USS Burrows (DD-29)

USS Burrows (DD-29) was a Paulding class destroyer that took part in the US intervention in Mexico, then operated from Queenstown for a year in 1917-18, then moved to Brest until the end of the First World War. After the war she served with the Coast Guard's 'Rum Patrol'.

The Burrows was named after William Burrows, commander of the USS Enterprise during the War of 1812, killed during the dual between the Enterprise and HMS Boxer.

The Burrows was laid down at Camden, New Jersey, on 19 June 1909, launched on 23 June 1910 and commissioned on 21 February 1911. She joined the Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla, and had a fairly typical pre-war career, spending her summers on the US East Coast and her winters in Cuban waters.

USS Little (DD-79), USS Jarvis (DD-38) and USS Burrows (DD-29), Brest, 1918
USS Little (DD-79),
USS Jarvis (DD-38)
USS Burrows (DD-29),
Brest, 1918

The Burrows took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914, and anyone who served on her between 22 April and 15 May or 20 and 27 May 1914 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal.

In 1916 the Burrows joined the neutrality patrol, operating in the Staten Island and Long Island area. On 7 April 1917, the day after the American entry into the war, the Burrows joined the hunt for a German commerce raider believed to be in the Nantucket area. After this search found nothing she moved to Key West, arriving on 25 April, and began to patrol the Florida Strait. This duty only lasted until 1 May, when she returned to Philadelphia for an overhaul to prepare her for distant service.

On 14 June the Burrows left New York with one of the first US Navy task forces to move to Europe. After reaching St. Nazaire on 28 June she moved to Queenstown, in Ireland. She was based there for the next year, performing a mix of anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties, mainly in the Irish Sea and the eastern Atlantic. During her time at Queenstown the Burrows had several probably contacts with U-boats.

Her first hunt was fruitless. On 20 July a U-boat sank the SS Nevisbrook. The Burrows made an unsuccessful attempt to find the U-boat then rescued the survivors of the Nevisbrook.

USS Burrows (DD-29) at Brest, 27 October 1918
USS Burrows (DD-29) at Brest, 27 October 1918

Many of her contacts involved depth charge attacks on probable targets, with very limited results. This began on 20 August 1917 when she dropped a single depth charge near a large oil slick. The same happened on 5 February 1918. On 23 February she depth charged a possible disturbance in the water in the aftermath of the sinking of the SS Birchleaf, so on this occasion there was at least a U-boat in the area. Another oil slick was attacked on 26 February, and this time more oil came to the surface.

On 19 January 1918 the Burrows was damaged by a fire caused by a broken oil line. The fire killed two, and took several efforts to extinguish, with the aid of several other ships. The damage was fairly minor, and she was back at sea by the end of January.

There were also some more tangible contacts with the enemy. On 16 March a periscope was spotted to her port. The U-boat submerged before the Burrows could fire on her, but she did drop four depth charges, again without result.

On 19 May 1918 the Burrows was attacked by a U-boat. At 12.45am a torpedo passed within twenty feet of her bow. The Burrows spent the next hour and a half hunting for her, and finally spotted a conning tower at 2.15. Once again the U-boat submerged before the Burrows could reach the scene, and once again she dropped depth charges without any clear results. This attack was credited as a 'probably damaged'. The Burrows then escorted her convoy into Liverpool.

Later on the same day the Burrows was called back to sea after listening in to a message between the Patterson (DD-36) and the Allen (DD-66) asking for help in attacking a damaged U-boat west of Bardsey, at the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula (north-west Wales). The Burrows was at the scene by 19.30 on the same day, and joined Patterson, Allen and Beale (DD-40), two British destroyers and two airships in an hour long hunt for the submarine. After an hour they dropped depth charges, and bubbles of oil came to the surface. However there was no evidence of damage to a U-boat.

An eventful two days ended early on 20 May when she collided with HMS P 62 off Bardsey. The Burrows took on four feet of water in No.1 Fireroom, which was also on fire! She was able to make her way back to Liverpool under her own steam, reaching safety at 2.10pm on the same day.

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
USS Burrows (DD-29)
dressed with flags, 1919

On 11 June 1918 the Burrows was ordered to move to a new base at Brest, where she remained for the rest of the war. From Brest she carried out a mix of escort missions and rescue missions. She also carried out a number of attacks on U-boats, although again without any confirmed successes.

The rescue missions had more concrete results. On 16 August she rescued survivors from the West Bridge (Id. No. 2888) after she was torpedoed by U-107. The distress call actually came from the Montanan, hit by U-90, but her crew was rescued by the Noma (SP-131). The Burrows remained with the West Bridge for the entire morning while attempts were made to save her, and eventually a group of tugs did get her safely into Brest.

In October 1918 she helped escort Troop Convoy 70 on the last stage of its voyage across the Atlantic. This convoy was noteworthy for suffering a high number of fatalities early in the great Influence Epidemic

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
USS Burrows (DD-29) and USS Jenkins (DD-42) dressed with flags, 1919

Anyone who served on the Burrows between 27 June 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Burrows remained at Brest into December 1918, taking part in the reception of President Woodrow Wilson as he arrived for the Peace Conference. She then returned to the United States, where she spent most of 1919 on limited operations along the East Coast before being decommissioned on 12 December 1919.

On 7 June 1924 the Burrows was reactivated and give to the Coast Guard to take part in the Prohibition Era 'Rum Patrol'. She was commissioned by the Coast Guard and 30 June, and spent most of the next six years operating from New London, Connecticut. She was decommissioned by the Coast Guard on 14 February 1931 and returned to the Navy on 2 May. She rejoined the reserve, but was finally struck off on 5 July 1934 and sold for scrap on 22 August.

Displacement (design)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts design
32kts at 17,393shp at 887 tons on trial


3-shaft Parson turbines
4 Normand boilers
12,000shp normal
17,393shp trial


3,000nm at 16kts design
3,343nm at 15kts on trial
2,642nm at 20kts on trial




26ft 3in


Five 3in/50 guns
Six 18in torpedo tubes in three twin mounts

Crew complement



23 June 1910


21 February 1911


Sold for scrap 1934

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 (15 March 2016), USS Burrows (DD-29) ,

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