USS Hatfield (DD-231)

USS Hatfield (DD-231) was a Clemson class destroyer that spent most of the Second World War on escort duties in Alaskan waters, before being used as an auxiliary.

The Hatfield was named after John Hatfield, a US Midshipman during the War of 1812 who was killed during the attack on York, Canada, on 27 April 1813.

The Hatfield was launched by the New York Shipbuilding Corp at Camden, New Jersey on 1 March 1919 and commissioned on 16 April 1920.

The Hatfield was one of five Clemson class destroyers that were armed with 5”/51 caliber guns in place of the 4in guns used on the rest of the class.

The Hatfield spent the summer of 1920 on training cruises, and the rest of 1920 on exercises while based in Florida. From 4 January-24 April 1921 she joined the fleet in its winter exercises in the Caribbean.

In January 1921 she was part of the combined Atlantic and Pacific Fleet that was photographed in Panama Bay on 21 January.

The Hatfield was at Hampton Roads for President Harding’s fleet review of 28 April 1921. She spent the rest of the summer on manoeuvres, before joining the 14th Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet on 7 November 1921.

USS Hatfield (DD-231) at San Diego, early 1930s
USS Hatfield (DD-231)
at San Diego, early 1930s

After the great fire of Smyrna, which followed the Turkish reoccupation of the city, Admiral Bristol feared that a similar disaster might happen when the Turks returned to Constantinople (then in Allied hands). On 2 October Destroyer Division 40 (Hatfield, Bainbridge (DD-246), Fox (DD-234), Gilmer, Hopkins (DD-249) and Kane (DD-235) ) and Destroyer Division 41 left Hampton Roads, reaching Constantinople on 22 October. The Hatfield took part in US operations in Turkish waters, visiting Smyrna, Jaffa, Bierut, Rhodes, Varna and other ports during her time in the area. As the situation in Turkey began to calm down, the US reduced the strength of her naval forces in the Mediterranean. The Hatfield left at the end of July 1923 along with the Barry (DD-248), Fox, Gilmer (DD-233), Goff (DD-247) and King (DD-242) .

The Hatfield reached New York on 11 August and was assigned to the US Scouting Fleet, where she spent the next seven years. She took part in the usual pattern of activities – summer operating off the US East Coast and winters in the Caribbean. In 1927 the pattern was broken when she took part in an American intervention in Nicaragua. Anyone who served on shore in Nicaragua between 13-27 February 1927 or 3-21 March 1927 qualified for the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal. On 15 January the Hatfield and her squadron accompanied President Coolridge as he voyaged to Cuba and Haiti to take part in the Pan-American Conference.

In November 1920 the Hatfield sailed for Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 13 January 1931.

On 1 April 1932 the Hatfield was placed into the rotating reserve commission. She then entered the dry dock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, before leaving for her new home port of San Diego on 29 June.

In late September 1936 she joined Squadron 40-T, a temporary squadron that had been formed to help evacuate US citizens who were trapped by the fighting in the Spanish Civil War. The Hatfield remained in the Mediterranean until 9 November 1937 when she departed for home. She reached Charleston in December and was decommissioned for the second time on 28 April 1938.

Destroyer Evolution 1920-1944 Destroyer Evolution 1920-1944

USS Hatfield (DD-231) in dry dock, 1932 USS Hatfield (DD-231) in dry dock, 1932

The Hatfield was recommissioned on 25 September 1939 in response to the outbreak of war in Europe. She joined the Neutrality Patrol, and operated with that force in the Atlantic until August 1940

On 2 August 1940 the Hatfield sailed for the West Coast, where she joined the defence force for the 13th Naval District.

On 11 December 1941, after the US entry into the war, the Hatfield was assigned to patrol duties in Alaskan waters. She was used to escort merchant ships to Alaskan ports to help support the increasingly powerful US military forces in the area, but doesn’t appear to have taken part in the main events of the Aleutian campaign She spent two and a half years on this duty, before returning to Seattle on 13 March 1944.

From March-August 1944 the Hatfield carried out anti-submarine duties off Seattle.

In September 1944 she entered the Puget Sound Navy Yard to be converted into a target towing vessel. She was redesignated AG-84 on 1 October, and entered service as a target tug on 25 October. She was used to tow surface targets which were used to as targets for bombing practice.

The Hatfield moved to Bremerton, Washington, on 12 November 1946, was decommissioned on 13 December 1946 and sold for scrap.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)


2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


Four 5in/ 51 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement



1 March 1919


16 April 1920


13 December 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

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 July 2019), USS Hatfield (DD-231) ,

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