USS Barker (DD-213)

USS Barker (DD-213) was a Clemson class destroyer that remained in commission for her entire career, spending most of the interwar period with the Asiatic Fleet, before taking part in the unsuccessful attempt to defend the Dutch East Indies early in 1942. She remained in service to the end of the war, largely operating in the Atlantic. 

The Barker was named after Albert S. Barker, a US sailor during the American Civil War and Spanish-American War and Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet in 1903-1905.

The Barker was launched at Cramp’s of Philadelphia on 11 September 1919 and commissioned on 27 December 1919. In June 1920 she departed for the Middle East, where she joined Division 35 of the US Naval Detachment, Turkish Waters. She helped with the American relief effort in Armenia and visited a number of ports in Turkey in the Middle East.

USS Barker (DD-213) at Gonaives, Haiti, March 1928
USS Barker (DD-213)
at Gonaives, Haiti,
March 1928

Late in 1921 the Barker left the Middle East and sailed east through the Suez Canal to join the Asiatic Fleet.  She spent the next four years splitting her time between the Philippines and Chinese waters. In January 1925 she helped transport a force of Marines to Shanghai, where they landed on 22 January 1925, to protect US interests (along with the Borie (DD-215) and Whipple (DD-217). She returned to the United States in May 1925.

The Barker joined the Scouting Force, and operated off the US East Coast in 1925-27. She took part in the US intervention in Nicaragua from 10-31 January 1927. On 17 January 1927 she briefly landed a part of six men at the Gulf of Fonseca. Anyone who served on her on 10 January 1927 or 13-31 January 1927 qualified for the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal.

From 1927-29 the Barker served with the US Naval Forces, Europe, carrying out a series of goodwill visits to European Ports.

In August 1929 the Barker was assigned to the Asiatic Fleet for a second time. Once again she split her time between the Philippines and Chinese Waters, helping to protect US interests as the relationship between Japan and China deteriorated. 

In January-February 1932 she was present when the Japanese attacked Shanghai

Anyone who served on her during five periods between 28 November 1930 and 25 October 1932 qualified for the Yangtze Service Medal.

Between 26 July and 1 August 1937 she was one of five US ships that payed an official visit to the Russian port of Vladivostok, as part of efforts to improve US relationships with Russia after the outbreak of open warfare between Japan and China. This fleet was led by the cruiser Augusta (CA-31), and included the destroyers Paul Jones (DD-230), Whipple (DD-217), Alden (DD-211) and Barker.

Anyone who served on her during six periods between 7 July 1937 and 14 August 1939 qualified for the China Service Medal.


At the start of 1941 the Barker was part of Division 57, Squadron 29. In November 1941 the commander of the Asiatic Fleet decided to move some of his ships near to his potential Dutch and British allies, and as a result when the Japenese attacked Pearl Harbor the Barker was at Tarakon on Borneo (along with the rest of Destroyer Squadron 29 - Paul Jones (DD-230), Stewart (DD-224) and Parrott (DD-218), and the light cruiser USS Marblehead (CL-12)).

After the news of Pearl Harbor reached the Barker she began a period of patrolling and escort duties in the Dutch East Indies.

On 11-14 December 1941 the Barker, along with the Boise (CL-47) and Paul Jones (DD-230) escorted two convoys of auxiliary warships from Manila to Balikpapan on Borneo.

On 30 December 1941 the Barker formed part of the escort for the tender and repair ship Black Hawk (Id. No. 2140) as she moved from Surabaya, Indonesia to Port Darwin, Australia (along with the Boise (CL-47), Pope (DD-225) and the tanker George C. Henry (later renamed as the Victoria (AO-46). The small fleet reached Port Darwin, Australia on 6 January 1942.


USS Barker (DD-213) transfering prisoners from U-185 to USS Core (CVE-13)
USS Barker (DD-213) transfering prisoners from U-185 to USS Core (CVE-13)

The Barker formed part of the multinational fleet gathered together by the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command in a desperate attempt to defend the Malay Barrier. She took part in the anti-aircraft actions off Bali on 4 February and off Banka Island on 15 February (where she formed part of the screen for the Dutch cruiser De Ruyter). She had to return to port after suffering damaging in the second of those encounters. She retired to Exmouth Gulf, Australia, arriving 26 February for repair and overhaul (along with the Black Hawk, the submarine tender Holland (AS-3), the Bulmer (DD-222) and the submarine Stingray (SS-186). She thus missed the disastrous battle of the Java Sea, at which most of the Allied fleet was lost.

From March to May 1942 the Barker performed patrol and escort duties from Fremantle, Australia. She was based at Tonga from 24 May to 29 June whe she departed for Pearl Harbor and the first part of a voyage back to the United States and a refit. From October 1942 to May 1943 she was used to escort convoys between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor.


On 23 May 1943 the Barker departed for the east coast (sailing with the Parrott and Paul Jones). In June she joined hunter-killer group TG 21.21, built around the escort carrier USS Core, and with the destroyers Barker, Badger and Bulmer (DD-222).

On 27 June the group departed from Norfolk as part of the escort for convoy UGS-11, heading for Gibraltar. She accompanied this convoy until 11 July, when she was 700 miles south of the Azores. The Core group was then ordered to transfer to the home-bound convoy GUS-9 and escort it past the most dangerous part of the Atlantic. During this voyage the group’s aircraft sank U-487 on 13 July and U-67 on 16 July. The Barker picked up 33 survivores from U-487.

Returning to New York 1 August, Barker departed with the Group (this time as TG 21.16) on another anti-submarine sweep 16 August. On 24 August Core's aircraft found and sank the German Submarines U-84 and U-185. Barker rescued 36 survivors of U-185 before handing them on to USS Core (CVE-13). The Core then ran into engine problems that reduced her speed to a dangerous level, and the Badger, Barker and Bulmer had to escort her back to safety at Chesapeake Bay, arriving on 2 September.

Between 16 September 1943 and 1 October 1944 the Barker operated on the trans-Atlantic convoy routes, escorting two convoys to Britain and four to North Africa.

On 16 September 1943 the Barker departed from Norfolk as part of the escort of the sea plane carrier USS Albemarle (AV-5) as she crossed to Swansea, arriving on 28 September 1943, from where she was to support US anti-submarine air patrols operating from Britain.

On 15 October 1943 the Barker left Hampton Roads as part of TG 21.16 (the carrier USS Block Island (CVE-21) and the destroyers Paul Jones (DD-230), Parrott (DD-218), Bulmer (DD-222) and Barker. The group’s initial task was to escort Convoy UGS-21, but it was then diverted to investigate a U-boat concentration. Late on 25 October the group attacked the ‘milch cow’ submarine U-488, and managed to hole her conning tower, but the submarine escaped. The group also attacked U-256 and U-220, on 28 October. Neither sub was destroyed in this attack, but U-220 was lost later on the same day. The group reached Casablanca on 5 November 1943.

The Barker sailed from Hampton Roads with the same carrier task group on 15 December 1943, to protect Convoy UGS-27. Four days later the group was detached to investigate an area north of the Azores. On 27 December the Block Island’s aircraft attacked the German blockade runner Alsterufer, although without success, as she had already been sunk by a land based Liberator flown by a Czech crew. One of the Block Island’s aircraft ran out of fuel on the way back and had to be rescued by the Barker.

After escorting the last of her trans-Atlantic convoys, the Barker was used to escort convoys along the US East Coast, to the Carribean and to Newfoundland. She was decommissioned on 18 July 1945 and sold on 30 November 1945.

Barker received two battle stars for her participation in World War II, for Asiatic Fleet operations between 8 December 1941 and 26 February 1942 and as part of Task Group 21.12 between 27-31 July 1943.

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)


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



11 September 1919


27 December 1919


30 November 1945

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 November 2018), USS Barker (DD-213) ,

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