USS Aylwin (DD-47)

USS Aylwin (DD-47) was a Cassin class destroyer that was used in experimental work in 1917 then operated from Queenstown, Portsmouth and Devonport during the First World War. She inspected German ports after the end of the war, then returned to the US for a brief post-war career.

The Aylwin was named after John Cushing Aylwin, a Canadian who served in the Royal Navy until 1801, then joined the US Navy during the War of 1812, dying of wounds suffered during the battle between USS Constitution and HMS Java on 29 December 1812.

The Aylwin was laid down by William Cramp at Philadelphia on 7 March 1912, launched on 23 November 1912 and commissioned on 17 January 1914.

USS Aylwin (DD-47) fires her Y-Guns
USS Aylwin (DD-47)
fires her Y-Guns

The Aylwin was the first of the Cassin class ships to be built by Cramps, and rather embarrassingly didn't achieve her design speed, despite having been built with a twin-screw layout recommended by Cramps. In September 1911 Cramps suggested replacing the triple-screw machinery layout used on recent destroyers with a new twin screw system. The earlier designs had used the high pressure turbine on the centre screw and low pressure turbines on the outer screws and cruising turbines built into the main turbines. Cramps suggesting using reciprocated cruising engines. The new system required a new stern. The new layout wasn't entirely successful, and the Aylwin failed to reach her design speed on trial. She did reach 29.78 knots on trial run #24, but this was without her guns installed. Aylwin and her three Cramp-built sister ships are sometimes referred to as the Aylwin class.

After commissioned the Aylwin visited Cuba, and then was decommissioned. She spent a year in the reserve, before being reactivated on 25 May 1915 to join the 6th Division, Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet. She spent the next year and a half patrolling the US East Coast. The Aylwin was damaged in a collision with the Drayton (DD-23), probably late in 1916 as the incident was investigated by the Judge Advocate General (Navy) in February-April 1917. The Aylwin suffered the most damage, with quite a gap ripped in the right of bow. Early in 1917 she moved to Cuban waters for winter manoeuvres, but after the US entry to the war in April 1917 she moved back to the Virginia capes area.

During the early months of 1917, Aylwin sailed to Cuban waters for winter maneuvers and returned to the Virginia capes area upon America's entry into World War I. From June 1917 to January 1918, the destroyer participated in special experimental work while operating out of Boston, Mass., and Newport, R.I.

Between June 1917 and January 1918 the Aylwin was used on experimental work, operating from Boston and Newport, Rhode Island. In November 1917 the Special Board on Anti-Submarine Devices tried of a 'K' (drifter) tube hydrophone. In trials off the Boston lightship she could detect the submarine G-2 at only 400 yards if her auxiliary machinery was running or at up to three miles if the auxiliaries were powered down.

On 4 January 1918 the Aylwin left from Queenstown, Ireland. After her arrival she carried out anti-submarine patrols. After a short period she was sent to England to operate alongside Royal Naval forces based at Portsmouth and Devonport, once again on anti-submarine patrols.

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

The Aylwin remained in European waters after the end of the fighting, and on 26 December began an inspection tour of the German Baltic ports in the company of the cruiser USS Chester (Cruiser No.1). This trip included visits to Hamburg, Swinemünde and Kiel. This trip was carried out on behalf of the Allied Naval Armistice Commission and part of their role was to liberate any US prisoners of war or civilians.

The Aylwin left Brest to return to the US on 19 June 1919. She reached New York on 29 June and was almost immediately placed into the reserve. She was decommissioned on 23 February 1921 and lost her name on 1 July 1933, so that could be reused on USS Aylwin (DD-355). She was struck off on 8 March 1935 and soon afterwards sold for scrap.

Displacement (standard)

1,010t nominal

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29kts at 16,000shp (design)
29.14kts at 14,253shp at 1,057 tons on trial (Duncan)


2-shaft Parson turbines plus reciprocating cruising engines
4 boilers for 16,000shp


305ft 5in


30ft 2in


Four 3in.50 guns (DD-43 & DD-44)
Four 4in/50 guns (DD-45 to DD-50)
Eight 1in torpedo tubes in four twin mountings

Crew complement



23 November 1912


17 January 1914


Sold for scrap 1935

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 (28 June 2016), USS Aylwin (DD-47) ,

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