USS Henley (DD-39)

USS Henley (DD-39) was a Monaghan class destroyer that was used to test geared turbines, then operated along the US East Coast after the American entry into the First World War. In the 1920s she served with the Coast Guard, before being sold for scrap in 1934.

The Henley was named after Robert Henley, a US naval officer during the Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812, where he took part in the battle of Lake Champlain. She was launched at Quincy, Mass, on 3 April 1912 and commissioned on 6 December 1912. She joined the U.S. Atlantic Torpedo Fleet and spent the early part of her career operating off the US East Coast in the summer and in Cuban waters in the winter.

USS Henley (DD-39) in 1912
USS Henley (DD-39)
in 1912

In 1914 she took part in the US intervention in Mexico, arriving off Tampico on 22 April 1914. Anyone who served on her between 22 April-2 May or 8-22 May 1914 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal.

In 1915 the Henley was given 13,000shp Westinghouse geared turbines as part of a series of trials with the new engines. Perhaps because of this she wasn’t amongst the large number of US destroyers sent to European waters after the US entry into the First World War.

When America entered the war in April 1917, Henley continued patrol along the coast and also escorted fuel ships to the destroyers guarding America's first troop convoy 13 June.

In the second half of August 1917 the Henley was one of eight destroyers that escorted the Battleship Force Atlantic to Bermuda and back.

She spent the rest of the war performing a mix of antisubmarine patrols off New York and escort duties along the US East Coast.

Anyone who served on her between 29 May and 7 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal (prior to 25 May 1918 only destroyers operating east of the thirty seventh meridian qualified).

The Henley entered the Philadephia Navy Yard on 22 December 1918 and was decommissioned on 12 December 1919.

She was reactivated and transferred to the Coast Guard on 16 May 1924. During her coast guard career she twice spotted the derelict floating derrick Van Frank No.2 drifting at sea and directed the coast guard cutter Acushnet to tow her to shore. Purely by chance these two incidents took place exactly one year apart, on 10 November 1928 and 10 November 1929.

The Henley returned to the Navy on 8 May 1931 and was decommissioned once again. She was sold for scrap on 22 August 1934.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kt design
30.89kts at 14,978shp at 883 tons on trial (Trippe)
29.5kts at 13,472shp at 891 tons on trial (Henley)


3-shaft Parsons turbines
4 Thornycroft or Normand or Yarrow boilers


2,175nm at 15kts on trial
1,913nm at 20kts on trial

Armour - belt


 - deck



292ft 8in




Five 3in/50 guns
Six 18in torpedo tubes in twin tubes

Crew complement



3 April 1912


6 December 1912


Sold for scrap 1934

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 (17 May 2016), USS Henley (DD-39) ,

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