USS McDougal (DD-54)

USS McDougal (DD-54) was a O'Brien class destroyer that served from Queenstown and Brest during the First World War, then served with the US Coast Guard.

The McDougal was named after David Stockton McDougal, a US Naval Officer during the Civil War who served in the Far East, operating against pirates and Confederate raids. In 1863 he boldly entered the Straits of Shimonoseki (Japan) and defeated the fleet of the Choshu Clan, which had been attacking foreign shipping in obedience to a rare order from the Emperor.

The McDougal was laid by at Bath, Maine, on 29 July 1913, launched on 22 April 1914 and commissioned on 16 June 1914. The McDougal joined the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, and operated off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean.

USS McDougal (DD-54) with Franklin D. Roosevelt on board, 1914
USS McDougal (DD-54)
with Franklin D. Roosevelt
on board, 1914

She was part of the first group of US destroyers to be sent to Europe, leaving Boston on 24 April 1917 as part of the group led by Commander J. K. Taussig. The destroyers arrived in Ireland on 4 May 1917 and were used for a mix of anti-submarine patrols, rescue missions and escort duties.

On 5 June 1917 she rescued 33 survivors from the Manchester Miller, after she was sunk by a torpedo.

On 8 September she spotted a surfaced U-boat while escorting a convoy and got with 500 yards before her target submerged. She dropped two depth charges and probably damaged the U-boat, as well as driving it away from the convoy.

On 4 February 1918 the McDougal collided with the British merchant ship Glenmorag in the Irish Sea. As so often happened in these circumstances the lightly built destroyer was badly damaged. She needed repairs at Liverpool and didn't return to duty until mid July 1918.

After returning to duty she was based at Brest, escorting convoys on the last stage of the trip from the United States.

In October 1918 she helped escort Troop Convoy 70 on the last stage of its voyage across the Atlantic. This convoy was noteworthy for suffering a high number of fatalities early in the great Influence Epidemic

USS McDougal (DD-54) at New York, 1921
USS McDougal (DD-54) at New York, 1921

One of her commanders during the First World War was Francis Cogswell, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions as commander of USS Fanning (DD-37) and USS McDougal. The later destroyer USS Cogswell (DD-561) was named after Captain Cogswell and his father Rear Admiral James Kelsey Cogswell.

Anyone who served on her between 4 May 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

After the end of the war she escorted President Woodrow Wilson on the last stage of his trip to France. She then returned to the United States, arriving at New York on 8 January 1919. In May she was part of the line of warships posted along the route of the trans-Atlantic flight of a group of Navy Curtiss NC-4 seaplanes, operating as part of Destroyer Squadron 14 (USS Cummings (DD-44); USS Wainwright (DD-62); USS Parker (DD-48); USS Balch (DD-50); USS McDougal (DD-54); USS Ericsson (DD-56); and USS Dixie (AD-1)). She was then placed in commission in the reserve at New York on 7 August 1919. During this period she sometimes went to sea. On 1 September 1920 the USS S-5 sank after an accident off Delaware Bay, and some of her crew were rescued by the McDougal. She was then placed into the reserve with a reduced crew until being fully decommissioned on 26 May 1922.

Between 7 June 1924 and 30 June 1933 the McDougal served with the US Coast Guard as CG-6, forming part of the 'Rum Patrol'. She was struck off on 5 July 1934 and sold for scrap on 22 August 1934.

Displacement (standard)

1,050t design

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29kts at 17,000shp
30kts at 16,974shp at 1,021t on trial (McDougal)


2-shaft Zoelly turbines plus reciprocating cruising engine
4 boilers


305ft 5in


31ft 2in


Four 4in/50
Eight 21in torpedoes in twin mountings
Depth charges

Crew complement



22 April 1914


16 June 1914


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 (15 August 2016), USS McDougal (DD-54) ,

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