Los Angeles class (US):
class was followed by the Los Angeles
class of six ships which were authorized in mid-1893 and represented another advance in design over their predecessors. They featured modern “gun-house” style turrets on a flush-deck hull without the tumblehome which had been a feature of most previous US cruisers. They also represented a trend toward more heavily armed cruisers as well as belt armor for the first time in a US protected cruiser type. Many in the Navy felt they should instead be classed as armored cruisers or First Class Protected Cruisers in the British fashion but because of their 8” main armament as opposed to the 10” guns carried by US armored cruisers and their higher speeds, they retained the protected cruiser designation nearly their entire service lives. The new ships also highlighted a growing gap between cruisers and smaller combatants such as TBD’s and directly led to the first “scout” cruiser classes entering service during the following decade.
The Los Angeles
class was 375 feet long overall, with a 60 foot beam and a nominal draft of 21 feet. They displaced 8,440 tons normal and 8,975 tons full load. Armament consisted of eight 8”/40 Mk.2’s in two twin turrets fore and aft and four single turrets amidships, twelve 6”/40 Mk.4’s in hull casemates, eight new 4”/40 rapid-fire guns in open mounts on the superstructure, and four 18” torpedo tubes in twin deck-mounts amidships. Triple shafts propelled these ships to a rated speed of 22 knots and their triple-expansion engines produced 16,030 total horsepower. Range dropped from the Syracuse
class to 4,500 nautical miles, which became the primary complaint about this otherwise well-designed class. In addition to the 2” belt armor, the ships were protected by 2” deck armor, with 5” main turrets and barbettes, 4” casemates, and a 3” conning tower. Crew averaged 455.
Los Angeles, Seattle
, and Great Falls
commissioned during 1897 and Minneapolis, Allentown
, and Plymouth
the following year. After entering service they served in all the conflicts the US was involved in through the beginning of the 20th Century. The class was assigned to coastal patrol duties during the Western Pacific war, however, due to their perceived short range.
During 1918-21, all six were extensively refit with new 8” and 6” 45-caliber guns, new oil-burning boilers (which also improved their range), and modern tripod masts and superstructure. In addition, under the new classification system adopted by the USN in 1921, the class received heavy cruiser (CA-same hull number) designations.
During the War of the Americas the class was heavily involved in the fighting – particularly in the first half of the conflict. USS Los Angeles
(CA-13) was in San Diego harbor when the Confederacy bombed the naval yard at the beginning of the conflict and was severely damaged – only returning to duty in early 1927. Two members of this class were lost during 1924 while the US was still on the defensive in the Pacific; USS Great Falls
(CA-15) in March and USS Allentown
(CA-17) in September. USS Minneapolis
(CA-16) was torpedoed late in the War by the Confederate submarine E.41
, but managed to limp back to port. After the armistice, the four survivors were caught up in the peacetime draw-down of forces. Deemed obsolete, they were retired; Los Angeles
in 1928, and Seattle
by the end of 1930 and subsequently sold for scrapping by the mid ‘30’s.
Ogden class (US):
After the failure of the Avenger
class of torpedo gunboats in both design and concept was widely accepted, debate raged in the Navy Department on what to do. A sizable faction pressed for additional torpedo boats which would be relatively inexpensive and quick to produce, but Secretary of the Navy Nathaniel Wilcox had received reports from Great Britain on the success of the pioneering Daring
classes of TBD’s and directed that BuC&R undertake the design of similar vessels.
Using the experimental Falcon
class of torpedo boats as a starting point – the design of the new ships proceeded quickly and was authorized for construction by June of 1892. Although US torpedo boats had been named for birds of prey the new class took their names from Navy rolls of personnel who had died in the line of duty or otherwise had contributed to the Navy. Thus on April 3, 1893, the keel for USS Ogden
(TBD-1) was laid down in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Five sister-ships were laid down by the end of the year and all six commissioned during 1896.
class was 165 feet long overall, with a 20 foot beam and a nominal draft of 6.5 feet. They displaced 335 tons normal and 368 tons full load. Armament consisted of two 6-pounders amidships and two 3-pounder guns on the bridge roof forward and a raised platform aft. Two 18” torpedo tubes on the quarter-deck flanked a deck-house storing eight reload Mk.4 torpedoes. Two 3,125 horsepower quad-expansion engines drove twin shafts giving these ships a top speed of 24 knots. Range was 2,000 nautical miles on 75 tons of coal and crew complement was 45.
Ogden, Jamison, Smyth, Washburn, Yarbrough
, and Matheson
served primarily in the Gulf Fleet based in Hispaniola following their commissioning and were successful in service – forcing the CSN to eventually field TBD’s of their own and were well-liked by their crews – although cramped conditions aboard were a common complaint. This led to a significant increase in size for succeeding classes. Like their predecessors, the Osprey
classes, these ships were considered experimental but were not on limited duty and thus saw action in the Central American Crisis and Western Pacific War – where two of the class; USS Jamison
and USS Matheson
were lost. After the latter conflict ended in 1908, the remaining four ships served in the peacetime fleet for a further eight years before decommissioning in late 1916.
Westcott class (US):
The follow-on class of US torpedo boat destroyers was designed to address that class’s primary deficiency – namely too small a hull without adequate space for equipment and armament. Authorized in 1893 the Westcott
class of six ships was very similar to the Ogden
class but was longer with deeper draft and was nearly 65% heavier in full load displacement, but was more successful. Laid down in 1894, the ships were launched during 1896 and joined the fleet by late 1897. The new class consisted of the Westcott, Teller, Paige, Jefferson, Barker
, and Holcomb
. They carried hull numbers TBD-7 to TBD-12.
class was 197 feet long overall, with a 20 foot beam and a nominal draft of 7 feet. They displaced 540 tons normal and 605 tons full load. Armament consisted of six 6-pounders located fore and aft and two mounts each port and starboard. Torpedo armament was the same as in the Ogden
class – two single 18” torpedo tubes amidships with ten reloads. Two quad-expansion engines producing a total of 9,420 horsepower propelled these ships to a rated speed of 25 knots. Larger coal bunkers increased range to 3,000 nautical miles. Normal crew complement was 64.
and her sisters were also stationed primarily with the Gulf Fleet after entering service and saw limited action in the Central American Crisis. During the Western Pacific War they were forward based in the Hawaiian Islands and were used primarily as patrol craft. In the February 11th, 1908, battle off Oahu, all six ships engaged the Confederate protected cruisers Daphne
, sinking the former and severely damaging the latter with repeated torpedo attacks. USS Paige
was sunk and the other five ships were damaged to varying degrees; Teller
seriously. They were eventually repaired, however, and re-joined the fleet by the beginning of 1909.
The five surviving ships were re-classed as destroyers (DD prefix – same hull numbers) under the 1918 revision to the USN’s classification scheme but were not refit as a cost-saving measure. Decommissioned in 1921, they were declared surplus and were transferred to the Peruvian Navy the following year.
Richardson class (US):
class was the last group of US torpedo boat destroyers to utilize the original Ogden
class design. The first “production” class of TBD’s built for the Navy a total of twelve were authorized in early 1894. They were built in two batches; Richardson, Hughes, Nielson, Hamlin, Carlson
, and Davis
were laid down in 1895 and Blakely, Chadwick, Mosley, Adamson, Ross
a year later. They were longer and heavier than the Westcott’s
and were characterized by a long low deck-house aft of the funnels which served as torpedo stowage. Design speed remained 25 knots but range was improved. They carried hull numbers TBD-13 to TBD-24.
class was 225 feet long overall, with a 22 foot beam and a nominal draft of 7 feet. They displaced 685 tons normal and 767 tons full load. Armament consisted of two new 3”/45 Mk.1’s fore and aft and two 6-pounders amidships – all in single mounts. Three 18” torpedo tubes – one to port and starboard and the third on a swivel mount located on the quarter-deck were carried – along with twelve reload torpedoes. Two quad-expansion engines producing a total of 10,070 shaft horsepower were installed and range was 3,300 nautical miles on 184 tons of coal. Normal crew complement was 76.
Commissioned between 1898 and 1899, these ships were split between the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets for most of their careers and saw their first action in the Western Pacific War during which USS Hamlin
(TBD-16) was sunk. Re-classed as destroyers (DD prefix – same hull numbers) in 1918, four; Richardson, Hughes, Nielson
, and Mosley
were decommissioned in 1922, but the seven remaining ships participated in the War of the Americas – primarily as harbor and coastal patrol craft with two; USS Chadwick
(DD-20) and USS Adamson
(DD-22) lost during the conflict. After the war ended Carlson, Davis, Blakely, Ross
were decommissioned by the end of 1928 and all had been broken up by 1931.
Henley class (US):
class entered service at the turn of the 20th Century so it was fitting that they are considered by naval historians as the first “modern” US destroyers. Utilizing a new, more hydrodynamic hull design allowing higher speeds and improved range, these ships were among the most heavily armed TBD’s in the world and were among the first to carry twin torpedo launchers. Six of these advanced ships were authorized in 1896; Henley, Gardiner, Branson, Houghton, Mercer
. They were assigned hull numbers TBD-25 to TBD-30.
class was 258 feet long overall, with a 23 foot beam and a nominal draft of 7.5 feet. They displaced 852 tons normal and 938 tons full load. Armament consisted of two 3”/50 Mk.2’s fore and aft and six 6-pounders in single mounts amidships. Two twin 18” torpedo tubes were carried – one swivel mount between the second and third funnel and the second on the quarter-deck, twelve Mk.4 torpedoes were carried as reloads. Rated speed was 26 knots on twin shafts produced by two 5,200 horsepower four-cylinder quad-expansion engines like previous US types, but in reality the era of the reciprocating engine was coming to an end – the Henley
class would be the last US destroyers powered by them. Range was 4,000 nautical miles on 195 tons of coal. Normal crew complement was 90.
Laid down during 1897, the six members of this class were launched in 1899 and commissioned the following year and so missed the Central American Crisis. Still relatively new at the outbreak of the Western Pacific war all six were deployed to the theater as escort and patrol vessels. They quickly proved the soundness of their design – accounting for no less than ten Confederate torpedo boats without loss to themselves. In 1918 they were re-classed as destroyers and entered a two-year refit which saw their coal-fired boilers replaced with oil-burning types and their 18” torpedo launchers swapped out for twin 21” Mk.3 tubes which limited available reloads to eight due the larger dimensions of the Mk.3. In addition, they received hydrophones and depth-charges enabling them to carry out ASW missions.
The oldest destroyers still considered front-line units when the War of the Americas broke out in 1923; the Henley
class was used primarily as convoy escorts, where they often encountered Confederate submarines. Again, they racked up an impressive total – sixteen CSN submarines were confirmed destroyed by Henley
class ships to no losses – although USS Branson
(DD-27) was severely damaged by a torpedo from CSS G.20
in 1926 and was only saved by the arrival of other US ships and the Herculean efforts of her crew.
On the whole considered “lucky” ships, the Henley’s were easily the most popular of the early US destroyer force and remained in service until the early ‘30’s, when they were finally retired in 1932. Two of these ships escaped the cutter’s torch and became museum ships – USS Gardiner
(DD-36) in Bremerton, Washington, and USS Mercer
(DD-29) in Boston, Massachusetts.
Next up: Confederate warships 1891-1900.