USS Davis (DD-65)

USS Davis (DD-65) was a Sampson class destroyer that served from Queenstown in 1917-18, taking part in a significant number of attacks on U-boats as well as rescuing the survivors from U-103, sunk after she was rammed by the Titanic's sister ship Olympic.

The Davis was named after Charles Henry Davis, a US naval officer during the Civil War who served against Vicksburg and as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation during the war, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral.

The Davis was launched on 15 August 1916, when her sponsor was Rear Admiral Davis's granddaughter Miss E. Davis. She was commissioned on 5 October 1916 with Lt Commander R.F. Zogbaum Jr in command. After her shakedown cruise she joined the Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, and operated off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean.

USS Davis (DD-65) after 1918 collision
USS Davis (DD-65)
after 1918 collision

On 24 April 1917 she sailed from Boston as part of the first US destroyer detachment to be sent to European waters (Wadsworth (DD-60), Porter (DD-59), Davis (DD-65), Conyngham (DD-58), McDougal (DD-54), and Wainwright (DD-62). The squadron reached Queenstown on 4 May 1917 and almost immediately began combat duties.  She was used for anti-submarine patrols and on convoy escort duties, including escorting the first American Expeditionary Force troops across the Atlantic between 25 and 28 June 1917.

On 12 May 1918 HMT Olympic (the sister ship of the Titanic, then served as a British troop ship) rammed U-103 just before the submarine could torpedo her. The Olympic continued on without stopping (the correct move, as she was filled with US troops heading to France, and stopping would have left her dangerously vulnerably to attack). The Davis sighted a distress flare from the crew of the U-103, who had abandoned ship, and picked up 35 survivors. They were then taken to Milford Haven.

In May-June 1918 the Davis and the Allen carried out the joint second highest number of attacks on possible U-boats of any US destroyers in European waters, conducting six depth charge and one gun attack each. In the period April-May 1918 the Jenkins and the Davis each escorted nine merchant convoys in European waters, second only to the McCall with eleven. However despite this high level of activity she wasn't involved the sinking of any U-boats, although she did rescue the survivors of several U-boat victories.

On 13 December 1918 she was part of the fleet that escorted President Woodrow Wilson as he arrived at Brest on the USS George Washington. She returned to the US at the start of 1919 and joined Division 4, Flotilla 8, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet. Between September 1919 and November 1920 she was placed in reserve at Philadelphia. Between December 1920 and 29 March 1922 she operated from Charleston and Newport in reduced commission. On 20 June 1922 she was decommissioned at Philadelphia.

USS Davis (DD-65) escorting USS George Washington, 1918
USS Davis (DD-65) escorting USS George Washington, 1918

Between 25 March 1926 and 30 June 1933 the Davis operated with the Coast Guard, taking part in the prohibition era 'Rum Patrol'. After her return to the Navy she was decommissioned, and just over a year later, on 22 August 1934, sold for scrap.

Anyone who served on her between 4 May 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts at 17,500shp (design)
29.57kts at 17,964shp at 1,135t tons on trial (Rowan)


2-shaft Curtis turbines
4 boilers


315ft 3in


29ft 10in


Four 4in/50 guns
Two 1 pounder AA guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings

Crew complement



15 August 1916


5 October 1916

Sold for scrap

22 August 1934

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

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 November 2016), USS Davis (DD-65) ,

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