USS Chauncey (DD-296)

USS Chauncey (DD-296) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet until her loss in the Honda Point disaster in 1923.

The Chauncey was named after Isaac Chauncey, an officer in the US Navy during the Quasi-War with France, the War with the Barbary Pirates and the War of 1812, successfully fighting the British on Lake Ontario. Contemporary documents sometimes mis-spelt her name as the Chancey.

USS Chauncey (DD-296) in Dry Dock, 1918 USS Chauncey (DD-296) in Dry Dock, 1918

The Chancey was laid down at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, and launched on 29 September 1918 when she was sponsored by Miss D.M. Todd. She was commissioned on 25 June 1919 and allocated to the Pacific Fleet.

On 17 June 1919 she achieved a speed of over 35 knots for four hours during her final trial trip. Later on the same day she was officially accepted by the US Navy. She was commissioned on 25 June 1919 with Commander W. A. Glassford in command. He was famous for saving the destroyer USS Shaw (DD-68) after she was badly damaged in a collision with the British troop ship Aquitania in October 1918.

One of her first journeys appears to have taken her east, as in mid-July 1919 she was reported to have arrived in San Diego after a run from the Atlantic Coast via the Panama Canal.

In 1919 Commander Glassford was also commander of Destroyer Division 32, and the Chauncey was flagship of the division.

At the end of July 1919 she steamed from San Francisco to San Diego in eighteen hours, which at the time was believed to be a record time for a destroyer. Rear Admiral William. F. Fullam was onboard for the voyage, which was his last in active command. At the end of the trip his flag was lowered on the Chancey. At the start of August she was selected to Secretary of the Navy Daniels out to meet the battleship New Mexico (BB-40) on its way to San Diego.

On 12 August she departed from San Pedro for Honolulu, as part of the escort for the battleship USS New York (BB-34) which was carrying Secretary of the Navy Daniels and his wife on a trip to Hawaii. This was a flying visit for the commissioning of the new Naval Dry Dock at Pearl Harbor, and the Chauncey was back at San Francisco by 30 August. The trip wasn’t without drama as the Chauncey came close to being rammed by the New York on 15 August after the battleship’s steering jammed.

In November 1919 she was part of a fleet of 63 US warships included 43 destroyers that was reported to be the largest fleet yet seen in any Pacific sea port.

Inside the bridge of USS Chauncey (DD-296) Inside the bridge of USS Chauncey (DD-296)

At the end of December 1919 it was reported that Commander William F. Halsey had been appointed to command the Chauncey, moving from the Yarnall. He took up his new post in January 1920.

In March 1920 she was part of a large fleet that departed for Hawaii to celebrate the centenary of the Hawaiian Mission. This was reported to be the biggest force of destroyers yet seen in the Pacific. On 4 April 1920 she arrived at Honolulu with a hole in her stern, after she was ramming by the destroyer USS Aeron Ward (DD-132) while steaming from San Diego to Honolulu. By 12 May she was at Mare Island for an extensive overhaul. At the start of June the Chauncey and the rest of Division 32 were chosen to escort Secretary of the Navy Daniels on a cruise to Alaska that was due to begin in July.

The Chancey was part of the ready reserve at San Diego then Mare Island from 15 July 1920 to 14 October 1921. She then returned to active duty as flagship of Destroyer Division 31

USS Chauncey (DD-296) after breaking up USS Chauncey (DD-296) after breaking up

In July 1921, while still with the reserve, she achieved a high score in the short-range battle practice.

The Chauncey, Farragut (DD-300), Percival (DD-298) and Fuller (DD-297) were all sent to Marshfield, Coos Bay, Oregon, for Independence Day 1923. The Chauncey was also allocated to the large fleet that was to take part in the second Navy Day celebrations in San Francisco Bay in October 1923.

In early September 1923 the Chauncey was part of a large force of destroyers that was moving from San Francisco to San Diego. Late on 8 September, in a thick fog, the leading ship misjudged her position, and turned to enter the Santa Barbara Channel while she was still too far north. As a result the formation ran into the rocky coastline around Honda Point. The Chauncey ended up stranded upright, high on some of the rocks, close to the capsized USS Young (DD-312). Nobody on the Chauncey was lost and her crew were able to take part in the rescue efforts for the Young. Seventy of the Young’s crew made they way across a line rigged between the two ships. The Chauncey’s crew then set up a network of lifelines to the top of the nearby cliffs and her crew and that of the Young reached safety.

Four Destroyers lost at Honda Point Four Destroyers lost at Honda Point

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster it was hoped that the Chauncey, as the least damaged of the ships, might be salvaged. However by 25 September it was clear that this was no longer possible. She was decommissioned on 26 October 1923, and what was left of her was sold for scrap on 25 September 1925.

Commander W. A. Glassford: June 1919-
Lt Commander C.E. Ingraham: - November 1919-
William HalseyP: January 1920-
Lt. T. C. Macklin: - July 1921-
Commander Laurence M. McNair: November 1921-

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



29 September 1918


25 June 1919

Lost at Honda Point

8 September 1923

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 (29 July 2020), USS Chauncey (DD-296) ,

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