Bainbridge-class destroyer

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USS Bainbridge
USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
Class overview
Name: Bainbridge class destroyer
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: None
Succeeded by: Truxtun class destroyer
Built: 1899–1901
In commission: 1902–1919
Completed: 13
Lost: 1
Retired: 12
Preserved: 0
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 420 long tons (427 t) normal
592 long tons (601 t) full load
Length: 250 ft (76 m)
Beam: 23 ft 1 in (7 m)
Draft: 6 ft 6 in (2 m)
Propulsion: 4 coal-fired boilers
2 triple-expansion engines
8,000 hp (5,966 kW)
Speed: 28.4 knots (52.6 km/h; 32.7 mph)
Complement: 3 officers
72 enlisted men
Armament: Two 3 inch/50 caliber (76 mm) guns
Five 6 pounder (57 mm) guns
Two 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes

Officially designated as Torpedo Boat Destroyers (TBDs) when authorized by Congress in 1898,[1] the Bainbridge-class destroyers were the first destroyers of the United States Navy, built from 1899 through 1903.

The 13 Bainbridge TBDs of the 16 torpedo boat destroyers (3 were Truxtun-class TBDs) authorized by Congress in 1898 were ordered following the Spanish-American War and were decommissioned in 1920. One ship was lost at sea: the Chauncey, which collided with the British merchantman S.S. Rose in 1917.

After decommissioning following World War I, the 12 remaining ships were sold to Joseph G. Hitner of Philadelphia, except for the Hopkins. Hopkins was sold to the Denton Shore Lumber Company in Tampa, Florida.

Subdividing the Bainbridge class[edit]

Some sources break the Bainbridge class into other classes.[2][3]

  • Hopkins and Hull were oil-fired rather than coal-fired, had a turtledeck forward, and may be considered to be Hopkins-class.
  • Lawrence and Macdonough had two additional 6-pounder guns, turtledeck forward, carried their funnels in only one group of four and may be considered to be Lawrence-class.
  • Paul Jones, Perry and Preble carried one twin torpedo tube instead of two singles and may be considered to be Paul Jones-class.
  • Stewart was equipped with Seabury boilers and was the fastest of the 400-tonners (she was also the smallest).


The US Navy's first torpedo boat destroyers were produced on the recommendation of an 1898 war plans board formed to prosecute the Spanish-American War and chaired by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt. The poor sea-keeping qualities of existing torpedo boats (such as the 165-ton USS Porter (TB-6)) and the existence of Spanish torpedo boat destroyers (such as the 370-ton Furor) were cited as reasons for the US to build its own destroyers.[4] Due to construction difficulties the Bainbridges were completed 1901-02, thus too late for the Spanish-American War.[5] However, the destroyer type was instituted in the US Navy, as it had been in the British Royal Navy around 1895 with the A-class destroyer (1913). No further torpedo boats were constructed for the US Navy until the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and by then they had no design relationship to destroyers (see PT boats). It should be noted that the Imperial German Navy of 1898-1918 used the term "torpedo boat" for anything up to a large destroyer in size.

At 420 tons normal displacement, the Bainbridges were two and a half times as big as the previous torpedo boats. The extra displacement was used for a greatly increased gun armament and a sufficient engineering plant to rival the torpedo boats in speed (28 knots vs. 29 knots). The torpedo armament was reduced from three to two 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes; although the torpedo boat's mission was being transferred to the destroyer, apparently the gun armament was more important to the designers.[6] The best available technologies of coal-fired boilers and triple-expansion engines were used for propulsion, although the oil-fired boilers of Hopkins and Hull gave a hint of the future, and steam turbines would be adopted on the next generation of US destroyers launched in 1908 and after. The need for faster destroyers was to be a significant driver of naval propulsion technology throughout the type's future development.

The gun armament of two 3 inch/50 caliber (76 mm) guns and five 6 pounder (57 mm) guns was a great increase over the four 1 pounder (37 mm) automatic guns of the torpedo boat Porter.[7][8] It reflected a desire to quickly disable torpedo boats before they could get within range of friendly battleships. Future destroyer classes included significant increases in armament.

At least some of the class were equipped with one or two depth charge racks during World War I.[9]

An interesting note on destroyers is that they have continuously increased in size since their inception. The Bainbridge was under 600 tons full load; some Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in service in 2013 displace 10,800 tons full load.


A few Bainbridges were deployed to the Philippines 1904-1917. During the US participation in World War I, these were redeployed to the Mediterranean as convoy escorts. Others of the class served in the Atlantic, on the US East Coast, or guarded the Panama Canal. Chauncey collided with the British merchantman S.S. Rose in 1917 and was lost. Following the Armistice, the remainder were sold for scrapping or merchant conversion in 1919.

Ships in class[edit]

The thirteen ships of the Bainbridge class were:[10][11][12]

Ship Shipyard Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
USS Bainbridge (DD-1) Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Company 15 August 1899 27 August 1901 12 February 1903 15 September 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner for merchant conversion
USS Barry (DD-2) Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Company 1899 22 March 1902 24 November 1902 28 June 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Chauncey (DD-3) Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Company 1899 26 October 1901 21 February 1903 19 November 1917 (sunk) Sunk in collision with British SS Rose
USS Dale (DD-4) William R. Trigg Company, Richmond, Virginia 1899 24 July 1900 13 February 1903 9 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Decatur (DD-5) William R. Trigg Company, Richmond, Virginia 1899 26 September 1900 19 May 1902 20 June 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Hopkins (DD-6) Harlan & Hollingsworth Company, Wilmington 1899 24 April 1902 23 September 1903 20 June 1919 Sold to Denton Shore Lumber Co., Tampa, FL
USS Hull (DD-7) Harlan & Hollingsworth Company, Wilmington 1899 21 June 1902 20 May 1903 7 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Lawrence (DD-8) Fore River Ship & Engine Company 10 April 1899 7 November 1900 7 April 1903 20 June 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Macdonough (DD-9) Fore River Ship & Engine Company 10 April 1899 24 December 1900 5 September 1903 3 September 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner for scrapping
USS Paul Jones (DD-10) Union Iron Works 20 April 1899 14 June 1902 19 July 1902 15 September 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner for scrapping
USS Perry (DD-11) Union Iron Works 19 April 1899 27 October 1900 4 September 1902 2 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner for scrapping
USS Preble (DD-12) Union Iron Works 21 April 1899 2 March 1901 14 December 1903 11 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Stewart (DD-13) Gas Engine and Power Company 24 January 1900 10 May 1902 1 December 1902 9 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner for scrapping


  1. ^ Simpson p. 148, 151
  2. ^ First US destroyers
  3. ^ Tin Can Sailors @ - Destroyer classes
  4. ^ Friedman, p. 10-19
  5. ^ Friedman, p. 14-15
  6. ^ US Navy Torpedo History, part 2
  7. ^ DiGiulian, 3"/50 Mk 2
  8. ^ DiGiulian, 6 pdr Mk 1
  9. ^ Friedman, p. 68
  10. ^ Bainbridge class destroyer
  11. ^ Hopkins class destroyer
  12. ^ Lawrence class destroyer
  • Friedman, Norman "US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised Edition)", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis:2004, ISBN 1-55750-442-3.
  • Gardiner, Robert, Conway's all the world's fighting ships 1860-1905 Conway Maritime Press, 1997. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
  • Simpson, Richard V. Building The Mosquito Fleet, The US Navy's First Torpedo Boats. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston South Carolina, USA, 2001. ISBN 0-7385-0508-0.
  • Silverstone, Paul H., U.S. Warships of World War I (Ian Allan, 1970), ISBN 0-71100-095-6.

External links[edit]