USS Drayton (DD-23)

USS Drayton (DD-23) was a Paulding class destroyer that took part in the US intervention in Mexico, and then served from Queenstown and Brest during the First World War.

USS Drayton (DD-23), Boston Navy Yard, 1919
USS Drayton (DD-23),
Boston Navy Yard, 1919

The Drayton was named after Percival Drayton, a senior US Naval commander during the American Civil War. She was launched on 22 August 1910 and commissioned on 29 October 1910. Early US destroyers tended to conduct their trials at unrealistically low displacements. The Drayton took that to something of an extreme, carrying out her builder's trials before her weapons had been installed! She made 28.92 during these trials, a speed she would struggle to match once fully loaded.

She was based at Key West from 1910, and operated in Cuban waters and along the US East Coast from them until 1914.

The Drayton took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914 and anyone who served on her between 22 April and 4 May 1914 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal. She left Key West for Mexico on 9 April, and took part in a blockade of the Mexican coast and rescued refugees.

Before the American entry into the First World War the Drayton served on the neutrality patrol. She was at Jacksonville, Florida, when the United States entered the First World War, and helped intern the crew of the German steamer Frieda Leonhardt. She then moved to Norfolk, where she joined the Patrol Force on the East Coast, serving with that unit until 4 May 1917.

USS Drayton (DD-23) at New York
USS Drayton (DD-23) at New York

On 21 May 1917 the Drayton departed from Boston heading for Queenstown, the main US naval base in Ireland. She arrived on 1 June and was used to escort ships along the Irish coast. On 20 June she rescued 42 survivors from the SS Bengore Head, sunk by a German U-boat. Between 26 June and 4 July she escorted a transport convoy heading for St. Nazaire, and then joined two French cruisers in a hunt for a German submarine. On 15 December she and the Benham (DD-49) rescued 39 survivors from the SS Foylemore, which had hit a mine. For most of her time at Queenstown she was part of the 5th Division, Atlantic Coast Patrol Force.

On 15 February 1918 the Drayton left Queenstown to move to the US base at Brest. From then until the end of the war she carried out a mix of escort and antisubmarine operations from Brest. In October 1918 she helped escort Troop Convoy 70 on the last stage of its voyage across the Atlantic. This convoy was noteworthy for suffering a high number of fatalities early in the great Influence Epidemic.

Anyone who served on her between 1 July 1917 and 29 July 1919 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

During her career she suffered a collision with the Aylwin (DD-47) that caused minor damage to her bow.

On 16 December she left for the United States. She began a minor overhaul at Boston in January 1919, and operated along the east coast until 18 July. She then moved to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 17 November 1919. She lost her name on 1 July 1933, becoming just DD-23 and she was sold on 28 June 1935.

Amongst her commanders were Douglas L. Howard, who later won the Navy Cross for his service on patrol and convoy escort duties and had the destroyer escort Douglas L. Howard (DE-138) named after him and Worth Bagley, who commandeered her from September 1915 until early in 1917 and later rose to the rank of Vice Admiral. 

Displacement (design)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts design
32kts at 17,393shp at 887 tons on trial (best in class)


3-shaft Parson turbines
4 Normand boilers
12,000shp normal
17,393shp trial


3,000nm at 16kts design
3,343nm at 15kts on trial
2,642nm at 20kts on trial




26ft 3in


Five 3in/50 guns
Six 18in torpedo tubes in three twin mounts

Crew complement



22 August 1910


29 October 1910


Sold 1935

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 (16 February 2016), USS Drayton (DD-23) ,

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