USS Dahlgren (DD-187)

USS Dalhgren (DD-187) was a Clemson class destroyer that was used on experimental and sonar training duties during the Second World War.

The Dahlgren was named after John Adolphus Dahlgren, a US Naval officer who developed the Dahlgren gun and held high rank during the American Civil War.

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
USS Dahlgren (DD-187),
Philadelphia Navy Yard
Dry Dock, May 1932

The Dahlgren was launched at Newport News on 20 November 1918 and commissioned on 6 Janary 1920. She joined the Atlantic Fleet, and spent most of the next two years taking part in the usual round of winter exercises in the Caribbean and summer exercises off the US East Coast. In April 1921 she took part in the Presidental Fleet Review at Norfolk, and in the summer she supported the famous bombing tests carried out on former German warships. This first period of commission came to an end on 30 June 1922 when she was decommissioned at Philadelphia.

After a period of repairs, including a spell in the Philadelphia Navy Yard in May 1932, the Dahlgren was recommissioned on 25 October 1932. She was based on the west coast from November 1932 to April 1934 when she returned to the Atlantic for fleet exercises. She moved back to the West Coast in January 1935, and remaind there until July 1937 when she returned to the east coast.

USS Dahlgren (DD-187) at sea, 1945
USS Dahlgren (DD-187) at sea, 1945

After her return to the east coast, the Dahlgren was used for engineering experiments. In 1937 she was given two ultra-high pressure boilers, operating at 1,300 psi. At the same time she was given a fat aft smokestack, and she retained this for the rest of her active career, even after the normal boilers were restored. The experiments ended on 14 June 1940, and she returned to normal destroyer duties.

During the second half of 1940 the Dahlgren performed a mix of patrols and submarine training, from Norfolk and Newport.

From January to 1 April 1941 the Dahlgren took part in experiments with ordnance and submarine detection in the Patuxent River, Maryland.

In the summer of 1941 she was used to test a new variable pitch propeller. After that she escorted a newly completed cruiser on her sea trials.

In January 1942 she supported the battleship USS Washington (BB-56) during operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

In February-March 1942 she carried out coastal patrol work form New York.

On 24 March she departed for Key West where she joined the Fleet Sonar School. This duty lasted into 1945.

On 15 July 1942 the tanker SS Pennsylvania Sun was torpedoed and sunk by U-571. Two of the crew were killed in the explosion, but 40 sailors and 17 armed guards escaped, and were picked up by the Dahlgren.

On 11 January 1945 the Dahlgren reached Charleston, where she spent a few weeks operationg with submarines that were still in training. That lasted until 1 March 1945, when she was reclassified as the miscellaneous auxiliary AG-91. She spent most of the rest of 1945 working for the Mine Warefare Test Station at Solomons Islands, Maryland.

On 16 November 1945 she moved to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was decommissioned on 14 December 1945. She was sold for scrap on 17 June 1946.

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)

Armour - belt


 - deck



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



20 November 1918


6 January 1920


14 December 1945


17 June 1946

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 July 2018), USS Dahlgren (DD-187) ,

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