USS Duncan (DD-46)

USS Duncan (DD-46) was a Cassin class destroyer that served from Queenstown during the First World War.

The Duncan was named after Silas Duncan, a US Naval Officer during the War of 1812 who lost his right arm during the Battle of Lake Champlain. She was launched at Quincy, Mass, on 5 April 1913 and commissioned on 30 August 1913. Amongst her pre-war crewmen was the future Admiral Aubrey Fitch, a carrier commander during the Pacific War.

The Duncan had a somewhat limited peacetime career, both pre- and post- the First World War. After being commissioned she operated off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean until placed into the reserve on 24 October 1914.

USS Duncan (DD-46) in the war zone, 1917
USS Duncan (DD-46)
in the war zone, 1917

She was recommissioned on 22 January 1916, and served with the neutrality patrol, as well as taking part in exercises in the Caribbean. In August 1917 she was one of eight destroyers that escorted the Battleship Force Atlantic as it moved between Bermuda and New York.

After the US entry into the First World War she remained on the East Coast for much of 1917. Between 8 and 30 September 1917 she escorted a convoy to the mid ocean rendezvous point where it was passed on to a second escort force that had come from Britain. She finally moved to the warzone late in 1917, leaving New York on 30 October as part of the escort of a convoy heading to Brest. She then moved to her new base at Queenstown, Ireland, where she arrived on 15 November.

While operating from Queenstown she performed a mix of anti-submarine patrols, escort duties and rescues.

On 17 July 1918 she rescued the survivors of the Norwegian bark Miefield.

On 9 October USS Shaw (DD-68) collided with SS Aquitania. As was almost always the case in these incidents the destroyer came off the worst. The Duncan took 84 men off the damaged Shaw, including 12 wounded in the collision. The rest of the Shaw's crew then successfully got her back to Portland.

Anyone who served on her between 15 November 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Duncan was one of the ships that escorted President Woodrow Wilson on the last stage of his voyage to France in December 1918. She returned to Norfolk on 12 January 1919 and spent the next five months operating along the US East Coast and in the Caribbean. She was then placed in the reserve on 31 May 1919. On 1 January 1920 she was placed in reduced commission and in 1 August back into the reserve. On 1 January 1921 she was reactivated with half of her normal crew, and on 8 August she was decommissioned for the final time. She remained in the reserve until she was sold for scrap on 8 March 1935.

Displacement (standard)

1,010t nominal

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29kts at 16,000shp (design)
29.14kts at 14,253shp at 1,057 tons on trial (Duncan)


2-shaft Parson turbines plus reciprocating cruising engines
4 boilers for 16,000shp


305ft 5in


30ft 2in


Four 3in.50 guns (DD-43 & DD-44)
Four 4in/50 guns (DD-45 to DD-50)
Eight 1in torpedo tubes in four twin mountings

Crew complement



5 April 1913


30 August 1913


Sold for scrap 8 March 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

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 June 2016), USS Duncan (DD-46) ,

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