USS Caldwell (DD-69)

The USS Caldwell (DD-69) was the name ship of the Caldwell class of destroyers, and served at Queenstown and on experimental work during the First World War.

The Caldwell was named after James R. Caldwell, an US Naval officer who served in the Quasi-War with France and during the Barbary Wars, and was killed on 7 August 1804 during the US attack on Tripoli.

The Caldwell was launched at Mare Island on 10 July 1917 and commissioned on 1 December 1917 with Lt Commander B. McCandless in command. Her first executive officer was James Laurence Kauffman, who rose to flag rank. During the Second World War he commanded the US naval base on Iceland, the Gulf Sea Frontier, was senior member of the Allied Anti-Submarine Survey Board, commander of the Pacific Fleet cruisers, destroyers and frigates, and finally Commander, Philippine Sea Frontier under MacArthur. 

USS Caldwell (DD-69) in British Waters in 1918
USS Caldwell (DD-69)
in British Waters in 1918

The Caldwell was allocated to the Atlantic Fleet, and reached her base at Norfolk, Virginia on 8 January 1918. She was soon sent across the Atlantic, and reached Queenstown, Ireland, on 5 March 1918. During her trip across the Atlantic she visited the Azores, where on 27 February she took on fuel from the French tanker Quevilley, a rare example of a fully rigged sailing oil tanker.

She was used for patrols and convoy escort duties. In April-June 1918 the Caldwell steamed 21,231.5 miles, the longest steamed by any US destroyer in that period. She was under way for 1,319.4 hours and at sea on 55 days.

USS Caldwell refueling, 27 February 1918
USS Caldwell refueling, 27 February 1918

USS Caldwell (DD-69) in Mackay Low Visibility Camo
USS Caldwell (DD-69) in Mackay Low Visibility Camo

The Caldwell spent some of 1918 helping conduct experiments with underwater listening devices, some of the first attempts to detect German U-boats while they were under water.

After the end of the war the Caldwell was used to ferry troops to Brest. She also formed part of the escort for President Woodrow Wilson when he arrived at Brest on the transport USS George Washington.

Anyone who served on her between 28 February and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Caldwell operated with the Norfolk Division of the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, and with Destroyer Squadron 3 during 1919. She was placed in the reserve with a reduced crew in August 1920, and was based at Charleston and later Newport, Rhode Island. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 27 June 1922, didn't take part in the Coast Guard 'Rum Patrol' and was sold for scrap on 30 June 1936.

Displacement (standard)

1,120t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30kts at 18,500shp
30.20kts at 19,930shp at 1,192 tons on trial (Gwin)


2-shaft turbines
4 boilers


2,500nm at 20kts

Armour - belt


 - deck



315ft 7in


30ft 6in


Four 4in/50 guns
Two 1-pounder AA guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in four triple mounts
One Y-gun (DD-70 to DD-71)

Crew complement



10 July 1917


1 December 1917

Sold for scrap

30 June 1936

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 (14 December 2016), USS Caldwell (DD-69) ,

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