USS Balch (DD-50)

USS Balch (DD-50) was a Cassin class destroyer that took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914 then served from Queenstown in 1917-18,

The Balch was named after George Beall Balch, a U Navy officer who took part in Commodore Perry's expedition to Japan in 1853, fought in Shanghai in 1854 and took part in the blockade of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. By the time he retired in 1883 he was a rear admiral and commander of the Pacific Station,

The Balch was launched on 21 December 1912 by William Cramp of Philadelphia and commissioned on 26 March 1914. She joined the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet for a few weeks, then took part in the US intervention in Mexico. Anyone who served on the Balch between 28 April and 3 May 1914 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal. This was followed on 7 May by a Presidential Fleet Review at New York. After manoeuvres for the Naval War Collage she was placed into reserve commission on 24 July 1914.

USS Balch (DD-50), 1915-16
USS Balch (DD-50)

The Balch was recommissioned on 17 December 1914 and joined the Atlantic Fleet. She took part in the neutrality patrol, and on 8 October 1916 rescued the survivors from the British SS Stephano sunk by a U-boat near Newport, Rhode Island.

After the US entry into the First World War in April 1917 the Balch was equipped with depth charge racks, before departing for European waters on 25 October. She arrived at Queenstown on 17 November and began operations on 24 November. She carried out a mix of anti-submarine patrols and an increasing amount of convoy escort missions.

On 29 January 1918 she spotted a U-boat near Liverpool and dropped two depth charges as her target dived.

On 12 May she joined a group of escorts that attacked a U-boat near Convoy HS-60, dropping twelve depth charges, although again the U-boat escaped.

On 20 October 1918 the Paulding (DD-22) collided with the Balch while escorting a convoy. One of Balch's depth charges was dropped overboard, but fortunately it didn't explode. The collision damaged the Balch's steering gear, and she needed two weeks of repairs.

On 5 November she helped the Sterett (DD-27) rescue 29 survivors from the merchant ship SS Dipton.

Anyone who served on her between 8 November 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Balch departed for the United States on 16 November 1918, and reached Norfolk on 1 January 1919 where she was placed in the reserve. She was recommissioned in early April 1919 and spent three weeks in Cuban waters before returning to Norfolk for an overhaul. In May 1919 she was part of Destroyer Squadron 14 (USS Cummings (DD-44); USS Wainwright (DD-62); USS Parker (DD-48); USS Balch (DD-50); USS McDougal (DD-54); USS Ericsson (DD-56); and USS Dixie (AD-1)).

She next left port late in 1921 when she joined the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, serving with Destroyer Squadron 14. This was a short-lived reprieve, and she was decommissioned once again on 20 June 1922. She was removed from the reserve list on 1 November 1933, struck off on 8 March 1935. Finally the order to scrap her was issued on 23 April 1935 to comply with the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

Displacement (standard)

1,010t nominal

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29kts at 16,000shp (design)
29.14kts at 14,253shp at 1,057 tons on trial (Duncan)


2-shaft Parson turbines plus reciprocating cruising engines
4 boilers for 16,000shp


305ft 5in


30ft 2in


Four 3in.50 guns (DD-43 & DD-44)
Four 4in/50 guns (DD-45 to DD-50)
Eight 1in torpedo tubes in four twin mountings

Crew complement



21 December 1912


26 March 1914


Scrapped 1935

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 (22 July 2016), USS Balch (DD-50) ,

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