USS Harding (DD-91)

USS Harding (DD-91) was a Wickes class destroyer that had a brief interwar career, mainly as a seaplane tender, before being decommissioned in 1922.

The Harding was named after Seth Harding, an American sailor who served during the French and Indian Wars and the War of Independence, where he has some success against British shipping.

The Harding was built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco. She was launched on 4 July 1918 and commissioned on 24 January 1919, with Commander Henry D. Cook in command.

The Harding was allocated to the Atlantic Fleet. In February 1919 she escorted President Woodrow Wilson on the last stages of his first journey back to the United States from the Paris Peace Conference (he returned to France three weeks later).

USS Harding (DD-91), Port au Prince, Haiti, 1919
USS Harding (DD-91),
Port au Prince, Haiti, 1919

In May 1919 the Harding was one of the ships that supported the attempted transatlantic flight of three Curtiss flying boats. Their role was to provide lights and smoke to mark the route to the Azores, and to rescue any aircraft that got into trouble. Aircraft NC-1 and NC-3 had to make forced landings on their way to the Azores. The NC-3 managed to taxi to the Azores, but NC-1 sank. The Harding helped rescue her crew before she sank. This left NC-4, and the Harding was used to provide radio compass signals to help her across the last stretch. The NC-4 reached Lisbon, and then completed the flight at Plymouth on 31 May. The Harding visited Brest and then returned to Newport, Rhode Island, on 18 June 1919.

On 13 December 1919 the Harding entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she began to be converted into a seaplane tender. The process was completed at Charleston and on 20 May 1920 she departed for her new base at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. She was briefly diverted to Vera Cruz, Mexico, taking bubonic plague serum to the American Red Cross. She then reached Pensacola on 13 June 1919.

The Harding operated from Pensacola from 13 June to 4 August, then moved to the Caribbean, where she operated until 23 February 1921. She then moved to Hampton Roads, where she took part in a series of bombing tests against various surplus warships, starting with U-117. She also observed the sinking of the former German battleship SMS Ostfriesland on 21 July 1921.

The Harding spend most of the rest of 1921 training along the US East Coast. On 27 December 1921 she moved to Charleston, then in the spring of 1922 to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 1 July 1922. She remained out of commission until 29 September 1936 when she was sold to the Schiavone-Bonomo Corporation of New York to be scrapped.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts design
34.81kts at 27,350shp at 1,236t on trial (Kimberly)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
27,000shp design


2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4.5in


30ft 11.5in


Four 4in/ 50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in four triple mountings
Two 1-pounder AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement



4 July 1918


24 January 1919

Sold for scrap

29 September 1936

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
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 March 2017), USS Harding (DD-91) ,

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