USS McCormick (DD-223)

USS McCormick (DD-223) was a Clemson class destroyer that served in the eastern Mediterranean in 1922-24, the Asiatic Fleet in 1925-38 and the Atlantic from 1939 onwards, mainly as a convoy escort.  

The McCormick was named after Lt. Alexander A. McCormick, a US naval aviator who died on 24 September 1918 of injuries sustained while serving as an aerial gunner with the RAF.

The McCormick was laid down at Cramp’s of Philadelphia on 11 August 1919, launched on 14 February 1920 and commissioned on 30 August 1920.

After her shakedown cruise the McCormick joined Destroyer Division 39, Destroyer Squadron 5 of the Pacific Fleet. She served with that force for most of 1921, before being allocated to the Destroyer Dtachment , Naval Forces in European Waters. She crossed the Atlantic in June 1922 (making the trip with the Bulmer, Litchfield (DD-336), Parrott (DD-218), Edsall (DD-219), MacLeish (DD-220) and Simpson (DD-221) in June 1922). The squadron reached Gibraltar on 22 June 1922. She then moved to the eastern Mediterranean, where she helped with relief efforts in Russia, the former Ottoman Empire and eastern Europe. She was withdrawn from the area in 1924, after the treaty of Lausanne officially ended the war between the Allies and Turkey.

USS McCormick (DD-223), c.1922-24
USS McCormick (DD-223),

The McCormick joined the Asiatic Fleet on 28 March 1925, and from then until 10 July she was commanded by Aaron Stanton Merrill, later the successful commander of a cruiser division in the Pacific during the Second World War. The McCormick took part in the standard pattern of operations for the Asiatic Fleet, spending the summers in Chinese waters protecting US interests during the civil wars in China and the early stages of the Japanese invasion, and the winters in the Philippines. During her time with the Asiatic Fleet she was used as the flagship of DesDiv 39 and DesDiv 14.

Anyone who served on her during five periods between 7 January 1927 and 20 April 1931 qualified for the Yangtze Service Medal.

On 15 March 1932 the McCormick was ordered to return to the United States. Her new home base was San Diego, and she remained there until she was decommissioned on 14 October 1938.

She was out of commission for less than a year. On 26 September 1939, after the outbreak of war in Europe, she was recommissioned. She was then assigned to the neutrality patrol, operating in the Atlantic.

Anyone who served on her between 22 June-13 July 1941, 29 July-9 October 1941 or 30 October-2 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense Medal.

Her captain from 8 December 1941 to 3 October 1942 was Eugene S. Sarsfield, lost with his next ship, the Maddox (DD-622) while supporting the landings at Gela on Sicily on 10 July 1943.

From October 1942 her captain was Seymour D. Owens, later killed in action while commanding the Norman Scott (DD-690) at Tinian on 24 July 1944.

During 1942 the McCormick was used as a convoy escort on the routes from Halifax and Argentia to Londonderry.

At the start of 1943 the McCormick was used to escort convoys heading for Casablanca to support Operation Torch.

In July 1943 she was escorting a west-bound convoy that was being escorted by the Santee (CVE-29). On 12 July the Santee was relieved by the Core (CVE-13). Before the Santee left, four U-boats were discovered. Both carriers remained with the convoy, and sank all four of the U-boats. U-487 was sunk by aircraft from the Core on 13 July. U-160 was sunk by aircraft from the Santee on 14 July and U-509 on 15 July. Finally the Core accounted for U-67 on 16 July. The McCormick rescued three survivers from U-67.

USS McCormick (DD-223) at New York, 14 January 1944 USS McCormick (DD-223) at New York, 14 January 1944

The McCormick continued to escort convoys until 5 December. She then joined Task Group 27.4, based around the carrier Croatan (CVE-25) on a voyage to Casablanca and back, ferrying aircraft to the North African theatre.

Early in 1944 the McCormick was used to escort the seaplane tender Albermarle (AV-5) on trips to Natal (Brazil) and Casablanca.

On 1 April 1944 the McCormick was ordered back to Boston to resume her escort and anti-submarine duties. In May she escorted a convoy to North Africa. She spent most of the next four months in African and European waters, vistiing Bizerte, Oran, Cherbourg, Belfat and Milford Haven.

She returned to Boston on 1 October 1944. She spent the next three months on convoy and patrol duties off the US East Coast.

In January 1945 the McCormick escorted another convoy to Casablanca.

On 31 March 1945 she was allocated to SubRon 3 at Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone. On 30 June 1945 she was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG-118). On 21 July she began an overhaul at Boston, but the war ended before this had been completed.

She was decommissioned on 4 October 1945, struck off the Navy List on 24 October 1945 and sold for scrap on 15 December 1946.

Displacement (loaded)


Displacement (standard)


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



14 February 1920


30 August 1920

Sold for scrap

15 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 (22 May 2019), USS McCormick (DD-223) ,

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