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Clemson Class, U.S. Destroyers


Photograph of USS Mason, a Clemson-class destroyer

Naval Historical Center #NH 97969


Specifications:


Tonnage

1190 tons standard displacement

Dimensions

314'5" by 31'8" by 9'9"
95.83m by 9.65m by 7.62m

Maximum speed      

35 knots

Complement

150

Armament

4x1 4"/50 guns
1 3"/23 AA gun
4x3 21" torpedoes
Depth charges
Machinery
2-shaft Westinghouse geared turbines (27,000 shp)
4 White-Foster boilers

Bunkerage

375 tons fuel oil

Range

4900 nautical miles (9100 km) at 15 knots
2500 nautical miles (4600 km) at 20 knots
Modifications
As with the Wickes, a number were converted to mine warfare vessels, fast transports, and seaplane tenders.

The seaplane conversions replaced the two forward boilers with gasoline storage (30,000 gallons or 114,000 liters), removing the torpedo tubes, two 4" guns, and the 3" gun, and extended the bridge spaces to incorporate more electronics.  Many were converted back to destroyers once sufficient purpose-built seaplane tenders of the Barnegat class had been completed.


The Clemsons were the second of two major groups of "flush-deck" destroyers built by the United States during World War I, the first being the Wickes class. The main difference from the earlier group was the effort made to give the later group a consistent endurance. Most were completed at Bethlehem Steel yards. None were actually completed before the armistice of 1918.

Also known affectionately as "four-stackers," the Clemsons were built in great numbers, but were already obsolescent when they joined the fleet in 1919-1920. By 1942, they could rarely exceed a speed of 30 knots. Nevertheless, so desperate were the Allies for destroyers early in the Pacific War that these elderly ships remained a significant part of their destroyer flotillas. Many were converted to fast minesweepers and minelayers by removing their torpedo armament to make room for mine warfare equipment.

The ships had a reputation for rolling badly that would continue to be a hallmark of U.S. destroyer design until the Fletcher class. In fact, the roll rarely exceeded 15 degrees even in heavy seas. However, the record was an impressive 52 degrees, set in a severe gale. Severe rolling was usually a consequence of light loading, and Clemsons making high-speed runs were advised to be well ballasted first. Though maneuverable, the steering gear had a tendency to break down, and they had a rather large turning circle at high speed. Halsey claimed he preferred to dock flushdeckers at a speed of ten knots. The torpedo tubes were not well arranged, so that it was hazardous to train them out during a high-speed turn due to the possibility of the tubes plunging into the ocean. The flush decks gave great strength but made for wet ships.


Units in the Pacific:

Alden

Balikpapan

Edsall

Balikpapan Sunk by Hirishima and Kongo off Christmas Island 1942-3-1

John D. Edwards     

Balikpapan 

Whipple

Balikpapan 

John D. Ford

Cavite 

Peary

Cavite Sunk by dive bombers at Darwin on 1942-19-2

Pope

Cavite  Sunk by aircraft south of Borneo on 1942-3-1

Fox

Dutch Harbor

Hatfield

Mare Island 

King

Mare Island 

Litchfield

50 miles NW of Oahu      

Gilmer

Puget Sound   

Brooks

San Diego 

Humphreys

San Diego

Sands

San Diego 

Kane

Seattle 

Barker

Tarakan 

Bulmer

Tarakan 

Parrott

Tarakan 

Paul Jones

Tarakan 

Pillsbury

Tarakan  Sunk off the Netherlands East Indies 42-3

Ballard

arrived 1/42

Destroyer-minecraft conversions

Sicard    

Pearl Harbor 

Tracy

Pearl Harbor

Destroyer-minesweeper conversions

Hopkins

Johnston Island 

Long

Johnston Island 

Southard

Johnston Island 

Hovey

20 mi south of Pearl Harbor      

Chandler

Pearl Harbor 

Perry

Pearl Harbor  Mined 1944-9-13 in Palaus

Preble

 Pearl Harbor

Pruitt

Pearl Harbor

Trever

Pearl Harbor 

Wasmuth     

Pearl Harbor 

Zane

Pearl Harbor

Fast transport conversions

Noa

arrived 1943-10-23    
Lost in collision 1944-9-12

Overton

arrived 1943-10-29

Goldsborough

arrived 1944-4-17

Clemson

arrived 1944-5

George E. Badger     

arrived 1944-6-1
Belknap
arrived 1944-9

Greene

arrived 1945-2-5

Osmond Ingram

arrived 1945-3
Barry
arrived 1945-3-17     
Sunk by aircraft 1945-5-25 off Okinawa

Destroyer-seaplane tender conversions

Childs

Batavia

William B. Preston     

Malalag Bay, Davao      

McFarland

Maui

Hulbert

Pearl Harbor 

Thornton

Pearl Harbor Damaged in collision 1945-5-5 off Okinawa and ruled not worth repairing

Williamson

Puget Sound
Gillis
Sitka
Equipped with radar by 1942-6

References

DANFS

Friedman (2004)

Kehn (2008)

Whitley (1988)

Worth (2001)



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