USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294)

USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Atlantic Fleet for most of the 1920s, taking part in a year long cruise to European waters in 1925-26.

She was named after Charles Lawrence Ausburne, a wireless operator on the Army transport Antilles when she was sunk by a U-boat on 17 October 1917. He stayed at his post sending out the emergency message until he drowned. The first Ausburn used a spelling of his name used by other members of the family, but not by Charles. Later ships named after him used his preferred Ausburne.

The Charles Ausburn was laid down at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp’s Squantum plant and launched on 18 December 1919, although only after a group of tugs had acted as ice breaks to make space for her! She was sponsored by Mrs. D.K. Ausburn.

Naval Aircraft Factory TS-1 Floatplane on USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294)
Naval Aircraft Factory
TS-1 Floatplane on
USS Charles Ausburn

DD-294 was originally going to be named the Ausburne, the version of his name used by Charles Ausburne. However other members of his family spelt their name Ausburn, and on 12 December 1919 DD-294 was erroneously renamed as the Ausburn. This was then changed to the Charles Ausburn on 20 February 1920.

The Charles Ausburn commissioned on 23 March 1920, and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, and took part in the normal mix of operations along the US East Coast in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. In August 1920 she was used to train some of the South Florida Naval Reservists during a cruise along the east coast. She operated with a reduced complement from October 1920 to May 1922. This didn’t stop her taking part in the winter exercises, and on 3 January 1922 she was one of three destroyers reported to be about to depart from New York to move to Guantanamo Bay.

In the autumn of 1923 the Charles Ausburn was equipped to carry a seaplane. A platform was installed in front of her bridge, which was used to carry a Naval Aircraft Factory TS-1 floatplane. No catapult was installed, and instead a crane was used to move the floatplane in and out of the water. Several months of tests followed, before the equipment was removed in April 1924. The experiment was considered to have been a success, although it was recommended that any further conversions should have the aircraft on the quarterdeck and not the forecastle, as it had badly restricted the view from the bridge.

USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294) carrying a Naval Aircraft Factory TS-1 Floatplane
USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294) carrying a Naval Aircraft Factory TS-1 Floatplane

She passed through the Panama Canal at least once, as she was photographed in the Culebra Cut.

The Charles Ausburn helped support the round the world flight carried out by a formation of Douglas World Cruisers in 1924. On 2 September the Charles Ausburn stood by the two remaining aircraft during a pause at Hawkes Bay, Newfoundland, towards the end of the successful flight.

On 18 June 1925 she departed from Boston for European Waters, as part of Destroyer Division 27 (Charles Ausburn, Osborne (DD-295) , Coghlan (DD-326) , Preston (DD-327), Lamson and Bruce), to replace Destroyer Division 26. She spent the next year in Mediterranean and northern European waters, before returning to New York on 11 July 1926.

On her way back she carried a German torpedo that was to be put on display outside the Army War College’s Washington Barracks. The torpedo had been in storage at the British Staff College, but was donated to the US by Sir W.E. Ironsides, then serving as commandant at Camberley and later to serve as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and C-in-C of Home Forces at the start of the Second World War.

On 4 January 1927 the manhole cover on a steam drum blew off while she was in the Norfolk Navy Yard. Ten of her crew were badly burned in the incident and had to be admitted to hospital.

By the end of the 1920s her Yarrow boilers were badly worn, and it was decided to swap her for one of the many almost unused destroyers in the reserve. She was decommissioned on 1 May 1930, and sold for scrap in 17 January 1931, helping to satisfy the conditions of the London Naval Treaty.

Lt-Commander Hugh V. McCabe: November 1926-

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



18 December 1919


23 March 1920

Sold for scrap

17 January 1931

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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 July 2020), USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294) ,

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