USS Craven (DD-70)/ HMS Lewes

USS Craven (DD-70) was a Caldwell class destroyer that entered service too late for the First World War, but entered Royal Navy service as HMS Lewes in 1940, serving in British Home Waters, from South Africa and in the Far East.

The Craven was named after Tunis Augustus Macdonough Craven, an officer in the US Navy who fought in the Mexican War, surveyed the Isthmus of Darien in 1857 and was killed at the battle of Mobile Bay (5 August 1864) during the American Civil War.

The Craven was launched at Norfolk on 29 June 1918. She was commissioned on 19 October 1918, less than a month before the end of the First World War.

USS Craven (DD-70) celebrating the Armistice
USS Craven (DD-70)
celebrating the Armistice

The Craven took part in manoeuvres and training off the US East Coast and Caribbean until May 1919. She then joined part of the naval force that supported the flight of the Curtiss NC-4, the first successful transatlantic flight. The Craven served as a weather ship in Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland. She then underwent a short overhaul, before taking part in Army gun tests at Fort Story, Virginia, and as a recruiting ship in Virginian, Massachusetts and Rhode Islands. She then entered the reserve in reduced commission at Philadelphia on 10 October 1919.

On 10 February 1921 the Craven reached Charleston, South Carolina, where she was used to move liberty parties between Charleston and Jacksonville, Florida, and took part in the annual fleet manoeuvres. This brief period of activity ended on 15 June 1922, when she was decommissioned on 15 June 1922. On 12 November 1939 she was renamed as USS Conway, to allow a Gridley class destroyer to become USS Craven (DD-382).

In 1940 the Craven was chosen as one of the destroyers to be exchanged with Britain in return for a number of naval bases. She was recommissioned on 9 August 1940, and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On 23 October 1940 she was handed to the Royal Navy, and on the same day was commissioned as the Town class destroyer HMS Lewes (pennant number G-68).

The former Craven had a much more active career as the Lewes. She crossed the Atlantic on 1-9 November, and during her trip took part in the hunt for the battleship Admiral Scheer. She went to Plymouth for a refit to modify her to British standards. At some point her armament was changed to fit her new role. She was given two 2-pounder AA guns in gun tubs forward, and two Oerlikon air-aircraft guns in raised gun tubs where the rear torpedo tubes had originally been installed. She was officially regarded as an anti-aircraft escort.

She was then based at Plymouth, under the command of the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. She was badly damaged in air raids on 21-22 April 1941, and was fully repaired until the end of the year.

In December 1941 the Lewes joined the Home Fleet, and in February 1942 she joined the Rosyth Escort Force. This had the job of escorting convoys sailing between the Thames and the Firth of Forth. On 9-10 November 1942, while engaged in this duty, she had to fight off an E-boat attack on her convoy off Lowestoft. 

Boiler for USS Craven (DD-70)
Boiler for USS Craven (DD-70)

In 1943 the Lewes then moved further afield. She was used to escort a troop convoy heading to the Middle East, arriving at Simonstown, South Africa, on 18 May 1943. While in South Africa she helped hunt for enemy submarines that were believed to be heading around the Cape of Good Hope and was also used as a training target for aircraft.

In 1944 the Lewes became a submarine tender and torpedo target ship with the Eastern Fleet, moving to her new base on Ceylon on 13 August. She remained at Trincomalee until January 1945. She then joined the British Pacific Fleet, where she once again served as a training target for aircraft, this time from bases in Australia. She was based at Sydney from 20 February 1945 until the end of the Second World War.

After the end of the war the Lewes was declared no longer necessary for the fleet. All valuable contents were removed and she was then scuttled off Sydney on 25 May 1946.

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



29 June 1918


19 October 1918

To Royal Navy

23 October 1940


25 May 1946

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
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 December 2016), USS Craven (DD-70/) HMS Lewes ,

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