USS Southard (DD-207/ DMS-10)

USS Southard (DD-207/ DMS-10) was a Clemson class destroyer that fought at Guadalacanal, Bougaunville, the Palaus, the Philippines and Okinawa, before being damaged beyond repair by typhoons after the end of the war.

The Southard was named after Samuel Lewis Southard, Secretary of the Navy from 1823 until 1829.

Side view of USS Southard (DD-207)
Side view of
USS Southard

The Southard was laid down by Cramp’s at Philadelphia on 18 August 1918, launched on 31 March 1919 and commissioned on 24 September 1919. After her shake down cruise she was one of seven destroyers that escorted HMS Renown as she carried Edward, Prince of Wales, home from a visit to the United States. On 19 November 1919 she left Newport heading for the eastern Mediterranean, where she joined the US fleet operationg in the Adriatic. She spent about a year operating in the Adriatic, before heading east to the Philippines, passing through the Suez Canal on her way. She reached Cavite in the Philippines on 16 February 1921, and after repairs that lasted until 21 March began operations with the Asiatic Fleet. She remained in Far Eastern waters until 27 August 1922 when she departed for the United States, where early in 1922 she was decommissioned.

The Southard was recommissioned on 6 January 1930. She spent most of 1930 operating off the US west coast, before moving to the Panama Canal zone for the first part of 1931. After that she spent the next nine years operating with the Battle Force in the Pacific. From June 1931 until the summer of 1932 she was commanded by Oscar Charles Badger, who later served as commander of destroyers with the Atlantic Fleet, and various battleship squadrons in the Pacific. In 1934 and 1939 she visited the Atlantic for short periods. In 1935 she was part of Destroyer Division 18, along with the Chandler(DD-206), Long (DD-209) and Hovey (DD-208).

In 1940 the Southard was converted into a high-speed destroyer minesweeper, and on 19 October she was reclassified as DMS-10. She was then posted to Pearl Harbor. The Southard was at Johnston Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, along with the Indianapolis and her fellow mine sweepers Hopkins, Dorsey, Elliot and Long, where they were testing a new type of landing boat. She returned to Pearl Harbor two days later, and was used to patrol the approaches to the harbour until 23 January 1942.


USS Southard (DMS-10), Mare Island, 9 June 1942
USS Southard (DMS-10), Mare Island, 9 June 1942

Beween 23 January and 15 February 1942 the Southard escorted a convoy to San Francisco and back. She then spent a short spell back on patrol duty, before heading east with another convoy between 20-31 May. She spent the first ten days of June in restricted availability at Mare Island, before returning to Pearl Harbour on 1 July.

On 10 July she left Pearl Harbor with the Hovey (DMS-11) and Argonne (AP-4), arriving at Canton Island on 16 July, on her way to take part in the invasion of Guadalcanal. She arrived off Guadalacanal on 7 August and took part in the initial bombardment of Florida Island. She then joined the minesweepers operating to the south of Gavutu Island and in Lengo Channel.

During the battle of Savo Island (8-9 August 1942) the Southard was part of the defensive screen for the transport ships that had landed troops on Guadalcanal. On 8 August she claimed one of twenty high altitude bombers that attacked the transport area.

After the beachhead had been established, the Southard spent eight months escorting convoys between New Caledonia and the New Hebrides to the Solomon Islands.

When the beachhead on Guadalcanal had been successfully established, Southard settled down to the risky routine of screening the convoys from New Caledonia and the New Hebrides to the Solomons. For almost eight months, she steamed back and forth between Espiritu Santo, Efate, Noumea, Tulagi, Purvis Bay, and Guadalcanal. There were frequent air attacks, and submarines prowled the sea-lanes.

On 2 November she screened the Majaba (AG-43) as she crossed from Guadalcanal to Tulagi to unload cargo. Early on 10 November, while passing between San Cristobal and Guadalcanal, the Southard found a Japanese submarine on the surface. She opened fire, and then after the submarine submerged carried out her first depth charge attack. She then lost contact with the submarine for three and a half hours, only regaining it at 0607. The Southard carried out five depth charge attacks in three hours. After the last attack oil came to the surface, and the Southard passed over the oil. Soon afterwards the damaged submarine surfaced, with her conning tower, forward hull and part of the keel breaching the surface. After that she sank by the stern. At the time the kill couldn’t be confirmed, but this was later identified as I-172, lost on that date.


USS Southard (DD-207), Mare Island Navy Yard, 1943 USS Southard (DD-207), Mare Island Navy Yard, 1943

At the end of 1942 the Southard was sent to Brisbane for a liberty and recreation visit, before she spent six days in dry dock at Sydney. She returned to duty early in January, but only for two months. On 20 March she left Noumea in company with two other destroyers (the Hovey (DMS-11) and Stringham (APD-6) and the fleet tug Sonoma (AT-12), which was towing the Aulick (DD-569), damaged after she ran into a reef on 10 March. This flotilla reached Pearl Harbor via Fiji and Pago Pago. The Southard then continued on to San Francisco, where she underwent a refit at the Mare Island Navy Yard between 19 April and 8 June.

The Southard returned to Pearl Harbor on 15 June, and departed for the South Pacific theatre nine days later, reaching Dumbea Bay on New Caledonia on 6 July. She then resumed operations in the Solomons, carrying out a mix of patrol duties and convoy escorts. On 30 October she joined a convoy off Guadalcanal that was heading towards Bougainville, to take part in the landings around Empress Augusta Bay. The Southard took part in the naval bombardment of the area, then carried out minesweeping operations in Empress Augusta Bay. She returned to Florida Island on 3 November, but four days later was back at Bougainville to investigate the approaches to Empress Augusta Bay. After that she returned to patrol duties off Guadalcanal. This lasted for the rest of the year, apart from a trip to New Caledonia.


On 22 January the Southard was escorted the oiler Cache (AO-67) when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine while travelling from Florida Island to Espiritu Santo. The Southard had to escort the damaged oiler back to Espiritu Santo.

After a visit to Auckland, New Zealand in February, the Southard returned to operations around Guadalcanal. In April and May she began operating in the Bismarck Archipelago, escorting convoys to Borgen Bay on New Britain. However in mid May she departed for the United States and a major overhaul that took up all of June and July.

In August the Southard returned to the Pacific. In September she took part in the invasion of the Palau Islands. On 12 September she arrived in the islands, and began a period of minesweeping off Peleliu and Anguar. This lasted until 24 September when she returned to Manus to take on supplies. She then returned to the Palaus for a second tour of duty that lasted until the end of the month. 

On 10 October the Southard set sail with the Dinagat Attack Force, part of the invasion force heading for Leyte in the Philippines. She began minesweeping operations in Leyte Gulf on 18-19 October, then in the Surigao Strait on 20 October. From 24-26 October she formed part of the screen for Carrier Group 77.4. She then returned to Seeadler Harbor, and spent November and most of December on exercises.

On 23 December 1944 the Southard joined TG 77.6, ready to take part in the invasion of Lingayen Gulf on Luzon.


The Southard began minesweeping at Lingayen on 6 January 1945. This was one of the more dangerous minesweeping operations of the Pacific War. On the same afternoon the Southard was hit by a kamikaze attack. The aircraft hit behind her smoke stakes. The fuselage of the aircraft bounced off, cutting six foot wide gap in the deck, which its engine remained embedded in the ship. The Southard had to cut loose her minesweeping gear and retreat to make repairs. However the damage wasn’t too serious, and she was able to resume duties on 7 January, 14 hours after the attack. She continued to carry out her duties in Lingayen Gulf for five more day sbefore leaving for repairs. The first work was carried out at San Pedro Bay from 14 January, then she departed for Hawaii on 4 February. The jounty took her to Ulithi (6 February) and Guam (8 February). She  departed from the Marianas on the 13th (alongside the Sperry (AS-12)) and reached Pearl Harbor on 22 February. The repairs turned out to be rather time consuming, and she didn’t leave Hawaii until 4 May.

On 1 May 1945 she was part of Mine Division Five (ComMinDiv 5) of the Pacific Fleet.

The Southard reached Eniwetok on 12 May, and then escorted the troopships Sea Sturgeon and Evangeline to Guam (with the Clinton (APA-144) and Buckingham (APA-141). On 23 May she departed for Okinawa, to join the battle off that island.

The Southard narrowly avoided a second kamikaze hit on the day she arrived off Okinawa, but survived and spent the next three months operating off the island, mine sweeping, screening transport ships and acting as a mail ship.

After the end of the fighting it was decided to send the Southard to a safe base for inspection and repairs. However on 17 September a typhoon hit. She ran aground on a pinnacle reef off Tsuken Shima after her screws were fouled by a drifting antisubmarine net. On 18 September she was floated off the reef and her screws cleared by divers. She was still waiting off Tsuken Shima when the famous typhoon hit the fleet on 9 October. The Southard hit another reef. On 10 October all but her CO and a skeleton crew were removed, and it was decided that she was too badly damaged to be worth repairing. On 5 December the Southard was decommissioned and on 14 January 1946 her hulk was destroyed. 

The Southard received ten battle stars during the Second World War, for the Guadalcanal landings and the battle for Guadalcanal, the naval battle of Guadalcanal, sinking a submarine on 10 November 1942, New Georgia and Rendova, Cape Torokina, the southern Palau Islands, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Okinawa and 3rd Fleet operations against Japan.

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



31 March 1919


24 September 1919


5 December 1945

Struck off

8 January 1946


14 January 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 (18 September 2018), USS Southard (DD-207/ DMS-10) ,

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