Bainbridge-class destroyer

Officially designated as Torpedo Boat Destroyers (TBDs) when authorized by an Act of Congress on 4 May 1898 under the fiscal year 1899 program,[1][2] the Bainbridge-class destroyers were the first destroyers so designated of the United States Navy, built from 1899 through 1903. These were the first 13 of 16 TBDs (3 were Truxtun-class TBDs) authorized by Congress in 1898 following the Spanish–American War, and were decommissioned and sold in 1919 following service in World War I. One ship was lost at sea: Chauncey, which collided with the British merchant ship SS Rose in 1917. After decommissioning, the 12 remaining ships were sold to Joseph G. Hitner of Philadelphia, except for Hopkins. Hopkins was sold to the Denton Shore Lumber Company in Tampa, Florida.

USS Bainbridge
Class overview
Name: Bainbridge class
Builders: Various
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: None
Succeeded by: Truxtun class
  • Hopkins
  • Lawrence
  • Paul Jones
  • Stewart
Built: 1899–1903
In commission: 1902–1919
Completed: 13
Lost: 1
Retired: 12
General characteristics
Type: Torpedo Boat Destroyer
  • 420 long tons (427 t) (normal)
  • 630 long tons (640 t) (full load)
Length: 250 ft (76 m)
Beam: 23 ft 1 in (7.04 m)
Draft: 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph) (as designed)
Capacity: 213 long tons (216 t) coal (fuel)
  • 3 officers
  • 72 enlisted men


Some sources subdivide the Bainbridge class into additional classes.[3][4][5]

  • Hopkins and Hull had a turtledeck forward and may be considered to be Hopkins class. These had their two single torpedo tubes replaced by two twin torpedo tubes during World War I; total torpedoes remained at four.[1][5]
  • Lawrence and Macdonough had a turtledeck forward, Fore River boilers, carried their funnels in only one group of four, and may be considered to be Lawrence class. In 1906 two additional 6-pounder guns were substituted for the two 3-inch guns to save weight.[1]
  • Paul Jones, Perry and Preble carried one twin torpedo tube instead of two singles beginning in World War I and may be considered to be Paul Jones class.[5]
  • Stewart was equipped with Seabury boilers and was the fastest of the 400-tonners on trials at 29.7 kn (55.0 km/h; 34.2 mph), but her trial displacement of 444 long tons (451 t) is described as unrealistically light.[1][6]



Some references, including contemporary ones, describe four ocean-going torpedo boats launched in 1898-1899 as the first US destroyers based on their tonnage, which ranged from 235 to 340 long tons (239 to 345 t). These were Farragut, Stringham, Goldsborough, and Bailey. Stringham, the largest of these, was larger than some contemporary British destroyers.[6][7] However, at 420 long tons (430 t) the Bainbridges were considerably larger and had a significantly greater gun armament than the four 6-pounders of the torpedo boats.

The Bainbridge class 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-long-ton (168 t) Porter) and the existence of Spanish torpedo boat destroyers (such as the 370-long-ton (380 t) Furor) were cited as reasons for the US to build its own destroyers.[6]

Due to construction difficulties the Bainbridges were completed 1901–02, thus too late for the Spanish–American War.[6] However, the destroyer type was instituted in the US Navy, as it had been in the Royal Navy around 1895 with the A-class destroyers. 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). The Imperial German Navy of 1898–1918 used the term "torpedo boat" for anything up to a large destroyer in size.


At 420 long tons normal displacement, the Bainbridges were twice as big as most 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 kn (52 km/h; 32 mph) vs. 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)).[6] The torpedo armament remained at two 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes; although the torpedo boat's mission was being transferred to the destroyer, apparently increased gun armament was more important to the designers than increased torpedo armament.[8]

The gun armament of two 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber guns and five 6-pounder (57 mm (2 in)) guns was a great increase over the four 6-pounder guns of the torpedo boat Farragut.[9][10] It reflected a desire to quickly disable torpedo boats before they could get within range of friendly battleships. Future destroyer classes included progressive increases in armament.

The class was equipped with one or two depth charge racks during World War I for the anti-submarine mission.[11]


The best available technologies of coal-fired boilers and triple-expansion engines were used for propulsion, although steam turbines would be adopted in the next generation of US destroyers, beginning with the Smith class launched in 1908. The need for faster destroyers was to be a significant driver of naval propulsion technology throughout the type's future development.

Bainbridge had four Thornycroft boilers supplying 275 psi (1,900 kPa) steam to two triple-expansion engines totaling 7,000 ihp (5,200 kW) (design).[5] She made 28.45 kn (52.69 km/h; 32.74 mph) on trials at 8,000 ihp (6,000 kW). Normal coal capacity was 213 long tons (216 t).[6]

Hopkins also had four Thornycroft boilers supplying steam to two triple-expansion engines totaling 7,000 ihp (design).[5] She made 29.02 kn (53.75 km/h; 33.40 mph) on trials at 8,456 ihp (6,306 kW). Normal coal capacity was lower though, at 150 long tons (150 t).[6]

Lawrence had four Normand boilers supplying steam to two triple-expansion engines totaling 8,400 ihp (6,300 kW) (design).[5] She made 28.41 kn (52.62 km/h; 32.69 mph) on trials 8,400 ihp. Normal coal capacity was even lower, at only 115 long tons (117 t).[6]

An interesting note on destroyers is that they have continuously increased in size since their inception. The Bainbridges were under 650 long tons (660 t) full load; some Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in service in 2013 displace 10,800 long tons (11,000 t) full load, more than the standard displacement limit on 1920s Pensacola class "Treaty cruisers".


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 merchant ship SS Rose in 1917 and was lost. Following the Armistice, the remainder were sold for scrapping or merchant conversion in 1919.

Ships in class

The thirteen ships of the Bainbridge class were:[1][12][13][14]

Ship Shipyard Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
USS Bainbridge (DD-1) Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Company, Philadelphia 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 2 September 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 2 December 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 12 July 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 26 July 1899 26 September 1900 19 May 1902 20 June 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Hopkins (DD-6) Harlan & Hollingsworth Company, Wilmington, Delaware 2 February 1899 24 April 1902 23 September 1903 20 June 1919 Sold to Denton Shore Lumber Co., Tampa, FLorida
USS Hull (DD-7) Harlan & Hollingsworth Company 22 February 1899 21 June 1902 20 May 1903 7 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner
USS Lawrence (DD-8) Fore River Ship & Engine Company, Quincy, Massachusetts 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, San Francisco 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, Morris Heights, New York 24 January 1900 10 May 1902 1 December 1902 9 July 1919 Sold to Joseph G. Hitner for scrapping

See also



  • Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  • Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised Edition). Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-442-3.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. New York: Mayflower Books. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • Simpson, Richard V. Building The Mosquito Fleet, The US Navy's First Torpedo Boats. Charleston, South Carolina:Arcadia Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0-7385-0508-0.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-71100-095-6.
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