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USS Osborne (DD-295) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Atlantic Fleet for most of her career, as well as spending a year in European Waters and briefly taking part in a US intervention in Nicaragua. After her first military career she was sold for scrap, but instead turned into a banana boat, which was then chartered by the US Navy after the outbreak of the Second World War. She was then taken over by the Army as part of a plan to rush supplies to the Philippines, before finally being destroyed by fire at Sydney in 1942.

The Osborne was named after Lt. Weedon E. Osborne, who was killed while serving with the Marines on the Western Front on 26 March 1918.

USS Osborne (DD-295) at Boston, 1920 USS Osborne (DD-295) at Boston, 1920

The Osborne was laid down on 23 September at the Squantum plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp and launched on 29 December 1919. Unusually she was co-sponsored, by Mrs C.H Cox and Osborne’s sister Elizabeth Osborne Fisher. The Osborne was the last naval craft to be launched at the plant before it was closed down and had to move to the Fore River yard to be completed. She was commissioned on 17 May 1920.

The Osborne spent the rest of 1920 operating along the US East Coast. In August 1920 she took thirty-seven naval reservists from south Florida on a training cruise along the US East Coast. She then spent the first few months of 1921 taking part in exercises in the Caribbean, from the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. This set the general pattern for her normal career, with summers in US waters and winters in the Caribbean.

One of her early commanders, in 1921, was Theodore S. Wilkinson, the Director of Naval Intelligence early in 1942, then commander of Battleship Division Two in the Pacific Fleet, Deputy Commander, South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force and Commander, Third Amphibious Force. 

In May 1922 her crew took part in the Memorial Day parade at South Amboy (New Jersey), and later in the day she was opened to the public.

In October 1924 she was at the Alexandria Torpedo Station for Navy Day, and was once again open to the public.

On 18 June 1925 she departed for European waters (after an extensive overhaul in the Brooklyn Navy Yard), as part of Destroyer Division 27 (Charles Ausburn (DD-294), Osborne, Coghlan, Preston, Lamson and Bruce), to replace Destroyer Division 26, spending most of the next year in the western Mediterranean and western European waters.

On her arrival at Gibraltar in June 1925 she was taken over by the future Admiral William Halsey, who had previously commanded the Dale (DD-290). In about the same period she was also commanded by Raymond Spruance. In early May 1926 she paid a visit to Stockholm, then suffering something of a slump because of the General Strike in Britain, which had closed off part of her export trade. Her time in Europe wasn’t entirely peaceful – at the start of July 1926 one of her crew was mugged by three men while she was at Brest for the unveiling of a memorial tablet.

At the start of January 1927 she and the Smith-Thompson (DD-212) were at Yorktown, ready to move south to Nicaragua. Any of her crew who served onshore in January 1927 qualified for the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal. Her time in Nicaraguan waters was short, as by 13 January the Navy had decided to replace her with the Williamson (DD-244) and Goff (DD-247) from the scouting fleet.

USS Osborne (DD-295), USS Gwin (DD-71) and USS DuPont (DD-152), Charleston, SC, 1920
USS Osborne (DD-295),
USS Gwin (DD-71)
and USS DuPont (DD-152),
Charleston, SC, 1920

On 4 June 1927 the Osborne took part in President Calvin Coolidge’s fleet review.

By the late 1920s the Osborne was one of a number of Clemson class destroyers whose Yarrow boilers were badly worn. It was decided to replace them with almost unused ships from the reserve, and on 1 May 1930 the Osborne was decommissioned and her crew transferred to the Wickes class destroyer USS Taylor (DD-94), which had served from August 1918 until June 1922. The Osborne was sold for scrap on 17 January 1931 to satisfy the terms of the London Naval Treaty.

Unusually this wasn’t the end of her active life. She was sold to the Standard Fruit Company of New Orleans, where she was gutted and then virtually rebuilt, with new engines, two new deck houses and four holds that could carry 25,000 banana stems. She was renamed as the Matagalpa, and entered service as a banana boat, operating between Central America and New Orleans.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Matagalpa was one of three old destroyers that were taken over by the Navy on a bare boat charter (along with the Masaya/ USS Dale (DD-290) and Teapa/ USS Putnam (DD-287). After the Japanese attack on the Philippines they were taken over by the Army to act as fast supply ships. The original plan was to use them to rush supplie to MacArthur, who was still holding out at Bataan and Corregidor, but the sailing was delayed and she didn’t reach Pearl Harbor until May 1942. With the Philippines already lost they were then diverted to Australia, where the Matagalpa was damaged beyond repair by a fire while she was moored at Sydney on 26 June 1942.

Commander
William Halsey: June 1925-
Worrall R. Carter: September 1927-January 1928 (when detached to Navy War College).
Horatia J. Pierce: February 1928-

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

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

114

Launched

29 December 1919

Commissioned

17 May 1920

Destroyed by fire

26 June 1942

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 July 2020), USS Osborne (DD-295) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Osborne_DD295.html

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