USS James K Paulding (DD-238)

USS James K Paulding (DD-238) was a Clemson class destroyer that had a short career, mainly serving in US home waters during the 1920s, before being decommissioned on 31 October 1930.

The James K Paulding was named after James Kirke Paulding, Secretary of the Navy from 1938. He was a reactionary figure who opposed the introduction of steam into the fleet.

The James K. Paulding was laid down on 31 July 1918, launched on 20 April 1920 and commissioned on 29 November 1920.

She was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, and took part in exercises along the east coast. On 31 May 1921 she moved to Newport, Rhode Island where she took part in the summer manoeuvres and reserve training. Late in 1921 she moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she spent the next year.

USS James K Paulding (DD-238) being launched USS James K Paulding (DD-238) being launched

In January 1923 she joined the scouting fleet. During 1923 she took part in a series of exercises, and in 1924 she also took part in reserve training.

In February 1925 she moved to San Diego to take part in war problems in the Pacific (Fleet Problem V, an attack on Hawaii).

She returned to Newport on 31 August 1925 and rejoined the scouting fleet.

From March 1926 to January 1928 she was commanded by Leo Hewlett Thebaud, who later commanded a cruiser division during the Second World War and retired as a vice admiral

The James K. Paulding was taking part in gunnery exercises in the Caribbean when she was sent to Nicaragua to protect US interests during unrest in the country. In March-April 1927 she took part in a patrol off the Nicaraguan coast designed to prevent arms from reaching the rebels.

In March 1928 she was one of seven destroyers that visited Haiti.

On 31 October 1930 she returned to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 10 February 1931. She was never recommissioned, and on 28 December 1936 was reduced to a hulk under the terms of the Second London Naval Treaty, which imposed limits on the tonnage available for light surface vessels. By 25 January 1937 she had been scrapped and she was struck off the Navy List.

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 4in/ 50 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



20 April 1920


29 November 1920

Reduced to Hulk

28 December 1936

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 August 2019), USS James K Paulding (DD-238) ,

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