USS Bainbridge (DD-1)

USS Bainbridge (DD-1) was the name ship of the Bainbridge class of destroyers. She spent most of her active career serving in the Philippines, before spending nine months based at Gibraltar during the First World War.

USS Bainbridge (DD-1) Fitting Out, 1902
USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
Fitting Out, 1902

The Bainbridge was laid down on 15 August 1899 at Neafie & Levy of Philadephia. She was launched on 27 August 1901 and commissioned into the reserve on 24 November 1902. She was then towed to Norfolk, Virginia, where she was commissioned into the active fleet on 12 February 1903.

The Bainbridge joined the 1st Torpedo Flotilla, where she served alongside most of her sister-ships. In June 1903 this flotilla moved to Annapolis to join the Coast Squadron of the North Atlantic Fleet. In June 1903 the flotilla took part in a series of manoeuvres off the coast of Maine. In late September the flotilla left the Coast Squadron and began to prepare for a move to the Asiatic Stations. The journey to the Far East began on 12 December 1903, when the Flotilla, escorted by USS Baltimore (Cruiser No.3), left Chesapeake Bay. At Key West the Baltimore was replaced by the auxiliary cruiser Buffalo, and the small fleet then set off across the Atlantic. Her voyage east took the Bainbridge to Gibraltar, Malta, the Suez Canal, India and Singapore before she reached her new base at Cavite on the Philippines on 9 March 1904.

Forward 3in Gun, USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
Forward 3in Gun, USS Bainbridge (DD-1)

During the summer of 1904 the Bainbridge was the flagship of the 1st Torpedo Flotilla as it operated off the coast of China. The flotilla spent June and part of July at Hong Kong, then joined the Battleship Squadron of the Asiatic Fleet, where it split its time between drills and 'showing the flag' in China. This took place against the background of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. On 10 August the Russian warship Askold, fleeing from Vladivostok, attempted to reach the safety of neutral Shanghai. The Japanese sent a destroyer into the Yangtze, probably with the intention of capturing the Russian ship. The Bainbridge was sent to intercept the Japanese ship, and successfully convinced the Japanese to withdraw. The Askold was interned at Shanghai.

Crew of USS Bainbridge (DD-1) in Asiatic Waters
Crew of
USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
in Asiatic Waters

The Bainbridge and her flotilla spent the period between 28 October 1904 and March 1905 in the Philippines. In late March she spent a brief time in dry dock in Hong Kong, then returned to the Philippines. The Russo-Japanese War then intervened again, this time in the shape of the Russian Baltic Fleet, which had made its somewhat chaotic way around the world from the Baltic to the Far East in an attempt to avenge the defeat of the Russian Far Eastern fleet. In April the Bainbridge and her fellow destroyers were ordered to patrol the area between Palawan, in the south-west of the Philippines, and Borneo, to make sure that the Russian fleet didn't violate Philippine neutrality. The Bainbridge continued to perform this role until the Japanese victory at Tsushima (27-28 May 1905).

The Bainbridge spent the late summer of 1905 taking part in exercises off the coast of China. However the US relationship with China was threatened by the Chinese Exclusion Policy. This had been in place for some time, but a series of court cases raised its profile, and in 1904-1905 a successful boycott of American goods was organised in China. In the winter of 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt decided to send the Fleet back to Chinese waters in an attempt at intimidation ('brandishing the 'Big Stick'). Although the tension began to drop early in 1906, the Bainbridge (and her sister ship Barry), remained in Chinese waters until the autumn of 1906 and didn't return to their home base until October.

USS Bainbridge (DD-1) in Subic Bay, 1915
USS Bainbridge (DD-1)
in Subic Bay, 1915

On 9 January 1907 the Bainbridge was placed out of commission so she could undergo extensive boiler repairs. Work on three of her sister ships have begun in December 1905 (thus their absence from Chinese waters), and the Bainbridge replaced USS Chauncey (DD-3) in the repair yard. The repairs took over a year, and the Bainbridge was recommissioned until April 1908.

Between April 1908 and the autumn of 1911 the Bainbridge carried out a more normal routine of winter exercises in the Philippines and summer cruisers in Chinese waters. However in September-October 1911 an anti-Manchu revolution began in China. The Bainbridge and her sister ships remained in Chinese waters until the spring of 1912 in order to protect American citizens. By the spring it was clear that foreign citizens were in much danger, and the Bainbridge was one of a number of US ships that returned to the Philippines. This may have been caused by a shortage of personnel, for she was placed out of commission between 24 April 1912 and 1 April 1913.

Destroyer Evolution
Destroyer Evolution

The Bainbridge was recommissioned with Lt. Raymond A Spruance, the future US Admiral, in command. She returned to active service just as tensions were rising with Japan, once again because of an immigration law (this time the Californian Asian Exclusion Act). The Bainbridge and her flotilla spent the next year guarding Manila in case war broke out over the issue.

In 1914 the Bainbridge made her last summer cruiser in Chinese waters. Soon afterwards the First World War began, and although the United States didn't enter the conflict, it did alter the Bainbridge's routine. Between the outbreak of war and the summer of 1917 the Bainbridge spent most of her time in Philippine Waters, with a brief cruise to China in November-December 1915.

On 1 August 1917 the Bainbridge and her division set sail for the Mediterranean. The division reached Port Said, at the northern end of the Suez Canal, on 25 September 1917. They then entered the Mediterranean, heading for Gibraltar. On the way she formed part of the escort for a convoy heading from Malta to Naples, and on 8 October the Bainbridge spotted a U-boat (for the only time during the war). She headed for the U-boat, but it submerged before she was in range. After that the voyage was quiet, and she reached Gibraltar on 20 October.

The Bainbridge was based at Gibraltar for nine months. She served as an escort vessel on the entrances to the Mediterranean and in the western part of the sea.

This period of active service ended on 15 July 1918 when she left Gibraltar on her way back to the United States. She was then used for a mix of patrol and escort duties from her new base at Charleston, South Carolina, between August and 27 November 1918. After a final spell of active service off the US north-east coast, she was decommissioned on 3 July 1919. In January 1920 she was sold for conversion to a fruit carrier, but instead she was broken up for scrap.

Displacement (standard)

420 tons

Displacement (loaded)

620 tons

Top Speed



4 Thornycroft boilers
2 Vertical Triple Engines


3000 miles at cruising speed




23ft 7in


Two 3in/25 guns
Five 6pdr guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



27 August 1901


24 November 1902


Sold 1920

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 (10 September 2015), USS Bainbridge (DD-1) ,

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