USS Allen (DD-66)

USS Allen (DD-66) was a Sampson class destroyer that served from Queenstown during the First World War, carrying out ten attacks on possible U-boats. She then survived to be the only one of the 1,000 tonner destroyers to see service during the Second World War. She was present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and remained in service for the rest of the war. The Allen was awarded one battle star for her Second World War service.

The Allen was named after William Henry Allen, a US sailor who was on USS Chesapeake during her clash with HMS Leopard before the War of 1812. He took part in the clash between the United States and HMS Macedonian early in the war but was killed in a battle between USS Argus and HMS Pelican on 24 August 1813.

USS Allen (DD-66) at sea off Hawaii, 1944
USS Allen (DD-66)
at sea off Hawaii, 1944

The Allen was laid down on 10 May 1915, launched on 5 December 1916 and commissioned on 24 January 1917 with Lt. Commander Samuel W. Bryant in command. She spent the next five months patrolling off the US East Coast and down into the Caribbean. This continued after the US entry into the First World War on 6 April 1917.

On 14 June 1917 the Allen departed from New York as part of the escort for one of the first US troop convoys heading to Europe. After escorting this convoy to France she moved to her new base at Queenstown, Ireland, where she was used on anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties.

During her time in Europe the Allen took part in ten attacks on suspected submarines, but none of these match up with German records, suggesting that they were all false alarms.

By November 1917 she was part of Destroyer Division Nine, Flotilla Three, alongside USS Sampson, USS Rowan, USS Davis, USS Wilkes and USS Shaw.

On 19 May the Patterson (DD-36) sent a message to the Allen (DD-66) asking for help in hunting down a possible damaged U-boat west of Bardsey off the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula. This call attacked a sizable force of six destroyers, including two British ship, USS Burrows (DD-29), USS Beale (DD-40) and USS Allen (DD-66). The combined flotilla dropped depth charges at about 20.30, and bubbles of oil came to the surface, but there was no other evidence of damage to a submarine. 

In April-June 1918 she steamed 19,054.4 miles, spent 1,261.7 hours under way and 52.6 days at sea, the third highest figures for any US destroyer in this period. She also carried out six depth charge attacks and one gunnery attack on suspected targets, the second joint highest figures.

In December 1918 the Allen escorted President Woodrow Wilson on the last stage of his journey to France on the battleship USS George Washington. She then returned to Queenstown, before departing for the United States on 26 December 1918.

USS Allen (DD-66) at sea, 1918
USS Allen (DD-66) at sea, 1918

Anyone who served on her between 28 June 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

Amongst her crew during the First World War was Oscar C. Badger, who served as Rear Admiral Ernest J.King's chief of staff in 1940-41, captain of the battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55) in 1941-42, commander of several destroyer flotillas as a rear admiral in late 1942, assistant chief of naval operations for logistics plans from late 1942 to February 1944, Commander, Service Squadrons, South Pacific Force early in 1944 and then Commander, Battleship Division during 1944-45, fighting at Leyte Gulf, Luzon and Iwo Jima,  before commanding the first contingent of the American occupation forces to enter Tokyo Bay.

After her return to the Unites States the Allen operated with the Atlantic Fleet until 22 June 1922, when she was placed in the reserve. She was recommissioned on 23 June 1925 and spent three years as a training ship for naval reservists, based at Washington. She returned to the reserve in March 1928.

The Allen was the only one of the '1000 tonners' to see service during the Second World War, when she was based at Pearl Harbor. By then she had had two of her four triple torpedo tubes removed, and replaced with six K-gun depth-charge projectors and six 20mm anti-aircraft guns. By 1944 she also had a deckhouse behind her funnels and had been given SC air search radar.

After twelve years in the reserve, she was recommissioned on 23 August 1940 with Lt Commander Frederick P. Williams in command. She spent a short time on the US East Coast, but was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet, by then based at Pearl Harbor.

For most of 1941 the Allen was part of Destroyer Division 80 (along with USS Schley (DD-103), USS Chew (DD-106) and USS Ward (DD-139). They were given the task of patrolled the harbour entrance and the channels leading to the open sea. They were also used on anti-submarine patrols around Hawaii. This seems a rather important task to have committed to four elderly destroyers and a handful of smaller vessels.

On 7 December 1941 the Allen was moored in East Loch, north-east of Ford Island, close to the hospital ship Solace (AH-5). According to her own report on the battle one of her crew first spotted Japanese aircraft at 7.30am, but they weren't recognised as hostile. This changed at 7.55am when one of the aircraft was seen to drop a bomb on the USS Arizona. General Quarters was sounded and No.5 and No.6 3in guns were manned. She fired her first shots fifteen minutes later. Over the next 45 minutes she fired 57 3in rounds and 600 .50 rounds. She claimed two victories and one assist. One aircraft was seen to explode after being hit by fire from the starboard waist .50in gun and a second to crash into hills to the north-west after being hit by No.6 3in gun. A third aircraft was claimed as a possible victory, although she was seen to be under fire from other ships. Her bridge crew were able to observe the Japanese attack, reporting details of both the torpedo attacks and dive bomb attacks. She got underway two hours after the start of the first Japanese attack.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allen was used to escort ships travelling within the Hawaiian islands, and on anti-submarine patrols. She also made the occasional visit to the US west coast. She continued to perform this duty throughout the Second World War.

After the war she was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 15 October 1945, struck off on 1 November 1945 and sold for scrap on 26 September 1946, forty one years after she was originally laid down.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts at 17,500shp (design)
29.57kts at 17,964shp at 1,135t tons on trial (Rowan)


2-shaft Curtis turbines
4 boilers


315ft 3in


29ft 10in


Four 4in/50 guns
Two 1 pounder AA guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings

Crew complement



5 December 1916


24 January 1917

Sold for scrap

26 September 1946

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 November 2016), USS Allen (DD-66) ,

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