USS Chauncey (DD-3)

USS Chauncey (DD-3) was a Bainbridge class destroyer and was the first US destroyer to be lost in service, after colliding with a British merchant ship she was escorting in 1917.

USS Chancey (DD-3) at sea, pre First World War
USS Chancey (DD-3)
at sea,
pre First World War

The Chauncey was launched on 26 October 1901. She was commissioned in three stages - on 20 November 1902 she was placed in reduced commission, on 2 December 1902 she entered the reserve and on 21 February 1903 she was fully commissioned. She was named after Isaac Chauncey, a US naval officer who had performed well on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812, and had served as President of the Board of Navy Commissioners. She joined the 1st Torpedo Flotilla in the Coastal Squadron of the North Atlantic Fleet, where she served with her four sisters.

On 18 December 1903 all five Bainbridge class destroyers left Key West heading east to join to Asiatic Fleet. Her new home base was Cavite on the Philippines, where she was based until 1917. Her normal routine in that period was to spent the winter in Philippine waters and the summers in Chinese waters, 'showing the flag' and conducting exercises.

On 3 December 1905 the Chauncey was placed into the reserve to under go repairs to her boilers. She returned to service on 12 January 1907 and remained in commission (along with the Dale) when the other three Bainbridge class ships were briefly decommissioned due to a shortage of personnel.

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
USS Chauncey in floating dry dock, Olongapo, 1910

On 1 August 1917, after the US entry into the First World War, the Flotila set sail from the Philippines, heading for Gibraltar, where they served as escorts, protecting shipping in the Western Mediterranean and approaches from the U-boat threat. Early destroyers were always rather fragile craft, and this was demonstrated by the fate of the Chauncey. On the night of 19 November 1917, while escorting Allied merchant ships west of Gibraltar, she was rammed by the British merchant ship SS Rose. The Chauncey sank at 3.17am, with the loss of 21 men including her captain. The Rose remained intact, and was able to rescue seventy survivors from the Chauncey.

Displacement (standard)

420 tons

Displacement (loaded)

620 tons

Top Speed



4 Thornycroft boilers
2 Vertical Triple Engines


3000 miles at cruising speed




23ft 7in


Two 3in/25 guns
Five 6pdr guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



26 November 1901


20 November 1902


Rammed by SS Rose 19 November 1917

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 September 2015), USS Chauncey (DD-3) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies