USS Ellis (DD-154)

USS Ellis (DD-154) was a Wickes class destroyer that mainly performed escort duties in the Atlantic theatre during the Second World War.

The Ellis was named after George Henry Ellis, a chief yeoman who was killed on USS Brooklyn during the battle of Santiago (3 July 1898).

USS Ellis (DD-154) with damaged bow, 1934
USS Ellis (DD-154)
with damaged bow, 1934

The Ellis (DD-154) was launched at Cramps on 30 November 1918 and commissioned on 7 June 1919. She almost immediately departed for the Black Sea, where she was used to carry Food Administration officials engaged in famine relief work, and British and American military officers between Constantinople, Varna in Bulgaria and Batum in Russia. This period overseas ended on 15 August 1919. She spent the next year taking part in the normal peacetime life of the fleet, operating off the east coast and in the Caribbean. She was in the reserve at Charleston from 29 September 1920-16 March 1921, before being used on torpedo firing tests off Newport, Rhode Island. She returned to the reserve from October 1921 to February 1922 and was decommissioned on 17 June 1922.

The Ellis was recommissioned on 1 May 1930 and joined the Scouting Fleet. She operated with this unit off the east coast until March 1932 when she took part in the move to the west coast. Between March and October 1932 she took part in exercises with that unit around San Diego and San Francisco. Late in 1932 she returned to the east coast, where she joined the rotating reserve at Norfolk. 1933 was spent in the rotating reserve at Boston, with some spells of active service.

In April 1933 she took part in the operations to try and find the airship Akron, which had been lost over the Atlantic, and found some of the wreckage. In the summer she was based at New York, and escorted the Presidential yacht to Campobello, Nova Scotia, where President F. D. Roosevelt came onboard on the Ellis on 1 July, before being transferred to the Indianapolis (CA-35). She then escorted the President to Annapolis.

In 1934 the Ellis escorted the President as he sailed to Cuba. In October she passed through the Panama Canal to her new base at San Diego. Between then and June 1936 she undertook training that took her as far as Hawaii and Alaska. On 5 November 1934 she collided with the USS McFarland (DD-237) off Lower California, losing the front of her bow (as far back as the number '5' on her bow). Temporary repairs were done at San Diego, and on 2 January 1935 she was able to leave for Mare Island and permanent repairs. Between March 1935 and September 1936 she was commanded by Charles Butler McVay III, later the captain of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) when she was sunk by the Japanese.

In June 1936 she moved to Miami, and took part in east coast reserve training duties. She was decommissioned for the second time on 16 December 1936.

The Ellis was recommissioned on 16 October 1939, and was based at Charleston and Norfolk, where she took part in anti-submarine patrols off the east coast. She also helped track the German liner Columbus after she attempted to make a run from Mexico to home waters in December 1939. In August 1940 she served as a plane guard for the new carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) as her first air units flew onboard. On 22 June-21 July 1941 she escorted the troop ships carrying US troops to Iceland, where they replaced the British garrison. She then moved to Argentia, to begin a spell of escort duties between there and Iceland and the mid-ocean rendezvous point.

Anyone who served on her between 16 August-17 October or 26 October-26 November 1941 qualified for the American Defence Service Medal.

This duty continued after the US entry into the war. In March 1942 she began to escort convoys to the Virgin Islands and US coastal convoys. On 15 July 1942 she attacked a possible U-boat off Cape Hatteras.

In October 1942 the convoys to Trinidad and Brazil were added to her duties.

In March 1943 the Ellis began a period of escorting transatlantic convoys. Between 20 March and 25 June 1943 she escorted two top priority tanker convoys from Aruba to North Africa, and troop transports to Londonderry. In August-November she escorted escort carriers ferrying USAAF aircraft to Ireland and North Africa (including the Block Island (CVE-21). In January 1944 she escorted the SS Abraham Lincoln to the Azores. In February-June 1944 she escorted to two convoys from the US East Coast to Casablanca, Algiers and Bizerte. On 11 May, while close to Bizerte, she was attacked by four Axis bombers, helping to shoot down three of them.

During the second half of 1944 and 1945 she was used for training missions, mainly operating as a plane guard for new carriers working up on the US East Coast. She was also used in training with torpedo aircraft and made two final escort missions to Recife, Brazil.

The Ellis was decommissioned on 31 October 1945 and sold on 20 June 1947.

The Ellis received one battle star during the Second World War, for the defence of Convoy UGS-40 on 11 May 1944

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)


3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement



30 November 1918


7 June 1919


31 October 1945


20 June 1947

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 January 2018), USS Ellis (DD-154) ,

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