft, which doubled as a radio room. Two raked masts carried an extansive set of radio cables between them. There was a beam reinforcement bar and anti-colision “bumpers” at the stern. The rudder and propellers, and they shafts were all the same. Only change was from two to three depending on the ships.


Stern design of the Paulding class. It was inaugurated by the previous Smith class and kept for the Sampsons and following. A very distinctive stern design, in a “vee” from a rounded deck above to a pointy aft section below, close to the rudder. It was discovered that shis shape was not optimal, but many years later.
The Smith and Paulding kept the same machinery room design also, which resulted in four boilers rooms and three turbine rooms, with low and high pressure sets. On the Paulding class though, There was variation in engineering among the class: Hulls 24–27, 30–32, 34, 36, 37, 39, and 40 had three stacks, with the central stack larger to integrate two boiler uptakes trunked. It was of the same width but als long as two funnels.
Most had direct drive turbines arranged as for the Smith class, on three shafts: In that case the high-pressure center turbine exhausted into two low-pressure turbines, mated on the outboard shafts. The latter had cruising turbines to improve fuel economy at low speeds. DD 26–27, 30–31, and DD-34 had two turbines, two shafts with Zoelly or Curtis models and cruising stages included in the turbine casings as well.

But the overriding fact was their main innovation: They were indeed the first USN destroyer class with oil-fired boilers. Compared with the Smith class, the Pauldings had 12,000 shaft horsepower (8,900 kW) instead of 10,000 shp (7,500 kW) and thus were a knot faster. After DD-32 it is noted that Thornycroft boilers were subsituted to Normand ones. Still, the official Data Book for 1911 also included Yarrow and White-Forster models, all small-tubes.

On trials, USS Paulding made 32.8 knots (60.7 km/h; 37.7 mph) based on an output of 17,393 shp (12,970 kW). Peacetime oil capacity was 241 tons which enable some 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km; 3,500 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph), comparable to the Smiths, with 2800 nm, but at 10 knots.


Aft gun, USS Walke.
The main armament was the same between the Pauldings (and Monaghans) and Smith. Choice was made early on to adopt the uniform armament of five 3-in/50 (76 mm) main guns located the same way as for HMS Dreadnought: Three forward in a triangle (one on the forcastle, two on either side under recesses) and two after in line. However the torpedo armament was the main selling point of the new class with no less than six 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, in three twin mounts: Two were located on either beam abaft the last funnel (depending of the sub-class) and oen axial aft of the mainmast. This was considered as “an easy upgrade” since the new twin mounts actually weighed less, surprisingly, than the older single mounts. however the catch was that there was no room for reloads. So they kept the same six torpedo capacity, but with the immense advantage of being able to fire all six in a short span, whereas the Smith class had to fire three, then fold back, take some time to reload, and returned for another attack.
When pressed into ASW patrols, they all received one or two depth charge tracks aft (see below).
None was equipped to lay mines however, unlike contemportary ships like the Russian Novik class.


The 3″/50 caliber gun Mark 5 were a 1898 design, soon to be the standard USN light artillery. They were judged superior to the British 3-in Armstrong Elswick. It is likely the Paulding class were upgraded to the Mark 6. They fired a 24 lb (11 kg) complete round at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s) with medestal mounts which elevates to 15°, and allows 20 rpm in optimal conditions. Max range about 8,000 yards.


These three twin tubes were located amidships broadide for the first pair, and third aft of the mainmast, close to the helmswhell and aft gun, exactly like on the Smith class, but twin instead of single mounts. And like for the Smith class tt was later realized that this placement was less than ideal: Stern launches above 20 knots caused the torpedo to run erratically due to the stern wave deflection.

The torpedo types fired were most probably the Whitehead 18″ (45 cm) Mark 5. They were the first with three speed settings. Weighting 1,452 lbs. (659 kg) for 204 in (5.182 m) long, they carried a
199 lbs. (90 kg) wet gun-cotton warhead, for 4,000 yds/27 kts or 2,000 yds/36 kts and 1,000 yds/40 knots, powered by a dry heater system (hot running) connected to a four cylinder reciprocating engine. Each was “guided” by a Mark 1 Mod 3 gyro system.


USS Patterson in 1916 with her dark gray neutrality patrols livery. She was flagship of her own group, was the first to perform an operational refuelling at sea (RAS) in mid-atlantic, and in 1918 experimented the first US hunter-killer group leading a flotilla of 110 ft SC-chasers.

USS Roe in 1918, Roe sub-class
USS Roe in 1918, Roe sub-class

USS Fanning
USS Fanning (DD-37) in 1918, alternative ‘four-piper’ variant of the Paulding class.

USS MacCall as CG-14
USS MacCall as CG-14, USGC service, special patrol force based in Charleston, “rum patrol”, 1929.

⚙ Paulding class specifications

Displacement 742 long tons normal, 887 long tons fully loaded
Dimensions 293 ft x 26 ft 3 in x 8 ft (89.6 x 8 x 2.44 m)
Propulsion 3 shafts DD Steam Turbines, 4 oil-fired boilers 12,000 shp (8,900 kW)
Speed 29.5 kn (54.6 km/h; 33.9 mph)
Range 241 long tons coal, 3,000 nmi (5,600 km; 3,500 mi) at 16 kn
Armament 5x 3 in (76 mm)/50, 3×2 18 inch (450 mm) TTs
Crew 4 officers + 82 enlisted (86)

General Assessment

Design wise, this class was a repeat of the previous Smith, with major improvements like the twin torpedo tubes which both improved the weight of an attack while avoiding the complicated, long and dangerous reload; They were also fitted with oil-fuel boilers for the first time while keeping the exact same hull and it’s assoviated performances.

All in all, the 21 ships built gave a rapid expansion in quality and quantity to the Navy, a good complement to the dreadnoughts built at the time. With the arrival of the 1000 tonners later, they were retroactively seen as not impressive, but necessary to achieve considerable incremental improvement to US Destroyer design, up to the revolutionary Caldwell class which completely reset the counter. Their gun armament in particular was only defensive and weak in 1914, rapid upgrades having the 120 mm (4.5 in) caliber adopted.

Career-wise, they proved to have enough legs to cross the Atlantic and perform mid-atlantic escorts and ASW patrols around the Britis isles and France. However success was rare. In their new roles, even if they sighted subs, and attacked, this rarely resulted in a kill. U-Boats submerged fast enough and the ASW used at the time, a 1st generation, were unreliable, short-depht and not very powerful. Acoustic systems were lacking and required calm weather and slow speed to be effective.

Despite their design improvements, these “flivvers” were still considered wet, noisy, shaky, and sensitive to bad weather. Many had their entire deck flushed clean, but the basic design won’t not evolve much for the next iterations. Interesting experiments were still done though, like USS Patterson (DD-36) which in 1918 operated along the east coast with as a leader for a flotilla of SC boats (coastal submarine-chasers), in the first hunter-killer group. She was the first also to perform a refuelling at sea (RAS), with Nimitz’s USS Naumee posted in mid-atlantic on her way to Europe, instead of going from Newfoundland, the northern route, or Bermuda and the Azores, the southern route.

After a useful, but lackluster service, these destroyers went in 1912-1920 in peacetime reserve. They fate was to have been the scrapyard due to the massive fleet of more capable Clemsons and Wickes if not for the prohibition:

USS Trippe as “rum-runner”. Note the absence of TTs, missing mid-gun (only the stern one remained) and additional structures (notably to house the captured crews and payloads) aft of the funnels. The livery was seemingly light gray, with white on black very large pennants, in “university” fonts.

A thriving traffic developed indeed, smuggling alcoholic beverages, with occult empires created, and a chase developed between authorities, bootleggers, illegal distilleries, and smugglers at sea (in fact in the Great Lakes essentially). Still legal in Canada, an intense cat and mouse game developed to illegally import from there large quantities of alcohol. While carried by sea, the Coast Guard’s small fleet was soon overwhelmed, unable to stop the flow. President Calvin Coolidge proposed to ask the Navy to free twenty destroyers in reserve and with experienced navy crews to beef the USCG’s staffs, boost its capabilities.

USS Beale as CG-9

The Congress authorized the necessary funds on 2 April 1924. The ships were overhauled and adapted for this service, stripped her the depth charge racks and torpedo tubes, and keeping only four guns. They were not operated by the Navy anymore but placed under loan to the care of the Treasury Department. Many Paulding class served that way. They received large CG- numbers on their hull, retaining their former navy pennant number. USCG captained were hired and assigned to these. The usual service in these lasted about four years. These “rum patrols” (an answer to the “rum-runners”, fast speedboats which left the usual USCG coaster or cutter behind) saw these destroyers quite useful, being both fast and impressive for the task. They operated along the northeastern coast out of New London wuite often (Connecticut). Due to their general state they rarely saw service beyond 1931, so none saw the end of the Prohibition. When returned to the USN, they were quickly discarded and sold, in 1934 for most. The date was not an administrative calendar event but rather an obligation resulting of the London treaty.

Diving tests from USS Walke, date unknown
Diving tests from USS Walke, date unknown.

Read More

Paulding, Jouett and Ammen in 1917


Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the USN, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Greenwood Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). NIP
Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921
Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan.

wiki Paulding-class_destroyer

additional photos (nasvource):

USS Paulding
USS Drayton
USS Terry
USS Perkins
US Steretts
USS McCall
USS Burrows
USS Warrington
USS Mayrant
USS Monaghan
USS Trippe
USS Walke
USS Ammen
USS Patterson
USS Fanning
USS Jarvis
USS Henley
USS Beale
USS Jouett
USS Jenkins

USS Roe in 1918
USS Roe in 1918

USS Terry camouflaged in 1918

USS Perkins in 1918

USS Sterett, camouflaged

USS Mc Call as Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) for Rum Patrols during the prohobition

USS Warrington in Brest, 1918

USS Monaghan in sea trials
Camouflage of USS Monaghan in 1918
Camouflage of USS Monaghan in 1918
USS Trippe in 1918
Jarvis 1918
USS Jarvis in 1918

Model Kits

-Combrig Models 1/700 Scale USS Walke (DD-34) Paulding-class Destroyer
-1/350 Iron Shipwrights USS Paulding DD-23
That’s about it as far as i’m aware.

US Navy ww2 Paulding DD-22

uss paulding
USS Paulding was laid down at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine on 24 July 1909 and launched on 12 April 1910. Commissioned on 29 September 1910 with Lieutenant Commander Yates Stirling, Jr. in command, USS Paulding was the first oil-fueled US Destroyer. She started her career at the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet off the east coast but from April 1917, she patrolled off New England. By 21 May, she left for Queenstown in Ireland as a new home port to escort inbound and outbound convoys. During these two years she had sightings, made at least a few attacks but no kills. After the Armistice she was back home, decommissioned in August 1919, Reserve Fleet. She was reactivated from 28 April 1924 and util 18 October 1930 like many of her sisters, was loaned to the United States Coast Guard as part of the “Rum Patrol”, from Boston.

She tried to located and rescue CG-238’s crew during a gale in February 1927 off Cape Cod and stayed there for two days searching for survivors, taking a beating. In fact her superstructures, intakes and funnels were torn off while all deck equipment was flushed out. Back in repairs, she was barely back in service when on 17 December 1927, she accidentally rammed and sank USS S-4 while S-4 while she was surfacing. The subsequent inquiry did not established convictions. Back to the USN 18 October 1930, before the end of the prohibition (1933) she was versed into the Reserve Fleet, laid up at League Island, stricken on 28 June 1934 under the London Naval Treaty.

US Navy ww2 Drayton DD-23

uss drayton
Laid down at Bath Iron Works on 19 August 1909, launched 22 August 1910, commissioned on 29 October 1910 and at first based in Key West, Florida from 21 December 1910 making her shakedown cruise in Cuban waters, east coast, taking part in this year’s fleet problem. She left on 9 April 1914 to blockade the coat of Mexico, rescuing refugees during the revolution. She served from York in June and Newport by August. In 1914 she started a cycle of neutrality patrols, torpedo and gunnery drills, still off Rhode Island. She was back in FL by April 1917, and captured the German merchantman Frieda Leonhardt. She was reassigned to Norfolk on the 12th, and served wit hthe Patrol Force into May, then had a quick refit at Boston.

On 21 May she sailed across the Atlantic for Queenstown in Ireland by June and from there spent mounts patrolling the coast of Ireland and escorting convoys. On 20 June, she chased the U-Boat that torpedoed USS Head, rescuing 42 survivors. Until 4 July, she escorted convoy to St. Nazaire and assisted French cruisers in search of U-Boats. On 15 Decembe, with USS Benham she rescued survivors of SS Foylemore. Next she operated from Brest from February 1918. On 16 December 1918 was was recalled home, Boston (2 January 1919) overhauled and back into peacetime routine of east coast exercizes until 18 July 1918. In Philadelphia NyD she was ultimately decommissioned on 17 November. Kept in long terme reserve, and only stricken on 1 July 1933, sold for BU on 28 June 1935.

US Navy ww2 Roe DD-24

uss roe in 1918
USS Roe was born in Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News in Virginia, laid down on 19 January 1909, launched 24 July 1909 and commissioned on 17 September 1910. She was a bit of class lead ship, quite different than the others, many being built on the same general design. After exercises off Norfolk and a stop at Newport by 17 December, she took part in winter exercises in the Gulf of Mexico. She stayed in Norfolk as home port until January 1913 and patrolled up to New England sea coast. January–April 1913 saw her in Caribbean exercizes and off New England. She was in reserve in Philadelphia from 3 November and by March 1914, reassigned to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla, alternating between reserve and active mid-Atlantic seaboard. Frpù February–April 1915 she was on the Caribbean and off southern New England in the summer, then in Charleston in the winter with reduced crew.

From March 1917, she returned in full commission, assigned to Desron 2, DesDiv5, Patrol Force. She helped the Treasury and Labor Department officials at Wilmington, intercepting fleeing German merchant vessels. She sent a party of armed guard aboard Hohenfelde. Under Captain William A. Hodgman her wartime service started from Newport between ASW patrols and escort, for six months and from 9 November set sail for Brest, France until 5 November 1918 when she departed for NyC for a crew leave and upkeep. Next she was moved to Charleston until July 1919. She was decommissioned in Philadelphia on 1 December 1919 in the Reserve Fleet but she was on 17 July 1920 she became DD-24, then fuly activated in 1924 to act with the USGC and Treasury Department from Stapleton, New York (Rum Patrol. Back to the USN League Island barth, she remained there until sold on 2 May 1934.

US Navy ww2 Terry DD-25

USS Terry was laid down in Newport News Shipbuilding on 8 February 1909, launched 21 August 1909 and completed on 18 October 1910 after which she started her shakedown cruise under command of Lieutenant Commander Martin E. Trench on the east coast. She served on the Atlantic Fleet’s Torpedo Flotilla the first winter and was in drills Cuban waters. After torpedo exercises and maneuvers with the Fleet in 1911 she made her first airplane rescue at sea off Havana. In the spring and summer she trained off the New England coast. By November 1913, she was based in Charleston and overhauled.
Afterwards she entered reserve and in 1914 patrolled the coast of Florida. In February 1915, she was in the Carribean, and trained between Newport and Charleston. From 1 January 1916 she had a reduced crew and on the 31st, went to Key West wuth the fleet, then Santo Domingo. However in June while in the inner harbor of Puerto Plata she ran aground on a reef, settling half-submerged. Terry’s crew joined the staff of the company making the salvage, until USS Terry was refloated on 26 June. After local repairs on 7 July she entered the drydock at Charleston on the 15th.

After her extensive repairs she had a new skipper, Lieutenant John F. Shafroth Jr. uner which she patrolled the Atlantic coast, escorting convoys to Europe. By January 1918 she was based at Queenstown, Ireland. During these escort missiones she never sighted any German U-boat but on 19 March 1918 assisted USS Manley after an accidental depth charge explosion.
By December she was back home. After 11 months, she was decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 13 November 1919. Transferred to the Coast Guard on 7 June 1924 and operating from NyC for the “rum patrol” she was ceded back to the USN by October 1930, decommissioned and sold on 2 May 1934, stricken on 28 June 1934.

US Navy ww2 Perkins DD-26

Built at Fore River Ship and Engine in Quincy, laid down on 22 March 1909 and launched on 9 April 1910, USS Perkins (DD-26) was of the sub-class Roe. Commissioned on 18 November 1910 her first captain was Lt. Cdr Joel R. P. Pringle. Her career resembled much that of her other sisters. She served with active and reserve squadrons, alternatiing between the east coast, New England and the Carribean in winter. She was in reserve in 1913, but fully recommissioned on 3 April 1917 (Captain Lt. Cmdr. Forney Moore Knox), and assigned to the 2nd division in Europe where she served woth USS Paulding, Wilkes, and Ammen, from Queenstown in Ireland, until November 1917.

She rescued survivors of Tarquah on 7 August znf operated from Saint Nazaire to Ireland and New York of Queenstown to Liverpool. After an overhaul in Charleston in 1917–1918. In March-December 1918 she was based in Gravesend Bay, New York. She sighted U-151 off New Jersey on 2 June 1918, but failed to score any hit. She also escorted SS President Grant and President Washington and ventured to Nova Scotia. On 5 December 1919 she was put in reserve, and stricken on 8 March 1935, sold on 28 June.

US Navy ww2 Sterett DD-27

USS Sterett was maid down on 22 March 1909 launched on 12 May 1910 and commissioned 15 December 1910. Until 1913 she operated along the east coast from Boston (April-December) and in the winter from January to April was in the Carribean for exercises off Cuba. In reserve from 5 November 1913, she was in limited service with the torpedo fleet and from 20 January 1914, made a goodwill cruiser with many stops to New Orleans, joining the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla operating in the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston, Texas during the Maxican revolution, patrolling to catch weapons sumugglers and protect US citizen’s interests. In June 1914 she was back to the Atlantic fleet, home port Norfolk. Her crew was reduced again from 5 January 1916 when she served in the Caribbean.

On 1 June 1916 she supported the Marines landing at Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic, seizing Santiago and restoring order. Back to Norfolk she resumed her peacetime routine but on 1 January 1917, she sailed into the Mississippi for the first time from New Orleans, and up to to Vicksburg, before patrolling Texas waters until based in Key West on 18 March and patrolling the Cuban coast.
On 9 June 1917 she was relocated at Queenstown, Ireland for escort work. She had several other departure ports, like Berehaven in Ireland, and Devonport in England. From there, British and French destroyers made the last leg to final destinations in France.

On 31 May 1918, she spotted a surfaced U-boat, closed to attack when the latter rapidly submerged. She dropped depth charges and soon spotted both bubbles and oil, but no certain kill. She stayed in the vicinity of the trail until batteries and air supply ran out through the night, forcing the wounded sub to emerge at dawn, about 1,000 yd (910 m) ahead of her bow. Ordering top speed her captain tried a ramming, but U-Boat swang hard to port and only had a glancing miss, 20 ft (6.1 m) away. She attempted to dive while USS Sterett’s crew brought her guns to bear but too late as the submersible finally escaped for good. No traces could be found to continue the pursuit and the destroyer folded back to the convoy, later officers and men were given a commendation.
During this time, USS Sterett also helped pioneering airborne surveillance, having a seaplane attached to her, stored on her aft deck and operated when the sea was calm enough. I’ll try to find more info on this.
After the Armistice, USS Sterett returned home in January 1919, to Charleston. She went to Philadelphia to be decommissioned (9 December 1920) and by 9 March 1935 after 15 years of reserve she was stricken and sold on 28 June.

US Navy ww2 McCall DD-28

uss maccall
USS McCall was built at New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey (laid down 8 June 1909, launched 4 June 1910, commissioned 23 January 1911). She served prewar in the the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, based from Newport in Rhode Island, and a frequent view in the Chesapeake Bay area. Winters were spent in Cuban waters, Guantanamo Bay. In 1916 she started Neutrality Patrols off New York, along New England waters and on 14 June 1917, after an overhaul in Philadelphia she was prepared in New York for her first escort to Europe and it went on this first leg until January 1918, when she was transferred to Queenstown in Ireland on 22 February for closer to action missiones until 16 December. She however never spotted, nor attacked a submarine.
Back home in January 1919, she was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 12 Decembe, placed in reserve until 7 June 1924. She was recommissioned with the USGS on 17 June 1925 after an overhaul and operated from New London in Connecticut for the Rum Patrol. She was decommissioned on 12 August 1930, returned to the USN on 18 October 1930, stricken and sold for scrap 2 May 1934. Full History

US Navy ww2 Burrows DD-29

USS Burrows in 1930 as USGS 29, “rum patrol” duties for the treasury, during the prohibition.
USS Burrows was born in New York Shipbuilding, laid down on 19 June 1909, launched on 23 June 1910 and completed on 21 February 1911. Sge was part of the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet alternating seaons between the east coast and Cuban waters. From 1916, Neutrality Patrols from Staten Island and to Long Island, off New York and by April 1917, in Lower Harbor, New York. On 7 April she was assigned Squadron 2, looking for days to find a previously spotted German raider off Nantucket. On 10 April she was refitted for distant service in Philadelphia Navy Yard. By June, she escorted with Group 2, a Transport Force with the first American Expeditionary Force to reach France.

In the Loire River on 27 June 1917 she was reassigned to the south coast of Ireland based on Queenstown. At some point during a hectic mission pace, she had trouble with a broken oil line but the fire was eventually mastered, assisted by four other destroyers. Still she had two sailors which died of their burns. After November 1918 she was based in Brest, France, as part of the escort of President Woodrow Wilson (13 December), from SS George Washington. She was back in Philadelphia on 2 January 1919 after a short service along the eastern seaboard was decommissioned in the Navy Yard, on 12 December 1919. From June 1924, she was reactivated to serve with the Coast Guard from New London, returned on 2 May 1931, stricken and sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 Warrington DD-30

USS Warrington was built at William Cramp & Sons, in Philadelphia, laid down on 21 June 1909, launched on 18 June 1910 and commissioned on 20 March 1911. After fitting out she was assigned on 5 August to the Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island, loading her torpedoes to train with the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet. For the next years she adopted the same routine as the others, with seasonal manoeuvers from Cape Cod to Cuban waters. She served with DesDiv 8 and 9. While off the Virginia capes during the night she crossed the path of a schooner which struck her Warrington aft, slicing off 30 ft (9.1 m) of stern. Her propulsion was knocked out by the impact, and she was left powerless 17 mi (27 km) off Cape Hatteras. USS Sterett came first as Walke and Perkins. Towing failed beofore the revenue cutter Onondaga, which brought her to Norfolk for repairs until 2 December 1912.
In August 1914 she was detached in Bar Harbor, Maine with USRCS Androscoggin to protect entente transfers of gold and silver, and watch over Kronprinzessin Cecilie.

From 6 April 1917, she started neutrality patrols and looked for U-Boats. In Boston by 21 May she was prepared for her European service, sailing via Newfoundland to Queenstown by June. She patrolled the southern approaches and Irish Sea until November 1917, then detached to Brest. She only had a single apparent brush with a U-boat on 31 May 1918 while off the French coast after receiving a distress call from SS President Lincoln, torpedoed by U-90. She rescued 443 before midnight and USS Smith took the rest. The next day, USS Warrington and Smith would catch the submersing and fleeing U-90, which was copiously depth-charged but to no avail. They soon folded back to the convoy with their precious rescapee aboard. For the anecdote, a Lieutenant was captured by U-90 previously, which describe the depht-charging “from inside”, after the war assessing the damage and helping the USN to devise better tactics and heavier charges.

After the armistice of November USS Warrington stayed in European waters until spring 1919 and departed Brest on 22 March, with a convoy of subchasers and tugs, via the Azores and Bermuda, to Philadelphia. She stayed there, decommissioned, at League Island from 31 January 1920 and until 1935. On 20 March she was stricken, sold for BU sold on 28 June.

US Navy ww2 Mayrant DD-31

USS Mayrant was the last of the “Paulding class” in many publications, and one of the “thee pipers” variant (sub-class Roe). She emerged from William Cramp & Sons, after being laid down on 22 April 1909, launched 23 April 1910 and completed on 12 July 1911. Her carrer was typical of the class: In short, New England coast operations with the Torpedo Squadron, based from Newport, winter exercizes in Cuban waters, and the same each year in 1912, and 1913, 1914 and 1915 with the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet. She was overhauled that year in Brooklyn Navy Yard, decommissioning on 20 May, bertherd from 9 November in Philadelphia, then fully recommissioned on 2 January 1918.

Her very short service as escort ship along the coast and across the Atlantic went on without notable incident until the Armistice and she received another inactivation overhaul at Charleston, South Carolina after the war, on 21 June 1919. She was decommissioned on 12 December 1919 again, but reactivated on 17 July 1920 in the Reserve Fleet until 1935. On 8 March that year she was stricken and sold for BU on 21 August 1935.

US Navy ww2 Monaghan DD-32

USS Monaghan, often assimilated as a different class, only differed by minor details, but mostly new order dates in march 1909 and June 1910. She was built in Newport News Shipbuilding, launched on 18 February 1911, completed on 21 June. Her first captain was Lieutenant Commander W. P. Cronan. She served with the Atlantic Fleet, taking part in many fleet readiness training and operations between New England and Cuban waters. After 1915-16 neutrality patrols she started her escort service through the mid-Atlantic, still based in the US. From November 1917 this was based in European waters. She was back in the US and decommissioned at Philadelphia on 4 November 1919. Transferred to the Coast Guard on 7 June 1924 she took part in the “Rum Patrol” from New London in the Connecticut and Boston, Massachusetts in 1930. Returned to the USN on 8 May 1931 she was stricken and sold on 22 August 1934.

US Navy ww2 Trippe DD-33

uss trippe
USS Trippe was built by Bath Iron Works, laid down on 12 April 1910, launched 20 December 1910 and completed on 23 March 1911, commissioned under command of Lieutenant Frank D. Berrien.
She served with the torpedo boat destroyers squadrons of the east coast, Atlantic Torpedo Fleet. For three years same routine of summer’s east coast patrols and winter Carribean’s exercizes. In 1914 the Tampico incident had her sent off Mexican shores to support the landings at Veracruz. She was overhauled in Boston afterwards.
The same routine proceeded in 1915 and on 13 December 1915 she was reassigned to the 2nd Reserve Flotilla, then from 5 January 1916, “Destroyer operating with reduced complement” in Boston NyD. This went on until the US went at war.

In full commission on 25 July 1916 she retrained for eight months, on the east coast and was prepared in Boston for overseas deployment. She proceeded from St. John’s, Newfoundland, before reaching Queenstown, southern Irish coast (This leg was the shortest possible to cross the Atlantic for a destroyer, even filled to the brim with oil). She sorties for her first mission on 5 June and focused on convoys from America to France and England. This alternated with patrols around Queenstown. She had one sighting of an U-Boat on 18 September 1917 350 mi (560 km) west of Brest, France. USS Trippe charged and dropped depth charges but missed. Later she was battered by a storm but ended as planned with the convoy in Quiberon Bay, France. After quick repairs she went on in her routine, until late 1918. She left Queenstown via the southern route home, via the Azores and Bermuda, arriving in Boston on 3 January 1919. She was in the Philadelphia NyD on 23 July for preinactivation overhaul and decomm. by November 1919, reserve, until 1924. Reactivated for teh Coast Guard she went on in “rim patrols” from new London in 1929 until returned in 1932, replaced in reserve and stricken, sold in August 1934.

US Navy ww2 Walke DD-34

USS Walke DD-34
USS Walke was built at Fore River Ship and Engine. She had coal-firing boilers. Laid down on 5 March 1910, she was launched on 3 November 1910 and completed on 22 July 1911, and after initial training and shakedown, assigned to the 9th Division of the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet. She was fitted out in Boston, and moved to the Torpedo Station at Newport in Rhode Island, loading torpedoes for training. She spent the next three years in the usual routine of fleet and torpedo-firing exercises with destroyers and submarines of the torpedo fleet off the east coast in summer and Carribean in winter, from Cape Cod to Cuba.
On 1 November 1913, she was placed in reserve (Ny Navy Yard) for 17 months in semi-retirement with a commanding officer and partial crew. In October-November 1914 she took part in experimental deep sea diving trials, Stephen J. Drelishak’s setting a world record at 274 ft (84 m), in Long Island Sound. In July 1915, fully reactivated, she took part in the Independence Day celebration at Perth Amboy, New Jersey and stopped at Washington, D.C. in September. From November she was overhauled in Charleston NyD, until February 1916 and March, she restarted training. Next she was sent to cover a landing to restore order in the Dominican Republic. In July she was Norfolk for a new eight-month overhaul.

She was ready in March 1917 and based in Staten Island, arriving on 6 April 1917, the day war was declared on Germany. After patrolling off New York she was assigned to Charleston, returned to New York and prepared for European waters. The first days were in tow of the collier USS Jupiter. On 26 May, she arrived in Gironde estuary, France 5 June. From Bordeauw she moved north to Brest, and then Queenstown, Ireland, her new home until 17 November 1917, heading for home. She entered Charleston’s yard in mid-December 1917 and departed in March 1918 for New York, patrolling coastal waters up to Cape Cod and escorted convoys to NyC.

After preacetime Atlantic Fleet exercises in January 1919, via Charleston she joined manoeyvers in the Carribean and back to NyC via Florida. 18 July 1920 she was prepared for inactivation in Philadelphia, decommissioned on 12 December and in reserve until the mid-1930s. Stricken on 20 March 1935, sold for BU on 23 April 1935.

US Navy ww2 Ammen DD-35

USS Ammen prewar. Note her original bridge platform protected by canvas
USS Ammen (DD-34) was laid down in New York Shipbuilding on 29 March 1910. Launched on 20 September 1910 she was completed on 23 May 1911 at the construction cost of $655,075.13 (hull and machinery). After her commission she was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Torpedo Flotilla, east coast. She underwent the other routune as the other destroyers of the class and from 1915, started neutrality patrols and escort on the east coast.

From April 1917, she patrolled off the Bahamas and was fitted out in Philadelphia NyD on 6 May for overseas service, Division 9, sailing on 18 June for St. Nazaire in France with her first convoy on 2 July to Queenstown in Ireland. She never sighted not attack an U-Boat during these two years but assisted many vessels hit. She was back home in January 1919 and cruised on the Gulf of Mexico before deommission at Philadelphia (11 December 1919) until 28 April 1924. Transferred to the Coast Guard as CG-8. USS Ammen took par tin the “rim patrols” until 22 May 1931, returned to the USN and stricken on 5 July 1934, sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 Patterson DD-36

uss patterson 1916
USS Patterson was laid down at William Cramp & Sons on 29 March 1910, launched 29 April 1911 and completed on 11 October 1911. On the 23th she departed for Newport in Rhode Island, and New York City, then Boston, her new homeport. Her are of training was the New England Coast, Virginia Capes, Charleston, Pensacola, and Guantánamo Bay, but also Vera Cruz on 20 May 1914 to support Marines landings there. Affterwards she returned to New England Coast patrols and Newport-Boston approaches, escorting inbound trans-Atlantic convoys. In 1916 she became flagship of the 2nd division and crossed the Atlantic, supported by the oiler Maumee, commanded by a young CO, Lieutenant Chester W. Nimitz. There, she led led DesDiv 5 on 21 May 1917 to Maumee on 28 May and became the first ever USN destroyer performing a refuelling at sea (RAS), and led her pack to Queenstown in Ireland, on 1 June 1917. They were given there British signal books and depth charges racks.

On 12 June, she sighted, chased, and dropped depth charges on the U-boat attacking SS Indian. She collided later with the tug HMS Dreadful in Berehaven Harbour’s entrance on 1 January 1918, but was back after repairs on 5 February. She rescued 12 survivors of Mexico City. On 17 May, she attacked U-101. On 4 June she headed back home. On 16 June off Bermuda, she rescued the crew of Norwegian bark Kringsjaa (sunk by U-151). She entered Philadelphia NyD on 18 June for overhaul. In August she was based in Tompkinsville, New York, escorting the battleship USS Pennsylvania to Norfolk. On 22 August, she was flagship of a special hunting squadron with 11 submarine chasers (of the 110 ft type), patrolling local waters. She tested a new concept as the “Patterson Group”, hunting U-boats north from the Virginia Capes, up to New York.

After a misidentification she rescued the crew of badly damaged SC–188 and transferred the wounded to the hospital ship USS Comfort. She atacked an unidentified German U-boat on 3 September and went on with hunter-killer patrols along the eastern seaboard until 23 November 1918. After an overhault in Philadelphia on 1 January 1919, she was in reserve, reactivated to serve with the US Coast Guard on 28 April 1924 from Stapleton, New York (Rum Patrol), and back to the Navy on 18 October 1930, discarded on July 1933, sold for BU on 2 May 1934 and stricken afterwards.

US Navy ww2 Fanning DD-37

USS Fanning was born in Newport News Shipbuilding, laid down on 29 April 1911, launched on 11 January 1912 and completed on 21 June 1912. She served with the torpedo force of the Atlantic Fleet, three years of typical routine between the winter Caribbean maneuvers, and New England summers drills based based at Norfolk in Virginia. Two German auxiliary cruisers arrived in Norfolk in September 1916, escorted by Fanning until they left territorial waters. On 8 October she lloked out for survivors of a ship sunk by U-58. There were even thought of a secret German submarine base in the Long Island Sound—Block Island Sound which she searched in vain in 12-14 October 1916. She experimented RAS with the fuel ship Jason, latter put to good use by her sister Patterson and her group.

She was prepared for overseas service in June 1917, based in Queenstown, Ireland. She escorted convoys, chased submerged U-Boats, rescued survivors of sunken merchantmen. On 17 November 1917, she sighted U-58, and rushed to attack, scoring hits with her first depth charge drop. USS Nicholson soon joined un and take her turn, until U-58 broke surface, her crew surrendering. POW were taken aboard and the submersible sank.

She was the first of two U-boats claimed by US Destroyers in this war, with Navy Crosses later awarded. On 8 October 1918, rescued 103 survivors from two ships the same day. She was part of the presidential naval review on 13 December for Woodrow Wilson in SS George Washington. She departed Brest in 1919 for Plymouth, England and back, taking the southern route home via Lisbon, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, escorting a large group of submarine chasers. She was decommission at Philadelphia on 24 November 1919, reactivated on 7 June 1924, to serve with the USCG until 24 November 1930. Stricken and sold for scrap on 2 May 1934. Hr crew counted future celebrities like gunnery and torpedo officer Robert Carney, a Rear Admiral in 1943, Chief of Staff to Admiral William Halsey. Lt. Arthur S. Carpender, one of the ship’s captains, became later Vice Admiral, Atlantic Destroyer fleet, and LtCdr James Pine (interwar captain), Vice Admiral and Superintendent of the USGS academy.

US Navy ww2 Jarvis DD-38

USS Jarvis in sea trials, as completed in October 1912.
USS Jarvis was laid down at New York Shipbuilding on 1 July 1911, launched 4 April 1912 and completed on 22 October 1912. Commissioned the same day under command of Lt.Cdr. D. P. Mannix she made her shakedown off Cuba and was based in Norfolk, patrolling from Pensacola, Florida in 20 April 1914 and Tampico, Veracruz, Mexico during the Veracruz expedition. From 16 June, she was in neutrality patrols in the Atlantic. She departed New York on 26 May 1917 for European waters, under command of Vice Admiral William Sims.
Based in Queenstown, Ireland, via St. Nazaire in France on 11 June she started escort and patrol operations. She never attacked an U-Boat but on two occasions rescued crews sunken merchantmen, on 19 SS Batoum and Purley on 25 July. She also shielded SS Mechanician to fend off U-boat attacks. On 15 February 1918, she left Ireland for Brest, to guard Allied shipping until 28 December and sailed back home to Philadelphia, arriving on 12 January 1919. Decommissioned on 26 November. Kept in reserve, she was sold for BU and stricken on 23 April 1935.

US Navy ww2 Henley DD-39

USS Henley (DD-39), HD photo
USS Henley (DD-39), HD photo
Henley was built at Fore River Ship and Engine, laid down 17 July 1911, launched 3 April 1912 and commissioned on 6 December 1912. After training and shakedown, she was assigned to the US Atlantic Torpedo Fleet based in Newport, Rhode Island alternating between the Caribbean to North Atlantic. On 22 April 1914, she was part of the expedition off Tampico, Mexico, protecting citizens and
interests during the revolution, also transporting refugees and supplies. From 1915, she was in Neutrality Patrol, also inspecting belligerent ships in American ports.
From April 1917, she patrolled and escort fuel ships assisting destroyers with the first troop convoy on 13 June. She never ventured to Europe and stayed until the end of the war in convoy duty along the east coast and in between ASW patrols off New York harbor. She was sent in Philadelphia Navy Yard, decommissioned on 12 December 1919. She served with the Coast Guard on 16 May 1924, from Stapleton, New York and New London, Connecticut, returned to the USN on 8 May 1931, stricken and sold for BU.

US Navy ww2 Beale DD-40

USS Beale was built at William Cramp & Sons, laid down on 8 May 1911, launched 30 April 1912 and commissioned 30 August 1912. After training and shakedown she joined the 5th Group of the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla, with the same training and operational area. She was placed in reserve on 13 December 1915, reactivated on 5 January 1916 for Neutrality Patrols along the Atlantic coast. In full commission from 22 March 1917 she was prepared for overseas service and sailed to Queenstown on 5 February 1918. Alternating convoy and patrol duties until November, she onlt returned to the US in December, and served with the Atlantic Fleet until placed in reserve at Philadelphia NyD, 25 October 1919. Reactivated in 1924 to serve with the Coast Guard on 28 April she was tasked to enforce the Volstead Act (prohibition), assigned hull number CG-9 and returned to the USN on 18 October 1930, scrapped in 1934.

US Navy ww2 Jouett DD-41

Jouett was built at Bath Iron Works, laid down on 7 March 1911, launched 15 April 1912, commissioned on 24 May 1912 with Lt.Cdr W. P. Cronan in command. She served with the Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla on the East Coast until early 1914, then took part in the expedition to Tampico, Mexico during the revolution. She supported the Marines at Veracruz on 21 April 1914. Back to the east coast in 1915-16 she resumed her peacetime training and neutrality patrols. In April 1917 she patrolled the Delaware Bay. In August she was prepared in New York and departed on the 8th to escort five troopships bound for France. Back in the US she was based in New London, Connecticut, on 15 January 1918 experimentating with new ASW detection devices until 4 June, and leading her own anti-submarine hunter-killer group along the East Coast until the end of the war.
After 1919 exercizes and fleet maneuvers she was deactivated in Philadelphia Navy Yard on 20 July 1919, decommissioned on 24 November, then recommissioned with the US Coast Guard on 23 April 1924. Back to the Navy on 22 May 1931, she was stricken and sold for scrap.

US Navy ww2 Jenkins DD-42

USS Jenkins was built in Bath Iron Works, laid down on 24 March 1911, launched 29 April 1912, comm. 15 June 1912. She was part of the Torpedo Force, Atlantic, based at Newport, Rhode Island. her operating area extended from the Caribbean in the winter to the East Coast, up to Cape Cod in the summer. She was detached in 1914 to take part in the Tampico expedition in Mexico and the occupation of Veracruz. On 1 October 1916 while in neutrality patrols she collided with the lighter Trilby at Sandwich (Massachusetts) only having light damage.

She went on in ASW patrols and maneuvers until prepared to serve in Europe, sailing on 26 May 1917. Based at Queenstown, she patrolled the eastern Atlantic and made several submarine contacts but sunk none. After the Armistice she waited until December for escorting home-bound convoys and was back in Boston on 3 January 1919. Inactivated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 20 July, decommissioned on 31 October she was never reactivated and stricke, sold for BU in 1935.

smith class destroyers (1909)


Smith class destroyers (1909)

Fleet destroyers (1908-1921): Smith, Lamson, Preston, Flusser, Reid (DD-17 to DD-21)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The Turbines Destroyers or “Flivvers”
The Smith and Paulding were closely similar fleet destroyers nicknamed “flivvers” restrospectively after the after the small and shaky Model T Ford after the 1000-tonners entered service. But they were a landmark: The first USN steam turbine fleet destroyers. A first class of five ships Smith, Lamson, Preston, Flusser, Reid, and a further nineteen of the Paulding class, quite similar. There were larger, with a forecastle and turbines, compared to the Bainbridge class, and completed in 1909-1910. All served as convoy escorts in World War I, several attacked U-boats but they were discarded soon after the war.

wow smith fwd

Smith Class Design

Reconstitution of the class, USS Smith, 2 side views (Kombrig)
The Smith-class destroyers were the first ocean-going destroyers in the United States Navy, and the first to be driven by steam turbines instead of the reciprocating engines fitted in the sixteen earlier and much smaller torpedo boat destroyers ordered in 1898. But they were also the last coal-fired. Flusser and Reid are sometimes considered to be Flusser-class ships. Also, since Flusser was completed first, some period documentation refers to the entire class as Flussers. They were also innovative on several other points and mirrored a general upgrade in fleet destroyer design seen throughout the world, like the Russian Novik in 1911. But in 1905, the RN laid down HMS Swift under the guidance of admiral Jackie Fisher. Compared to the plucky 1903 River class, this was a monster at 1,825 tons (2,207 tons full load), capable (on paper) of 34 knots, also “announcing the color” for flotilla leaders and future developments.

wow smith aft

A 1906 order

The first three of the Smith class were ordered under the Act of 29 June 1906 and it was specified that they needed to have the “highest practical speed, and to cost, exclusive of armament, not to exceed seven hundred and 50,000 dollars each”. The last two were ordered under the Act of 7 March 1907 with the same but not to exceed 80,000 dollars each.
Initially the admiralty did not specified any powerplant requirements. So Yards competiting for the design order had freedom between VTE and Turbines. The choice of turbines was not dictated by speed and weight issues, but surprisingly by cost: Indeeed, when bids were opened, turbine-powered proposals were cheaper than VTE proposals.

As designed by the master yard, William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, the Smiths class were basically, greatly enlarged Truxtuns, with 900 tons fully loaded, 50% larger. The extra displacement was a reserve to add extra armament and a larger machinery in order to keep the same top speed as before, 28-knot (52 km/h; 32 mph). Also with a greater lenght went the advantage of better wave riding, whereas seakeeping was considerably improved by the adoption of a raised forecastle, even taller than on the Bainbridge class that received that Forecastle to improve seaworthiness.

The search for Long Range

To go with the greater machinery and the benefit of a longer and wide hull, coal capacity was massively increased, to 304 tons, almost half the total fully loaded displacement of the Truxtun class ! This extra range provided them with new capabilities unseen in the USN: The admiralty had in hands its first truly ocean-going destroyers. Or “fleet destroyers” as they proved this time able to cover and screen the battlefleet on long voyages.
One explanation for the adoption of this new type of destroyer, often referred at by authors, was the seizure of the Philippines after the Spanish–American War of 1898 and acquisition of Hawaii, a central place in the Pacific, both the same year. They shown the need for long-range ships, and all classes were affected by this: Battleships, cruisers, and naturally destroyers. Even before the Smith class entered service the US experienced with its long range abilities through the Great White Fleet in 1907–09. This really confirmed this was the right path. Still, despite being impressive for their time, when the 1913 new 1,000 tonners (Cassin class) entered service, they went with the “flivvers” sobriquet in reference to to small and shaky Model T Ford.

Replacing Torpedo Boats

It was recognized for the first time that hunting torpedo boats were not anymore the prime objective of these fleet destroyers, unlikely to cross them during their long voyages, but rather to engage otrher fleet’s own destroyers screening. They would had also to take over the role of torpedo boats, too short range, with a more offensive, heavier torpedo capability. Thise made them, in addition to be the first sea-going USN destroyers, the first multi-missions US destroyers as well. In 1917 was added to this, ASW warfare. They were a main reason why torpedo boats ceased to be considered by the naval staff. The last were the Blakeley class ordered in May 1898, last started in 1901.

Reconstitution of the class, 2 side views.
The Paulding class, to compare (Kombrig)

Design of the class

Hull and general design

The Smith class really were impressive ships compared to the previous Truxtun/Bainbridge especially. As customary at the time, the hull had no uniform framed section amidship but a gradual profile with fine entries and stern lines for maximum penetration. The greatest beam (26 ft or 7.92 m) was reached aft of N°4 funnel, and on a 293 ft 10 inches long hull (89.56 m) this made for a 1/10 ratio. The ships were overall rather narrow due to this progressive framing (modern destroyers had a fuller hull form). The draft was still rather limited at 8 ft (2.44 m), allowing to enter most waters, including rivers (Mississippi and Great Lakes) if needed.

The poop was rounded, sloped downwards. The forecastle was taller than on the previous Bainbridge class for better seakeeping.
The protect the hull from still common collisions at the time, they had two hull bars close to the waterline and two framed bumpers aft, at the height of the propellers. The superstructures were reduced to the bare minimum: A bridge forward, containing a small map room and the open bridge above, fitted with the chadburn and all necessary acoustic tubes for internal communication. Despite being well above water in rough weather, the whole structure was covered by a canvas. The forecastle’s flanks were indented with recessed to enable to bear forward the first two deck guns. The last two were located aft, axial. There was another small quarterdeck room aft, with the base on the mainmast. Only three rowing boats, located along funnel N°2-3 were installed for liaison and safety.


Cutaway of the class by A.D. Baker III in 1910. Scanned from U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman.
Unlike the earlier sixteen destroyers, the new “800-tonners” had triple propellers shafts, for three turbines. These turbines were of the direct drive (not geared) type. They were arranged like on the older British Turbinia: H high-pressure turbine (center shaft) was exhausting to two outer, low-pressure turbines driving the outboard shafts. This means they acted as auxiliaries when cruising, with added turbines on the outboard shafts for better fuel economy at low speeds, the central, axial turbine being shut down. High consumption however was still a problem until two breakthroughs: Oil, and higher steam pressures/temperatures.

Machinery of USS Flusser -
Machinery of USS Flusser –

Engineers tried to solve the discrepancy between the turbine’s high efficient speed and propeller’s low efficient one and a compromise 724 rpm shaft speed was found, wtill twice that of a modern vessel. The location of the boilers dictated two widely spaced pairs of funnels. The very ship, USS Smith, though, had its first and fourth funnels further apart than the central pair. She also had four Mosher coal-fired boilers for a totall output of 10,000 shp (7,500 kW), reaching on trials 28.35 knots (32.6 mph; 52.5 km/h) based on an output of 9,946 shp (7,417 kW). She also carried 304 tons of coal.


Compared with the Truxtuns, the main armament was considerably increased, to five 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber guns. This was done at the detriment of lighter armament, and so more standardized, making it easier to work with. The trend here was no American but set in Britain, with the rearmament of the British River-class destroyers in 1906 and a reflection of the concept behind HMS Dreadnought. To go with the torpredo capabilirty, a third 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tube was added, and three reloads, one for each tube, six torpedoes total.


The 3″/50 caliber gun Mark 2 was prioneered in 1898 and soon became a staple of light artillery in the USN, spreading into all manner of ships types. They were judged superior to the British 3-in Armstrong Elswick. They could have been upgraded later during completion to the Mark 5, or 6. There are some confusion between sources and the types installed could have been either the 76/50 Mk III, Mark V or Mark VI. In any case, they fired a 24 lb (11 kg) complete round at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s) with medestal mounts which elevates to 15°, and allows 20 rpm in optimal conditions. Max range was probably 8,000 yards.


These three tubes were located on either side of the amidghsip funnels for the first pair, on the broadside, and a third aft of the mainmast, close to the helmswhell and aft gun. It was later realized that this placement was less than idea as stern launches above 20 knots caused the torpedo to run erratically due to the stern wave deflection.
The torpedo types fired were most probably the Whitehead 18″ (45 cm) Mark 5. They were the first with three speed settings. Weighting 1,452 lbs. (659 kg) for 204 in (5.182 m) long, they carried a
199 lbs. (90 kg) wet gun-cotton warhead, for 4,000 yds/27 kts or 2,000 yds/36 kts and 1,000 yds/40 knots, powered by a dry heater system (hot running) connected to a four cylinder reciprocating engine. It was “guided” by a Mark 1 Mod 3 gyro system.


USS Benham and Lawson in the background, showing her 1918 camouflage.

So in 1916, the single torpedo tubes were removed and replaced by two twin mounts with no reloads. These new mounts actually weighed less than the older single ones. A single 3-inch gun was removed and to complete this in 1917-18, two depth charge racks were added at the poop for convoy escort.

Author's HD illustration of the Smith class
Author’s HD illustration of the Smith class

⚙ specifications

Displacement 700 long tons normal, 902 long tons full load
Dimensions 293 ft 10 in x 26 x 8 ft (89.56 x 7.92 x 2.44 m)
Propulsion 3 shafts Parsons DD Steam Turbines, 4 Mosher coal-fired boilers 10,000 shp (7,500 kW)
Speed 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range Range 304 tons coal, 2,800 nm (5,200 km) at 10 knots
Armament 5×3 in (76 mm)/50, 3×18 in (450 mm) TTs, 6 Torpedoes
Crew 4 officers+ 83 ratings

Read More


Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the USN, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Greenwood Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). NIP
Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921
Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan.


Smith class on
The flivvers on
3-in guns on
Pre-WWI US Torpedoes – Navweaps
On Navypedia

additional photos (navsource):


Model Kits

Kombrig 1/700 USS Smith

US Navy ww2Smith DD-17

USS Smith was built at William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, laid down on 18 March 1908, launched 20 April 1909, comm. 26 November 1909. Attached to the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet but in reserve by October 1912. Reactivated (reduced crew) by December 1915; Neutrality Patrols off Boston, then in New Orleans (10 December) for recruiting, Naval Auxiliary Reserve. Based in Key West (12 February 1916), New York (15 February) always recruiting.

Gunnery and torpedo drills aboard USS Smith, date unknown (navsource)

After preventing German ships to escape New York or scuttle she departed to join the Patrol Force along the East Coast (10 April-14 May) reporting on the 17 April a submarine sighting. After her overhaul at Charleston NyD from 17 May to 16 July, she departed for Bermuda and patrolled three months in the Azores (26 July-5 October) until reaching her new home port, Brest, France on 20 October. Until V-Day she escorted eastbound and westbound convoys on 500 mi (800 km) westward of Brest. She only had sightings of suspected subs and attacks but no kills but rescued survivors like on 31 May 1918, 240 men from President Lincoln and on 1st July, she rescued survivors from Covington.

Her Inter-war career was fairly short: After an overhaul in UK until 3 November she stayed in Brest until 2 April 1919, during which time she escorted home bound troop transports. She was back in May at Philadelphia, decommissioned (2 September) sold on 28 February 1920, but requisitioned by BuC&R for bombing experiments. This started on 18 September, and until 5 Novemner in Chesapeake Bay (with USS Indiana and G-1). She survived, was towed back to Philadelphia, then became a bombing target on 20 July 1921 and eventually sold on 20 December to Henry A. Hitner’s Sons Co. and BU.

US Navy ww2Lamson DD-18

USS William, built in Cramp & Sons, was laid down on 18 March 1908, launched 16 June 1909, completed 10 February 1910. Assigned to the Atlantic Squadron, Lamson operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean from 1910 to 1916 participating in torpedo exercises, fleet maneuvers, and coastal patrol. Departing Key West, Florida on 7 May 1916, the destroyer arrived Dominican Republic two days later to support the Marines sent by President Woodrow Wilson to protect American interests during the Dominican revolt.

USS Lamson in 1910
USS Lamson in 1910

She returned to Key West in mid-June before sailing on the 28th for Vera Cruz. She joined other American ships in Mexican waters, as the Mexican political situation was still in turmoil. Following her return to Key West on 11 July, Lamson operated along the east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico until the United States entered World War I.
During the early months of the war, she patrolled the coastline before preparing for oversea service. Arriving Ponta Delgada, Azores on 26 July 1917, the destroyer performed escort and patrol duty for the next three months. Lamson departed the Azores on 6 October for escort operations out of Brest, France. She assisted survivors of Finland on 28 October after the merchant ship had been torpedoed by a German submarine.

USS Lamson in 1918

The destroyer continued escort and patrol operations for the rest of the war, and aided in the victory of Allied forces by neutralizing the German U-boat threat to convoys. After the Armistice, Lamson departed Brest on 11 December 1918 and arrived at Charleston, South Carolina on 31 December. She decommissioned on 15 July 1919 and was sold on 21 November.

US Navy ww2 Preston DD-19

USS Preston as completed, showing the early, spartan “open bridge” of the whole class. After their major overhaul they were fitted with an enclosed bridge.
Built at the New York Shipbuilding, Camden in New Jersey, she was laid down on 28 April 1908, launched 14 July 1909 and commissioned on 21 December 1909, with Lieutenant commander George C. Day in command. Attached to Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, at first she spent her time in peacetime patrols in various squadron cut by fleet exercises. Then from 1917 she was in neutrality patrols, based in New York.

USS Preston in dark grey livery, 1910
USS Preston in dark grey livery, 1910

From 6 April 1917 she headed for Boston and went on patrolling the east coast until 12 May before going back to the Destroyer Force, Atlantic, for coastal escorts until July. From there, she patrolled from Europe, and until October she was based in the Azores. She ended in Brest until the end of the war for the first leg of escort from Europe. On 11 December 1918, she departed for home, arriving at Charleston in South Carolina on 4 January 1919. Transferred to Philadelphia she was decommissioned on 17 July, stricken on 15 September and sold for BU on 21 November at T. A. Scott of New London in Connecticut.

US Navy ww2 Flusser DD-20

USS Flusser was built at Bath Iron Works in Maine. She was laid down on 3 August 1908, launched on 20 July 1909 and completed on 28 October 1909. She is often referred as her own sub-class with USS Reid. Her first captain was Lieutenant William Henry Allen (12 October 1911-August 1912) followed by Lieutenant William Halsey, Jr. (August 1912-5 September 1913 and yes, the one).
USS Flusser was based first at Charleston, South Carolina from 17 December 1909, starting her peactime routine of East Coast Atlantic Torpedo Fleet duties and yearly cruising in winter in the Caribbean up to the coast of New England.

USS Flusser, rear view, details of the forecastle and bridge
USS Flusser, rear view, details of the forecastle and bridge (navsource)

This went on until August 1916, followed by neutrality patrols off New York and Long Island. After an overhaul in New Orleans in 1917, she resumed east coast escort until 30 July and started ocean escort/patrol missions from Ponta Delgada in the Azores, the USN “mid-atlantic” spot.
Later she was based in Brest, France, to patrol the English Channel (22 October-9 December 1918). She returned to Charleston after the war on 31 December to be decommissioned at Philadelphia on 14 July 1919, sold fpr BU on 21 November.

US Navy ww2 Reid DD-21

USS Reid on sea trials off Rockland, Maine
Like Flusser, Reid was built at Bath Iron Works. She was started on 3 August 1908, launched on 17 August 1909 and completed on 3 December 1909. Sge was assigned to the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla, and operated along the east coast between drills and training exercises. From April 1917 she fell under command of Ensign Charles Alan Pownall.

On 6 April she took part in the “Southern Patrol Force” based in Key West, Florida. On the 18th she was assigned to Squadron 1, Patrol Force from Boston, the Squadron 2 in eMay, to the northeast coast and on 15 May joined the Destroyer Force escorting incoming traffic off New York. Next she was reassigned to Charleston, prepared for overseas service and sailed on 21 July to the Azores, escorting convoys-midway there until 30 September.

In October, she was based in Brest, and on the 23rd she was accidentally rammed and damaged by the freighter W. T. James. Repaired at Brest, she resuled her escort work until November 1918. She spotted and attacked several U-Boats, most notably UB-55 on 18 March 1918 and U-86 on 1 July, but only caused damaged.
USS Reid departed Brest for Charleston in December. Inactivated on the 31st, she was moved Philadelphia, to be decommissioned on 31 July 1919, then stricken on 15 September, sold to T. A. Scott & Co. of New London for BU on 21 November.

Bainbridge class destroyers (1900)

Bainbridge class Destroyers (1900)

USA – (1898-1902): 12 destroyers:
USS Bainbridge, Barry, Chauncey, Dale, Decatur, Hopkins, Hull, Lawrence, Macdonough, Paul Jones, Perry, Preble, Stewart

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The Bainbridge-class destroyers were first designated as Torpedo Boat Destroyers (TBDs), authorized by the Congress in 1898 following the Spanish–American War. Built between 1899 and 1903, they represented 13 of 16 TBDs, but the lead ships USS Bainbridge was retroactively denominated DD-1, making her the very first USN destroyer. There was a single loss in WW1, USS Chauncey, colliding with the British merchant ship SS Rose in 1917. They were discarded in 1919, but made a very first and important step in a long lineage that will be covered in detail in 2023.

A late inclusion of the Torpedo

The start of the “new navy” TB lineage: 1886

When the Spanish-American War broke out in April 31, 1898, the USN still at the time called “new navy” to make a difference with the leftovers of the 1860s Civil war fleet, looked definitely at Europe, and at that stage, the French Young School in particular, looking at ways to wage war on potentially adverse commerce. One such policies was also to count on local defence, and leading to the design and adoption of the first (and only) USN Torpedo Boats.

Going from the spare-torpedo vessels of the Civil war such as the CSS David, and the first “submarines”, USS Alligator and CSS HL Hunley, or the first “torpedo boat”, the USS Spuyten Duyvil, there was no need for such vessels in the 1870s, experiments being made on an armoured ram instead (perhaps inspired by the British HMS Polyphemus), USS Kathadin, and the dynamite-gun cruiser USS Vesuvius. In the 1880s, the USN started a serie of commerce raising cruisers, but none had torpedo tubes, at least until the 1892 USS Olympia, a groundbreaking designs for many reasons.

uss stiletto
The very first, experimental “Torpedo Boat” (“WT1”) was built by Herreschoff and provided at first a spar torpedo: USS Stiletto. She was provided two Howell torpedoes in 1898 though.
It’s USS Cushing that was the first to adopt true 18-in torpedo tubes. Officially named “TB-1”, she represented the start of this rather short lineage. Followed by TB-2 USS Eriscsson (1894), then the first classes, Foote (1896), Porter (1896) and up to TB-35 (USS Wilkes, 1901) they were rather small, from 110 to 220 tonnes, built by a variety of yards to test different solutions. Almost all boats differed from one another in some ways. The USN experimented the type until it was no longer a priority.

Foote class TBs
Foote class TBs (TB-3 to TB-5), a 142 tonnes type.

Context and Motivation

Alongside the construction of Torpedo Boats, the USN was well aware of the development in Europe of large torpedo boats intended to chase down regular TBs, called “TBD” with the adjunction of “destroyer”.
One such inspiration, as tension grew with Spain over Cuba, was the Spanish “Destructor” (1885) credited as the very first of such torpedo boats hunters. But it was a largely experimental ship. The Armada soon integrated the Furor class launched 1896-97, six ships planned, but only Furor and Plutón were ready when the war broke out.

Spanish Furor, the class was soon sent to defend Cuba, entering in USN calculation. Captain Villamil, in charge of both Pluton and Furor, proposed to launch a surprise night attack with torpedoes but was overruled by the ranking Admiral Cervera.

It is still unclear if those weighted that much in the admiralty decision to press the construction of TB-11 (USS Farragut, first of the name) as she was authorized by the Congress on 10 june 1896, whereas the Furor class were ordered from J & G Thompson Clydebank shipyards in Scotland the same year, possibly earlier. For USS Farragut, built at Union Iron Works, laid down in July 1897 and launched on July 1898 was not completed in time to take part in the Spanish-American war. None of the following did. But the looming war in 1896 certainly had a role in this.

USN Ocean-Going Torpedo Boats: TB-11 to TB-21 (1897-99)

USS Farragut, TB-11, Post card with no date or location from the collection of Raymond Strout, via (1).

The doubt lays in the fact that instead of ordering a class, the admiralty was content to place orders for comparative tests to various yards and based on the same following 3/3/1897 act.
-TB-19 (USS Stringham) to Harlan & Hollingsworth,
-TB-20 (USS Goldborough) to Wolf & Ziwker,
-TB-21 (USS Bailey) to Gas engine & Power & CL Seabury.
These last three were launched in the span of a few months in 1898. However, both experience with USS Farragut and the end of the war led to many modificationsn ensuring these largely experimental boats were commissioned at a much later dates, in 1901 (Bailey), 1905 (Stringham) and even 1908 for USS Goldsborough.
These vessels were classed as TBs due to their tonnage, 235 to 340 tons, not that far from the largest TBs of the time, reaching 220 long tonnes. Some authors had them placed in a single class by convencience but if they started with the same March 1897 specifications and requirements, submitted to several yards, they certainly were very different from one another.
They served for testing purpose for all their active existence, even duting WWI. Without surprise they were discarded in 1918 and scrapped 1919-1923.

USS Bailey, Undated, location unknown. Photo NHQQ0397 from the publication “Our Country’s Pride” via navsource. src

⚙ specifications

Name TB-11 TB-19 TB-20 TB-21
Displacement 279 340 255 234
Dimensions 214 x 21 x 6 228 x 22 x 6 198 x 20 x 6 205 x 19 x 6
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 3 Thornycroft Boilers, 5,878 ihp 7,200 ihp 6,000 ihp 5,600 ihp
Speed 30 kts 30 kts 27 kts 30 kts
Range/oil tonnage 95 t 95 t 89 t 99 t
Armament 4x 6-pdr, 3x 18-in TTs same same same
Crew 66 59 59 56

The first destroyer class (DD-1)

Profile of USS Bainbridge in sea trials, shown in publications of the time.

Some references, describe the four preceding ocean-going torpedo boats launched in 1898-1899 as the first US destroyers, based on their tonnage albeit still class as TBs. USS Stringham, largest of these, was even larger than some contemporary British destroyers, but when studied in emergency, the new Bainbridges were considerably larger and better armed, although not as fast, the “first rate” Farragut & Cie indeed were specificied 30 knots (that only Goldborough failed to achieve, no wonder Wolf & Zwicker was never recontacted).
The Bainbridge class followed a 1898 recommendation for war plans board initiated to start the Spanish–American War, chaired by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt. All recoignised, based on reports, the poor sea-keeping qualities of the previous Farragut type “sea going torpedo boats” or TBs in general, also taking in account the Spanish Furor class built in UL, which caracteristics were well known. These were the reasons for a more ambitious, coherent class of 13 officially designated as TBDs (Torpedo Boat Destroyers), sanctioned by Congress authorizion on 4 May 1898, to be placed under the fiscal year 1899 (FY 1899) naval program, completed by three Truxtun-class.

Original blueprint of the class
Original blueprint of the class, outboard view and top view.

Construction difficulties (and the quick resolution of the war, since the Armada soon looked like a paper tiger), saw the Bainbridges only completed in 1901–02, far too late. But this new type was nevertheless instituted for good in the US Navy, following the Royal Navy in 1895 with the A-class. At the same time, this put a definitive end to the torpedo boats program. The very last indeed was TB-35 USS Wilkes, commissioned in 1902, about the same time. A long pause for reflection followed (see later).

So the Bainbridge was the first class specifically ordered as the Spanish American war broke out, but instead of ordering them in separate yards for testing, as the previous TB-11 to TB-21, the design was completely new and standardized, so to be ordered in numbers to Neafies & Levy and WR Trigg (and several sub-classes to other yards). At 420 tonnes, they certainly superior were to the Spanish Furor class, which were 320 tonnes, 28 knots capable vessels armed with 2 × 75 mm (3 in) and two 57 mm (2 in) Nordenfelt cannons, two Maxim machine guns and two 350 mm (14 in) torpedo tubes.

Beating this by size, speed, armament and capabilities was obviously a priority. With 420 tonnes setup as tonnage, way more than the previous Farragut and following, the same two 3-in but five 6-pdr, and moreover 18-in torpedo tubes (457 mm) instead of 14-in, a top speed of 29 knots, the Bainbridge class certainly went beyond and above.
Most authors assimilated these as a single class with several sub-classes:
Bainbridge class by Neafie & Levy USS Bainbridge, Barry, Chaucer & WR Trigg: Dale, Decatur.
Hopkins sub-class by Harlan & Hollingsworth: USS Hopkins, Hull (DD 6 and 7)
Lawrence sub-class by Fore River: USS lawrence, Macdonough (DD 8 and 9)
Paul Jones sub-class by Union Iron Works: USS Paul Jones, Perry, Preble (DD 10-12)
Steward sub-class by Gas engine & CL Seabury: USS steward (DD 13)
They all proceeded from the same basic specifications, but had some changes, setting them apart (see later).

From the Truxtun to the Smith: Nearly a decade vacancy.

uss truxtun DD-14
The next class, this time too different to be assimilated, were the Truxtun (DD 14-16), with USS Truxtun, Whipple and Worden completed as flush-deckers with a turtleback foredeck on a 433 tonnes, 260 foot base, but the same armament. Most authors sets them apart albeit they proceeded from the very same 4 May 1898 act, but moved FY1899. They were launched all three at Maryland Steel Yard, on 15 August 1901. They will be the object of a separated article.

uss flusser
Smith class USS Flusser (DD-20) on sea trials: The first USN turbine destroyers.
There was a gap of nine years between the Truxtun and the next Smith class (USS Smith, Lamson, Preston, Flusser, Reid, DD-17-21) as they were all provided a forecastle, which became standard and were based on a 700 tonnes standard, almost twice the Bainbridge, plus an all-3 inches main armament. They represented a brand new league in destroyer design, this time meant for fleet duties alongside the brand new battlefleet that was built, including the first dreadnoughts. But in the span of four years, the USN jumped in 1913 to a 1000 tonnes standard, which went all through WWI with the Wickes/Clemsons. They were all dubbed as “fully seagoing vessels” with long interwar careers, whereas the old Bainbridge and Truxtun classes were scrapped just after the war ended.

Design of the Bainbridge class (DD-1)

Reworked blueprint
Reworked blueprint, in inverted black and white and accentuated contrasts by the author.

Hull and general design

bainbridge profile
Drawing made by A. D. Baker III as of 1901, scanned from U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman (

The Bainbridges were under 650 long tons (660 t) fully loaded, but 408 to 480 tonnes standard (unladen). In sharp contrast, modern Arleigh Burke-class from 2013, so after 100+ years of evolution, reaches 10,800 long tons (11,000 t), so heavy cruiser-size for WW2 standards. Still at the time, they certainly were on top pf the predatory chain for small ships. To compared, let’s see the British A class (1897):

USS Bainbridge (DD1)

Sub-class stats:

Bainbridge: Forecastle. 420 tons, 250 x 23.7 x 6.6 feets, 8,000 ihp, 29 kts. see general stats in table below, crew 73.
Hopkins: Turtledeck. 408 tons, 248.8 x 24.6 x 6ft feets, 7,200 ihp, 29 kts, two 3-in/50 guns (3-in/25 on the others) crew 72.
Lawrence: Forecastle. 430 tons, 246.3 x 22.3 x 6.8 ft, 8,400 ihp, 30 kts, crew 72.
Paul Jones sub-class: 480 tons, forecastle. 250.7 x 23.6 x 7.3 fts, 8,000 ihp, 29 kts, crew 73.
Steward: 420 tons, Forecastle. 250.6 x 23.8 x 6.6 ft, 8,000 ihp, 29 kts, crew 71.


Blueprint - Engine girders
Blueprint – Engine girders (NARA). Department of the Navy. Bureau of Construction and Repair 1898.

The ships all had two propeller shafts connected vertical triple-expansion engines, the best of their day (Turbines were onugurated by the Smith class onwards), fed by four coal-fired boilers. They diverged in details from ships to sub-class:

USS Bainbridge herself and the rest of her group had four Thornycroft boilers rated at 275 psi (1,900 kPa) for a total output of 7,000 ihp (5,200 kW) as designed, but on trials she reached 28.45 knots (52.69 km/h; 32.74 mph) at forced heat, light gauge, 8,000 ihp (6,000 kW). She carried 213 long tons (216 t) of coal but only 203 tons for USS dale and Decatur.

The sub-class Hopkins had the same Thornycroft boilers and triple-expansion engines same output of 7,000 ihp but did better at 29.02 knots on trials based on less horsepower 8,456 ihp (6,306 kW), thay however only carried 150 long tons of coal. Perhaps her better performances were attibuted to her lower displacement at 408 tons as both Hopkins and Hull lacked the forecastle of the others.

The Lawrence sub-class diverged by having four Normand boilers or Fore River Boilers (for Conways) and total output was above the others at 8,400 ihp (6,300 kW); Because of this, they also diverged in profile, having four funnels close together, and not far apart like all the others and a turtleback instead of a forecastle as the Bainbridges, and yet displaced even more (see separate stats), reaching 28.41 knots on trials based on the same output than specified. Coal capacity was just 115 long tons reducing their range significantly, but in Conways it’s noted at 123 tons, 110 for USS Mcdonough.

The Paul Jones (With Perry and Preble) had Thornycroft boilers rated for 8,000 ihp, 29 knots, carrying 202 tons of coal. On trials, top speed ranged between 28.03 and 28.91 knots.
USS Stewart had four Seabury boilers for 8,000 ihp also, 29 knots but only 172 tons of coal. On trials she reached 29.7 knots and thus was soon dubbed the fastest of the whole class.


In standard as specified they all carried the same combination: Two 3-in/25 (76 mm) guns, Five 6-pdr QF guns (57 mm), two 18-in torpedo tubes.
Interestingly enough, the only change was on the Paul Jones sub-class which in the 1910s replaced their two single tubes by a twin bank amidships. The single one aft was removed.

Main: 2x 3-inches

The two 3-in/25 guns were located fore and aft on raised platforms. Unfortunately i can’t find much data about these 1890s guns. The closest were the 3″/23.5 (7.62 cm) Marks 4 developed in 1900 by Bethlehem Steel, using with a side-swing carrier breech block. More data.
This is another story for the 3-in/50 however (it’s likely all were upgraded to this standard after completion). The 3″/50 (7.62 cm) Mark 2 was developed in 1898 and entered service in 1900 so as the destroyers were completed. Designed by Bethlehem Steel they fired fixed ammunitions.
Stats were: 15 rounds per minute, 24 lbs. (10.9 kg) shells at 2,700 fps (823 mps). The number of rounds carried is unknown. It’s likely they were upgraded to Mark 3 or 5 in WWI.

Secondary: Five 6-pdr

These were the classic QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss guns, manufactured in France by a US-born engineer and industrialist.
These used a vertical sliding-block breech with hydro-spring recoil, fired a 57x307R shell at 25 rpm and 1,818 feet per second (554 m/s) up to 4,000 yards (3,700 m).
On this class they were located along the hull, on deck and broadside, two abaft funnel #1 and two more in front of funnel #3. The last one was axial, located just behind funnel #4. Note that this location changed on the Lawrence sub-class as they had four funnels close together. On this class, the 6-pdr forward were relocated abaft the 3-in main gunnery platform. On all forecastle ships, the guns were located abaft #1 funnel, and specially made recesses to fire forward, protected from the elements by a bulwark. This location was judged ideal to have three guns firing in chase.


The two torpedo tubes were located on deck, axis positions, one between the two groups of funnels (on the Lawrence, behind the group) and one completely aft, close to the stern. This gave them excellent traverse angles. They also carried four reload torpedoes. The reload operation was of course manual, using pulleys, and a long operation.
As customary of the time, these destroyers not only had single torpedo tubes, but also 18-in caliber torpedoes, but in reality they were 17.7 inches (45.0 cm) in diameter. This caliber was chosen on US destroyers as well starting with USS Cushing (1890) instead of the 14-in used on the Spanish Furor class destroyers and many early destroyers and torpedo boats on the time, but also the experimental USS Stiletto, using the early 14.2″ (36 cm) Howell.
US early Torpedoes of the Howell type, using a flywheel for power, were quickly replaced by the Whitehead type built under licence by Bliss-Levitt, using compressed air.
There is doubt about the exact type used on the Bainbridge class: Either the “Short” Whitehead 18″ (45 cm) Mark 1 or the “Short” Whitehead 18″ (45 cm) Mark 2, the “Long” Whitehead 18″ (45 cm) Mark 1 or Type B introduced in 1898, Mark 2 or Type C or the one introduced when they were completed:
The Whitehead 18″ (45 cm) Mark 3 or Type A:
First using a Mark 1 mod 1 gyro, they weighted 845 lbs. (383 kg) for 140 in (3.556 m) long, carrying a 118 lbs. (53.5 kg) wet gun-cotton charge at 800 yards (730 m)/27.5 knots.
The engine was using an air-flask (cold running) with compressed air on three cylinder, radial Brotherhood pattern.

Author’s profile of USS Bainbridge, DD-1

⚙ Bainbridge (DD-1 to 6) specifications

Displacement 420 tons standard (circa 700 fully loaded)*
Dimensions 250 oa x 23ft 7in x 6ft 6in feets (76.19 x 7.18 x 1.98m)
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 4 Thornycroft Boilers, 8,000 ihp
Speed 28-28.64 kts, 29 kts nominal
Range 2700(8 kts), 203-213 tons coal
Armament 2x 3-in, 5x 6-pdr, 2x 18-in TTs
Crew 73

USS Bainbridge displaced 631 long tons (641 t) as designed full load but 710.5 long tons (721.9 t) in actual full load.
Construction time, from keel laying to commission was four years on average, quite long for destroyers.

Career and general Assessment

Old destroyers awaiting decommissioning in the Reserve Basin, Philadelphia Navy Yard, spring 1919. Are visible USS Preble, Decatur, USS Paul Jones, Stewart, Bainbridge, Hopkins, Hull, Barry, so most of the whole class plus Worden, Truxtun, Whipple (truxtun class) plus USS Perry, Lawrencen, Dale of the Bainbridge class, in reserve, pending decommission. Naval History & Heritage Command photo NH 43036 via src

Read More

USS Chauncey in Drydock, 1910
USS Chauncey in Drydock, 1910


Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905.
Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1979). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. New York: Mayflower Books.
Simpson, Richard V. Building The Mosquito Fleet, The US Navy’s First Torpedo Boats. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2001
Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan.



Model Kits

As the first USN destroyers, the Bainbridge class benefited from the attention of at least some manufacturers: Blue Water Navy, Blue Ridge Models, Yankee Modelworks and Iron shipwright made a 1:350 model (likely sharing the same molds). More recent, Iron Shipwrights made a 1:192 model. This is an “austere” kit, lacking artillery, masts and details, as she was in 1916.
Main query on scalemates

USS Bainbridge (DD1)

As commissioned in 24 November 1902, USS Bainbridge was Assigned to the 1st Torpedo Flotilla, with three months between trials, outfitting, pre-training and fixes. On 1 June 1903 she made a shakedown cruise to Annapolis, assigned to the North Atlantic Fleet’s Coast Squadron, later moved to Newport News in Virginia. On 18 June she departed for her first squadron’s drills in New England waters, following by a search problem and joint maneuvers with the Army off Maine. By September 1903 she was prepared to serve with the Asiatic Station.

The 1st Torpedo Flotilla moved with USS Baltomore in December to Key West in Florida, Buffalo replcing Baltimore for their voyage to the Far East via Puerto Rico, the Canary Islands, Gibraltar, Algiers, Valletta, Suez in February, the Red Sea to Aden, Bombay and Colombo, for their home port Singapore on 9 April, then Cavite, Philippines. From there, the squadron stayed in the Asiatic Station, between Chinese waters and the Philippines, during which USS Bainbridge was the squadron flagship (DesRon 1) at Manila Bay. They usually stopped yearly at Hong Kong and Shanghai, making torpedo drills off the Chinese coast during the summer and showing the flag in support of American diplomatic presence there, forcing the hands of the Imperial Government, enforcing treaties and protecting their nationals but also safeguarding quasi-colonial concessions witgin western power’s fierce competition.

In 1904 with the attack on Port Arthur, USS Bainbridge was at Shanghai when the fleeing cruiser Askold from Admiral Vitgeft’s squadron arrived to find a safe haven, with the Japanese in hot pursuit. A IJN destroyer entered the Yangtze to reconnoiter Askold when US Rear Admiral Yates Stirling dispatched Bainbridge to deter her to go further. Previously at Chefoo they had violated international law by seizing another ship, and the deterrence worked.

In 1905 she engaged in local operations and torpedo drills, gunnery practice, leaving the Philippines with the Battleship Squadron for Hong Kong. Back to Cavite they patrolled the coast of Palawan Borneo after hearing of the close arrival of the Russian Rear Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky’s Baltic Fleet from Madagascar. Thus, the destroyers enforced possible neutrality violations both from Russians and Japanese. The situation was resolved at Tsushima in May.
In 1906 Bainbridge and Barry remained in Chinese waters to “show the flag”
On 9 January 1907 she was commissioned in Cavite Navy Yard for machinery fixes, overhaul and maintenance. She had indeed many boilers issues, also shared with her sister ships, reported already in 1905. The Asiatic Fleet commander eventually asked for a retubing on all ships when pacticable. Chauncey, Dale and Decatur as were decommissioning at Cavite. Bainbridge was eventually recommissioned on 2 April 1908 with Captain Joseph V. Ogan in command.

The next three years were spent between patrolling the Philippines and Chinese waters training in the summer. By October 1911 an anti-Manchu revolt degenrated in a revolution 1912 in prompting there the US destroyers, protecting Americans citizens and interests. By the spring of 1912 she remained on station in the Yangtze River and returned to the Philippines. However due to manpower shortage she was placed in reserve on 24 April.
She remained in semi-active state limbo until 1 April 1913, now commanded by Lieutenant Raymond A. Spruance (yes, this one).

Complications on the international scene resurfaced with the California Alien Land Law of 1913 and Bainbridge with the flotilla stationed off Luzon, until May, and throughout 1914. Next, they departed for Chinese waters again this summer. Menawhile, Japan joined the entente and soon started a chase after Geran assets in the pacific. In 1915 Bainbridge and the flotilla only made a short deployment to Shanghai and in 1916 patrolled Philippines waters. The spring of 1917 saw her stationed at Cebu, southern islands. By the mid-summer 1917 she was reassigned with the squadron to the European waters.

On 1 August 1917 she departed via Borneo, Singapore, Ceylon, Columbo, Bombay, Suez, Port Said and seeing some service in Mediterranean Sea, patrolling with the Otranto Barrage Force against German and Austro-Hungarian submarines. She in fact claimed a submarine contact underway to Gibraltar, stopping in Valletta on 6 October, then Naples. On the 8th, her lookouts spotted a surfaced U-boat and attacked, but the latter sublerged and escaped. On the 9th, they escorted merchant ships to Naples. After a week they departed for Gibraltar.

Nine months were spent from Gibraltar, escorting Allied convoys in and out of the Mediterranean Sea. On 15 July 1918 she departed with USS Nashville for home, Charleston on 3 August. From there, she resumed escort missions until 27 November, sent to Boston from northeastern patrols until the summer of 1919. On 3 July she was decommissioned at Philadelphia Nyd, stricken on 15 September 1919, sold to Henry A. Hitner on 3 January 1920, conversion to mercantile (fruit carrier). The rest of her carrer is not known.

USS Barry (DD-2)

uss barry
USS Barry was commissioned on 24 November 1902 and assigned to the 1st Torpedo Flotilla, Coast Squadron, North Atlantic Fleet. The summer show her participating in the 1903 fleet maneuvers off New England. Like her sister Bainbridge and others, she was quickly prepared to be sent in the Far East, based in the Philippines.

She proceeded from 23 December 1903 via the Mediterraean and Suez, on 26 February 1904, stopping underway at Singapore in April. She was based in Cavite and her career became the same as other destroyers of her class, with Bainbridge as flagship, betwee “Show the flag” mission in Chinese waters and traning in th summer and home waters trainng in winter, in the Philippines. Her presence her allowed President Theodore Roosevelt chose to brandish the “Big Stick”.

The 1st Torpedo Flotilla also escorted the Battleship Squadron until August 1917 outside two short decommissions. From August 1917 she was off Cavite starting her long trip back to Europe via Suez Canal (23 September). She stopped in Malta (Valletta) and escorted ships to Naples. She departed for Gibraltar on 15 October, her new home port to escorted merchantmen in and out of the Mediterranean until August 1918. She then headed back to Charleston in South Carolina on 5 September, and remaining there for more patrol and convoy duties, then left in January 1919 for Philadelphia Nyd, decommissioned on 28 June, sold on 3 January 1920 to Henry A. Hitner Co. for conversion as a merchantman. It seems there are conflicting information here. All the Bainbridge class, and the Truxtun class, were sold to the same company. However there is no record of their merchant service and it is more likely they were ultimately all scrapped.

USS Chauncey (DD-3)

uss chauncey
USS Chauncey was built at Neafie and Levy in Pennsylvania, but on reduced commission on 20 November 1902, placed in reserve on 2 December 1902, then reverted to full commission on 21 February 1903 after some fixes, with Lieutenant Stanford Elwood Moses in command, reporting to the Atlantic Fleet. Her early service routine was the same as her sisters.
Also, like them, she was reassigned with the rest of the Coast Squadron on 20 September 1903 to the Asiatic Fleet.

She left Key West on 18 December and took the same long trip via the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Suez Canal, until arriving at Cavite, joining “showing the flag” operations in the China Sea, protecting at large US interest in the Far East. She alternated between Philippines waters in winter and off China in summer. On 3 December 1905 to 12 January 1907 she was however placed in reserve at Cavite, but went on in service until April 1917.
On 1st August 1917 she left Cavite for the Suez canal, and escorted troopships to Naples before heading for Gibraltar, an then based in St Nazaire, France, for eastern Atlantic convoy escort duties. On 19 November circa 110 mi (180 km) west of Gibraltar was rammed by accident by the British merchantman SS Rose while in darkness. The hull practically broke in two. At 03:17, USS Chauncey sank at 9,000 ft (2,700 m) depht, with 21 men still trapped aboard, including her captain (Lieutenant Commander Walter E. Reno) a name later given to a destroyer, and LTJG Charles F. Wedderburn, ( a future Fletcher-class destroyer), but 70 were still picked up by the faulty cargo and brought to safety.

USS Dale (DD-4)

uss dale
USS Dale was built by William R. Trigg Company of Richmond, Virginia and placed in reserve commission on 24 October 1902 with Lieutenant Harry E. Yarnell in command. She was eventually outfitted at Norfolk and fully commissioned on 13 February 1903 with Lieutenant Hutch Cone as first active captain.
She was at forst assigned to the North Atlantic Fleet, First Torpedo Flotilla. She took part in fleet search problems off Maine, reviewed by President Theodore Roosevelt off Oyster Bay in August 1903.

Her unit, convoyed by the auxiliary cruiser USS Buffalo left Norfolk on 12 December 1903 like her sisters to join the Asiatic Station, through the Mediterranean and Suez Canal, homeport Cavite, from 14 April 1904 with the same routine of winter Philippine waters and summer’s Chinese coast operations. She was placed in reserve at Cavite on 5 December 1905, until 10 July 1907; until the US entered the war in April 1917.

At the time, USS Dale patrolled the entrance to Manila Bay from June to August 1917, departing for her long trip back to the Mediterranean via the Indian Ocean and Suez, then Gibraltar on 20 October. This was her new escort home port, as she was tasked to patrol and escort convoys in the eastern Mediterranean. On 8 December 1918, after the war has ended, she sailed for home, Charleston in South Carolina, arriving on on 12 January 1919 to be decommissioned at Philadelphia NyD like the others, on 9 July 1919. Later she was sold to Henry A. Hitner’s Sons Co., on 3 January 1920 for civilian service. Fate unknown.

USS Decatur (DD-5)

uss decatur
Built like her sister Dale in the same yard of William R. Trigg Co in Richmond she was commissioned on 19 May 1902 with Lieutenant Lloyd Horwitz Chandler in command.
She eventually became the lead vessel of the 1st Torpedo Flotilla, going through drills and maneuvers along the Eastern Seaboard and south in the Caribbean in a routine of summer/winter which lated until late December 1903, but the unit was soon reassigned to the Asiatic Station. Sje left Norfolk for the Mediterranea, Suez, and Cavite on 14 April 1904. She alternated for years between local waters in winter and the China coast in summer, be placed in reserve at Cavite on 5 December 1905.

Apart a trip to Saigon in May 1908, the same routine went on. However on 7 July 1908 she hit a sandbar while under command of Ensign Chester W. Nimitz (yes, this one). She was pulled free, but Nimitz was court-martialed (neglect of duty, reprimanded). His replacement is unknown. The ship was decommissioned from 18 February 1909 to 22 April 1910 (reserve) and full commission from 22 December. Her routine went on until the US went at war and from 1 August 1917 departed for the Mediterranean with her unit.

She was assigned to Gibraltar’s US Patrol Squadron from 20 October, mostly convoy duty in and out of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, up to 8 December 1918, under command of Lieutenant Ralph R. Stewart. She headed for Philadelphia on 6 February 1919, decommissioned on 20 June, sold to Henry A. Hitner’s Sons on 3 January 1920 for civilian service.

USS Hopkins (DD-6)

USS Hopkins was launched by Harlan & Hollingsworth Co in Wilmington (Delaware) on 24 April 1902, commissioned at Philadelphia NYd on 23 September 1903. First captain was Lt. Montgomery M. Taylor. From Philly she sailed on 12 May 1904 for the Atlantic Fleet at Norfolk, deployed with the Coast Squadron, with midshipmen on board. The next three years saw a routine cruise in the Caribbean with the Flotilla in torpedo drills and the usual yearly Fleet problems.

In September 1906, USS Hopkins was present for the Presidential Review off Oyster Bay. On 29 September with USS Lawrence she escorted the President to Cape Cod Bay where held gunnery practice. In 1907–1908, she escorted the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific, from Hampton Roads to San Francisco on 6 May 1908, after several port calls and gunnery poractice en route. She took part in the combined Atlantic/Pacific fleet review attended by the Secretary of the Navy. On 1 June she was assigned to the Pacific Torpedo Fleet, practicing along the West Coast from Mexico and as far as Alaska.
On 14 February 1910 she suffered a boiler explosion, with two sailors being awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions to prevent further damage and human losses. Nothing much happened bu the usual routine until April 1917.

With the war, USS Hopkins left home port San Diego to patrol the Panama Canal Zone and convoy of submarines. On 3 August, she was reunited with her squadron at Hampton Roads, for escort and patrol duties in the Bermuda Aera. The war ended and she was soon decommissoned on 20 June, placed in reserved already from 29 January at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was sold on 7 September 1920 to Denton Shore Lumber Company for scrapping.

USS Hull (DD-7)

USS Hull was built by Harlan & Hollingsworth (Wilmington, Delaware), commissioned on 20 May 1903 with Lieutenant Samuel Robinson in command. The first two years she was in patrol and training maneuvers off Newport and Chesapeake Bay with a cruise to the Caribbean by January–April 1905. She was based in League Island, Pennsylvania, decommissioned on 30 September, recommissioned on 14 November 1906 at Philadelphia.
After Cuban waters fleet winter exercises and later off Newport, she was prepared in Norfolk in October 1907 to escort the “Great White Fleet” in her world-spanning voyage. She sailed on 2 December, calling many ports in South America/Central America and arrived in San Diego by 28 April 1907. Detached on the west coast from the Great White Fleet which went on eastwards, she remained off San Francisco until departed in turn on 24 August 1908 for the South Pacific. She took part in exercises in Hawaii and US Samo and back to San Diego for the winter. Not much happened until the war broke out in 1914, between a routine of patrols and training exercises off the California coast. She was decommissioned on 30 October 1912, Reserve Torpedo Division (Mare Island), only out for refresher training cruises.

In April 1917, she was refitted at Mare Island and was sent to the Panama Canal Zone for guard duties during three months, starting on 25 April. She patrolled the western approaches until reassigned to NAS Norfolk on 26 July. She started escort and patrols along the East Coast, to Bermuda, alternating with training with the fleet. By June 1918 she spotted and charged the German German “U-Kreuzer” U-151 (a formidable submarine cruiser armed with two 6-in guns), while attacking a merchant ship. The large sub was repelled. She also often rescued sailors from sinking ships, and went on in these missions until November 1918, escorting the last convoys from Europe until December.
She was sent to Philadelphia NyD on 29 January 1919, placed in reserved and fully decommissioned on 7 July, sold on 5 January 1921 to Henry A. Hitner.

USS Lawrence (DD-8)

Commissioned on 7 April 1903, USS Lawrence was assigned to the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla operating along the Atlantic coast and alternating with summer fleet search problem off New England, plus Carribean cruises in winter, based in Key West. On 31 December 1903 while at anchor there Key the passing steamer Olivette damaged her hull. She was repaired locally.
In 1904 she started a serie of Midshipmen, becoming a torpedo training ship until decommissioned at Philadelphia, on 14 November 1906.

Recommissioned on 23 July 1907, based from Norfolk she resulmed training. From Hampton Roads she took part in the usual winter maneuvers extended to South America. She crossed the Cape, and arrived in San Diego on 28 April 1908, then San Francisco while the “Great White Fleet” was gathering into San Francisco Bay. She operated in the Pacific with the 3rd Torpedo Flotilla from there, sailing yearly from Canada to Panama, alternating with summer fleet problems. She was placed in reserve also from 1 June 1912 to 23 April 1914.

From San Francisco she departed on 25 April to patrol Mexican waters, protectinh American and foreign nationals during the revolution. After an overhaul at Mare Island on 12 September, she returned into reserve, recommissioned on 13 June 1917, joining the West coast coastal defense unit based in Balboa, Panama, protecting the Pacific approaches from late July, until 30 May 1918. She was moved to Key West, operating as coastal escort/patrols until the Armistice. Like the others she was sent in reserve at Philadelphia from 1 February 1919, decommissioned on 20 June, sold to Henry A. Hitner by 3 January 1920.

USS McDonough (DD-9)

Like Lawrence USS McDonough was built at Fore River, and had the same unique silhouette, differing from the other Bainbridges. Commissioned on 5 September 1903, but soon her sea trials did not gave satisfaction. She failed to reach 30 knots and like Lawrence show poor sea keeping. They were the only vessels in their class to have their two 3-inch guns replaced by six-pounder guns.

After her shakedown cruise, USS Macdonough for seven months served as training ship for midshipmen at the Annapolis Naval Academy. On 31 May 1904, she was reassigned to the Coast Squadron of North Atlantic Fleet and for three years trained and patrolled along the east coast, alternating with the Caribbean. She was placed from 16 May 1907 at the Reserve Torpedo Fleet, Norfolk until 1908.
From 21 November 1908, she became flagship of the 3rd Torpedo Flotilla. She was based in Pensacola, Florida for a fleet problem, and was back to the east coast, making summer fleet exercizes in 1909 off New England.

She sailed to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River for the St. Louis Centennial Celebration. Placed in reserve at Charleston, she took part in the summer exercises of 1910, and made two cruises to New York, still in reserve. She also made the 1913 and 1914 summer cruises, carrying the Massachusetts Naval Militia.
On 29 January 1915, she left the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla for the Submarine Flotilla of the Atlantic Fleet and until 1917, operated with submarines from Pensacola to Newport. From 27 March 1917 she made a “recruiting cruise” along the Mississippi River and in June returned to Charleston with the Destroyer Force, screening local convoys up to January 1918. From the 16th, she left Philadelphia for Brest in France, escorting convoys from there, and patrolling these waters until 20 May 1919. Like the others she joined the Philadelphia reserve on 24 June, decommissioned on 3 September, stricken on 7 November and sold to Henry A. Hitner in March 1920.

USS John Paul Jones (DD-10)

Built in Union Iron Works of San Francisco, USS Paul Jones was commissioned on 19 July 1902 ans soon assigned to the Pacific Fleet, homeport San Francisco. She alternated between fleet exercizes in summer and training cruises along the west coast, up to Canada and down to Mexican waters.

On 23 April 1917 she was reassigned for Norfolk in Virginia, via San Diego and making her first Panama crossing. Sje also stopped en route to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (3 August), patrolling York River and joing USS Duncan, Henley, Truxtun, and her sisters Stewart, Preble, Hull, Macdonough, and Hopkins assogned as escort screen to the Atlantic Battlefleet from 13 August. The fleet moved between Bermuda and New York. After a short overhual at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 24 August she was reassigned to Newport in Rhode Island for a serie of convoy escort along the east coast. She also stopped at Lynnhaven Roads and in the Chesapeake Bay. In december she was in Philadelphia.

On 15 January 1918 she sailed with USS Stewart, Hopkins and Worden for the Azores via Bermuda, but her captain asked the permission to turn back home for repairs as a serious leak was spotted in her port after bunker. In fact it soon became so severe her crew struggled to save her from sinking outright, going through stormy seas while being largely flooded. “Bucket brigades” made an amazing job as her pumps broke. She emitted distress signals bu eventually sighted St. David’s Head in Bermuda and signalled the fort for assistance.
She stayed in Bermuda until 22 February for repairs before proceeding to Philadelphia escorted by the coaler Mars. Repaired at Philadelphia Navy Yard she was sent to Fortress Monroe in Virginia on 18 April and stayed in patrol in the Chesapeake Bay until 6 August.
On 2 July however, she assisted the liner Henderson in flames north of Bermuda, evacuating the whole crew in difficult conditions, making four trips to Von Steuben, saving 1,250 Marines and officers, 50 tons of luggage and escorting the ship, on which fires were under controlled, to the Delaware Breakwater.
On 7 August during a convoy mission in appearling weather she mistook a frienly escorting Submersible (O-5) for an U-Boat, fired upon her. She took seven hiys in the conning tower before she coukld signal the error. Paul Jones had to detach and escorted her to Delaware Bay.
On the 9th she was in Hampton Roads and stayed patroling the Chesapeake Bay until deactivated on 31 January 1919, fully decommissioned on 29 July, stricken on 15 September, sold on 3 January 1920 (same as the others).

USS Perry (DD-11)

As part of the “Union Iron Works class” buil there like Paul Jones and Preble, USS Perry was commissioned on 4 September 1902. She was assigned at first to the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla unlike her sister Paul Jones, based at Mare Island until the war broke out. She carried trainign cruises along the west coast, from Alaskan waters to Mexico and in 1908 was sent for a Fleet Problem off Hawaii.
During the earthquake of San Francisco on 18 April 1906, already altered while at sea by severe rolling and pitching, her crew landed and helped fighting fires, patrolling districts from looters and providing medical aid. In 1914 she was in support of the Topolobampo naval campaign in the Gulf of California during the Mexican Revolution and took part in the fourth Battle of Topolobampo.
From April 1917, she patrolled off the California Coast and the Panama cana zone, assigned there to guard its approached in July 1917. From 30 May 1918 she was reassigned to home port Key West, patrolling Florida waters. The post-armistice saw her in Delaware Bay from 29 January 1919, placed in reserve at Philadelphia, decommissioned on 2 July, stricken on 15 September sold to Henry A. Hitner’s Sons Co. for scrapping (5 January 1920).

USS Preble (DD-12)

Third of the Union Iron Works batch, USS Preble was commissioned on 14 December 1903 assigned like her sister to the Pacific Fleet, 4th and 2nd Torpedo Flotillas. She patrolled from Alaska and Washington to the Panama Canal Zone until 1908. She also made a fleet exercize in Hawaiian waters and pushed to Samoa between 24 August and November 1908. West coast operations went on in 1909 followed by a decommission in Mare Island until 17 September before being reassigned to the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla until 1913, and in reserve from 19 June, Mare Island, until 23 April 1914. She observed the Topolobampo naval campaign like Perry.
Exercises and escort of minesweepers went on until the summer of 1915. She sailed for Alaskan waters for logistic informations and returned to the reserve between 25 October 1916 to 3 April 1917 fully reactivated as the US entered the war. She was sent to her new home port San Diego on 30 April 1917 but soon transited the canal to be reassigned to the east coast, NS Norfolk from 13 July, and started a ner service of convoy escort and patrols on the mid-Atlantic seaboard. She was decommissioned at New York on 11 July 1919, stricken on 15 September 1919, sold to Henry A. Hitner in 1920.

USS Stewart (DD-13)

USS Stewart was the only one of the class ever buit at Stewart at Gas Engine and Power Company in Morris Heights, New York. Launched and sponsored by the granddaughter of Rear Admiral Stewart she was commissioned on 1 December 1902.
After a time at the Naval Academy she was reassigned to the Coast Squadron, North Atlantic Fleet. In 1906, she was in reserve at Norfolk and the next year 1907 trained in east coast warers unter reassigned in 1908 to the Pacific Fleet. She server there like the other vessels of the Pacific torpedo squadron, alternating between Washington waters in summer and Mexican waters in winter, but on 24 February 1916 the Navy decided she was “no longer serviceable for duty with the fleet” and she was retrograded as a “coast torpedo vessel”. From 6 April 1917 lik the others she started local patrol missions, protecting the eastern approaches of the Panama Canal. She also pratrolled south up to the Colombian coast. From 11 May she was transferred to the Pacific entrance to the canal and was back in the summer in the Atlantic. After an overhaul in Philadelphia until August she was sent to join the local defense flotilla of the British Imperial fortress colony of Bermuda. On arrival (16 August) however she grounded in the harbor. Repaired at the Royal Naval Dockyard to sail after to Philadelphia. She only returned to duty on 11 October, escorting convoys in the York River until 31 December 1917. She returned to Philadelphia for distant service reassigned to France, departing on 15 January 1918 with her sisters USS Worden, Hopkins, Macdonough, and Paul Jones via the Azores to Brest (Britanny, France) and convoy escorts.

On 17 April, while in Quiberon Bay she was closed to the cargo Florence H loaded with powder and exploding while at anchor. She was unscaved, but rescued nineof her crew, being cited for gallantry. On 23 April while in mission she sighted two allied seaplanes attacking a submarine, racing there, and be signalled by the observer in one of thes the position of the U-Boat. Therefore, USS Stewart spotted her wake and periscope, then her hull underwater but could do little at first. The U-Boat was rammed by a French escort close to the action, and Steward then made a pass with her depht charges, dropping two. A large pool of oil emerged so it was assimilated to a kill but in reality U-108 escaped. She was later forced to emerge and surrender by USS Porter close to the British coast.

In dense fog Stewart collided with an unidentified merchantman. Damage was serious enough to be under repair until 28 May and from 4 August, her lookouts spotted another submarine wake, she attacked but missed the submersible, which escaped. Post-armistice service, like her sisters, was fairly short: After her last convoy she was drydocked in Brest on 26 November for repairs departed to escort the convoy with President Woodrow Wilson onboard to Europe, stopped in the Azores and Bermuda until reaching Philadelphia on 3 January 1919. She was decommissioned on 9 July, stricken on 15 September, sold to Henry A. Hitner for scrap.

Colorado class Battleships (1920)

Colorado class Battleships (1920)

US Navy ww2 USA (1919-23) –
USS Colorado, Maryland, West Virginia

The Colorado class, formed with the near-sister ships Tennesse what was called the “big five”, the last USN super-dreadnoughts, and last of the “Standards”. To gain time and budget, the Colorado were planned in 1916 as virtual copies of the Tennesse, but with 16-inches guns, first to inaugurate this new main caliber and only ones to have them in twin turrets. They were also the last USN capital ships to that point with a gap of nearly twenty years before the North Carolina class.

Colorado class: The “standards” goes 16-inches

The “Big Five” in exercizes in the mate 1930s
The main point to identify the Colorado class* were the fact they were the first to adopt 16-inches guns, while the “Standards”, from the Nevada class (1914) were all given 14 inches guns, generally in four triple turrets. But the Colorado happened to be also the last of the pre-Treaty battleships. They were designed during World War I, which was ongoing at the end of the conflict. By that time, no treaty was sight, so construction went on until launch, in 1920 in its immediate aftermath. Though all four keels were laid, only three ships were launched: Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia. Washington was over 75% completed when she was canceled under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922. As such, the 16″ gun Colorado-class ships were the last and most powerful battleships built by the U.S. Navy until the North Carolina class entered service on the eve of World War II.

The Colorados were the final group of the Standard-type battleships, designed to have similar speed and handling to simplify maneuvers with the line of battle. The cancelled South Dakota class which was to follow would have in several ways been a departure from this practice. Apart from an upgrade in striking power with their eight 16-inch guns, the Colorados were essentially repeats of the earlier Tennessee class. The Colorados were also the last American capital ships built with four main armament turrets and twin-mounted guns. The change to larger guns was prompted by the Japanese Nagato-class battleships, which also mounted eight 16-inch guns.

All three ships participated in World War II, athough it started badly: USS Maryland and West Virginia were both damaged in Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Maryland was relatively unscathed, but West Virginia was sunk. She was later raised, and not only repaired but fully modenrized. All three battleships brought naval gunfire during the island hoping campaign of 1943-45. USS Maryland and West Virginia was also at the Battle of Surigao Strait (Battle of Leyte Gulf) in October 1944. In all, they won 19 (7+7+5) battle stars combined for their wartime service. None was preserved after the war.
*Note: It is sometimes referred to as “Maryland class”. US is about the launching date, but European conventions name a class after the first unit completed, so Maryland here.

Context before the Colorado class

The stip to 16-inch guns was envisioned by the General Board and Bureau of Construction and Repair (C&R) in 1913 already, to keep pace with the British notably, an upgrade that would allow twice the kinetic energy compared to 12-inch and 50% more than the current 14-inch just being introduced. The development of the new gun was postponed however at least until 1916, due to design issues. The General Board initially approved development of 16-inch gun as early as 1911. By that time however, Navy secretary George von Lengerke Meyer feared that such capital ships would make obsolete overnight all the others still on the drawing board. He restricted the Bureau of Ordnance to go beyond the delivery of blueprints, kept “in store” in case of new foreign developments.

He approved eventually the construction of the new gun in October 1912. R&D progressed steadily until a prototype was ready and tested. It fired successfully in August 1914. Meanwhile, the admiralty get wind of unofficial, unconfirmed reports of 15/16-inch guns adopted by the United Kingdom, but Italy, Germany and Japan for their own programmes. The Board even considered cancelling the construction of the Pennsylvania class for an up-gunned version, calculated to increase 8,000 tons the displacement. Debate went on as the war starte and progress while Woodrow Wilson’s Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, considered the increase in cost and insisted on the Standard Class to be continued. In 1917 as it was clear the US would be likely engaged in the conflict, he temporized and accepted a simple repeat of the previous class but with an armament upgrade. This constrained engineers to make choices right away.

Design development

The design of the Colorado class proceeded fast, based on the fact it was a repeat of the Tennessee class, with only the main armament changing. Fitting eight 16 in (406 mm)/45 caliber guns in four twin turrets in place of twelve 14 in (356 mm)/50 guns in triple turrets was a daunting task however, but less costly and complicated than going for a new revised design (which was to be the wartime South dakota class, much larger). Other than this, the two designs were near identical. The Tennessees were basically improved New Mexico, modern and effective capital ships in 1917, the most modern at the time, which also attracted the attention of British constructors. Commonality and mass production became ans essential wartime experience and the U.S. Navy by just keeping these standards almost created battleships “on an assembly line” with maximal standardization and rationalization to keep the costs low. The Naval Act of 1916 indeed planned 16 battleships and six battlecruisers, so streamlining production was the only way to save time and money.

However despite this, engineers were able to bring design improvements at each iteration, incorporating innovation whenever practicable. For the Tennessee however, the underwater protection, projectiles landing underneath the waterline was late to be designed and tested, in fact too late as construction was ongoing. Tests in caissons took time, and the modifications concerned the very bottom of the ship, so cannot be implemented on time without delayiong construction. Tests were allow to continue on the behalf they would be adopted for the next class. These would prove that a series of compartments divided by liquid filling, others left empty in alternance proved to be the most effective protection against torpedoes. C&R then added a contract clause for the next ships sent to shipbuilding corporations that alterations to the design would be asked within three months after their keels were laid down.

General Characteristics

The hull designed was the same in all its details, 624-foot (190 m) long overall, 97 feet (30 m) in beam for a design displaced of 32,600 long tons (33,100 t) -normal load- or 33,590 long tons (34,130 t) deeply loaded, for 30.5 feet (9.3 m) draft. Since the New mex. she was the design incorporated a clipper bow to deal with heavy heavy seas, while the secondary armament was in the superstructure to avoid water spray also in heavy seas.


Like the previous Tennessee, the Colorado class adopted the ame innovative Turbo-electric transmission. Its advantages included for the turbines an optimum speed without regard to propeller speed, and greater fuel efficiency for a better range, as well as a more sustained, easier sub-division to deal with torpedo hits. Each propeller shaft was driven by a 5,424 kilowatt electric motor, in turn fed by two two-phase turbo generators each, from General Electric for Maryland and Westinghouse for Colorado and West Virginia, each rated at 5,000 volts. In turn these generators fed by turbines were connected to eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers with their individual compartments. Toal output was rated for 28,900 electrical horsepower, giving a theoretical top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). The ships also carried an optimized fuel tank distribution (participating notably in ASW protection as damping fluid), for a total of 4,570 tons: The overall range was a well rounded 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) by keeping a steady cruise speed.

USS Colorado on sea trials

Armour protection

The “all or nothing” armor scheme (inherited from the Nevada-class) was kept, and overall identical to the preceding Tennessee class. There was only one exception though: An increase in belt armor near the machinery, reaching 16 inches (406 mm) in part with the main gun caliber the Colorado carried. Otherwise it stayed at 14 inches. The upper deck armor reached 3.6 inches (91 mm), but it was later increased during constructon to 4.1 inches (104 mm). The lower deck armor was comprised between 2.25 and 1.5 inches and also strengthened later.

The other improvements of the design were also from the Tennessee class, the forward torpedo room moved away from the 16-inch gun magazine, seen as vulnerable. There was also an external rather than internal belt armor to avoid a break in the continuity of the side structure, minimizing drag as well.


The main challenge for the engineers was to manage to keep as many as the old design (like the basic turret baskets) and even turrets and barbettes while only chanhing the internal of the barbettes, mounts, and loading systems for the new 16-in shells and barrels. This was done to speed up the design phase and launched the construction asap.


USS Colorado main guns, seen from the bridge, as freshly commissioned in 1922.

As said above, the ain advantage of the Colorado class was their more powerful broadise of eight 16-in guns. They trade four guns for a long range a greater punch and that was considered enough to overcome the fact these ships were a disruption in the “standard” battle line pattern based on the fact similar ships were easier to manage in a battle. Development of the new gun started in August 1913, by simply boring-out, relining a 13-inch (330 mm) Mark 2 gun. It was estimated two times the muzzle energy of a 12-inch (305 mm)/50 caliber Mark 7, and still 50% more than the 14-inch/45. Proof firing in July 1914 was successful, and minor changes were made and work was finalized on the recoil and breech block mechanism so as the 16-inch Mark 1 was eventually ready in May 1916, production approved in January 1917. Four years is a long proces indeed.
Specs of the 16-inch (406 mm)/45 caliber Mark 1:

  • 2,110-pound (960 kg) armor-piercing (AP) shell)
  • Muzzle velocity 2,600 feet per second (790 m/s)
  • Rate of 1.5 rounds per minute
  • Max. Range 34,300 yards (31,400 m) at 30 degrees.


Like on the previous ships, the Colorado had Fourteen 5-inch (127 mm)/51 caliber Mark 15 guns installed in the superstructure. This was down to 12 in 1922.

  • 50 Ibs (23 kg) shell
  • Muzzle velocity 3,150 feet per second (960 m/s)
  • Maximum range 15,850 yards (14.5 km)/20°
  • Rate of fire seven rounds per minute

These lighter guns compared to the latest British, Japanese and German dreadnoughts were nevertheless very accurate and fast-firing, very deadly beyond the treshold of 3,000 yards (2,700 m). Because of these, they were mounted in unarmored casemates on the main deck.

AA armament:

The aviation threat was enough in 1916 to be taken in high regard and having a more AA focused light artillery: This traduced into four 3-inch (76 mm)/23 caliber guns single-mounted purely for anti-aircraft defense (later 8 in 1922).

  • 3-inch (76 mm) shell
  • Muzzle velocity 1,650 feet per second (500 m/s)
  • Maximum range 8,800 yards (8,000 m)
  • Ceiling 18,000 feet (5,500 m)
  • Elevation 45.3 degrees
  • Rate of fire 8-9 rate per minute.

⚙ Specifications 1921

Displacement 32,693 standard 33,590 FL
Dimensions 190 m oa x 29.7m x 9.3m (624 x 97 x 30 feets)
Propulsion 4 shafts GE TED, 8 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 29,000 shp (21,600 kW)
Speed 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 8× 16 in, 16× 5 in, 8× 3 in, 2× 21 in TTs
Armor Belt 8–13.5, barbettes 13, turrets 18, CT 16, decks 3.5 in
Crew 64+1241

Interwar Reconstuctions

The modernization of the Tennessee and Colorado classes was not a priority until October 1931. Th Navy indeed thought it was possible to exploit previously spotted loopholes in the Washington Naval Treaty. The treaty indeed allowed both AA defense and ASW protection to be improved at leisure, improve fire control, gun mount elevation, but not for example up-gunning existing ships. Inside the hull everything could be justified as to increase protection, eve, when increasing speed and range, as long as the main armor belt thickness was not modified. It was also envisioned an early “NBC” protection as there was a fear of chemical warfare and the ships being hit by chemical shells with poisonous gas. In that case however, the General Board eventually stated that decontamination was near-impossible and the ship hit wouild have been scuttled.

Signalmen anboard USS Colorado

Onboard aviation:

A Curtiss VE-7H catapulted from USS Maryland, 1925.

UO-1 seaplanes onboard USS Maryland, 1925.

In the 1920s already, all three ships received catapults for their onboard spotter and reconnaissance aviation, one mounted at the stern, with full traverse (and an operating crane for recovery behind) and another fixed, located on the upper aft turret (N°3). Photos ofter shown what observation plane types were used, two stored on the turret’s catapult and one ready on the aft deck catapult. From 1924 Curtiss VE-7 seaplanes were used, and afterwards the Vought UO-1, then the O3U Corsair. Colorado’s aircraft were assigned to Observation Squadron Four (VO-4) also aboard USS Maryland and West Virginia. The three aircraft aboard Colorado took part in the extensive Earhart search, squadron numbers were 4-O. In the late 1930s, the Curtiss SOC seagull (to be confirmed) until 1940. Indeed, all three ships obtained the Kingfisher afterwards: The OS2U-1’s first operational deployment even commenced on USS Colorado in August 1940. In 1945 refits saw new, more precise and long range radars installed, and seaplanes were generally eliminated while the deck catapult was kept. Photos however of USS West Virginia shows two Curtiss SC Seahawk on board, the last generation USN observation seaplane.

Footage of a Vought Kingfisher launched from USS New Mexico, also showing footage of USS Colorado during the invasion of Guam, July 3, 1944.

Planned upgrades:

Deck armor could be reinforced, and received a 80 lb (36 kg) special treatment steel (STS) plate to deal with incoming high trajectory orounds and bombs, but this move cost 1,319 long tons in displacement (hence in speed and range). It was also planned to up-armor the turret tops. Anti-torpedo bulges for extra buoyancy, dealing with torpedo blasts were considered, provided they will not bring the beam beyond 106 feet (32 m) (Panama-compatible). Another wave concerned all fire controls and optics, and the ballistic computer, as technology advanced well in between. For the guns also, elevation was to be reworked, possibly also the reload speed, the new shells having more propellant and better penetrating caps.

Also, there was a new type of AA for short range that was worked on, traduced into the adoption of quadruple 1.1-inch guns (28 mm), the infamous “Chicago Piano”. Due to all this added weight, it became also necessary to upgrade the machinery no to loose speed, and keep a constant battlefleet speed.

In the end, the c&R estimated these upgrade to cost the American taxpayer about $15,000,000 per ship, ao in total $71,723,000 total, in a post 1929 crisis context. Already cost-cutting measures were proposed, like saving $26,625,000 by just reconditioning the powerplant (have everything disassembled and clearned up or replaced when necessary). Chemical shells protection was shelved, as well as the new shells and gun mount/elevation modifications. The Secretary of the Navy was asked to program a budget FY1933 for the two classes, submitted to the Congress, but it was postponed.

In 1934, the Bureau of Construction and Repair proposed that what was called now the “Big Five”, very similar Tennessees and Colorados class would receive a limited upgrade, consisting of anti-torpedo bulges for increased buoyancy, allowing them to carry more fuel. In June 1935, Tennessee loaded to demonstrate the point its maximal theoretical fuel load which added 2,000 long tons above her maximum designed load , her draft augmented by to 5 ft 4 in (1,630 mm). C&R advocated for bulges compensating for these extra 2,000 long tons, also helping raising the ship’s draft by 20 in (510 mm). Six months of dry dock and one year of work was the cost. But this had to wait until 1937, while further discussions took place for a partial modernization:

  1. -No extra deck armor
  2. -The ships were to be reboilered to gain internal space.
  3. -Main and secondary battery fire controls modernized (rangefinders, plotting room, Mark 33 AA FCS)
  4. -Corbel mainmast eliminated
  5. -M2 Brownings removed
  6. -Torpedo bulge added
  7. -New displacement estimated 39,600 long tons.

The modifications blueprints were complete by October 1938 with costs between $8,094,000 and $38,369,000 per ship, but as these amount were retired from for new the battleship constructions planned, they were rejected by the Secretary of the Navy. Still the Congress unlocked $6,600,000 in 1939 to have at least part of these improvements going on, notably the all-important bulges. The war caught USA therefore in this process of modernizing the Pacific fleet.

USS Maryland firing a broadside, 1920s

USS maryland in July 1922 in New York City, just commissioned

Admiral Hilary Jones presenting USS Maryland to senator C.E. Hugues in August 1922

Armament changes


The guns were partially rebuilt per standard navy practice (barrels replaced) and redesignated 16-inch/45 (40.6 cm) Mark 5 and Mark 8. Navweaps stats:

Light artillery

In 1922 already from four the AA armament was increased to eight guns. However, they were eliminated and replaced in 1928–1929 by eight 5-inch (127 mm)/25, all specific AA guns:

  • 54 Ibs. (24 kg) shell
  • Muzzle velocity 2,155 feet per second (657 m/s)
  • Rate of fire 15-20 rpm
  • Maximum range 14,500 yards (13,300 m) at 45°
  • Ceiling 27,400 feet (8,400 m) at 85°

In 1937–1938 were added two quadruple-mount 1.1-inch/75-caliber guns, the infamous “Chicago Piano” for shorter range. Possiby also they carried Browning M2HB heavy machine guns in pairs but it is not known.

Protection changes

Like for the Tennessees, the Colorado class after WWI was schedued to have its protection revamped entirely, notaby due to the latest developments in ballistics and aviation. In the early 1930s, there was a redesign of the underwater protection scheme: Now it featured five compartments separated by armored bulkheads, each 0.75 inches (19 mm). The principle was to have an outer empty compartment, three filled, and another empty, now inner compartment. The eight boilers were placed in separate spaces port and starboard, on either side of the turboelectric powerplant. This ensure the ship could still sail with an entire boilers side underwater. Instead of a single large funnel, the silhouette still comprised two smaller funnels. Eventually, the turret armor was ioincreased as previously planned with 5 inches on the roofs, 8 inches on the sides, back, 18 inches for the turret faces.

Prewar modifications

USS Colorado in 1932

The Navy studied the first war lessons from 1939 from the Royal Navy. The King Board (after USN C-in-C admiral King) in 1940–1941 proposed the secondary armament was boosted to deal with AA attacks, and the removal of all 5 in guns, to be replaced by the new the dual-purpose 5 in/38; This comprised to cut away the superstructure to have clean arcs of fire. In all, sixteen 5 in/38 in twin mounts was asked for (and implemented during 1942 reconstructions) plus sixteen Bofors 40 mm (all quad), plus eight single Oerlikon 20 mm. This added weight remains an interrogation however, plus dry dock immobilieation in uncertain times. As an interim measure, two more quad 1.1-inch were proposed, but this was marred by a slow production, and 3 in (76 mm)/50 were added instead of all battleships (except for Arizona and Nevada). It was all done by June 1941, and swapped by the quad 1.1-inch guns when available in November 1941 with priority given to the Atlantic fleet.

USS Colorado off San Diego, 1924

As planned, these modifications brought additional weight so torpedo bulges were added also to compensate. Total cost of these modification, now justified by war in Europe, was $750,000 and 2-3 month of drydock inactivity.

The King Board also suggested deck armor increase but this was dismissed by the Chief of Naval Operations. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard will saw all “big five” battleships enter its drydock for this: Maryland initiated the move before Pearl Harbor (17 February-20 May 1941), West Virginia (10 May-8 August 1914), Colorado (28 July-28 October 1941). The program went on also after Pearl harbor, USS Tennessee (19 January-21 April 1942), California (16 March-16 June 1942). Eventually only two would receive bulges as planned, Maryland (on 1 August 1941) and Colorado (on 26 February 1942). Pearl Harbor interrupted refit for USS West Virginia and the two Tennessees, Colorado being spared, in Puget Sound at the time, Maryland also being spared in Pearl by the attack. West Virginia was damaged to the point she was to be comprehensively rebuilt for not wasting her drydock time.

USS West Virginia, Pearl Harbor December 1941

USS Colorado, mid-1942

USS Colorado, mid-1944, measure 32 design 2D

WW2 Reconstuctions & modifications

After the Pearl Habor attack reconstruction started for all ships refloated or slightly damaged. By late 1942, the eight single 5 in/38s were kept but 4×4 Bofors 40 mm guns, 32 Oerlikon 20 mm cannons were added. The first procured a first short range bubble of lead at 140-160 rpm at 22,299 feet (6,797 m) or 250/320 rpm at 10,000 feet. In 1942 also, Mark 15 main secondary guns were replaced on USS West Virginia y the planned sixteen 5-inch (127 mm)/38 Mark 12 in twin turrets and the superstructure rebuilt as planned. For Maryland and Colorado, they kept their ten Mark 15s but gained eight 5 in/38 cal Mark 12s in single mounts, but with protective shields. Twin turrets were installed later. Mark 12 5-in (127 mm) fired a 55.18-pound (25.03 kg) shell at 17,392 yards or 37,200 feet (11,300 m) at 45° with a high rate of fire at any angle and used proximity-fused shells from 1943.

A second round for AA defense in 1944-1945 saw both the dismissal of 20 mm and manually-controlled guns and more quad 40 mm Bofors were added instead: Maryland had forty quad 40 mm, eighteen 20 mm; Colorado forty quad but all her 20 mm guns; West Virginia forty quad also but fifty 20 mm guns, having by far the most impressive AA cover of admiral Oldenburg’s battle fleet. All these quad mounts required a crew of 5, so this added to the initial crew already in the ship, with some consequences in living conditions. Al because of the threat posed by Kamikazes.

The Pacific Fleet battleships could not be spared for extra modifications, maintained in a constant readiness state, to sail within 48 hours. Japanese invasion was expected for Hawaii or the West Coast in early 1942. Colorado however received a radar, splinter protection, fourteen Oerlikon 20 mm, four quad 1.1-in guns early on. Maryland received the same but later (but sixteen 20 mm guns, no 1.1-in guns). Tower masts were new on Colorado and Maryland, aft cage masts eliminated at the start of 1942 but time lacked to install the new tower masts, placed into storage until early 1944. it’s only when the situation stabilized enough in the pacific, and the admiralty realized the importance of aircraft carriers, that the “big five” were spared some extra time for these modification.

Colorado and Maryland had to wait for their major refit in 1944, with many modifications in between with each maintenance period. it’s only in 1944 that they lost their remaining aft cage masts and gain new radars in the process. More extensive refits proposed by Admiral Ernest J. King, (more twin 5 in/38 turrets, more advanced fire control systems, second protective deck plating) were contested by the Bureau of Ships over displacement considerations and proposed a reduced upgrade similar to the New Mexico class. When USS Maryland was badly hit and damaged by a kamikaze attack, she was both repaired and modernized, limited to the addition of the planned twin 5 in/38, conning tower removed and lighter STS bridge structure added.

⚙ USS West Virginia Specifications 1944

Displacement 33,000 tons standard, 34,000 FL
Dimensions Same but 114 ft (35 m) beam
Armament 8 × 16 in/45 (406 mm) Mk6, 16 × 5 in/38 (127 mm), 40× Bofors 40 mm, 43× Oerlikon 20 mm AA
Armor See notes
Crew 68+1400

The fate of USS Washington

USS Washington in construction

Initially the Colorado class had four, and not three battleships planned. In 1916, design work was complete and USS Washington was provisioned four bronze propellers, four General Electric turbo-electric drives and eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers. Her construction went on just after USS Colorado was laid down on 24 April 1917 so she had to wait until 30 June 1919. Eventually she was launched on 1st September 1921. However, the next year saw the cancellation of the South Dakota class and 8 February 1922, two days after the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, all construction work stopped on USS Washington. At that stage she was 75.9% complete, with her underwater armored protection ready, and basic superstructures already built, her exhaut tubes in place. Now there was no question of completing her, but could she be converted as the Lexington class ? This was brushed aside due to her unsufficient speed, but the decision took years to come. She was mothballed until November 1924, and towed to be used as a gunnery target. At least the Navy would have seen how her newly design protection would stand the test of facts.

On the first day of testing, she received two 400-pound (180 kg) simultaneous torpedo hits, and survived. Later she was air-attacked and received three 1-metric-ton near-miss bombs hits. These causied minor damage but she accused a 3° list. Later she was tested by being detonated by 400 pounds of TNT on board, and survived again. Two days later, the gunnery tests rsumed and she received 14 hits from a 14-inch (356 mm) guns fired from 4,000 feet away. All but one failed to penetrate her main belt. Eventually, she was finished off by USS Texas and New York, hit 14 more times. The test was precious. It proved the existing deck armor was inadequate, and triple bottoms were now necessary, so to define a triple ASW layer of protection. She sank following the last test on 25 November 1924. Her name was given to the sister-ship of USS North Carolina, the first USN fast-battleship of the post-washington era, which design was in part based on this tests.



J. Gardiner, Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1906-1921 and 1921-47
Breyer, Siegfried (1973). Battleships and Battle Cruisers 1905–1970. Doubleday and Company.
Ferguson, John C. (2007). Historic Battleship Texas: The Last Dreadnought. Military History of Texas #4.
Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History. Naval Institute Press.
Newhart, Max (1995). American Battleships: A Pictorial History of BB-1 to BB-71. Pictorial Histories Publishing Co.
DiGiulian, Tony (7 February 2008)

Sites Colorado Maryland West Virginia
More on
navweaps – 16-in Mark 1
navweaps – 16-in Mark 5
navweaps – 5-in/51 Mark 7
navweaps – 3-in/25 Mark 10
On navypedia
On, Naval Historical Center
Open source photos – Wikimedia CC
On the pac war online
Battleships camouflage measures

Videos Battleship new Jersey channel: The Colorado class West Virginia by Drachinfels

Colorado by navyreviewer

Model Kit corner

Measure 32 – West Virginia scheme 1944

Measure 31 – Maryland April 1944

Old Author’s rendition – USS Maryland 1943

Old Author’s rendition – USS West Virginia 1944

Colorado class on scalemates


Onboard aviation
See also:

In 3D

USS West Virginia in VR

Unfortunately, the model was removed.
See the HD world of warships rendition of West Virginia

The Colorado class in service

USS Colorado

Inter-war service

USS Colorado (BB-45) was laid down on 29 May 1919 at the New York Shipbuilding Corp. Camden (New Jersey), named for the 38th state. Launched on 22 March 1921 she was commissioned on 30 August 1923 and started her initial sea trials under her first commanding officer, Captain Reginald R. Belknap. On 29 December 1923, she departed New York for her shakedown cruiser, and arrived in Portsmouth, UK, visited Cherbourg, Villefranche-sur-Mer in France, passed the suez canal stopped in Naples (Italy) via Gibraltar. She was back in New York on 15 February 1924 for her post-cruise fixes and maintenance. After more tests she dearted for a training session on 11 July off the West Coast, passing the Panama canal and reaching San Francisco on 15 September to join the Battle Fleet.

Her interwar years saw her participating in many annual fleet problems between the Pacific and Caribbean Sea. She also took part in ceremonies and naval reviews. He other cruiser in 1925, saw her visiting Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand but she ran aground on the Diamond Shoals, off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina (1 May 1927), refloated and repaired.

USS Colorado profile (BB-45) in the late 1930s

Her first major overhaul took place in 1928–1929: She received notably eight 5-inch (130 mm)/25 AA guns. In 1933 she was sent to assist a relief party at Long Beach (California) after an earthquake. In 1937 Colorado became a provisional training ship for NROTC students (University of Washington & Berkeley), embarking them in Puget Sound on the 15 and 19 June in San Francisco Bay and sailed to Hilo, Hawaii, then Lahaina Roads to demonstrate her 5″/51 guns. She also went to search for Amelia Earhart. Escorted later by the Coast Guard cutter Itasca in July she launched her seaplanes off the Phoenix Islands and later returned with NROTC students. Nothing much happened in 1938-1940 but the usual routine.

USS Colorado after commissioning

WW2 for USS Colorado

USS Colorado in Puget Sound, July 1941

On January 1941, USS Colorado was based in Pearl Harbor, making intensive training exercises because tension growing in the Pacific, taking part in large, realistic war games up to 25 June, and then headed to the West Coast for her major overhaul in Puget Sound. So she was not present on 7 Dec. when the attack started. Her refit which completed on 31 March 1942, and she received twelve 5 in/38 caliber guns. She started afterwards an extensive training session along the West Coast and on 31 May she sailed with her sister-ship USS Maryland off the Golden Gate Bridge, ostensibly to protect San Francisco from an expected large Japanese attack. Back to Pearl Harbor final preparations weremade for her pacific service and she was sent to the Fiji Islands and New Hebrides in November 1942. Until 17 September 1943 she stayed there ready to depart and interdict Japanese moves in this part of the Pacific. At last it was time for the start of her participation in the island-hopping campaign and she was back in Pearl Harbor by October 1943 to carry a heavy load of shells, providing fire support during the invasion of Tarawa and was back home on 7 December 1943.

USS Colorado firing in preparation for the Tarawa invasion, Nov.1943

After this second wartime overhaul she sailed to Lahaina Roads in the Hawaiian Islands on 21 January 1944 and sailed the day after to the Marshall Islands, providing the pre-invasion fire support during the Kwajalein-Eniwetok campaign, until 23 February. She sailed to Puget Sound Navy Yard for her third overhaul and was back to the Mariana Islands from San Francisco, departed on 5 May, via Pearl Harbor and Kwajalein. Dhe took part in the shelling of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian in June-July. Off Tinian she was hit by a Japanese 6-in shore battery on 24 July: 43 men were killed, 198 wounded after 22 hits. She went on with her fire support during the invasion and head back to the West Coast for repairs. She was back in time for the invasion of Leyte Gulf. two weeks into this, she was attacked by waves of Kamikazes and struck by two kamikaze bombers: 19 crewmembers diede as a result, while 72 were injured.but damage was moderate and she shot down mant assailants. She bombarded Mindoro on 12-17 December 1944 and sailed to Manus Island for repairs.

USS Colorado in emergency repairs in ABSD floating drydock

On 31 dec. 1945 she sailed to participate to the preparation shelling in the Lingayen Gulf. She took accidental gunfire on 8 January, damaging her superstructure; She deplored 69 casualties, including 18 killed. After repairs at Ulithi she joined TF 54 for the invasion of Okinawa and was stationed at Kerama Retto. She provided gunnery support until 22 May, and anti-aircraft cover during untrelentles and massive kamikaze attacks. On 6 August 1945 she sailed to Japan to prepare for Operation Olympic. On 27 August, she covered the occupation of Atsugi Airfield. War was over for USS Colorado, and she was awarded seven battle stars for this service.

She departed Tokyo Bay on 20 September 1945 for San Francisco, arriving n 15 October, then headed for Seattle, participating in Navy Day on 27 October and sailed back for Operation Magic Carpet, making three runs to Pearl Harbor, carryng 6357 soldiers in all. Sje was back to the Bremerton Navy Yard for deactivation, reserve commission until 7 January 1947. Mothballed for long reserve, she was not exhumed for Korean service and was stricken and sold for scrap on 23 July 1959.

USS Maryland


USS Maryland’s keel was laid down on 24 April 1917 at Newport News Shipbuilding Company in Virginia. She was launched on 20 March 1920 and commissioned on 21 July 1921, starting right away after some training her east coast shakedown cruise. After it she became flagship of Admiral Hilary P. Jones and appeared soon in many special occasions like for the 1922 United States Naval Academy graduation and at Boston, Massachusetts, the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, Fourth of July celebrations… In August she departed with Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes to Rio de Janeiro, at the occasion of Brazil’s Centennial Exposition. Crossing the Panama Canal, USS Maryland ventured in June 1922 the west coast fleet for exercizes, and stayed a flagship until 1923 when it was given to USS Pennsylvania. In 1925 she cruised to Australia and New Zealand. In between routine exercizes between the east and west coast went on, with yearly maintenance periods. In 1928, she carried newly elected president Herbert Hoover in a Pacific tour of Latin America. BB-46 had her major overhauled in 1928–1929, receiving like her sister eight 5-inch/25 cal guns. During the 1930s, she stayed in maximum fleet readiness in frequent training operations and numerous long patrols an cruises. After all she was the latest and most recent USN Battleship, its very spearhead with both her sister-ships.

USS Maryland during a naval review in 1927

USS Maryland’s miracle at Pearl Harbor

In 1940, USS Maryland and her sisters of the “big five” plus the rest of the battle force were all realocated tp Pearl Harbor, and she was in the Battleship Row along Ford Island on 7 December 1941. She was berthed along USS Oklahoma which in fact shielded her from the sea, sandwich in between her her Ford island moorings. USS Colorado was already absent for a refit, however West Virginia was fully exposed, which explained what happened afterwards. Connected by lines and a gangway her crew could quickly -if needed- access to the stores nearby in case. On her fore position was anchored USS California, and Tennessee and West Virginia were astern her and further aft USS Nevada and Arizona. So she was well “protected” all around. These seven battleships recently returned from intensive large scale and complex maneuvers. Most of her crew was preparing for shore leave this sunny and peaceful sunday and at 09:00, they were just settled to eat breakfast when the attack erupted. Soon, the bugler blew general quarters and Seaman Leslie Short was the first to act, manning his machine gun and shooting down one of two torpedo bombers targeting USS Oklahoma. The latter took torpedoes that spared USS Maryland, while all her crew managed to bring her antiaircraft batteries into action very fast, playing an important role in the deperate defense to come. Oklahoma was fatally wounded, capsized quickly but fortunately her links with Marylands were cut. However any of her surviving crewmen were rescued by USS Maryland and wen on assisting her for AA defense, carrying ammunitions notably.

Eventually luck run out for USS Maryland as she was also in the IJN’s list. She was targeted by several dive-bombers and soon was struck by two armor-piercing bombs and several near-misses. The two specially-crafted bombs from modified AP shells tore down through her weak deck protection and detonated low in her hull. The first fell near the forecastle realtively high, blewing an entry hole 12 ft (3.7 m) by 20 ft (6.1 m) while the second detonated at about 22 ft (6.7 m), just at water level, at Frame 10, causing massive flooding. Soon, BB-46 had a list and her draft forward increased by 5 ft (1.5 m). Nevertheless, there was nothing critical here and she went on firing while sending firefighting partieson other ships, and boats lowered to rescue survivors from Oklahoma. All hands on deck, between a fierce AA defense when the second wave passed, expecting the third, which never came, at great relief for all present. Nevertheless, USS Maryland had been relatively spared by this attack and lost two officers and two sailors, a very low casualty rate among the battleships present, hence the “miracle”. Nevertheless, the Japanese announced her sunk.

Repairs and early operations (1942)

USS Maryland’s stern, 9 February 1942

On 30 December, BB-44 entered Puget Sound for repairs, behind USS Tennessee, also relatively spared in the attack. Two 5-inch/51 guns were removed and her remaining 5-inch/25 guns were replaced by additional ingle mount 5-inch/38 cal dual purpose guns,a long other quick modifications. She stayed in the drydock for two months, leaving on 26 February 1942, followed by a serie of shakedown cruises along the West Coast, down to the Christmas Islands. In June 1942 she was declared ready for action, being the second battleship damaged at Pearl Harbor reporting for duty. She started with an important support role at the Battle of Midway. She was not fast enough to follow the aircraft carriers and stayed as a backup fleet along the West Coast. Ready for a call in case Yamamoto would pursue the Americans. Afterwards she was sent to San Francisco for preparations. She was soon affected to Battleship Division 2, Battleship Division 3, and latter Battleship Division 4 until August 1942, with a maintenance time in between to Pearl Harbor for repairs. In November she departed with her sister ship USS Colorado for the Fiji Islands, patrolling against any Japanese incursion towards Australia, making frequent sweeps looking for Japanese forces in between.

1943 operations: Tarawa

In February 1943, USS Maryland and Colorado, still teaming as the division 4, moved to New Hebrides and off Efate and then Espiritu Santo, also to guard against a Japanese move there. She was also stationed off Aore Island Harbor and made a five weeks overhaut at Pearl Harbor, loading notably many Bofors quad 40mm mounts. Soon came her fuirst true wartime test: The Battle of Tarawa. Departing Pearl on 20 October 1943 she became flagship for Rear Admiral Harry W. Hill at the head of V Amphibious Force, Southern Attack Force, for the Gilbert Islands Invasion. Onboard was also Major General Julian C. Smith (2nd Marine Division), Colonel Evans Carlson (Carlson’s Raiders). After preparations at Efate Island, she joined the large task force for the preparatory shelling. Maryland’s guns opened fire at 05:00 on 20 November, destroying a shore battery south of Betio Island, then the shore bombardment and moved closer to locate gun emplacements and silent them. She also targeted control stations, pillboxes and installations visible. At 09:00 the Marines landed and soon wre hard fighting, communicating to USS Maryland Japanese machine gun nests they encountered, depite the danger of close proximity. The battleships’s scouting plane were also hard at work that day, fortunately with weak Japanese air defense, athough one plane was dhot down eventually. Marines progression went on, for three days on Betio Island. USS Maryland the moved to Apamama Island to cover other landings (light resistance there) and on 7 December 1943 she left Apamama for Pearl Harbor, and San Francisco for overhaul and crew’s rest.

1944 operations: Kwajalein, Saipan and Leyte

Next, BB-44 was present at the Battle of Kwajalein Atoll. She sailed from San Pedro (California) on 13 January 1944, met Task Force 53 at Lahaina Roadsand prepared for the Marshall Islands campaign. On 30 January she arrived to provide gunnery support during the attack on Roi Island, for TF 35. On 31 January, she started ap preparatory bombardment off Kwajalein Atoll, targeting stationary guns and pillboxes at will. In fact her gunfire was so intense that she split the liners of her gun barrels in Turret No. 1, now silenced. On 1 February, she went on supporting the Marines, now as flagship for Admiral Connally, also resupplying and refueling smaller ships present and departing on 15 February 1944 for Bremerton NyD for another overhaul. There she had her worn-out barrels replaced. In May 1944, she joined Task Force 52 in preparation for the assault on Saipan. Inder command of Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner, TF 52 was given three days of shelling.
Firing commenced at 05:45 on 14 June and she destroyed two coastal guns, devastated Garapan’s installations, then Tanapag. The invasion started on 15 June, and she provided closer fire support. On 18 June, however the IJN aviation arrived and started to attack the ships present. She shot down one, but on 22 June a G4M3 “Betty” medium bomber dropped a torpedo and hit Maryland’s starboard bow. There were 2 casualties but she listed slightly (compensated by counter-filling) and had to sail to Eniwetok, to be patched, and then to Pearl Harbor for repairs escorted by two destroyers.

Shipyard workers manage to have her repaired in record time and the much-needed Maryland was out in 34 days, sailing again on 13 August. She met a large TF in the Solomon Islands in Purvis Bay, off Florida Island and stayed there until heading for the Palau Islands on 6 September 1944, to be mustered in the newly constituted Western Fire Support Group (Task Group 32.5; TG 32.5) Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, with her sister ships from the battered “battleships row”. On 12 September she covered minesweeping operations, underwater demolition teams before the assault on Peleliu, followed by shore bombardment on 15 September and four days of fire support. USS Maryland the retired to the Admiralty Islands, and Seeadler Harbor, Manus. She was there assigned to the 7th Fleet (Admiral Kinkaid), sailing on 12 October while BB-44 joined Task Group 77.2 for support gunfire for the invasion of Leyte alongside four other battleships. The operation commenced on 18 October and USS Maryland was placed between Red and White Beaches, started firing at 10:00 20 October. Air raids followed the next days, including kamikaze attacks. Later, in the South China Sea two Japanese forces were spotted on approach, heading notably for San Bernardino Strait, and northern Luzon.

USS Maryland’s bow 1944

Post overhaul speed trials, April 1944

On 24 October, USS Maryland, her sister ship West Virginia, USS Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania sailed to the southern end of Leyte Gulf, barring the Surigao Strait with an important escort. On 25 October the Battle of Surigao Strait saw the end of Fusō and Yamashiro. USS marymand pounded Yamashiro, sending the rest fleeing to the Mindanao Sea. Follwing her only battleship engagement of this war, USS Maryland patrolled the southern approaches of Surigao Strait until 29 October 1944, and steamed for the Admiralty Islands for replenishment and was back on 16 November, covering landing forces notably by her AA defense. On 29 November she repelled another air attack, when a kamikaze struck her between the Turrets No. 1 and 2. They penetrated the forecastle and armored decks, causing extensive damage and fires. 31 men were killed, 30 wounded whereas the medical department was badly damaged. She went on in her patrols and was back in Pearl Harbor on 18 December, repaired and refitted for two month.

Final Operations: Battle of Okinawa

USS Maryland struck by an aerial torpedo

USS Maryland made a short refresher training, and was sailing for the Ulithi atoll on 4 March 1945, arriving on the 16 and reporting for duty to 5th Fleet, affected to Task Force 54 (Rear Admiral Morton Deyo) in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. She was assigned targets on the southern coast of Okinawa, the diversionary landing. Several air raids followed, piched up and followed by Maryland’s radar picket destroyers. One of them, USS Luce was sank. On 3 April, she headed for the west coast to deal with newly spotted shore batteries and remained in close support force off Bolo Point, until 7 April. The she sailed with TF 54 to inteercep a last-ditch Japanese fleet, including the Yamato. However U.S. air attacks dealt with it, sinking six out of 10 ships in it. At dusk however, a kamikaze attack started and one, loaded with a 551 lb bomb targeted Maryland. It crashed on top of Turret No. 3, from starboard. The massive explosion wiped out all 20 mm guns nearby, also starting a massive fire from ignited 20mm ammunition. She deplored 10 killed, 37 injured, 6 missing that day.

USS Maryland remained for artillery support and repelled other air raids and departed on 14 April 1945 to escort retiring transports via the Mariana Islands, Guam and to Pearl Harbor. She went on to the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 7 May for an extensive overhaul, her last in fact. Her remaining 5 in guns were removed, plate over, sixteen 5 inch/38 cal guns in twin turrets were added and Turret No. 3 was repaired, crew quarters were improved. She was out in August 1945, making her training runs on V-Day. She later took part in Operation Magic Carpet, making five runs (8,000 servicemen), and headed to Seattle, Washington on 17 December 1945, then was sent to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 15 April 1946 to join the inactive reserve, preserved for years. on 16 July. She was decommissioned at Bremerton on 3 April 1947, Pacific Reserve Fleet and sold for scrap on 8 July 1959. She won seven battle stars for her service.

USS Maryland in 1945

USS West Virginia

USS West Viginia, BB-46, during a naval review in 1927 (NARA)

USS West Virginia’s keel was laid down at Newport News Yard in Virginia on 12 April 1920, with the hull initial number BB-48 on 17 July. Launched on 17 November 1921, commissioned on 1 December 1923 she had for Captain Thomas J. Senn. After sea trials and shakedown cruise, plus fixes at Newport News she sailed to the New York Navy Yard for further alterations and headed to Hampton Roads, which allowed to spot her steering gear was problematic which was followed by quick repair. On 16 June 1924 when crossing Lynnhaven Channel, at 10:10 however, telegraphs for the engine room and steering compartment lost power. Voice tubes were used to communicate with the engine room and the captain used the port and starboard shafts to try to manoeuver, but the ship ran to the shore on initial inertia and ran aground. The later inquiry faulted incorrect navigational data also. On 30 October, USS West Virginia became flagship of the Battleship Divisions. The 1920s were spent in training and exercises routine with the fleet, overhauls, then Fleet Problems and west/east coast crusies.

USS West Virginia in 1935

During these, BB-48 ventured as far as Alaska north. In 1925 Captain Arthur Japy Hepburn took command and the ship was praised for her gunners marksmanship, 1st prize for short range shooting. She also won the Battle Efficiency Ribbon (BER). She sailed in 1926 to Australia and New Zealand but her crew was awarded the BER again in 1927, 1932, and 1933. The ship underwent a minor modification and notably received aircraft catapults on her quarterdeck and N°3 turret, participating in Fleet Problem XIV in February 1933. Nothing much happened as the economical crisis twharted attempt to modernize her. In 1939, Admiral Ernest King was onboard, evaluating her anti-aircraft defenses. Her recommended adding blisters and adding 5 in/38 cal. DP guns as well as strengthening her decks. Modifications planned were to take place from 10 May to 8 August 1941 but were never carried out. In 1940, USS West Virginia participated in Fleet Problem XXI in April. She was moved rapidly to Pearl Harbor as tensions rose in the Pacific. 1941 was spent in extensive training while she received old 3 in guns for AA defense and eleven .50-cal. machine guns. In June 1941 an experimental gun shield was created by the crew for the 5 in guns, soon recommended.

Badly Damaged at Pearl

On the morning of 7 December 1941, was in Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor alongside Tennessee. She was hit by two Type 91 torpedoes on the port side, and two bombs. The first penetrated on the port side into the superstructure deck and blasting casemates below, also exploding the secondary ammunition stores, spreading into the galley deck. The second hit close to the rear superfiring turret roof but luckily failed to explode, but destroyed one gun cradle and the OS2U Kingfisher floatplane on the catapult atop, the second on the main deck took fire, spilling gasoline and only causing more damage. The first torpedo hit aft, disabling the rudder four the belt, three below and another at the waterline, damaging seven armor plates, opening two large holes (frames 43-52, 62-97) while another one passed even through the holes after the ship started to list, exploding inside the second armor deck. The ship only avoided capsizing through very efficient damage control team efforts (Lieutenant Claude V. Ricketts was later rewarded), the 1st fire control officer. Captain Mervyn S. Bennion was mortally wounded by shrapnel commanding the defense until he died and poshumously awarded the Medal of Honor. USS West Virginia, later affectionately nicknamed by sailors “wee-wee”, sank on even keel. Order to abandon ship was passed on but small teams stayed behind, firefighting and another searching for survivors to rescue. Fuel oil leaking from USS Arizona eventually caught fire, surrounding West Virginia completely added to her own leaking fuel oil. It’s only the next day that the last fires were extinguished. 106 men were killed, many more wounded, the ship almost a total constructive loss that day. One of the most badly beaten ship at Pearl. There are no records of her AA defense, but due to the confusion and smoke after the first hits, it was probably difficult to assess her role precisely.

Repairs and modernization

Workers at Pearl Harbor drydock made wonders fixing the hull, patching holes, pumping her dry, and she was fully refloated by 17 May 1942. This was one of the longest recovery of any ship in the “battleship row” and therefore after extensive repairs and reconstruction, her career was rather short. She was inspected in June in Dry Dock No. 1, Pearl Harbor and it was discovered she has been hit by no less than seven torpedoes. Her temporary repairs made her seaworthy enough to steam to Puget Sound, while 66 or 70 men trapped inside had been retreived and buried. Some of these unfortunately survived for several days in shrinking air bubbles, eating emergency rations, but in vain. Three even managed to survive for no less than sixteen days as it was later found until oxygen ran out. In Puget Sound Navy Yard (Bremerton) engineers wanted for her a thorough reconstruction, that could be worth the wartime decommission.

Modernization proposals soon settled on replacing the lattice masts to have a lighter but stronger structure to support a large radar equipment. West Virginia and California were both in the same state after Pearl, so the same design was applied to their long reconstruction. First off, they received the bulges planned for long, offseting the 1,400 long additional tons of deck armor she would receive. Their battery superstructure (former casemate deck) was rebuilt to manage a full set of sixteen dual-purpose 5-inch guns in twin turrets. However there were few drydocks available so West Virginia had to wait until Tennessee and California were rebuilt, being the last of the Pearl survivors to be completed, in September 1944.

Whe she emerged, her superstructure was brand new, without conning tower but a smaller tower and new bridge and staged superstructure around the now unique funnel, and new telemeters stages around this central island. This maximized the arc of fire for all extra quad Bofors and 20 mm positions around and of the course the 5-in turrets. In fact her new tower was removed from one of the Brooklyn-class cruisers, just rebuilt. The tower mast housed the bridge and main battery director. She was given a brand new air-search radar and recent fire-control radar, much more accurate that anything on the seas in 1943. The 5-in were controlled by four Mk 37 directors. The light AA battery culminated to ten quadruple 40 mm Bofors, forty-three 20 mm Oerlikons. In July 1944, this was mostly over so BB-48 started her pos-reconstruction trials, loaded ammunition on 2 July, departing for training her new crew off Port Townsend (Washington). Evaluations went on until 12 July and after fixed at Puget Sound she steamed to San Pedro near Los Angeles, making her shakedown cruise. She then proceeded to Hawaii on 14 September. On 23 September, she was assigned to Battleship Division 4 (BatDiv 4) with her sister ships, centered around the new Essex-class fleet carrier USS Hancock. They proceeded to Manus (Admiralty Islands), preparing and training for the upcoming campaign in the Philippines. On 6 October West Virginia became division flagship (Rear Admiral Theodore D. Ruddock).

Details of the reconstruction for ONI, Puget Sound, summer 1944.

Philippines campaign

On 12 October 1944, USS West Virginia and BatDiv 4 headed for the Philippines, and Leyte. She joined Task Group (TG) 77.2, the main shore bombardment unit under Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf. As she headed astern of California, thelatter used its paravanes, which effectively cut the anchor chain of a naval mine. When spotted, it forced USS West Virginia to steer around it while destroyer gunfire detonated it. That was one of the case where Paravanes has been really helpful as Japanese minelayers has tranformed all approaches to leyte into giant minefields. TG 77.2 arrived in San Pedro Bay on 19 October after dawn. USS West Virginia took her bombardment position; She targeted Tacloban’s positions and covered the Underwater Demolition Teams in action the day before the invasion, and then withdrawing with the fleet to avoid coastal night actions. In total she fired 278 main shells, 1,586 rounds secondaries (5-in).

The Sixth Army went ashore the following day, USS West Virginia staying on station for close gunfire support. There was a first IJN air attack, and her state of the art AA battery started to bark, but the inexperiences gunners could not score a single plane. On 21 October underway to her newxt spot, USS West Virginia ran aground, damaging three propellers. Damaged blades caused vibrations so she was limited to 16 knots. She stayed on station for two days, providing on-demand fire support and providing AA defense as more attacks came.

Battle of Surigao Strait

Operation Shō-Gō 1 started soon, combining three separate fleets under Ozawa, Kurita, and Nishimura. Kurita’s ships were spotted in the San Bernardino Strait on 24 October 1944. USN aviation took off and during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, IJN Musashi was sunk. Admiral William F. Halsey (Third Fleet) went after the Northern Force, while Nishumura’s fleet entered the Surigao Strait to fall on Taffy 3, of the invasion fleet (Yamashiro, Fusō, Mogami, four destroyers and Shima’s Nachi, Ashigara, Abukuma, four destroyers. Nishimura’s flotilla was attacked during the night of 24-25 October by PT boats and destroyers (Battle of Surigao Strait). West Virginia, at the head of Oldenburg’s battleline spotted flashes in the distance and her radar at 03:02 picked up the ships at 44,000 yd (40,000 m) and again later at 42,000 yd (38,000 m). The battle line opened fire at 03:51, West Virginia, Tennessee and California in order, concentraing on IJN Yamashiro. West Virginia was later attributed a hit on Yamashiro’s bridge on her first salvo. The IJN Battleship was hit several times, badly damaged, before left for Mogami. At around 04:00, Mogami and Yamashiro, escorted by IJN Shigure tried to flee, with Oldendorf on their heels. West Virginia changed course at 04:02, still leading the line, running parallel to Yamashiro’s line of retreat for perfect spotting. Confusion aboard California however had her interfering with this, and the ships had to stop firing to avoid hitting her. However the chase stopped here after reports of Japanese torpedoes nearby. The line turned at 04:18, eding the battle. The Japanese managed to retreat in the darkness and eventually reached home, never to sail again. West Virginia in total fired sixteen salvos signing for the last battle between battleships in history.Later operations

On 29 October 1944, West Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland sailed to Ulithi to resupply and rest. The fleet headed for Espiritu Santo, West Virginia having her damaged propellers repaired in drydock.This was done in the floating drydock USS Artisan, followed by maintenance. She was back in November, stopping at Manus and the Leyte Gulf on 25 November. After patrols air attacks started at at 11:39 her gunners shot down their first kamikaze and assisted for several others. Admiral Ruddock made her her flagship again on 30 November. She departed on 2 December for the Palau Islands, making a replenishment and assigned as flagship of TG 77.12, the bombardment group for the main landings to follow.

The fleet was assembled in the Sulu Sea for the assault on Mindoro with the invasion fleet, TG 78.3. The landing took place and on 15 December the transports withdrew, escorted by West Virginia. She refueled in Leyte Gulf, headed for the Kossol Roads on 19 December. On 1st January 1945, Rear Admiral Ingram C. Sowell replaced Ruddock at the head of BatDiv 4. Joining TG 77.2 this unit entered Leyte Gulf on 3 January, went into the Sulu Sea to be on the 4 caught by heavy air attacks. USS Ommaney Bay (CVE) was badly damaged that day and latter abandoned, some sailores rescued by West Virginia.

On 5 January 1945, she with the rest of BatDiv 4 entered the South China Sea and headed for Lingayen Gulf, but under more Japanese air attacks. When she was off San Fernando Point, she shelled Japanese positions there. West Virginia managed to avoid any hit by a kamikaze the next days, and later rescued sailors from the sunken minesweeper USS Hovey. On 8–9 January, she shelled and razed the town of San Fabian (Lingayen Gulf) and covered the landing of the 9th. Fire support went on 10 January and she withdrew to patrol tne next week the Lingayen Gulf and create a defensive patrol line off the beachhead. She was also called to silenced Japanese positions in between. She also destroyed rail and road junctions, expendin 395 main battery shells, 2,800 secondary. On 21 January, she changed positions to offer close support during the reconquest of Rosario and Santo Tomas (north of Lingayen Gulf). TG 77.2 later covered transports carrying supplies at the beachhead and on 10 February, she departed for Leyte.

Battle of Iwo Jima

USS West Virginin 1944

West Virginia sailed through San Pedro Bay towards Ulithi, arriving on 16 February 1945. She met the Fifth Fleet and prepared for the upcoming assault on Iwo Jima. After refuellingr, loading ammunition complements, she departed during the night at 04:00 escorted by the destroyers USS Izard and McCall. She was on site on 19 February with TF 51. Bombardment commenced at 11:25 while she took her assigned station for the day 20 min later. She directly supported marines fighting ashore and withdrew for the evening. This routine went on again on 21 February, and that day she hit an ammunition or fuel dump, releasing multiple explosions for two hours. Small artillery shells fell on her the next day from Suribachi. She was hit near the forward superfiring turret. On 27 February, she silenced a Japanese artillery battery targeting USS Bryant. She left to replenish ammunition before starting sessions of night shellings in addition. When her mission was completed she departed for Ulithi on 4 March.

Battle of Okinawa

West Virginia teamed with Task Force 54 for the upcoming Ryukyu Islands Chain campaign, and departed on 21 March 1945. She arrived off Okinawa on 25 March and took her assigned bombardment station. She started shelling planned landing zones and on 26 March, a large Japanese shell fell about 4,600 m off her port bow, and she replied with 28 main rounds. Air counterattacks also started on the 28. Her now experienced AA gunns shot down a Yokosuka P1Y. She wen on with her preparatory shelling until the landing day on 1st April. Having replenished at Kerama Retto in between. Her anti-aircraft gunners spotted and shot down another aicraft and later West Viginia was targeted by four more, also destroyed. West Virginia made support fire all day, and remained off the island before retiring for the evening when a wave of kamikazes fell on the fleet at 19:03. One of them could not be shot down and crashed on USS West Virginia, hitting her superstructure forward of sec. battery No.2 director. This exposion claimed 4 lives and and 7 wounded. The bomb penetrated to the second deck but fortunately, failed to detonate and was later defused by the bomb disposal officer onboard.

USS West Virginia 1944

USS West Virginia remained off Iwo Jima this night to provde more support, firing star shells to illuminate marine positions and repel Japanese infiltration attacks. On 6 April, her gunners shot down an Aichi D3A dive bomber and on 8 April, the Japanese Navy sent its last fleet, centered around battleship Yamato, on a suicide mission. West Virginia patrolled west of the island in interception while vigorous USN air attacks destroyed the icoming fleet. West Virginia resumed bombardments and AA defense until 20 April and was about to sail to Ulithi when she was recalled to replace her sister USS Colorado, badly damaged after an ammunition explosion. She stationed off Hagushi Beach, in direct support of the XXIV Corps, relieved and went to Ulithi with USS San Francisco (ii) and USS Hobson

USS West Virginia 1944

She was back to Okinawa until June. On 1-2 June, she destroyed an important Japanese blockhouse inland. On 16 June, she moved to support the 1st Marine Regiment, and one of her OS2U Kingfishers was shot down and the pilot and observer fell behind Japanese lines. West Virginia and her escort USS destroyer Putnam trie to suppress Japanese defenses her to have ground forces breaking through and rescuing the air crew but this failed. She went on until the end of June, and left for San Pedro Bay with USS Connolly, arriving on 1st July. There, she resplenished, refuelled, took new cremen on board, had the resting, loaded ammunition and started training for the expected invasion of Kyushu. But this never happened: After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rumors spread on 10 August of a surrender, but crews were recalled to reality when learning that USS Pennsylvania was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off Okinawa.

Post war

On 15 August, the surrender was now official. West Virginia’s marines prepared for the occupation of Japan and she departed on 24 August for Tokyo Bay, to serve with TG 35.90. She arrived on 31 August and was thus present for the surrender ceremonies aboard USS Missouri on 2 September. BB-48 remained in Tokyo for two weeks and carried on 14 September 270 passengers back to the United States. She departed on 20 September with TG 30.4 for Okinawa, stopped in Buckner Bay (23 September) then in Pearl Harbor (4 October) to stay a while. She was repainted and sailed again on 9 October, heading for San Diego, California, arriving on 22 October. She had ben was awarded “only” five battle stars due to her shorter career.

Sge participated in Navy Day celebrations on 27 October 1945, and hosted 25,554 visits that day. She departed for Pearl Harbor and started runs for Operation Magic Carpet between there and San Diego, making three runs until 17 December. On 4 January 1946 she departed for Bremerton and was taken in hands for deactivation, which was done in “battleship park” in Seattle, Washington. She was tied up there alongside her sister ship USS Colorado. Preservation work was done for her to be in the reserve fleet from February 1946, and formal decommission on 9 January 1947, for the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She stayld listed until 1 March 1959, then struck from the Register, and sold on 24 August (Union Minerals & Alloys Corp), towed to Todd-Pacific Shipyard (Seattle) on 3 January 1961 for BU.



Nevada class Battleships (1914)

Nevada class Battleships (1914)

US Navy ww2 USA (1914) USS Nevada, Oklahoma

The Nevada class: First “standard battleships”

The Nevada and Oklahoma marked a milestone in US Battleship design. Launched just before WW1 broke out, they were the world’s first to adopt the famous “all or nothing” armor scheme, quite a rationalization of armor protection tailored for long-range engagements. Two years later, as they were just being completed, the Battle of Jutland this was clearly shown as a useful layout, quickly adopted by other navies. The Nevada class was also introduced the first “standards” in a sense they adopted for the first time three-gun turrets solution to maximize the arc of fire and oil-fired water-tube boilers.

They were transitional in that sense, still with superfiring twin turrets. The standard was expanded to 4×3 and was repeated for next four classes battleships, clearly intended by the admiralty to be tactically homogeneous and form the ideal battle line, the “battleship row” in pearl Harbor in 1941. Both paid a heavy price as Oklahoma was sunk, her remains partially dismantled many years later. USS Nevada was also badly hit but survived, and after repairs and further modernizations had quite an active career in the Pacific until the end of the war.

uss new york in hampton roads
The previous New York class, in Hampton Roads.

Development of the Nevada class

Context: The standard is born of Congress opposition

When the ships were to be planned, there was a strong political opposition to continual growth and cost of battleship building in the congress since the dreadnought. The Navy settled on a program of two new battleships per year, endorsed by President Theodore Roosevelt. However in 1904, Congress changed and started to reject Navy’s requests, back to one ship per year or not at all. Howard Taft, one of the “falcons” and Roosevelt successor tried to bend the congress with little success. However he managed to obtain authorization for two capital ships FY1912. This was the Nevada class. However, Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1912, and immediately opposed the naval spending, endorsed by his Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels blocked demands for larger and more powerful ships, and in exchange of two vessels per fiscal year, the admiralty made a compromise and accepted to stick to the same standard. Later, it was internally argued that this standard will allow an homogeneous battleline and to streamline tactics.

USS Nevada in trials, 1916
USS Nevada in trials, 1916

Design development

The General Board started with twin-gun turrets of earlier dreadnoughts as the arc of fire was not optimal but only in broadside. It was requested for the first time a move towards three-gun turrets. This configuration would allow less turrets, a better armour rationale, and better arc of fire. At first, the choice of twelve 14 in (356 mm) guns looks ideal. It was two more than the New York class, with four turrets. design work started for FY1912 two years prior, and the first sketch were prepared by the Bureau of Construction and Repair (C&R) in May 1910.

They were heavily based on the preceding New Yorks but the aft superfiring No.4 turret was removed and amidships No.3 turret in superfiring over the No.5 turret. This was similar to British battlecruisers of the time but was soon seen as a complicated arrangement, requiring an ammunition magazine between the engine and boiler rooms. Naval historian Norman Friedman suggested this could have been adopted to reduce an excessive weight aft, causing greater stress to the stepped the hull and requiring extra stiffening there, less weight available to armor protection. As usual the design provisioned also four torpedo tubes and a classic 5-in secondary of seventeen QF guns. As shown by the initial blueprints, the belt armor was 11 in (279 mm) thick.

Birth of the all-or-nothing armor scheme

Meanwhile the Navy’s think tank estimated that long range gunnery naval engagements would be the norm, reflected by the recent appearance of better armor-piercing shells and that the days of the high-explosive shells were counted. The latter could be dealt by medium armor of the new standard. In addition there was still no possibility to aim specifically at unarmored areas while AP shells would easily perforate medium armor and explode deep inside. The assumption of long range gunnery also as reflected in the adoption of a thick deck armor due to the increasingly parabolic trajectory of modern shells. Therefore the armored sides were a bit ignored at this point.

ballistic theories
Ballistic studies about HMS inflexible. This illustrates the board’s discussions about long range gunnery that led to this armour scheme theory.

The logical result of these speculations led to the “all or nothing” logic. Basically this was a statistic-based assumption of what parts needed to be protected most and reserve this protection only for the ship’s vitals. This naturally comprised the ammunition magazines, powerplant spaces, and command areas (notably the CT). In addition it was made watertight, in order to design an “armored raft” allowing the ship to float even in case all the rest of the unprotected hull was flooded. It was calculated to contain enough reserve buoyancy. This was a breakthrough innovation for the time, a revolution in capital ship protection that will spread like wildfire outside the US, an soon reach cruisers as well. Therefore the Nevada class was the first in the world to inaugurate this radical protection scheme.

Launch of USS Oklahoma in NY Shipbuilding Co in March 1914.

Evolution of the design (June 1910-fall 1910)

In June 1910 the Admiralty Board sent new requirements to C&R, still requesting a twelve-gun battery but also a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) and crucially the “all or nothing” protection scheme they created. C&R engineers however reported that the heavy armor deck would indeed considerably strengthen the hull notably fo longitudinal strength and compensate for the barbette openings, but also pointed out the 11-inch belt armor was no longer able to defeat the latest main guns in development. The Board responded by conceding an extra 1.5 in (38 mm) splinter bulkhead backing the belt internally to contain shell fragments. By October-November 1910, the Navy submitted budget estimates for FY1912, planned for the Congress vote scheduling in 1911. Figures were based on the New Yorks and this was accepted by the Congress. But as a result, this imposed a displacement of 27,000 long tons (27,000 t) like the previous ships. Soon C&R’s protested it was too light and asked for a redesign, also incorporating experiences from service of the first USN dreadnoughts.

wow’s rendition – USS Oklahoma in 1941

C&R redesign, concessions and approval (1911)

C&R redesign changes were first to drop the the arrangement of the aft pair of turrets. However it was still not found at that stage superfiring triple turret arrangement was too heavy. It was decided to move away the amidships magazine close to the boiler rooms as it was difficult to keep cool, as shown on previous battleships. The thicker deck increased hull strength so C&R proposed a closely spaced aft superfiring pair. This allowed also to shorten the hull, reduce armor protection, and keep in the displacement limits. The Delaware reports about its propulsion of mixing coal and oil also brought out a simplification: Only oil fired boilers.

This radical option was found to procure a set of advantages:
-The ability to refuel at sea (with simple flexible pipes by navy tankers)
-A significant reduction in boiler room crews (no more stokers)
-A greater fuel efficiency (smaller tanks)
-More compact boiler rooms, making shorter space to protect.
C&R was internally divided on this issue on this issue as they thought the deep ASW protection relied on these coal bunkers backing the side armor. The Board however was enthusiastic and approved all these changes in November 1910. Engineers of C&R however continue to lobby for the New York class design, but the Board stuck to the latest revise proposal and decided to return on steam turbines in the they belief the notoriously voracious turbines would be better fed by more efficient oil for long range cruise in the Pacific.

uss nevada stern
wow’s rendition – USS Nevada stern, 1941

C&R submitted its next proposal on 13 February 1911; it generally aligned with the Board’s ideas for the armor layout, but it retained some medium armor to protect the secondary guns and it incorporated triple-expansion machinery (though they noted that the engine rooms could accommodate Curtis turbines). The Board rejected it, leading the designers to remove the medium armor, producing a series of studies with speeds of 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), 20.5 knots (38 km/h; 24 mph), and 21 knots and main batteries that ranged from eight to twelve guns. During this period, on 4 March, Congress authorized a pair of ships, designated BB-36 and BB-37 for FY1912. With the ships now authorized, the Board selected one of the ten-gun, 20.5-knot variations on 30 March, which had a belt that was increased to 14 in but included a series of tapers at the top and bottom edge to save weight. The Bureau of Ordnance pointed out that the belt could not be manufactured in a single strake with the tapers, so a joint between upper and lower strakes—a design weakness the engineers had been attempting to avoid—would have to be used. The problem was resolved in July, when C&R proposed removing the 1.5-inch splinter bulkhead in favor of increasing the belt to 13.5 in (343 mm) and incorporating only one taper at the lower edge.[8]

C&R and the board would then argued over the turret question. Four turrets would mad considerable weight savings and a thicker belt, correcting an observation of C&R about side protection. However the biggest concern was the Navy has until now never built a three-gun turret. There were concerns both at C&R and the board that a single hit could disable all three guns (something that will came to haunt proponents of a four-gun turrets in France in 1911 too !). It was also estimated that a triple opening in the face armor would make it weaker. C&R suggested making a model to be used on the old battleship Indiana, which was denied.

The Gangut shown using triple turrets was possible in a deck-level configuration only. But the limited displacement forced a superfiring solution in any case (wow)

Navy secretary J. Daniels meanwhile approved the Nevada final design on 31 March 1911, but as no turret design was ready then and many questions stayed in the balance. It was quite a gamble as this was an untested design, although many examples in Europe shown this seemed a way forward: Little they knew the Dante Aligheri, Gangut, and Tegetthof designs all gambled this already. The latter even gambled on superfiring turrets which was one step further away from the first two, which had long hulls to accomodate deck-level turrets only. C&R obtained to built an experimental turret in August 1912, which fired and proved the concept was sound but showed modifications were needed to reduce shell interference, also a crucial issue for accuracy. The finalized design compromised this by adopting a ten-gun battery: For the board this was a though pill to swallow, but the only realistic prospect was that only two turrets would be triple mounts on the deck, with superfiring twin-gun turrets (which was already a proven design).

SMS Tegetthoff forward turrets. The Austro-Hungarians made the radical choice of triple turrets before everybody in order, like the Americans, to keep the displacement low due to their limited yard basin size. It is not known if US Intelligence reported this at that time.

At that stage the Board began made this design circulate among a large array fleet officers for returns. Captain John Hood (later a member of the Board) criticized the the secondary battery, already shown in service to be very “wet” to the point of being useless in rough seas. Due the torpedoes having a better range, it was found crucial to deal sooner with TBs and destroyers, and the fast 5-inch /51 caliber was too short range for this. But then, here was no suitable alternative, therefore the Board had little choice but to keep the initial battery. They could not by then foresee that rapid progresses in fire control would increase their accuracy greatly. This also avoided any complicated redesign which would added weight an delay the construction (as much heavier 6-in guns would have been a logical choice).

Design of the Nevada class

Reconstitution of the armour scheme by Slavomir Lipiecki SRC

Hull and all-or-nothing protection

diagram of the Nevada armour scheme
Brassey’s diagram of the Nevada armour scheme

The Nevada class BBs had a 575 ft (175 m) waterline long hull, 583 ft (178 m) overall, 95 ft 2.5 in (29 m) beam and 27 ft 7.6 in (8 m) draft (standard displacement), down to 29 ft 6 in (8.99 m) fully loaded, and the latter ranged from 27,500 long tons (27,900 t) as designed, 28,400 long tons (28,900 t) calculated fully loaded in service. Their ram bow was followed by a forecastle deck making around 50% of the ship’s length and superstructure were kept minimal to maximize the field of fire. There was an heavily-armored conning tower aft of the forward superfiring turret and two lattice masts behind, both supporting spotting tops.

The belt armor was 13.5 inches thick in between the outermost barbettes, protecting the magazines and machinery, 17 ft 4.6 inches or 5 meters wide, including 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) underwater. It was reduced below to 8 in (203 mm). It was assumed that shells falling that far underwater to be slowed down enough. Both belt ends were connected by a transverse bulkhead 8-13 inches (330 mm) thick, created the citadel. Since it was all or nothing, both the bow and stern were unprotected.
The armored deck was 3 in (76 mm) but with a special treatment steel (STS), made in three layers. It made the top of the citadel. Further aft, it had a thicker stray of armour, 6.25 in (159 mm) over the propeller shafts. The armor deck connected to the top of the belt without slopes. There was below the secondary armored deck, made in nickel steel and 1.5 in (38 mm) thick, only there to contain splinters from the level above. Its sides were sloped down, and 2 in (51 mm) thick, connecting to the bottom edge of the belt, closing the citadel.

The main triple turrets (deck) faces had 18 in (457 mm) thick plates and 10 in (254 mm) sides, 5 inches roofs. The superfiring twin-gun turrets had (406 mm) faces, 9 in (229 mm) sides and all had 9 inches back plate. Barbettes had all 13 inches thick walls and the conning tower had 16 inches walls, and a 8 inches (203 mm) roof and it was made of STS armor. Boilers uptakes to the funnel had a protective conical mantlet 13 inches thick (340 mm).

USS Nevada during her sea trials

Powerplant; Shifting to oil-only

The Nevada class received direct-drive Curtis steam turbines, unlike previous ships. It was believed more oil would compensate for the consumption. They were fed by twelve oil-fired Yarrow water-tube boilers, and the class for the first time also had a pair of reduction geared cruising turbines clutched into the high-pressure turbines for fuel economy at low speeds. This also was a measure to reduce consumption.

This system really became a standard in all following US battleships to the exception of the late class using a turbo-electric arrangement. USS Oklahoma diverged from USS Nevada in having two vertical triple-expansion engines instead, plus twelve oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers. This was a usual testing measure by the Navy to compare both ships propulsion system, and having at least one of the two with a reliable, known system. However USS Oklahoma’s reciprocating engines proved troublesome, generating excessive vibration. This was so bad that in 1925 the nav envisioned to replaced them by diesel engines but their excessive weight prevented this move. Also these ships diverged from the previous ones by having all their exhausts ducted into a single funnel, with its uptake well armoured.

Both ships had difference outputs as a result of their respective powerplants: 26,500 shaft horsepower (19,800 kW) for USS Nevada and 24,800 indicated horsepower (18,500 kW) for Oklahoma, but both were noted as capable of 20.5 knots as deigned. On speed trials, USS Nevada reached 20.9 knots (38.7 km/h; 24.1 mph) on an output figure of 26,291 shp (19,605 kW) on speed trials upon completion.
Also as design, their radius of action was 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) but in reality it was in service 5,195 nmi (9,621 km; 5,978 mi) at 12 knots, and only 1,980 nmi at 20 knots. Nevada’s tactical turn to 180° took 825 yards or 754 m at 15 knots, down to 580 yards (530 m) at 19 knots and 625 yards (572 m) at 20 knots for USS Oklahoma.

uss nevada 1920
BB-36 Nevada overview in 1920. Many secondary guns has been retired already (hull), less those in the battery deck casemate.

Armament: Towards the 4×3 standard

Main Armament

The Nevada’s class main armament comprised ten 14-inch /45 caliber Mark III guns in a 2×3 – 2×2 superfiring arrangement. The triple turrets had their barrels supported by two trunnions so that they could only elevate as a single unit, not separately. These guns were supplied by 1,400-pound (635 kg) armor-piercing (AP) shells which existed the barrel at 2,600 feet per second (790 m/s). The close triple barrel arrangement showed excessive dispersion so practice dictated a successive fire, tenth of a second delay. The barrels elevated to 15 degrees and depressed to −5 degrees. The best range was 21,140 yd (19,330 m). The barrels were served by two shell hoists and the guns and loading system were all electric.
For fire control, the twin turrets were given roof armored rangefinders, and they were connected to the centralized fire control room in the conning tower. To complete this data also came from the main mast rangefinder, fore and aft.

wow’s rendition, USS Nevada in December 1941, on her way

Secondary Armament

It consisted in a secondary battery, twenty-one 5-inch /51 caliber Mark VIII guns. They fired a 50 lb (23 kg) shell, which exited the barrel at a muzzle velocity of 3,150 ft/s (960 m/s).
Twelve were in forecastle deck casemates, and the other six were in lower hull casemates, one more installed directly into the stern. In service, like for previous battleships, they were soon prove, excessively wet in rough sea. In later modernizations they were all removed. Two guns were in open mounts, mounted on the sides of the conning tower. Of course there was no lighter gun or AA.

Close Armament

As designed, both Nevada class had the customary 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes, both submerged in pairs in the broadside, below the waterline. They fired the new Bliss-Leavitt torpedoes Mark VII type. They had a 321 lb (146 kg) warhead and could reach 12,500 yd (11,400 m) at 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph), single setting available.

USS Oklahoma’s sea trials

Specifications in 1916

Dimensions 175 x 29 x 9 m – 573 ft, 95 ft, 29 ft

Displacement 27,000 long tons standard, 28,367 long tons Fully Loaded
Crew 1044 total: 55 officers, 809 enlisted men
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE 14 water-tube boilers 28,100 shp (20,954 kW)
Speed 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph) 7,060 nmi (13,080 km; 8,120 mi)
Armament 10 × 14in (356), 21 × 5in (127), 4x 3pdr, 2x 1pdr, 2x 21in (533 mm) TTs sub
Armor Belt: 10–12 in, casemate: 6.5–11 in, Barbettes: 10–12 in, Turrets 2-14 in, Decks 2 in, CT 12 in

The Nevada class in service: WW1 and interwar

USS Oklahoma as experimentally painted with a disruptive pattern in 1917
USS Oklahoma as experimentally painted with a disruptive pattern in 1917 – Colorized by Irootoko Jr.

USS Nevada and Oklahoma 1916-1920

Wow's rendition of USS Oklahoma in 1941
Wow’s rendition of USS Oklahoma in 1941

After fitting out in Boston, and later in New York Navy Yard, USS Nevada first served with the Atlantic Fleet based in Newport, Rhode Island. Her service started on 26 May 1916 with training cruises and exercises off Norfolk, Virginia. She made trips to the Caribbean. When the US entered the war in April 1917, there was a shortage of fuel oil in Britain so Nevada was not sent with Battleship Division 9 (BatDiv 9) made of VTE coal-burning Delaware, Florida, Wyoming, and New York. Instead, she was planned to join the British Grand Fleet on 7 December 1917, 6th Battle Squadron. however it’s only on 13 August 1918 USS Nevada departed for Britain, the last US BB to do so, seeing little action as expected.

She arrived in Berehaven (Ireland) on 23 August, joining Utah and her sister ship Oklahoma, the “Bantry Bay Squadron”, officially Battleship Division Six (BatDiv 6). The squadron was under command of Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers. The battleships escorted the largest, most and valuable convoys in case German capital ships would slip through the British Grand Fleet and fall on the convoy by another route. This never happened so the battleships never fired a shot in anger. From 11 November, USS Nevada, now was under command of William Carey Cole, taking service until 7 May 1919). On 13 December 1918, she was part of a fleet of 10 battleships, including her sister ship, that escorted the SS George Washington, the liner carrying president Woodrow Wilson to Brest for the Paris Peace Conference. They sailed for home the next day and arrived in NYC in two weeks, in time to participate to a naval review linked to victory parades and celebrations.

USS Nevada WW1
USS Nevada WW1

USS Oklahoma like other ships of BatDiv 6 only was only called out once in 80 days. On 14 October 1918 (capt. Charles B. McVay, Jr.) she escorted troop ships back from UK on 16 October and the remainder of her days in harbour, conducted drills at anchor in Bantry Bay. Crews played American football and competitive sailing, but six later fell ill from the Pandemic flu around the 2 November. USS Oklahoma stayed off Berehaven until 11 November 1918 but in the wake of the victory, crewmembers fought with members of Sinn Féin, and the battleship’s captain was obliged to paid for the damage and made public excuses to the mayors of nearby Bantry bay towns.

USS Nevada: The interwar

USS Nevada in drydock, 1935

In 1919, USS Nevada was transferred to the Pacific Fleet and USS Oklahoma joined her in 1921. Nevada’s captain was Thomas P. Magruder from May to October 1919, William Dugald MacDougall (until 4 May 1920) in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. In 1920, Nevada was taken in hands for a short drydock refit: Her 21 five-inch (127 mm)/51 cal guns were cut down to twelve already in 1918, due to the hull casemate guns being “too wet”. Only the battery superstructure guns were kept, plus the two deck guns abreast the conning tower. Nevada new captain was Luke McNamee (until 19 September 1921). She sailed with USS Arizona to represented the United States at the Peruvian Centennial Exposition (July 1921). Douglas E. Dismukes took command in turn until 30 December 1922 and USS Nevada teamed with USS Maryland to escort back to South America the SS Pan America carrying Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes to attend the Centennial of Brazilian Independence. Both ships were in Rio de Janeiro from 5 to 11 September 1922, and legend has it that baseball was made popular when Nevada’s crew was on leave in the city.

USS Nevada in 1925
USS Nevada in 1925

By the fall of 1922, John M. Luby took command, until 7 September 1924, replaced by David W. Todd, until 11 June 1926. Meanwhile USS Nevada took part in a “goodwill cruise” to Australia and New Zealand in 1925. The cruise was hampered by the lack of supply points and demonstrated to naval powers of the pacific that the US was now able to project her battlefleet in the transpacific area of operations, being able in theory to confront the Imperial Japanese Navy in home waters for a possible “decisive battle”. This also changed naval scenarios and games in the US naval academy.

wow's rendition of USS Nevada

wow’s rendition of USS Nevada

Nevada class modernization

Clarence S. Kempff took command in 11 June 1926 and would serve until 20 September 1927 as the ship was conducted in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for modernization. It would last until 1930, under command of Hilary H. Royall (until 12 July 1930). The rebuilt was comprehensive:
-Corbel masts replace by tripods
-Steam turbines from cancelled USS North Dakota installed, geared turbines to increase range.
-Original Yarrow boilers replaced with 6 Bureau Express and new arrangement
-Main guns elevation increased to 30° (23,000 to 34,000 yards (31,100 m)
-Anti-torpedo bulges added
-Two catapults added: Three Vought O2U-3 Corsair spotter.
-Eight 5 in (127 mm)/25 tertiary DP guns added
-New superstructure installed, some 5 inch (127 mm)/51 relocated there as in New Mexico class.

USS Nevada afterwards joined the Pacific Fleet and stayed there until the attack of Pearl Harbor under command of John J. Hyland (until 30 April 1932), then William S. Pye (4 December 1933), Adolphus Staton (25 June 1935), Robert L. Ghormley (23 June 1936), Claude B. Mayo (2 October 1937), Robert Alfred Theobald (10 May 1939) and Francis W. Rockwell.(until 4 June 1941)

HD Cutaway of USS Okhahoma in the 1930s

Specifications (Nevada) in WW2

Dimensions Same but width beam 32.3 m (106 feets)

Displacement 32,000 – 33,000 tons FL after refit 1926
Propulsion 6 × Bureau Express oil-fired boilers
Speed 19.72 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Armament Same but 12×5 in/51, 8×5 in/25 8 × 0.5 in (13 mm) Browning 0.3
1944: 6×5 in/51, 10×3 in/50, 10×quad 40 mm Bofors, 44×20 mm Oerlikon
Armor Same but turrets top extra 1.75 in (44 mm)

Read More/Src

Tom’s Modelworks: Nevada 1941 & 1945
HP-Models USS Nevada BB-36 (1945) 1/700 HP models review
1/350 resin, PE brass USS Nevada BB36 Dec. 1944*
1/820 70782 Lindberg USS Arizona and USS Nevada ‘Attack on Pearl Harbor’ with Diorama Sea Base
*By iron shipright

USS Oklahoma in service: The interwar

Author’s 2 views illustration of the Nevada in Dec. 1941

USS Oklahoma joined USS Arizona in Portland on 30 November 1918 and Nevada joined them on 4 December to form Battleship Division Nine, assigned as a convoy escort for the ocean liner SS George Washington carrying President Woodrow Wilson to France. After a trip back home to New York City in early 1919 she conducted winter battle drills off Cuba and by June returned to Brest, to escort Wilson back to New York. She Oklahoma was overhauled afterwards, her secondary battery reduced as her sister and in cruised to South America’s west coast for combined exercises with the Pacific Fleet and attended the Peruvian Centennial in 1923. She then joined the Pacific Fleet in 1925 for a training cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii for war games.

She then departed Samoa, crossing the equator and arrived in Australia for more exercises and stopped in New Zealand. In early 1927, she joined the Atlantic Scouting Fleet but by November, entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for an extensive overhaul like her sister ship. She was then back with the Scouting Fleet for exercises in the Caribbean, and West Coast again via Panama in June 1930. The Fleet operations routine lasted until the spring of 1936 and that summer, she carried midshipmen on a European tour and was on guard duty during the civil war in Spain, stopping at Bilbao in July 1936 to rescue American citizens and other refugees and bring them to Gibraltar and French ports. She returned to the pacific on 24 October 1936.

For the next four years she participated in many exercises including the Army, Air force, and training reservists. USS Oklahoma by December 1937 was based in Pearl Harbor and multiplied patrols alternated with exercised and was back in USA, entering Puget Sound Navy Yard yard twice, to have extra AA artillery and armor installed, the last time in February 1941. She was to have her armour replaced and upgraded in San Pedro by mid-August but was struck by a severe storm and the next morning lost her starboard propeller. She sailed to San Francisco for repairs and stayed in drydock until mid-October 1941. She then sailed back to Hawaii, but according to the Washington Treaty she was planned for retirement on 2 May 1942.

USS Oklahoma during WW2

USS Oklahoma off Alcatraz in the 1930s

Oklahoma was moored in berth Fox in the battleship row 5 on 7 December 1941, when the attack started, alongside USS Maryland. In fact she protected her on her flank. She was the object of Akagi and Kaga torpedo planes first, and hit three times seconds apart. On hit 20 feet (6.1 m) below the waterline near the mainmast position, blewing up the anti-torpedo bulge, spilling oil from ruptured fuel bunkers sounding tubes but the hull beyond remained intact. Irony was the men scrambled to fire the AA only to find their that firing were under lock and key in the armory. The time for them to get there and be operational, the first wave was over. The third torpedo struck at 08:00 near Frame 65 and this time it penetrating the hull, ruptured the fuel bunkers and access trunks to the two forward boiler rooms and the transverse bulkhead to the aft boiler room so flooding began.

USS Oklahoma started to capsize to port when two more torpedoes struck while the bridge was strafed by Zero fighters, so the men were compelled to abandoned ship. About twelve minutes later she she rolled over completely, her masts scrapping the bottom, until he keel was exposed, taking possible one or two more hits in the meantime. The crew had time to evacuate for the most fortunate and went on helping other ships, starting manning AA on USS Maryland. In total, the ship lost 421 officers and men, many missing, trapped inside later drowning as the ship slowly filled up. Efforts to rescue them started quickly but dragged on into the night, it took hours. Nevertheless, some attempts worked, such as Julio DeCastro, a civilian yard worker which saved 32, cutting open the very thick hull with pneumatic jackhammers, crowbars and maces. The problem was that trapped air escape and the volume was taken by water, further raising levels, and stored fuel tanks needed to be avoided to avoid further spills or explosions.

USS Oklahoma off Gibraltar in april 1936

They were remembered: Ensign John C. England for example had two USS England, DE-635 and DLG-22 named after him, as USS Stern, USS Austin. Austin posthumously was awarded the Navy Cross, while Ensign Francis C. Flaherty and Seaman James R. Ward had the medal of honor, and more Navy and Marine Corps Medals were awarded to other members of the crew.
The ship was a hazard for navigation and obviously needed to be salvaged. An assessment was done in early 1942, but it was cost-prohibitive. Eventually work started gradually on 15 July 1942, under command of Captain F. H. Whitaker. First she was to be righted up, and this step took eight months with was pumped inside, divers installing improvised airlocks until 20,000 tonnes of water was pumped out, using the torpedo holes. To avoid the ship to slide, 5500 of coral soil solidified her bow while two barges controlled the ship’s rise. The lifting operation was made using
21 derricks, attached to the upturned hull. Their high-tensile steel cables were actioned by massive hydraulic winching machines ashore. The “parbuckling” operation was completed on 16 June 1943 while divers and special teams had the gruesome task of removing human remains.

USS Oklahoma burning in Pearl Habor

In the end, the hull was inserted into cofferdams to allow basic repairs, patch the hull. On 28 December 1943, UDD Oklahoma was towed into drydock No. 2, Pearl Harbor NyD, and her main guns, powerplant and what was left of her stores and ammunition were all removed. Further damage was repaired and she was moored later, but due to the damage and priorities, it was understood she would not be modernized as her sister ships, the damage was too great. She was therefore decommissioned on 1 September 1944, her superstructure entirely removed when the war ended and she proposed for auction at Brooklyn NyD on 26 November 1946, sold to Moore Drydock Co. of Oakland, California, then by May 1947, and was to be towed for scrap.

The company had to had her moved from Pearl Harbor to the San Francisco scrapyard but Disaster struck on 17 May, both tugs being caught in a storm circa 500 miles (800 km) from Hawaii. It was discovered the ship had begun listing heavily and to avoid the tugs to be carried down when the ship would probably sink, they were radioed to head back to port. However in between the tugs already were dragged backwards at 15 knots as Oklahoma started to sink straight down, but the tug skippers ordered to loosen the cable drums and drop them completely at the very end.
The hulk’s position remained unknown. Dredging operations took place in 2006 by the US Navy, which recovered parts of Oklahoma still in Pearl Harbor, portion of the rear fire control tower support mast, later transported to the Muskogee War Memorial Park in 2010, now on permanent outdoor display. The ship’s bell and two screws are now on display at the Kirkpatrick Science Museum in Oklahoma City and her aft wheel at the Oklahoma History Center.

USS Okhahoma being refloated and righted, and waiting for her faite, moored alongside USS Wisconsin after the war

On 7 December 2007 a memorial for the Oklahoma’s 429 crew members as erected at Ford Island, nearby USS Missouri. Only 35 missing sailors and officers were later identified but 388 were not, and they were interred as such in the Nu’uanu and Halawa cemeteries, disinterred in 1947 for more identifications, helping properly burying 45 of them at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In 2015, the DoD announced a new exhumation to be done, for DNA testings. By December 2017, 100 more had been identified and by the next year, 181, sent to their families by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. In December 2019, the 236th unknown was identified, leaving 152 still unknown for the future. The last survivor of USS Oklahoma, Ed Vezey, passed out aged 95.

USS Nevada during WW2

Sinking at Pearl Harbor and repairs

USS Nevada beached on Hospital Point

Back to Nevada: On 6 December 1941, USS Nevada was in port for the weekend, anticipated quite, since 4 July. Vice Admiral William S. Pye Task Force was granted this weekend leave whereas it has been scheduled to operate with Vice Admiral William Halsey, Jr.’s aircraft carrier task force. But the latter did not want to have his carriers slowed down and declined to be escorted by the battleships, a fateful decision. Halsey indeed steamed up to reinforce Wake Island’s Marine detachment with extra aviation. On the 7th, USS Nevada band was playing “Morning Colors” just as planes were spotted on the horizon.

USS Nevada was in line at the end the battleship row, off Ford Island, not exactly ready to manoeuver, but aft of Arizona. Commanding officer Francis W. Scanland (in service until 15 December) was ashore as the first bombs dropped. Ensign Joe Taussig on duty just ordered a second boiler lit off, gradually warming up the engines. Nevada’s gunners scrambled to action as alarm went on, opened fire whereas engineers rushed to raise steam. Soon, a Kate TB plane dropped a single 18 in (460 mm) Type 91 Mod 2 torpedo, which hit Frame 41 below the belt, 14 ft (4.3 m) above the keel. It was 08:10 AM, and just after she was shot down by the battleship’s own gunners. The torpedo bulkhead however did its job, but there was serious leaking which caused the flooding of port side compartments, below the first platform deck. The ship started to list 4–5° but damage control crew managed to stop it, by counter-flooding. Nevada at 0840 had her engines fed by steam and started her departure while her gunners allegedly shot down four more planes. Ensign Taussig’s saved his ship but lost a leg in on of the strafing attacks. As soon as she was underway, Nevada became however a moving target.

Japanese Aichi “Val” dive bombers of the second wave quickly concentrated on her. Pilots intended to sink her in the channel to block the harbor, carrying 250 kg bombs, but channel’s width of 1200 feet would have made this effort not successful. However about 09:50, USS Nevada was hit by five bombs in close succession. The first exploded above the crew’s galley, anoher the port director platform and down to the stack on the upper deck. Another hit the first forward triple turret on the port waterway. Large holes were blown up in the upper and main decks. Two more struck the forecastle, another failed to exploded in between decks, but another blew near the gasoline tank wich started to leak badly. Fire spread rapidly.

Bow assessement of Nevada’s damage

Gasoline fires around Turret 1 fortunately led to nothing as the main magazines were empty as the battleships were just about to underwent a swap to a new heavier projectile. The new powder charges were planned to be loaded on this Sunday. That was another strike of luck for the ship. USS Nevada however was now crippled and ordered to proceed west of Ford Island to ground her, which was done off Hospital Point at 10:30. She was assisted by USS Hoga and Avocet and her crew meanwhile shot down three more planes. The ship gently touched the bottom straight, quickly flooded thanks to the lack of watertight subdivision between the second and main decks. Water then started to enter through bomb holes and both the dynamo and boiler rooms were flooded soon.
During the attack, Nevada deplored 60 killed and 109 wounded and later two more men would die aboard during salvage operations two month later. They were poisoned by hydrogen sulfide gas, emanating since December from decomposing paper and meat. The damage party later assessed she could have been hit by as much as ten bomb hits. Refloating and repair the ship would take time however.

USS Nevada leaving Pearl for major repair and modernization in 1942


Various appearances of USS Nevada throughout her operational life.

On 12 February 1942 under Harry L. Thompson command, the battleship was refloated by using pumps, and temporarily repaired at Pearl Harbor, sent to Puget Sound NyD for drydock repairs. Her state was evaluated by the commission as positive for a modernization. It happened under command of Howard F. Kingman and completed in October 1942. She resembled USS South Dakota after this. The work consisted in replacing the main bridge superstructure by a thinner, lighter and taller one with open decks, rebuilt exhaust trunks into a new taller, raked funnel, relocation of the aft tripod mast further forward to gain arc of fires, deletion of the all 5″/51s and 5″/25s guns, replaced with sixteen 5″/38 caliber guns in new twin mounts, and considerable number of quad 40 mm and single 20 m Oerlikon guns, radars and modernized fire control systems. Willard A. Kitts took command on 25 January 1943, until 21 July 1943 leading the ship for her first new career operation, providing fire support from 11–18 May 1943 for the capture of Attu.

Details of the post-pearl harbor reconstruction
Details of the post-pearl harbor reconstruction, which was quite radical, but fast. USS Nevada was ready on time for D-Day.

D-Day campaign

USS after the Attu and Kiska capaign, was back in Norfolk Navy Yard in June 1943 for further modernization an when completed, departed for Atlantic convoy escort duties. She escorted convoys in a remote chance a German capital ship would raid it, but it never happened. Only on the northern route, towards Murmansk, German raids from Norway were attempted.
She made convoy runs throughout 1944, until send in in preparation for the Normandy Invasion by April 1944. Powell M. Rhea had by then taken command since 21 July 1943. In fact, the choice was not hard as she was the only battleship present both at Pearl Harbor and available for the Normandy landings. Her floatplane observer pilots were assigned to VOS-7, flying Spitfires from RNAS Lee-on-Solent. USS Nevada had the honor of being chosen by Rear Admiral Morton Deyo as his flagship for the operation. From 6 to 17 June she bring precious artillery support inland, departed for supply in UK and came back on 25 June to resume fire, moving to shell coastal defenses in the Cherbourg Peninsula, as far as 17 nmi (20 mi; 31 km) inland. The Germans however made counterbattery fire and she was near-missed 27 times. Her fire was estimated by the troops “incredibly accurate”.

Operation Dragoon

In August, the allies prepared the second landing, in the south of France, so USS Nevada was sent in the Mediterranean for such operation. To support the landings of Operation Dragoon she teamed up with four battleships, USS Texas, Arkansas, HMS Ramillies, Free French Lorraine, and three US heavy cruisers escorted by many destroyers. Many landing ships and craft used at D-Day were also transferred for the operation. Nevada started operation on 15 August and until 25 September 1944, she duelled with “Big Willie”, the most fearful German coastal fortress boasting four 340 mm (13.4 in) guns in two twin turrets, salvaged from Provence scuttled earlier in Toulon. The battery reached 19 nautical miles (35 km) and commanded every approach to Toulon and in addition to concrete, was reinforced by heavy armor plate embedded into the rocky sides of the island of Saint Mandrier. USS Nevada pounded the fortress, but she was not alone to do so from 19 August. This was combined to low-level bomber strikes. In all, Nevada fired 354 salvos at the fort. Toulon eventually fell on the 25th, but the fort held until the 28, eventually captured by ground troops.

USS Nevada in 1945
USS Nevada in 1945 (HD)

Iwo Jima

Before proceeding into the pacific, Nevada was back to New York for a gun barrels relining, as they were quite worn out by that stage and the three Turret 1 main guns were comletely replaced with Mark 8 guns models from USS Arizona which were in a relining process in december 1942 and were left in storage since, to Mark 12 specifications. Homer L. Grosskopf took command on 4 October 1944 and USS Nevada arrived off Iwo Jima on 16 February 1945, commencing the preparatory artillery cover. The heavy bombardmen went on until 7 March and as the invasion took plane, she moved closer from shore, at 600 yd (550 m) to provide a more precise firepower at any troop’s command.


24 March 1945: Nevada was with Task Force 54, called “Fire Support Force” sent off Okinawa for shelling the island prior to the landings. TF 54 moved into position during the the night of the 23rd and shelled until dawn and during the day known airfields, shore defenses and supply dumps plus reported troop concentrations. However as the night fell for a ceasefire, seven kamikazes arrived and targeted the fleet, just when the air cover was back on the carrier’s decks. One crashed onto the main deck of Nevada, even badly hit, and blasted near turret No. 3, killed 11 , injuring 49, knocking out the turret and three Oerlikon guns nearby. Two more men were lost due to a battery fire on 5 April and until 30 June Nevada continued to support fire until her departure for the 3rd Fleet. She stays with it from 10 July to 7 August and went to the home islands for the last days of the war, Capt. Crosskopf leaving command on 28 October 1945.

BB-36 shelling iwo Jima – the color photo shows part of the camouflage

post-war fate

Cecil C. Adell too command of Nevada on 28 October 1945, and she was back at Pearl Harbor after her stay in Tokyo Bay. A commission examined the ship ans estimated that after her 32 years of service she was no longer needed for post-war fleet, and assigned to be a target ship. In her new role, she was to be condicted in the Pacific to the Bikini atoll, infamous for the atomic experiments that took place under the name Operation Crossroads. It was the summer of July 1946, her captain had left command since the 1st of July, and USS Nevada was to be the bombardier’s primary target for the test ‘Able’, aiming directly at the ship with its unique A-bomb. Therefore, due to the altitude, Nevada’s decks were painted a reddish-orange. Despite of this, when the test started, the bomb fell about 1,700 yd (1,600 m) off the mark. It exploded just above the assault transport USS Gilliam instead and Nevada survived the blast.


She remained afloat also after the “Baker” test, using a new method of underground explosion, 90 ft (27 m) below the surface. Due to the denser water, the schockwave damage the ship’s hull and radioactive fallout from the spray stuck to the ship. She was nevertheless towed to Pearl Harbor and formally decommissioned on 29 August 1946. After being closely examined, she was too dangerous to be scrapped and was instead used as a gunnery target practice, 65 miles southwest of Pearl Harbor. It was the 31 July 1948. Despite the battering she received, the valiant old battleship refused to sink and was eventually finished off by an aerial torpedo amidships.


A former main gun was preserved and is now displayed alongside a Missouri’s gun at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, east of the Arizona State Capitol complex (Phoenix). The memorial represents the Pacific War as a whole. A Replica at 1/15 scale of the USS Nevada was used for overhead shots of Battleship Row in the classic flick Tora! Tora! Tora!. She is today part of Los Angeles yearly parades for V-day, navy day and veteran day.

WW1 US Cruisers

WW1 US Navy Cruisers

USN United States Navy – 51 cruisers

ww1 usn cruisers
WW1 USN cruisers POSTER

When the USA entered war on April, 6, 1917, the fleet comprised about 40 cruisers, the older ones being relegated as costal gunboats, a part made of obsolete masted cruisers, veterans of 1898, 1900’s armoured and protected cruisers, and the most recent were the Chester scout cruisers, which conception went back to 1905. It was thought fleet destroyers could do the job, but wartime realities soon changed that idea and ten brand new scout cruisers, destroyer leaders, were ordered, not completed in time.

The “New Navy”‘s first cruisers

uss trenton 1876
USS Trenton (1876), one of the rare, one-off “new navy” early frigates.

Basically the XIXth naval history of the US is rocky and interesting, especially for cruisers, which had their historic roots in Frigates. And the country-continent had its fair share of innovative development in this area. It starts the 1797 with the “super-frigates” ordered by the Congress, of which only one, the USS Constitution, aka ‘Old Ironsides’ is still with us today, veteran of the 1812 war and against the barbary corsairs.

Then it bounced again, as relations with the British Empire eased a bit, somewhat degraded the size of the US “old navy”, counting a few ships of the line and frigates, during the civil war. It forced the Union, to enforce its blockade to order a new generation of ships. The USN would pioneer the monitor and the submersible. The blockade was mostly the result of an armada of gunboats and sloops, but the Union had in mind a special class of ships designed for commerce raiding if Britain, somewhat supporting the south, went at war with USA. This was the Wampanoag class, on paper “Frigates” but classed by many authors as the first “cruisers” of the USN, in what was called then the “Old Navy” (see later).

Admiral James Jouett on USS Trenton in 1886

The “New Navy” emerged gradually from the ashes of the civil war. Most of the Union fleet was deactivated and the continent stepped in isolation again. Outside 15 other Frigates and 10 screw sloops built in the 1860-70 decade, plus two experimental torpedo-rams, there was no significant other venture. It would take political will and influential writers such as Alfred T. Mahan for the US to gradually emerge from this isolationism and starting seeing itself more on ‘imperial’ terms, or at least taking the first step: Building a modern and strong Navy, which would soon take on one of the former European superpowers: Spain.

USS Maine
USS Maine (1889), coastal ironclad, soon reclassed as armoured cruiser (ACR1) – colorized by irootoko JR

Cruisers took a part of it: Before even the first battleship was built, USS Texas (laid down in 1889), and as the first modern Monitors were in (lengthy) construction since 1874-76, two cruisers were authorized and laid down in 1883, the Atlanta class. They formed the start of a lineage which is still active with the Ticonderoga class today.

USS Chicago in 1902
USS Chicago in 1902 – Colorized by Iroooko Jr.

Alongside these, two ships are noticeable, because they were classes retrospectively as experimental “cruisers” by default of a better classification. The first was the only “torpedo cruiser” ever built for the USN, USS Kathadin, and the other the only “dynamite-gun cruiser” ever built. In 1890 was laid down the first American armoured cruiser, and in 1905 were laid down at the same time the last armoured cruisers, and the last light cruiser (Chester class), before a true eclipse in Cruiser development, the dreadnought era.

Between fast dreadnoughts and larger fleet destroyers it was thought cruisers were now superfluous. And as amazing as it was, contrary to many other nations, the US Congress did not authorized (and the Admiralty did not wanted) a single cruiser until the end of WW1. Ten years of design vacancy, making the Marblehead class both the first and last American WW1 cruiser design and the earliest interwar cruiser design, also veterans of WW2.

Gradual evolution 1886-1920

Old Navy cruisers: Wampanoag to Contookok class

The first steam frigates appeared from 1842. By that time were in service the Fulton II (4 guns, 1837), USS Union (4 guns, testing an horizontal submerged paddle), USS Poinsett (2 guns, 1840) and the screw corvette Princeton. The first modern dedicated steam frigates were the USS Mississippi and Missouri, very large steam paddle frigates (1841,1842) of 3,220t, armed with 10 big Paixhans guns. Then came the Susquehanna and Powhatan (9 guns), USS San Jacinto and Saranac (6 guns) and ‘steamers first class’, USS Fulton, Michigan and Alleghany, plus Seven second class.

uss antienam
A very large model of USS Antienam shown to naval cadets

During the American civil war, commerce disruption by the Union against the Confederacy somewhat soured diplomatic relations with Europe, which imported goods from the southern states, and although not officially supporting the cause, accepted to build ships significant ships (such as the ironclad Stonewall Jackson). But in truth, Europeans came as observers (or volunteers) on both sides, and both diplomatic and business interests enforced neutrality. The Confederates for example had the conservative Bourbon branch Prince of Polignac whereas the Union saw the American branch of the Bonaparte serve their cause.

In case of war (notably Great Britain, which economy was the most effected by shortages from the south), the admiralty wanted ships tailored for oceanic, long range action, whereas the blockade until then concentrated efforts on more suitable gunboats, sloops, and monitors. European will to built ships for the Confederacy was not helping this state of relations, like the Commerce raiding campaign led by CSS Alabama and CSS Florida, both built in English yards. So the Congress authorized a serie of large, fast “super frigates” in the age of steam: The 4000 tonnes Wampanoag class. Authorized in 1863 and laid down that year they were launched in 1864-65 (one was cancelled, another never completed).

uss florida
USS Florida, ex-Wampanoag as completed in the 1870s. These “cruisers” were designed for speed, by clipper ship architect Benjamin Franklin Delano.

Of the five planned only three entered service after the war: USS Wampanoag, Madawaska, and Ammonoosuc. Being built by different yards meant they differed considerably in tonnage, size, armament and powerplant. Nevertheless, their four funnels in two groups far apart and classic three-masted configuration with a straight bow made them quite unique. They were heavily armed with 15 heavy guns, some on pivots and others broadside, and can reach 17 knots, making them able to catch and destroyer any Confederate blockade runners. That’s why they are widely considered as the first “cruisers” of the USN, but they were modified after the war and eventually made their sea trials in 1868, being sold in 1883.

USS California, ex-Guerriere

At the same time, other wooden screw frigates were started, USS Chattanooga in Cramp, 1863 and USS Idaho at Georges Steers Yd in 1863, completed also after the war in 1866. Both were also commerce raider hunters, specified to be able to sustain 15 knots for 24 hours. Also laid down in 1863-64 was a “class” of homogeneous ships intended less for speed but sustained cruising at 12-13 knots: The Java class Frigates. The class comprised as ordered eight war vessels, of which only half were completed, again because the end of the war. They were the USS Antienam (completed as a sailing store ship in 1876), USS Guerriere, Minnetonka and Piscataqua. Other ships were broken up in 1872 or 1884.

USS Contoocook
USS Contoocook.

At last, were order slightly smaller and more economical vessels, the Contoocook class. Laid down in late 1863 or 1864 they were launched after the war but completed and commissioned in 1868, 69 and 70. They were armed with a single 5.3 in parrot RL, fourteen broadside 9-in SB and three pivot 12-pdr guns, managing to reach more than 12 knots sustained. Their career was shot, ending in 1872 (Contoocook, renamed Albany 1869), 1877 (Mosholu, renamed Worcester 1869) and 1883 (Manitou, Pushmataha, renamed Severn and Cambridge). Six further ships named after Indian tribes were cancelled.

American oddities: Kathadin & Vesuvius

USS Kathadin

uss kathadin colorized
USS Kathadin was a torpedo-ram experiment, something tested already by the French (Taureau class) and British (Polyphemus class) and already experimented during the civil war (css Stonewall jackson, css manassas, uss keokuk). The idea was to create a steam ram, armoured, with some self-defence light guns but no torpedo tubes. The idea was pushed forward by Rear Admiral Daniel Ammen, and advocate for a smaller, coastal navy. USS Kathadin displaced 2200-2390 tonnes and could reach 16 knots thanks to a 2-shafts HTE steam engine. Her turtleback hull was covered with Harvey and nickel steel plates up to 6-inches in thickness.

The USS Kathadin was probably the shortest commissioned US Navy warship ever. She was commissioned in February 1897, just in time for the Spanish American war, in which she played no role: Indeed she was an experimental vessel, and as soon as her tests were completed, she was decommissioned, then recommissioned again to patrol the Atlantic coast in case of a retaliatory attack by the armada. She was decommissioned definitively on 8 October 1898 (so for 15 months) but her fate is uncertain from that point. She was stricken in 1909 and sunk as target.

USS Vesuvius

The “dynamite gun cruiser” was a very unique idea developed in the USN: The guns were pneumatic ones. These 15-inch (38-cm) cast iron pneumatic guns invented by D. M. Medford and developed by US Army officer (ret.) Edmund Zalinski, could fire 550-lbs high explosive shells at targets up to a mile away. They were stationed in fixed positions emerging from the deck because of their lenght. For traverse indeed, the whole ship needed to be turned to the right position.
The rest of the 930 long tons (945 t), 246 ft 3 in (75.06 m) long ship was not unarmed, there were three 3-pounder guns.
USS Vesuvius was propelled by two 2,183 hp (1,628 kW) 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, and was able to reach 21 knots as designed.

The projectiles fired by the guns had brass casings 7 feet (2 meters) long with the explosive contained in the conical forward part. It was completed by spiral vanes on the after part to rotate it. To handle the projectiles with ease, they used desensitized blasting gelatin composed of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin, reatively stable, but not enough as to force the use of compressed air rather than classic powder. Explove power was considerable as the “useful load” was 550 pounds (250 kg).

Compared to a classic gun, muzzle velocity was not precisely superfast at 800 feet (250 meters) per second. Range was comprised between 1.6 km with the full projectile and up to 4000 yards (3.7 km) with the ‘lightened’ 100 kgs (200 pounds) charge. Ten shells were stored on board, and 15 shells could be fired in 16 minutes 50 seconds as shown by a 1889 test. The detonation could be setup by and electrical fuze to explode underwater or any structure or burst in the air.

USS Vesuvius made a shakedown cruise and actively served during the Spanish-American War in 1898 to bombard enemy emplacements in Cuba. The guns being silent as for their working system, the enemy became unnerved because of their inability to hear any boom preceding incoming fire. Therefore they could not locate their point of origin and order a counter-battery fire.Despite their early success the whole dynamite guns concept quickly fell out of favor due to its lack of accuracy and high maintenance needs.

Ultimately after Vesuvius joined the Boston Navy Yard until 1904, the dynamite guns were removed and replaced with torpedo tubes and she was rebranded as a torpedo-testing vessel. Ultimately she was re-equiped with four torpedo tubes, including three 18 inch (450 mm) and one 21-inch. She was recommissioned on 21 June 1905 and served at the Rhode Island base, Naval Torpedo Station island. In May 1915, she suffered the indignity of almost sinking herself when one of her torpedoes circled back and slammed into the hull. Her captain made her running aground on Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay to avoid sinking. She was later repaired and stayed in reduced service until 1921 as station ship, sold in 1922 for BU.


USS Seattle forward turret
USS Seattle forward turret

Main Artillery

-10 in/30 (254 mm): USS Maine
-10 in/40 (254 mm): Tennessee class
-8 in/30 (203 mm): Atlanta, Chicago, Newark.
-8 in/35 (203 mm): Charleston, Baltimore, Olympia, New York, Brooklyn
-8 in/40 (203 mm): Pennsylvania, Columbia
-6 in/30 (152 mm): Philadelphia, San Francisco
-6 in/40 (152 mm): Cincinnati
-6 in/50 (152 mm): New Orleans
-6 in/53 (152 mm): Omaha class
-5 in/50 (127 mm): Denver, Chester, St Louis

Secondary Artillery

US-manufactured 6-inches onboard USS New Orleans
US-manufactured 6-inches masked gun onboard USS New Orleans

Some guns were actually used a primary guns are well, or their caliber were close to main guns.
-6 in/30/35 (152 mm): Atlanta, Chicago, Charleston, Baltimore
-6 in/50 (152 mm): Pennsylvania, Tennessee
-5 in/50 (127 mm): Brooklyn, Olympia, Cincinnati
-4.7 in/50 (120 mm): New Orleans
-4 in/40 (110 mm): New York

Tertiary Artillery

Real tertiaries were dedicated anti-torpedo boat, quick firing models. With the “new navy” were introduced 1, 3 and 6-pdr guns, 37 mm (1.46″), 47 mm (1.85″) and 57 mm (2.24″), also found in the Royal Navy as a standard and many navies around the world. The early models were purchased from the French-American Hotchkiss company. They were introduced in the 1880s and later models were manufactured by Driggs-Schroeder in the US. They were made obsolete because of rapid progress of torpedo boats, necessitating larger-caliber guns, which led to the development of the ubiquitous 76 mm or 3-in and its AA version. When WW1 broke out, only three classes of cruisers used the 3-in/50, and the wartime Omaha class were the first to introduce an anti-aircraft variant.

-3in/50 & 3in/50 AA (76 mm): Chester, Pennsylvania, Sy Louis, Tennessee, Omaha
-6 pdr/57 mm or 2.2 in: All but Chester and Omaha classes
-3 pdr/47 mm or 1.8 in: Atlanta, Newark, Charleston, Philadelphia, San Francisco,
-1 pdr/37 mm or 1.5 in: All ships but Chester and Omaha

Torpedo Tubes:

Note: No torpedo tubes on cruisers before USS Olympia. 18-in for all cruisers but the last armoured cruisers and scout cruisers. USS Minneapolis was the only one ever fitted with small 14-in tubes as an experiment. The tubes were always above the waterline to the exception of the Chester class and the large armoured cruisers of the Pennsylvania and Tennessee class (submerged). These were broadside, fixed tubes. The Omaha class were the first to introduce traversable deck banks like destroyers, two triple and two twin.

-14 in/356 mm: Minneapolis
-18 in/457 mm: New Orleans, Mongomery, Cincinatti, Olympia, Columbia, New York, Brooklyn, Pennsylvania
-21 in/533 mm: Tennessee, Chester, Omaha.

Doctrine & Operations

The Spanish American War of 1898

The first serious test for “new navy” cruisers happened at the occasion of the Spanish American war of 1898. On paper, both for cruisers and capital ships, the USN was inferior to the Armada. However the admiralty planned to attack Spanish colonial possessions, not the metropolis. Were present during this conflict the only two capital ships of the Navy, USS Texas (USS Maine blew up in Havana, giving the casus belli needed), the Indiana class battleships USS Oregon and the unique USS Iowa, fresh from commissioning. But due to the speed needed for operations and distance, cruisers made the bulk of the operations, with gunboats, although many stayed on the Western cost to prevent an attack of the metropolitan Armada through the Atlantic.

USS New York in 1898
USS New York in 1898

Probably the most famous ships to participate were USS New York, first USN armoured cruiser and flagship of Rear-Admiral Sampson at Santiago de Cuba, together with USS Brooklyn, flagship of Commodore Schley, and USS Olympia, flagship of Commodore Dewey at Manila. The latter was a protected cruiser. The first battle was not in Cuba, but an attempt of a diversionary attack, to try to lure out the Spanish Navy in the Pacific before striking in Cuba. The USN attack at Manilla, the other large colonial possession of the Spanish Empire, the Philippines, took place on 1st May 1898. The attack came as a surprise as the local forces were ill-prepared, staying under the protection of coastal artillery, and their crews were not fit for the ferocity of the assault.

USS Petrel. USN Gunboats played a great part in 1898 battles, in size and armament they were considered almost as second-class cruisers. The 1888 Yorktown class for example displaced almost 2000 tonnes and had six 6-in guns.

“Battleline exercise” at Manila

Manilla Map

This was a daylight raid of a USN squadron against the Spanish Pacific Fleet anchored at Manila Bay. Dewey’s plan was daring, hazardous and risky, but succeeded beyond any hopes. Dewey was in Hong Kong when he was promoted to the Pacific squadron by Teddy Roosevelt, and his motley fleet was composed of the USS Olympia and the USS Boston, both protected cruisers, the gunboat USS Petrel and the very old steam paddle USS Monocacy. With this small force, he was supposed to destroy the Spanish naval force in the Philippines, much larger on paper. One of his headaches has been coal supply. His small fleet crossed the distance with a small force of coal ships, and was reinforced before the battle with another cruiser, USS Raleigh, and the small custom boat USS Mc Cullogh and gunboat USS Concord just before departing.

At Manila they faced a force led by Admiral Don Patricio y Montojo Pasaron, with the cruisers Don Antonio de Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria, Reina Cristina, Castilla, Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon, and the gunboat Marques del Duero. On paper, this was six cruisers versus Dewey’s only four, however most Spanish cruisers were obsolete and small, almost gunboat-size. Two were later captured and pressed in USN service as such. In addition, decision was taken to remove guns from Don Antonio, General Lezo and from the cruiser Velasco, to install them in fortifications. Montojo awaited the Americans, which had been spotted already on their way, but did not knew the time. He eventually decided not to risk his fleet at sea, and have it half-sunk by using pumps, just under fortified Sangley Point, and the battery of Ulloa on Cavite.

USS Olympia leading the line

Dewey gathered and prepared his forces in Luzon, before entering Subic Bay; His line comprised, in order, USS Olympia, USS Nanshan (transport steamer), Zafiro (captured steamer), McCulloch, Petrel, while USS Raleigh, Concord and Boston closed the line. Basically his battle line made a great sweep before the Spanish ships, without Zafiro, the Nanshan and McCulloch which were unarmed and stayed behind. His line entered Cavite, spotted the Spanish line and opened fire at dawn (it was 5 AM), first on Spanish batteries, sparing their ammo for the ships later. He opened fire on the ships about 30 min. later, manoeuvring his line into a loop and retiring for lunch at 7:30 AM. During the whole operation, Dewey’s line was slow, about 3 knots, and ordered were given to gunners to take their time for perfect aiming.

Artistic, dramatic rendition of the battle of Manila (Subic Bay). The artist made it look like the fight was point-blank range, but in reality distances were of around 2000 yards (1.8 km), which was still close, eve, by the standards of the time. At Yalu, four years before, distances were comparable. This peaks volumes about accuracy as only 2% of the shells actually hit.

He went back for a second swoop, doing the same manoeuvre to “finish off” the Spanish ships ad Montojo decided later to scuttle his ships and evacuate the crews. His forces will later surrender. On the USN side, only USS Baltimore had some light damage by a ricocheting shell that did not exploded, causing 8 minor injuries as a result of sparks and splinters. Talking of ‘doctrine’, Dewey simply applied a textbook battle line tactic, preferring to engage first coastal batteries, more a threat to his eyes, before broadsiding Montojo’s squadron, taking each ship in turn. Almost showing contempt for the Spaniards, he almost acted as in a peacetime exercise. On their side the latter had partly disarmed ships not in shape for sea going action, Hontoria guns that were worn out, limited supplies of ammo that were defectious in part, lack of maintenance, and crucially, lack of training for the crews, deprived or firing exercises for long.

USS Denver underway, one of the six “gunboat cruiser” ordered after the war to watch over Cuban and Philippine ‘protectorates’

Ranges had been short, but the Spaniard almost scored no hit, whereas the USN squadron had only 2% hits, which were sufficient to disable most ships. Dewey swung in front of the Spanish ships and forts in line ahead, firing port guns, then turned and passed back with starboard guns and the process was repeated five times, with a range going from 5,000 yards down to 2,000 yards. It’s still amazing that no fort or ship on the Spanish side had any significant hit, for two hours and a half. In any case, this first naval engagement since the civil war gave tremendous confidence to the US Navy.

USS Olympia
Dewey’s USS Olympia is now preserved and the best and only example of a 1890s armoured cruiser (Author’s illustration).

Blockade “turkey shoot” at Santiago (July, 3, 1898)

Closer to home, the USN squadron that blockaded the Spanish fleet at Santiago de Cuba was much larger than Dewey’s Pacific squadron. Sampson’s blockading fleet comprised four battleships (Texas, Oregon, Iowa, Indiana), 2 armored cruisers (Brooklyn, New York) and two armed yachts. Opposing him, Admiral Cervera came from Spain, assemblng a squadron at the Cape Verde islands, comprising the armoured cruisers Vizcaya, Infanta Maria Teresa, Cristobal Colon, the destroyers Furor, Terror and Pluto, sent to relieve the small force of Cuba (led by the flagship Almirante Ocquendo). On paper, the Spanish cruisers were relatively modern and worthy adversaries. However against USN battleships that was anoher story. However in that case, USN Battleships played little role due to their slower speed, which was a essentially a chasing engagement, even the “bulldog of the fleet”, USS Oregon. This was the battle of Santiago de Cuba.

Cervera initial plan, that he proposed to Madrid, was to link up with another squadron from Cartagena at the Canary Islands, taking the advancing USN fleet in a pincer. However he was ordered to sail to Cuba as soon as possible to engage the enemy, to his dismay. Indeed his fleet had problems, they had a poor supply of shells, guns breech blocks issues, a general lack of maintenance, notably no fooling, making the ships slower such as Vizcaya (12 knots max), or freshly delivered Cristobal Colon, which missed her main guns. Having his fleet assembled at Santiago was judicious to his eyes, as the harbour was generously dotted with coastal fortifications. There was some initial confusion between Schley and Sampson over the real location of the Spanish fleet. The former was adamant Cervera was in Cienfuegos. But eventually Cervera’s fleet was spotted by Cuban insurgents, and communication went to Schley, which made a coaling before departing.

Cristobal Colon, probably the best armoured cruiser of Cervera, one of the Garibaldi-class ships.

Cervera was ordered to leave the bay of Santiago on July 3, at 9:00, and was spotted first by watchmen of USS Brooklyn. Amazingly, the USN was so confident in the result of the engagement that many civilian yachts and schooners were also waiting around to make a picnic, waiting for the event. USS New York however (Sampson) was no longer on sight and missed the information. Meanwhile, USS Iowa engaged Maria Teresa, which was badly damaged as expected. Sampson at least realizing Cervera’s squadron was off, trying to run the blockade, he ordered his ship back, trying to “close the T”, a classic manoeuvers to disable with his broadsides each arriving Spanish ship. Cervera decided to make a diversion, charging with his cruiser USS Brooklyn as for a ramming, allowing the rest of the fleet to escape due east. Brooklyn was forced to manoeuver and nearly collided with USS Texas.

uss brooklyn

After the crippled Maria Teresa, Almirante Ocquendo was next indeed. Crippled, she eventually ran aground and exploded; Furor, Terror, followed by Pluto were chased by the fleet, and the first (with his inventor, Villaamil on board) had its ruder jammed and was sunk rapidly. Next, USS Brooklyn, Texas and Oregon chased the armoured cruiser Vizcaya. The latter had two 11-in (280 mm) guns, which proved a threat. But theor only lucky hit on USS Brooklyn was a dud. Vizcaya would end as a burning wreck on the coast. The last Spanish cruiser, Colon, was chased by Brooklyn and Oregon behind. She was the most recent and therefore fastest, and seemed to put distance, however the coast was forcing to turn, and as coal was getting low, stokers had to use low-quality coal. The ship was more visible due to the hevy smoke and slower. Eventually she was caught and finished off by USS Oregon. USS New York was too far away to do any damage. So in the end, only USS Brooklyn had the occasion to prove her metal. The battle was more a chasing execution by battleships than any useful manoeuver scheme for cruisers.

US Cruisers of WWI

When WW1 broke out, the US Navy was caught with an ongoing program for more dreadnoughts, always larger and better armed, but no cruiser. There has been a program in 1915, not authorized, by C&R to design “scouts” as complementary to fleet destroyers but with a longer range. The vacancy since 1904 caused the US Navy to enter the war with a fleet of cruisers 10 to 15 years old and way more. In fact compared to its battleship fleet, the cruiser fleet was certainly not up to the task.
US Navy early “new navy” collection of masted cruisers of the 1880-1890s has been relegated to secondary duties, which left the fleet with choices to make, based on speed, mostly. The 2000-3000 tonnes protected cruisers of the Cincinnati and Montgomery, and Denver classes formed the bulk of “recent” serviceable cruisers that can 16 to 19 knots. Cincinatti and Raleigh operated along the north-south american coast. Montgomery, Detroit and Marblehead made coastal patrols and training missions. They stayed home, notably because of their range, safeguarding ports and home waters and the western atlantic. The slow Denver (16 knots) were also called “peace cruisers” and were effectively used as gunboats. USS Denver escorted eight convoys til mid-ocean, as Des Moines, Chattanooga, also from the summer of 1917, as Galveston and Tacoma. The latter was badly damaged in Halifax during the explosion of Mont Blanc.

USS New York, colorized by Irootoko jr
USS New York, colorized by Irootoko jr. Notice the typical peacetime livery for the Caribbean, white hull, canvas beige for the superstructure. The prow showed the US official heraldry figure. From 1916 or before they were painted medium navy grey. In fact the USN tried light gray and medium gray paint schemes already in 1898. Artist Abbott Handerson Thayer investigated countershading color schemes but the navy switched from gray to white in the 1900s for the famous “great white fleet”, and back to Medium Grey again after their return in 1908.

The Colombia and New Orleans classes were capable of 20-21 knots and certainly more active. Both the Columbia and Minneapolis served as convoy escort ships and went to the Pacific after the war was over. The New Orleans were British-built typical Elwick cruisers, purchased from an aborted sell to the Brazilians. USS Albany was flagship for Squadron 6, Patrol Force, Atlantic Fleet, making convoy escort during the war, and moved in 1919 to give support to the whites during the Russian civil war. USS New Orleans also escorted convoys, from New York City to ocean rendezvous with destroyer escorts off the British Isles, making the liaison with French coast until 16 January 1918. She was sent in the Pacific afterwards.

Wow- Whatif-rendition of USS Phoenix – An alleged early proposal for the scout cruiser of the Omaha class design. Was it real ? The name is totally fake, inspired by the following serie of cities, and is allegedly inspired by a successor design for the Chester class in 1917. They were definitely scouts, acting as “eyes” of the fleet as well as flotilla leaders. This was the “scout 1917 program”, the congress refused to vote because of its cost and fear it would be obsolete at completion. The congress revised its opinion the next year when voting the Omaha-class, actually going back to the 1916 naval program. According to Conway’s, this could well be the alternative 5,000 tonnes design proposed by C&R in 1917. The project was dropped because the heavy armament did not match shipbuilding realities on this displacement, combining a top speed of 35 knots.

There was also the valuable USN 20 knots+ armoured cruiser fleet: Sixteen heavily armed warships, in the 8,500-14,500 tonnes range in displacement. They were the old Cuban veterans, USS New York and Brooklyn, the six Pennsylvania class, three St Louis class and Five Tennesse class. The later were well protected, large, with nealry 2000 tonnes of coal capacity. They were able to escort convoys to the mid-Atlantic and well beyond.

USS New York became USS Rochester on 1 December 1917, and was part of the Atlantic fleet escort force, making three trips and then more to repatriate troops. USS Brooklyn was a receiving ship in Boston NyD when the war broke out, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. After Neutrality Patrols, she was sent in the Pacific.
USS St Louis was in escort of Group 4, American Expeditionary Force for escort duties, coast to coast. Milwaukee was stranded and a written off in 1917 while USS Charleston carried and escorted the American Expeditionary Force to France NYC to Saint Nazaire (five missions), repatriating veterans.
The Pennsylvania class were all renamed before the war broke out, from 1912 to 1916, even 1920 for USS South Dakota. These large cruisers were transferred to convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic. USS Pittsburg was in the Pacific chasing (without success) for German commerce raiders. USS Huntington operated an observation balloon to try to spot submerged U-Boats. USS San Diego became the only US Armoured Cruiser sank due to wartime operations: She hit a mine off Fire Island, New York, probably laid by U-156, or by a torpedo (Conways).
The Tennessee class were also renamed 1916 to 1920 and had a similar career during these short wartime operations. USS Tennesse was wrecked in August 1916 after a Tsunami and never recovered. The others, Memphis, Seattle, Charlotte and Missoula. USS Seattle experimented with observation seaplanes, having four of these and two catapults. She also served as flagship of the Destroyer Force and escort for the first American convoy to European waters. USS North Carolina (later Charlotte) became the first ship ever to launch an aircraft by catapult, on 5 September 1915.

Perhaps the “best card” of the USN in 1917 were the Chester class scouts. The 24-knots cruisers were the only true “scouts” of the navy and had quite an active career in 1917-18. All these cruisers were doomed by the signature of the Washington naval treaty. The tonnage ban concerning cruisers forced most of theme to be retired, sold in 1930 after a long reserve period, altough the carrier of a few went on until WW2 under various roles or simply were still extant after 50-60 years. Such was the case for:
-USS Despatch (ex-Atlanta), the doyen of USN cruisers, receiving ship at Yerba Buena until 1946.
-USS Baltimore was decomm. since 1922 and rested in Pearl Harbor. She was sold in 1942 as scrap metal.
-USS Olympia, preserved as a veteran of the Philippines in 1898 to this day, museum ship in Philadelphia.
-USS Yosemite (ex-San Francisco) decomm. 1921, was stricken since 1930 but sold in 1939 in Philadelphia.
-USS Rochester (ex-Saratoga, ex-New York), decomm. since 1933, receiving ship at Olomgapo, Philippines, scuttled to avoid capture by the Japanese in December 1941.
-USS Seattle, receiving ship in NyC until 1941, renamed IX39 as a misc. auxiliary and sold in 1946.

Of course, none of the Omaha class scout cruisers, laid down in December 1918 for the first two, seen anything of WW1. But they fully participated in WW2 in active roles and all survived, to be striken in 1945-46.

Sailing cruisers 1886-1898

USS Atlanta class

USS Atlanta, USS Boston
uss atlanta

Authorized by the Congress in 1883, this was the first modern USN cruiser and the whole lineage to the this day (Ticonderoga) came from there, a span of 100 years; These were wide but short ships displacing 3200 tonnes, armed with 8-in guns fore and aft in barbettes and behind masks, with two masts and square rigging, clipper stern and ram, low freeboard. Light artillery comprised six 6-in guns, two 6-pdr, two 3-pdr and two 1-pdr. They were propelled at 13 knots with a single shaft HC engine with an output of 3500 ihp, carryong around 380 tonnes of coal. Both were unprotected cruisers.

USS Atlanta and Boston were built in John Roach Yard but fitted out in New York, launched in the fall of 1884 and completed in 1886 and 1887. From November 1905 tlanta served as an accomodation ship for TB crews but was sold in 1912. Her sister ship USS Boston served as the training ship for the Oregon naval militia from 1911 to 1916 and then receiving ship at Yerba Buena, from 1918 to 1946, renamed USS Despatch in between in 1940.

Displacement: 3189t
Dimensions: 86.26 x 12,80 x 5.18m
Propulsion: 1 shaft HTE, 8 cyl boilers, 3500 shp. 13 knots.
Crew: 284
Armament: 2x 8-in, 6 x 6-in, 2x 6-pdr, 3-pdr 1-pdr

USS Chicago

Auhorized also in 1883 by the Congress this unprotected masted cruisers was way larger, intended for long range missions in distant stations. Only protection was a stray of 1-1/2 in deck extending on 136 feets over the machinery spaces and 3/4 inches above the machinery. Armament comprised now four 8-inches (203 mm) in upper deck sponsons amidships the fore pair abreast the foremast, and the aft pair between the main and aft masts. The rest were in side sponsons behind hull’s apertures and mixed 6-in and 5-in guns in addition to light artillery. She had no torpedo tubes. USS Chicago was rigged as a barque wihout royals and had a tall hull made for heavy weather, a stark contrast with the Atlanta class which sat very low on the water and were wet. USS Chicago also had a clipper stern and reasonably sloped ram. She carried almost double coal compared to the Atlanta, for a much greater range and used a Compound engine of the COB type on two shafts, speed was also better at 14 knots.

USS Chicago was launched at John Roach in December 1885 and completed in Delaware Yard, which purchased John Roach, in April 1889. On trials her machinery gave 5084 ihp for 15.4 knots. In 1895 she was taken in hands for reconstruction: 1-1/2 deck plating was added over the steering room, 1-in over the gun crews, 1-1/8 in on 70 feets to reinforce the bow. The conning tower received 3-in walls (76 mm). At the same time her armament was upgraded with 8-in/35 main guns instead of 30 calibers, while the 6-in and 5-in were diposedof and replaced by a battery of fourteen 5-in/40 guns. The machinery was upgraded with six Babcock and wilcox boilers feeding four new HTE steam engines, 9000 ihp total, top speed of 18 knots while the masts were lightened and simplified, rigging eliminated.

In 1910-1917 USS Chicago was relegated as training ship for the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania naval militias. Later she was a receiving ship for submarines until 1923 while her armament was cut down to four 5-in, named USS CA14. She was transferred to Pearl Harbor as accomodation ship until 1935 as USS Alton, discarded and sold for BU but lost when she was towed en route in July 1936.

Specifications (1892)
Displacement: 4500/4864t
Dimensions: 104.39 x 14,7 x 5.79m
Propulsion 2 shafts, 6 Babcock et Wilcox boilers, 9000 shp. 18 knots.
Crew: 409-471
Armament: 4 x 8-in, 14 x 5-in, 2 x 1 pdr.

USS Newark

uss newark

USS Newark was number C1, the first numbered in the USN, whereas she was already the eight “cruiser” of the USN. Authorized in 1885 she was laid down in 1888 in William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia. She was quite an improvement over the Chicago, although she still shared many aspects with her; She was slightly shorter but wider, and was the first USN protected cruiser. Indeed since the beginning she was given a complete protective deck, 2 in thick turteleback with 3-in slopes, reduced to 2-in for the forward end but 3in aft to better protected the engine rooms and steering room. She also had four cylinders boilers feeding two HTE steam engines on two shafts, rated for 8500 ihp, providing 18 knots. She also carried 800 tonnes of coal in wartime.
Instead of a few heavy guns she had twelve quick-firing 6-in guns (152 mm)/30 caliber, in side sponsons lower in the hull to proved a better stability, in sponsons protected by shields, but protected by high walls and tops. In addition she had four 3-pdr and two 1-pdr placed high up in the fighting tops. USS Newark was rigged as a barque withour royals, also with two raked funnels, so she still looked like the Chicago.

USS Newark was completed at Cramp in 1891, commissioned and rearmed in 1902 by new 40 caliber, faster 6-in guns, and her rigging was removed. In 1913, june, she was stricken from the navy list, and renamed quarantine hulk R1 at Providence and later hospital annex. She was sold in 1926.

illustration of USS Newark as built
Author’s illustration of USS Newark as built.

Displacement: 4083/4952 t
Dimensions: 99.97 x 14,98 x 5.74m
Propulsion 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl Babcock et Wilcox boilers, 8500 shp. 18 knots.
Crew: 198
Armament: 12 x 6-in, 4 x 3pdr, 2 x 1 pdr.

USS Charleston

A bit forgotten, USS Charleston was the second protected cruiser (C2), also built in USA, at Unio iron Works, but on British plans from Elswick, inspired by IJN Naniwa, herself derived from the famous export cruiser Esmeralda designed in 1880 by naval architect George Wightwick Rendel, the successor of William Henry White. She had the 8-in guns fore and aft of the superstructure, a relatively low hull with a central shielding section, a single funnel and two short masts, no rigging. Her secondary armament comprised six 6-in/30 guns, two 3-pdr and two 1-pdr light guns but still no TT. The main guns barbettes had 2-in thick barbettes, like the CT walls and 2-in protective deck with 3-in slopes. Commissioned in December 1889 she had a short career, wercked on an uncharted rock in November 1899 off Camiguin island n the Phippines, demaged beyond repair.

USS Charleston in Hong Kong

Displacement: 370/4200t
Dimensions: 97.54 x 14,01 x 5.64m
Propulsion: 2 shafts HC, 6 cyl boilers, 7650 shp. 18.9 knots
Crew: 300
Armament: 2 x 8in, 6 x 6in, 4 x 6pdr, 2 x 3pdr, 2 x 1pdr.

Baltimore class cruisers

The old cruisers USS Baltimore (completed in 1890) and USS Philadelphia (1890), were excellent ships built at Cramp on an English design (Eltswick). They served during the Spanish American War of 1898 but were quickly put to sleep from 1904, the Philadelphia becoming a barracks ship at Puget Sound and the Baltimore at Charleston from 1911. The USS Baltimore was quickly converted into a minesweeper and participated in the naval operations of 1917, with armament reduced to 4 pieces of 100 mm and two batteries of 76 mm AA. It was not removed from the lists until 1922 and returned to its role as a barracks ship which she held until 1942, when it was sold for demolition. A great 52-year career.

Author’s illustrations of USS Baltimore as built and in 1914


Displacement: 4413t, 5436t FL
Dimensions: 102,11 x 14,78 x 5,94m
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 4 boilers VTE engines 10,750 hp. 19 knots
crew: 386
Armament: 4 x 203 mm, 6 x 152 mm, 4 x 75 mm, 2 x 47, 2 x 37 mm.

USS Philadelphia

Authorized in 1887, USS Philadelphia she was rigged as three-mast schooner, without head gear and generally similar to the USS Baltimore in protection notably. The armament and armour scheme as also remarkably similar to the two ships are even classed as sister-ships. Built at Cramp in 1888-89 and completed in July 1890, USS Philadelphia was sent to Puget sound in 1902 for extensive repairs and in 1904 housed over as receiving ship at the same yard, remaining as such with a small period as prison ship until 1926.

Displacement: 4324/5303t
Dimensions: 102.11 x 14,78 x 5.84m
Propulsion: 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl boilers, 9000 ihp. 19 knots (1031 tonnes coal).
Crew: 384
Armament: 16 x 6-in, 4 x 3-pdr, 2 x 1-pdr.

USS San Francisco

Authorized in 1887, USS San Francisco (C5) was built at Union Iron Works, in the same name city. She was a near-repeat of USS Newark, rigged as a three masted schooner without head gear, and with a main armament of 6-in guns with a different management, 16 in all. After modernization, in 1902 she gained longer, faster 6-in/40 guns and new babcock and wilcox boilers. Like the previous ships she reached 19 knots. Four of the 6-in were mounted on decks fore and aft and not in sponsons. She had a 2-in/3-in sloped protective deck, 3-in CT. Launched in October 1889 and completed in November 1890. USS San Francisco was converted in 1908 as a minelayer, and in 1917 she participated in the laying of the great northern mine barrage. In 1918 her armament was reduced to four 5-in guns/51 and in 1921 she was placed in reserved in Philadelphia, remaining in reserve until 1937, renamed Tahoe and Yosemite in 1930, but kept in reserved until sold in 1939. So she saw three conflicts (1898, WW1 and WW2).

Author’s illustration, as built

Displacement: 4088/4583 tonnes
Dimensions: 98.91 x 14,98 x 5.74m
Propulsion 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl boilers, 10,500 shp. 19 knots.
Crew: 384
Armament: 12 x 6-in, 4 x 6pdr, 2 x 1pdr.

American Protected Cruisers

USS Olympia (1892)

USS Olympia as preserved today in Philadelphia

The cruiser USS Olympia was the most famous of the 1898 war, as she was the flagship of Commodore Dewey, the Hero of the battle of Manilla. She was relatively fast but small and cramped, and not seriously tested during the battle. Authorized in 1888, built at Union Iron Works in 1891-92 and commissioned in 1895, USS Olympia was brand new when the war erupted. Protection was assured by 3,5 to 4,5in Harvey nickel steele plates, which would have been probably not sufficient against some spanish ships. However the engines room was well protected by a 4in glacis. She was a good steamer, capable of 17 300 hp on forced draught, giving 21,7 knots. She is now the only preserved warship of this kind in the world, and can be seen in the Independence Seaport Museum, philadelphia PA.

Author’s illustration, as built

Displacement: 5862 t (6558 t FL)
Dimensions: 104,78 x 16,15 x 6,55 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 13 5000 hp, 20 knots.
Armour: Harvey belt 3 in, barbettes 4,5 in, turrets 3,5 in, secondary 4 in, CT 5 in
Armament: 4x 8in (203 mm), 10x 5in (127 mm), 14x 6pdr (57 mm), 6x 1pdr (37 mm QF) 6x 457 mm aw.
Crew: 411

Cincinatti class (1892)

USS Cincinatti, Raleigh
USS Cincinnati (C7) as built
USS Cincinnati (C7) as built

Authorized in 1888, these two cruisers were loosely based on the classic Armstrong-Elswick style export cruiser. But they had a single 6 inches gun and her 5in were not as efficient. Commissioned in 1895, they played no active part in 1898 battles. These two small and relatively fast cruisers built in NY navy yard and Norfolk were originally rigged but their fore and aft sails were removed in 1899.

uss raleigh
USS Raleigh, starboard view circa 1900

Author’s rendition of the USS Cincinnati and Raleigh prior to the 1898 war

Displacement: 3183 t (3339 t FL)
Dimensions: 93,13 x 12,80 x 5,49 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 10 000 hp, 19 knots.
Armour: Complete 2in and 2,5in amidship protective deck, CT 2in
Armament: One 6in/30 (152 mm), 10 x 5in (127 mm), 8 x 6 pdr (75 mm), 2 x 1pdr (37 mm) QF guns, four 457 mm TT sub
Crew : 322

Montgomery class (1891)

USS Montgomery, Detroit, Marblehead
uss montgomery c9

USS Montgomery, Detroit and Marblehead were ordered in 1888 and commissioned in 1893-94. They were of questionable military value, slow, poorly armed and unprotected. They were not involved in the war against Spain, and the USS Detroit was struck off the lists in 1910, while the USS Montegomery had served as an experimental torpedo boat since 1908. It participated like the Marblehead in the Great War and was disarmed in 1919, the other in 1921.

uss montgomery illustration


Displacement: 2094/2235 tonnes
Dimensions: 82.14 x 11,27 x 4.44m
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl boilers, 4500 ihp. 17 knots.
Crew: 274
Armament: 9 x 5in/40 (127 mm), 6 x 6-pdr (47 mm), 2 x 1-pdr (37 mm), 3 x 18-in TT aw.

Columbia class (1893)

USS Columbia, Minneapolis

USS Columbia, Detroit Photographic Company (cc)

USS Columbia and Minneapolis were certainly the most striking US cruisers of that era. At a time great powers from Europe had a tremendous maritime traffic, both ships has been designed as commerce raiders. Authorized under the act of June 1890 and 1891 they also differed between themselved in appearance, having two or four funnels according to their machinery. At 126 meters long by 17.72 they were relatively nimble and fast, but lightly armed to such a package, with only one heavy guns (8-in) and tw medium (6-in). The first was on the deck forward, centerline, the latter were aft behind the superstructure either side of the deck. The rest comprised an array of 5-in in sponsons, 6-pdr and 1-pdr plus four surface torpedo tubes, either of 14-in (for civilian vessels) or 18-in.

The sponsons guns and walls were protected by 4-in, the CT had 5-in walls, the protective deck was 2-1/2 inches thock with 4-in slopes. Both ships missed the 1898 war. Both were out of commission from 1907 and 1906 respectively, robably due to their high operating cost and coal consumption, although they had been recoignise good walkers. Indeed USS Columbia beat SMS Fürst Bismarck in 1895, rallying in six days 23 hours 49 minutes Sandy Hook from Southampton.
They were recommissioned in 1915 and 1917.
Both escorted convoys during the war and in 1919, their forward 8-in was removed and replaced by a third axial 6-in/40 while four 4-in/40 were added as well as two 3-in AA (76 mm) and the TTs removed.

USS Minneapolis
USS Minneapolis

author's illustration of USS Columbia
USS Columbia as built and in 1917

Displacement: 7375/8270 tonnes FL
Dimensions: 125.90 x 17.72 x 6.88m
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 8 Babcock et Wilcox boilers, 21,000 shp. 21 knots, coal 1670 tonnes wt
Crew: 477
Armament: 1 x 8(in, 2 x 6-in, 8 x 4-in, 12 x 6-pdr, 4 x 1-pdr, 4 TTs aw, see notes

New Orleans class (1896)

USS New Orleans, Albany

USS New Orleans

Both ships had an interesting story. These were previously British-built protected cruisers interned for the Brazilian Navy, by Armstrong Elswick, typical Elswick cruisers. Although both ships would have been named Zenteno and Barroso (part of an order for four), and already fitting out, they were purchased by the US Government, desperate to bolstered its cruiser fleet before going to war with Spain in 1898. USS New Orleans had been just completed on 18 March 1898, when she had been purchased on 9 March. The second was completed in May 1900 and they were renamed USS New Orleans and Albany respectively. They had six 6-in guns installed on the forecastle deck and poop, the other four in side sponsons with hull recesses to fire forward or aft at 90° respectively.

These were US-manufactured 6-in/50 Mark V EOC DD (152 mm), under armoured masks. This was completed by four 4.7 in/50 EOC AA (120 mm), behind shields on the broadside, ten 6-pdr and eight 1-pdr, the latter installed in the fighting tops, four in all on both masts. Both ships had modern VTE machinery mated on four cyl boilers, two shafts, rated for 7,500 ihp, enough for 20 knots as contracted by the Brazilians. They could carry 747 tonnes of coal in wartime. Good walkers they were protected by an armoured deck 1-1/4 inches thick with 3-1/2 inches slopes. There was a 4-in boiler room glacis for extra protection and the conning tower walls were also 4-in thick. Eventually USS New Orlans stayed in home waters during the war.

In 1907, both were rearmed with a more uniform battery of ten 5-in/50 guns and later this was reduced to eight, and the TTs were removed. They had a long and varied service and overall, recoignised as good (and cheap) acquisitions for the USN as well as a sneak peak into the latest British naval engineering gigs. Both were decommissioned in 1922 as for the Washington treaty, but kept in reserve until sold in 1930.

USS Albany

Author’s rendition of the New Orelans class

Displacement: 3769t, 4011t FL
Dimensions: 108.03 x 13,33 x 5.49m
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE 4 cyl Babcock et Wilcox boilers, 7500 ihp. 20 knots.
Crew: 366
Armament: 6 x 152 mm, 4 x 120 mm, 10 x 76mm , 8 x 37 mm, 3 457 mm TTs.

Denver class (1902)

USS Denver, Des Moines, Chattanooga, Galveston, Tacoma, Cleveland.

uss tacoma
USS Tacoma (C 18; ex-PG-32; ex-CL-20) wrecked and stricken from the Navy list in 1924. [NH 67790]

These six cruisers were authorized by Congress in 1899, as part of the naval buildup following the Spanish–American War. It was specified cruisers that can act in peacetime as gunboats in foreign stations and tropical climates. Of course, Cuba and the Philippines, newly acquired, were the first concerned. Their armament and speed was indeed efficient for the to take part in fleet duties, so they were more “station gunboats” than cruisers. They were cheap, of simple design with a flush deck hull, tall masts (with a schooner rigging) and tall funnels. The rigging was actually never mounted, as the ships, built at Neafie & Levy, Fore River, Crescent, WR Trigg, Union Iron Works and Bath Iron works, were all laid down in January to August 1900 (but USS Galveston, 1901), launched in 1901-1903 and commissioned in 1903-1905, had their deck 6-in guns under masks mounted forre and aft on the deck, the others in sponsons and two in hull recesses, as their eight 6-pdr and two 1-pdr higher up in the bridge forward. The casemates were protected by 1-1/4 inches plates, with a ptorective deck with 1 in flat and 2-1/2 in slopes. They had a quiet career, patrolling home waters during WW1, and only USS Tacoma was lost, short before retirement in 1924, wrecked on the Blaquilla reef off Vera Cruz. They were all sold in 1930.

Displacement: 3200/3514t
Dimensions: 94.13 x 13,41 x 4.8m
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 6 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 4,500 shp. 16.5 knots.
Crew: 339
Armament: 10 x 5 in/50 Mk 5 (127 mm), 8 x 6-pdr (47mm), 2 x 1-pdr (37 mm).

Chester class (1907)

USS Chester, Birmingham, Salem.
Chester class

The Chester class ships, USS Chester, Birmingham and Salem, completed in 1908, were the last American cruisers before the Omaha class in 1922. They were also the first American cruisers to have turbines. They were designed to be scouts, and much had been done for their lightness and speed. With 24 knots indeed, they were the fastest cruisers in the fleet.

Lightly armed, they nevertheless actively participated in the First World War. The Birmingham made the world’s first attempt to take off an airplane from a platform on its foredeck. Lieutenant Eugene Ely made history on his Curtiss at Hampton Road in 1910. The three units were finally retired from service in 1921 and 1923, and sold for demolition in 1930.


Displacement: 3750t, 4700t FL
Dimensions: 129 x 14,34 x 5,10m
Propulsion: 2 shafts Parsons/Curtis Turbines, 12 Normand/Fore River boilers 16,000 hp. 24 knots.
Crew: 360
Armament: 2 x 127 mm, 6 x 76 mm, 2 533mm TTs.

American Armoured Cruisers

USS New York/Saratoga (1891)

USS New York was the first American armored cruiser. She was renamed USS Saratoga in 1911 with the construction of the Dreadnought USS New York. She fought during the war against Spain in 1898, then served during the Great War by escorting convoys. In December 1911 she has been renamed USS Rochester and she kept this name for long years. In 1927 4 boilers and two funnels were removed, but she continued to serve until 1933, notably in the Philippines since 1930, being finally struck off the lists and put in reserve, on site, in 1938. In December 1941 it was decided to scuttle her to avoid her capture by Japanese troops.


Displacement: 8200 tonnes/9021 fully loaded
Dimensions: 117 x 19.76 m (384 x 64 feets, 1/5 ratio)
Propulsion: 2 shafts VTE, 8 boilers, 16,000 hp 20 knots max.
Armor: Belt shield, Barbettes, turrets, blockhouse
Armament: 6 x 8-in/35 (203 mm)m, 12 x 4in/40, 6 x 6-pdr, 2 x 1-pdr.
Crew: 380

USS Brooklyn (1895)

Recognizable by her three huge funnels, USS Brooklyn was built in Cramp NyD, completed in 1896. The influence of French design was seen in the pear-shaped section, and with a main diamond style turret arrangement for the main armament and flared sides. Admiral Schley’s flagship at the Battle of Santiago in 1898, she was not hit by any Spanish shell, fortunately for the crew, because her protection was weak for an armoured cruiser. She was placed in reserve from 1908 to 1914 but resumed service during the war, then was fully rearmed in 1919, loosing four 5-in guns and gaining two 3-in AA. In 1920 she was assigned to the Pacific squadron, struck from the lists and sold in 1921. See the article for more.

uss brooklyn illustration


Displacement: 9,215t, 10,070t PC
Dimensions: 122,7 x 19,7 x 5,32m
Propulsion: 2 shafts VTE, 7 boilers, 16,000 hp. 20 knots.
Armament: 8 x 203 (4×2), 12 x 127, 12 x 47mm, 4 x 37, 5 TT 457mm.
crew: 580

Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) class (1903)

USS Pennsylvania, West Virginia, California, Colorado, Maryland, South Dakota
uss pennsylvania ca-4

The Pennsylvania-class armoured cruisers were launched in 1903-1904, and renamed between 1912 and 1920 Pittsburgh, Huntington, San Diego, Pueblo, Frederick, Huron, in order to leave these names free for the dreadnoughts then planned. They were part of the naval buildup touched off by the Spanish–American War. Together with the newt four Tennessee-class, they formed the “Big Ten”, originally intended to take place in a battle line as was the case in other navies. The dreadnought rendered them obsolete overnight. Their role changed after entering service due to the Russo-Japanese War and the doctrine change of 1906, focusing the US Navy’s battleships in the Atlantic, while the armoured cruisers took their place in the Asiatic Fleet and Philippines to counter Japan. By 1912, they were found without really use in the Navy.

When WW1 broke out, these ships patrolled Latin America and the Western Pacific until 1917, and they acted as convoy escorts until the end of the war, repatriating troops in 1919. USS Pittsburg was the only one in the “big ten” operating in the Pacific, trying to catch German commerce raiders. They were kept in reserve or reduced to menial tasks until 1930, then sold, according to the London treaty global cruiser tonnage limitations.

Author’s illustration of USS Pittsburg in 1917


Displacement: 13,680t – 15,138t FL
Dimensions: 153,58 x 21,20 x 7,34 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 16 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 23,000 shp. 22 knots max.
Armor: Belt shield, Barbettes, turrets, blockhouse
Armament: 2×2 203mm, 14 x 152 mm, 18 x 76mm, 12 of 47 mm, 2 x 37 mm, 1x 457mm TTs
Crew: 198

Saint Louis class (1904)

USS St Louis, Milwaukee, Charleston
uss saint louis
USS Saint Louis (C20)

The Saint Louis class heavy cruisers, launched in 1904-1905, were of an intermediate type, in between a protected and an armoured cruiser, less expensive than those of the Pittsburg class. Their design was generally considered less successful however. The class included only three ships, USS Saint Louis, the Milwaukee and Charleston. USS Milwaukee was lost in 1917 hitting a reef while trying to save the crew of the H3 submersible on the Californian coast and her wreck broke in two during a storm in 1918. The other two escorted convoys in the Atlantic and were planed in reserve and sold in 1930.

Author’s illustration of the St. Louis class


Displacement: 9,700t standard, 10,840t FL
Dimensions: 129.91 x 20.12 x 6.86m
Propulsion: 2 shafts VTE, 16 Babcock and Wilcox boilers 21000 shp. 21 knots.
Armor: Belt, Barbettes, turrets, blockhouse
Armament: 14 x 152 mm, 18 x 76 mm, 12 x 47 mm, 8 x 37 mm.
Crew: 673/767

Memphis (Tennesse) class (1904)

USS Tennessee, Washington, North Carolina, Montana

USS Montana in 1915
USS Montana in 1915 (ACR15)

The Tennesse-class armiured cruisers included the USS Tennesse, Washington, North Carolina and Montana, launched in 1904-1906, and renamed in 1916 and 1920, to free named for new dreadnoughts in construction: They became USS memphis, Seattle, Charlotte and Missoula. They were true copies of the Pennsylvania, except that their displacement was greater, and their armament arguably more powerful. The Memphis, ex-tennessee, received like the others a basket type main mast in 1911 and actively participated in the great war. She was sunk by an exceptionally tall Tsunami in 1916. USS Seattle survived in various roles until 1946.


Displacement: 14,500 t, 15,715 t FL
Dimensions: 153.76 x 22.23 x 7.6m
Propulsion: 2 shafts VTE, 16 Babcock and Wilcox boilers 23,000 shp 22 knots.
Armour: Belt 5 in, Barbettes 8 in, Turrets 9 in
Armament: 4 x 254, 16 x 152, 22 x 76, 12 x 47, 2 x 37 mm, 4 x 533mm TTs.
Crew: 860

WW1 Cruisers: The Omaha class

USS Omaha, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Raleigh, Detroit, Richmond, Concord, Trenton, Marblehead, Memphis

The Omaha were the first American cruisers built after a long vacancy in 1905 (order of the Chester). Originally designed in 1919, their program dated back to 1915, but a proposal was first rejected in 1917, then accepted by the Congress in 1918. They were pure scouts, doubling as flotilla leaders for the new large fleet destroyers in construction at the same time (Wickes and Clemson classes). They even resembled them, typically flush-deck and with four funnels.

Their artillery was quite original combining for the first time twin turrets fore and aft and barbettes. To to their late order, none was even laid down when the war ended (the first in december). They were launched in 1920-23 and completed in 1922-24, missing the war entirely but becoming the first interwar and last pre-Washington-treaty cruisers.

Nedless to say their construction was very lightly, like scaled up destroyers thay had a 1/10 ratio, and were quite powerful, using for the first time a set of turbines, giving them almost 100,000 shp, whereas the last armoured cruisers, nearly 15,000 tonnes, only had a thord of this output. In service however, they were very “wet” in heavy weather common in the North Atlantic. They gained a poor reputation during WW2 when escorting co,voys, notably in the dreaded Murmansk road. They had a long career, receiving modern AA and radars, and soldiered on for the duration of WW2, earning many battle honors in the process.

USS Memphis
USS Memphis in Australian waters in the 1920s


Displacement: 7,050 t, 9,508 t FL
Dimensions: 169.40 x 16.9 x 4.1m
Propulsion: 4 shafts Westinghouse turbines, 90,000 shp, 34 knots.
Armour: Belt 3 in (76 mm,) armored deck 1-1/2 in (38 mm)
Armament: 12 x 6in/53 (152mm), 2 x 3-in AA (76mm) 2×3+ 2×2 21-in (533mm) TTs.
Crew: 860