USS John Francis Burnes (DD-299)

USS John Francis Burnes (DD-299) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s, before being decommissioned because her Yarrow boilers were badly worn.

The John Francis Burnes was named after a member of the US Marine Corps who was mortally wounded during the fighting on the Western Front in 1918, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his exploits.

The John Francis Burnes was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco on 4 July 1918. She was launched on 10 November 1918 when she was sponsored by Mrs Florence Kahn, the wife of Congressman Julius Kahn. After his death in 1924 she was elected to Congress as his successor, but was then re-elected in her own right five times, serving from 1925 until 1937, and becoming the first woman to serve on the House Military Affairs Committee. The John Francis Burnes was commissioned on 1 May 1920, with Commander Frank N. Eklund in command (Eklund was transferred from command of the USS Delphy).

In 1919 she was allocated to Destroyer Division 32 (Chauncey (DD-296), Fuller (DD-297), Percival (DD-298), John Francis Burnes, Farragut (DD-300) and Somers (DD-301)), as part of the large Pacific Fleet. In October 1920 she took part in fleet exercises, and she spent most of the rest of her career taking part in similar exercises on the west coast.

From July 1920 to October 1920 she was commanded by the future Admiral William Halsey, and was also the flagship of Destroyer Division Thirty Two.

At the end of September 1920 it was announced that the John Francis Burnes (DD-299), Babbitt (DD-128), Somers (DD-301), Fuller and Percival (DD-298) were to be placed into reduced commission.

On 6 February 1923 she left San Francisco to take part in Fleet Problem I, the first in a series of large scale fleet exercises that ran throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Fleet Problem I took part off the Canal Zone and was used to test the defences of the Panama Canal.

In August 1923 the John Francis Burnes was selected to be part of a large fleet that was to visit San Francisco to mark the fifth annual convention of the American Legion, then a newly formed veterans association.

In 1924 she took part in Fleet Problems II, III and IV, which were held in the Caribbean, although two of them simulated campaigns in the Pacific.

Somers (DD-301), Farragut (DD-300), John Francis Burns (DD-299), Percival (DD-298) and Stoddert (DD-302)Somers (DD-301), Farragut (DD-300), John Francis Burnes (DD-299), Percival (DD-298) and Stoddert (DD-302)

Early in 1925 she took part in joint Army-Navy manoeuvres based at San Francisco, before joining the fleet at Hawaii on 27 April 1925. She then took part in a cruise around the south-western Pacific, which included visits to Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. She returned to San Diego in September 1925.

At the end of April 1926 Dewey C Blyckert, a sailor from the William Jones was killed onboard the John Francis Burnes when a still he was extracting alcohol from exploded. As a result a full scale investigation was mounted into the use of stills onboard destroyers in the San Diego destroyer base, which was admitted to be fairly widespread! The stills used naval stores such as shellac to produce the naval moonshine.

On 4 June 1927 the John Francis Burnes was one of ninety-eight warships that took part in a Presidential Naval Review in front of Calvin Coolidge, held in the Hampton Roads.

In 1928 and 1929 she took part in naval reserve training cruises.

By the end of 1929 it was clear that her Yarrow boilers were badly worn. The Navy decided to replace a large number of similar destroyers with almost unused ships from the reserve. The John Francis Burns moved to San Diego on 28 August 1929 and was decommissioned on 25 February 1930.

In June 1930 the Navy Department announced that she was one of fifty-four destroyers that were to be listed for survey and disposal. She was sold for scrap on 10 June 1931.

Commander Frank N. Eklund: From May 1920-

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)

Armour - belt


 - deck



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



10 November 1918


1 May 1920

Sold for scrap

10 June 1931

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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 August 2020), USS John Francis Burnes (DD-299) ,

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