USS Converse (DD-291)

USS Converse (DD-291) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Atlantic Fleet for most of the 1920s, apart from a visit to European waters in 1924-25.

DD-291 was one of a series of ships that were going to be named USS Stewart. On 23 September 1919 the name was given to DD-216, but on 7 October she was renamed as the John D. Edwards. DD-292 was the next to be the Stewart, but that only lasted for two days, before she became the Reid. DD-291 was the next to get the name, but she only held it from 9-27 October, when DD-224 became the Stewart, and DD-291 finally became the Converse.

She was eventually named after George Albert Converse, a technically minded officer who played a part in the introduction of electricity onboard warships, the use of smokeless powder and in the development of torpedo boats. He also took part in the Spanish-American War, and served as Chief of the Bureaus of Equipment, Ordnance, and Navigation

The Converse was launched by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp at Squantum, Mass, on 28 November 1919 and sponsored by Miss E. C. Colt. However at the start of 1920 the Squantum yard was closed, and the Converse was moved to tbe Fore River yard to be completed. She was commissioned on 28 April 1920 and joined the Atlantic Fleet.

On 21 May 1920 it was reported that she and the Rodgers (DD-254) had been ordered south to Mexican waters to relieve destroyers already operating there. However on 11 June she was placed into reserve status, with a half complement, and was used for training cruisers with the Naval Reserve.

USS Converse (DD-291) testing a Flettner Rudder
USS Converse (DD-291)
testing a Flettner Rudder

In 1921 the Converse was used to test the Arma gyro compass. On 15 November 1921 she joined the Scouting Fleet, although she wasn’t returned to full commission until 1 July 1922. She took part in the standard pattern of life in the Atlantic, with summers along the US east coast and winters in the Caribbean.

In October 1923 the Converse and the Reuben James (DD-245) were sent to Wilmington to take part in the second Navy Day celebrations.

On 18 June 1924 the Converse departed for European waters. She visited Antwerp, Amsterdam, Cherbourg and Southampton (and presumably a number of other ports) during her year in Europe, before returning to New York on 16 July 1925.

After her return to the US the Converse was using to train Naval Reservists, making two cruisers to Newport and Caribbean in 1926 and again in 1927. In 1926 that cruise took her from Havana to Key West and on to Galveston. In addition she was used to test the Flettner rudder, starting on 23 February 1927. In June 1927 she took part in the massive fleet review held in front of President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1927 the Converse became an Experimental Ship for the Scouting Fleet. She was used to test Bureau of Engineering equipment in the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, and test fired new torpedoes at Newport and Charleston.

At some point in 1928 she rammed the USS Abel P. Upshur (DD-193), punching a hole in her. The Upshur was still under repair in May 1928 when she was acting as the training ship for the District of Columbia naval reserve. 

On 4 January 1929 she rejoined her squadron, and spent the next year taking part in the normal fleet operations. However her Yarrow boilers were becoming increasingly worn, and the Navy decided to replace their Yarrow powered ships with unused ships from the reserve. The Converse was decommissioned on 1 May 1930 and sold for scrap on 17 January 1931. She was then scrapped to satisfy the terms of the London Naval Treaty.

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



28 November 1919


28 April 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 (24 June 2020), USS Converse (DD-291) ,

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