USS Fanning (DD-37)

USS Fanning (DD-37) was a Monaghan class destroyer that took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914, and helped sink U-58, one of only two Germans submarines sunk by US destroyers during the First World War.

The Fanning was named after Nathaniel Fanning, an American naval officer during the War of Independence who served under John Paul Jones. She was launched on 11 January 1912 at Newport News and commissioned on 21 June 1912. She was based at Norfolk in the pre-war period, and took part in the normal mix of summers off the US East Coast and winters in Cuban waters. During 1912 she was commanded by Harold R. Stark, later Chief of Naval Operations in 1939-42 then Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe during the D-Day Landings.

The Fanning took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914 and anyone who served on her between 22 April and 27 May 1914 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal.

Prisoners from U-58 on USS Fanning (DD-37)
Prisoners from U-58
on USS Fanning (DD-37)

USS Fanning (DD-37) with U-58, 17 November 1917
USS Fanning (DD-37)
with U-58,
17 November 1917

The Fanning took part in the neutrality patrol before the US entry into the war. In September 1916 she provided part of the escort for two German auxiliary cruisers that visited Norfolk. In October 1916 U-53 made a surprise visit to Newport Harbour, and then put back to sea and began to sink merchant ships close to the Nantucket Light Ship, but out of US territorial waters. The Fanning was part of a large force of destroyers sent to the area, but they were unable to intervene in the submarine's activities and were limited to rescue operations. The U-53 operated according to prize rules, and with no casualties, but the incident did cause a diplomatic row. The Fanning picked up six survivors from U-53's victims, and then spent the period between 12-14 October searching for a possible secret submarine base in the Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound areas.

Later in October the Fanning took part in early experiments in ship-to-ship refuelling, operating with the oiler Jason. These would come into their own during the Second World War, but were also used during the First World War to allow US destroyers to cross the Atlantic under their own power.

In June 1917 the Fanning moved to Queenstown, Ireland, from where she carried out a mix of anti-submarine patrols, individual ship escorts and an increasing amount of convoy escort work. On 17 November 1917 a lookout on the Fanning spotted the periscope of U-58. Fanning dropped depth charges, which damaged the submarine. She was then joined by USS Nicholson (DD-52). After a gap of 10-14 minutes the U-58 surfaced and her crew surrendered. The two US destroyers picked up the submarines crews, but the U-53 had been badly damaged and quickly sank.

USS Fanning (DD-37) in wartime camouflage
USS Fanning (DD-37)
in wartime camouflage

That was the peak of her wartime career. A number of further attacks were made, but without success. She also carried out a number of rescue missions, picking up 103 survivors in a single day on 8 October 1918, 25 from a merchant ship and 78 from the French cruiser Dupetit Thouars, sunk by U-62 late on the previous day,

Amongst her crew during the war was George H. Fort, who served as her executive officer and later rose to command the USS North Carolina and a series of task forces in the Pacific during the Second World War. One of her wartime captains, Francis Cogswell, was awarded the Navy Cross for his efforts as a destroyer captain during the war. Robert Bostwick Carney, her Torpedo and Gunnery officer during the attack on U-53, later became Halsey's chief of staff in the Pacific.

Anyone who served on her between 26 June 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Fanning moved to Brest to take part in the naval review that marked the arrival of President Woodrow Wilson in France. She then remained at Brest until March 1919, apart from a visit to Plymouth. She returned to the US via Portugal and the Azores, and was decommissioned on 24 November 1919. She returned to active service on 7 November 1924 with the Coast Guard's 'Rum Patrol', and remained with the Coast Guard for six years. She was returned to the Navy in November 1930 and sold for scrap on 2 May 1934.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kt design
30.89kts at 14,978shp at 883 tons on trial (Trippe)
29.5kts at 13,472shp at 891 tons on trial (Henley)


3-shaft Parsons turbines
4 Thornycroft or Normand or Yarrow boilers


2,175nm at 15kts on trial
1,913nm at 20kts on trial

Armour - belt


 - deck



292ft 8in




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

Crew complement



11 January 1912


21 June 1912


Sold for scrap 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 (6 May 2016), USS Fanning (DD-37) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy