USS Fairfax (DD-93)/ HMS Richmond

USS Fairfax (DD-93)/ HMS Richmond was a Wickes class destroyer that operated in the western Atlantic in 1918, as a training ship between the wars, then with the Royal Navy as HMS Richmond and the Soviet Navy as the Zhivuchi during the Second World War.

The Fairfax was named after Donald McNeil Fairfax, a US naval officer during the American Civil War who retired as a rear admiral in 1881.

The Fairfax was launched on 15 December 1917 at Mare Island, and commissioned on 6 April 1918.

The Fairfax reached Hampton Roads on 6 June 1918 to join the forces providing convoy escorts from the US East Coast. She carried out two main duties during this period - escorting convoys half way across the Atlantic as part of the Western Escort, before handing them over to the European based Eastern Escort, and providing cover for coastal convoys operating along the US Coast.

She formed part of the Western Escort for Troop Convoy Group 45, along with the South Dakota (Armored Cruiser No.9), Huntington (Armored Cruiser No.5) and Gregory (DD-82). This convoy was led by the President Grant (Id. No.3014) and contained eight merchant ships. The convoy left New York on 23 June, and was handed over to the Eastern Escort on 3 July.

USS Fairfax (DD-93) at anchor, 11 October 1919
USS Fairfax (DD-93) at anchor, 11 October 1919

In the autumn of 1918 it was decided to move the Fairfax to Europe, where she was to join the destroyer force based at Brest. She left Hampton Roads on 16 October escorting a trans-Atlantic convoy. Two days later she left the convoy to rescue survivors from the USS Lucia¸ a naval auxiliary that had been sunk by U-155 on 17 October 1918. The Fairfax picked up 86 survivors, and later transferred them to the USS Huntington. The Fairfax then continued on her way to Brest, arriving on 27 October 1918. She was thus part of the US Destroyer forces in Europe for the last two weeks of the First World War.

From 3 December she formed part of the naval escort that accompanied the President Wilson on the transport George Washington from the Azores to Brest, the final stage in his voyage to Europe to attend the Peace Conference.

On 21 December the Fairfax was part of a sizable naval flotilla that left Brest to return to the US via the Azores (along with USS Porter (DD-59) , Cushing (DD-55), Benham (DD-49), Ericsson (DD-55), Wainwright (DD-62) and O'Brien (DD-51). The Fairfax reached Norfolk, Virginia, on 8 January 1919.

Anyone who served on her between 2 June and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Fairfax operated on the US East Coast after the war. In May 1919 she took part in the first trans-Atlantic flight, made by Curtiss seaplanes operated by the US Navy. The Fairfax was part of the naval flotilla that lined the route, and was based at the Azores. She was decommissioned into the reserve at Philadelphia in June 1922.

USS Fairfax (DD-93) at Poughkeepsie, 17 June 1939
USS Fairfax (DD-93) at
Poughkeepsie, 17 June 1939

The Fairfax was recommissioned as a training ship on 1 My 1930. For two years she was based at Newport, Rhode Island and Camden, New Jersey, and was used to train the Naval Reserve. In March 1932 she moved to San Diego, where she performed the same role on the west coast. She was also used in gunnery exercises and took part in a number of fleet exercises off Mexico, Central America and the Panama Canal Zone. She also took part in the Presidential Review at San Diego in March 1933.

In 1933 she returned to the East Coast. She continued to be used to train the Naval Reserve, but she was also used to train midshipmen from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, taking part in their training cruises in 1935, 1937, 1938, 1938, 1939 and 1940. Between October 1935 and March 1937 she served with the Special Service Squadron, based at Balboa and Coco Solo in the Canal Zone, a rapid response force posted to protect the Panama Canal. She also represented the US Navy at the opening of the New York World's Fair of 1939.

After the outbreak of the Second World War the Fairfax joined the Neutrality Patrol operating in the Western Atlantic.

As HMS Richmond

The Fairfax was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 5 December 1940 as HMS Richmond. She reached Plymouth on 31 December, and was allocated to the escort forces of the Western Approaches Command, based at Liverpool. She was used to escort convoys in the final, most dangerous, part of the Atlantic crossing. Between June and October 1941 she was allocated to the Newfoundland Force, and was used on convoy escort duties in the western Atlantic. Between February and March 1942 she was used to escort convoys to Murmansk. Finally in RN service she was based at Greenock between December 1942 and August 1943.

Between August 1943 and December 1943 she was lent to the Royal Canadian Navy. After her return from Canadian service she was placed into the reserve.

On 16 July 1944 she was transferred to the Soviet Navy, where she became the Zhivuchi (or Zhivuchy). She was used for convoy escort duties for the rest of the war, and may have sunk U-387. She remained in the Soviet Navy until 24 June 1949 when she was returned to the Royal Navy. In the following month she was sold for scrap, and she was broken up at Brunton, Grangemouth.

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



15 December 1917


6 April 1918

To Royal Navy

5 December 1940

Sold for scrap

July 1949

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 (10 April 2017), USS Fairfax (DD-93)/ HMS Richmond,

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