USS Fuller (DD-297)

USS Fuller (DD-297) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet in the early 1920s, before being lost in the Honda Point disaster.

The Fuller was named after Edward Canfield Fuller, a US marine who was killed in action during the battle of Belleau Wood on the Western Front in 1918.

The Fuller was laid down at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp’s San Francisco yard, and launched on 5 December 1918 when she was sponsored by Miss Gladys Sullivan. In October 1919 it was reported that work on the Fuller and other destroyers at the Union Iron Works was being held up by strikes. and she wasn’t commissioned until 28 February 1920.

USS Fuller (DD-297) underway USS Fuller (DD-297) underway

In March 1920 the Fuller joined the large fleet that sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii to take part in the celebrations of the centenary of the American Mission (marking the arrival of the first American missionaries on the islands in 1820). This included thirty-two destroyers, of which eight were to move on to the Philippines after the celebrations. This was a flying visit, and the Fuller reached her home port of San Diego on 28 April 1920.

At the time the movements of these destroyers were often reported in some detail. On 24 March 1920 the Fuller was reported to have arrived at San Diego at 3.50pm and departed at 6pm heading for San Francisco.

On 17 May 1920 the Fuller was one of twenty-two destroyers that took part in tactical maneuvers in the southern drill grounds off San Diego. Later in May it was announced that she had been chosen as one of a number of destroyers that would be used to train California naval reservists later in the year, probably in July or August.

At the start of June it was announced that Destroyer Division 32 (Chauncey (DD-296), Fuller (DD-297), Percival (DD-298), John Francis Burnes (DD-299), Farragut (DD-300) and Somers (DD-301)) would escort Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels on a crusier to Alaska to begin on 10 July.

On 12 June 1920 she was one of nineteen destroyers that took part in torpedo trials on the southern drill grounds off the Coronado Islands. The torpedoes were valuied at over $100,000 and another seventeen ships were given the task of recovering them after they had been fired.

On 23 June 1920 she was part of a force of destroyers that departed from San Diego to join the Pacific Fleet on a cruise to San Fransico.

On 1 July the Babbitt (DD-128), Fuller and John Francis Burnes sailed left San Francisco heading for Gray’s Harbor to take part in the Fourth of July celebrations there.

On 25 July she left San Diego as part of a force of destroyers heading north towards Astoria, Oregon (Fuller, Percival, John Francis Burnes, Twiggs (DD-127), Babbitt, Somers). She was due back at San Diego on 5 August.

On 8 September 1920 she was reported to have returned to San Diego after carrying exercises on the drill grounds, and for the rest of September she was part of a large force of destroyers anchored at San Diego.

At the end of September 1920 it was announced that the John Francis Burnes (DD-299), Babbitt (DD-128), Somers (DD-301), Fuller and Percival (DD-298) were to be placed into reduced commission. The rest of Destroyer Division 32 was also to enter the reserve at this time. Just before going into reduced commission she took part in a war game off San Pedro, returning to port on 4 October.

In April 1921 the Fuller was undergoing an overhaul at Los Angeles, but she was still expected to be be ready in time to take part in a large scale exercises with the seven battleships then on the Pacific coast. 

In September 1921 the Chauncey, Fuller, Percival, John Francis Burnes, Farragut and Somers moved from the reserve dock at San Diego to undergo an overhaul at Mare Island. In February 1922 the same six destroyers were to move from San Diego to the Puget Sound Navy Yard.

USS Fuller (DD-297) and USS Woodbury (DD-309) at Honda Point USS Fuller (DD-297) and USS Woodbury (DD-309) at Honda Point

On 25 September 1922 she was one of six destroyers that were at San Pedro (Farragut, Zeilin, S.P. Lee, John Frances Burnes (DD-299), Fuller and Percival (DD-298), alongside six battleships from the Battle Force, Pacific Fleet. At the time San Pedro was the home base for the Battle Force.

In February-March 1923 the Fuller took part in Fleet Problem I, the first of a series of fleet exercises. In this case it involved a mock attack on the Panama Canal. After the fleet problem was over, the Fuller took part in experimental torpedo and anti-aircraft exercises off San Diego.

In February and March 1923, she joined in Battle Fleet maneuvers in the Panama Canal Zone, and returned to experimental torpedo firing and antiaircraft firing practice off San Diego.

In June 1923 it was announced that the Chauncey, Farragut, Percival and Fuller would take part in the Fourth of July celebrations at Marshfield, Coos Bay, Oregon. In July she moved north to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

On 8 September the Fuller was part of a fleet of destroyers heading from San Francisco to San Digoe. However due to navigational errors the fleet turned east too soon, and ran agound at Honda Point. The Fuller was last in the column of ships that ran aground, and none of her crew were lost. However the ship was firmly on the rocks, and later broke in two and sank. She was decommissioned on 26 October 1923.

In September 1923 her crew were allocated to a new destroyer, selected from the 84 decommissioned destroyers then at San Diego!

By 16 November 1923 it was reported that she had totally disappeared.

On 30 November 1923 her commander, Lt Commander Walter D. Zed, was acquitted of negligence in one of the last court martials held after the disaster.

Lt Commander Walter D. Zed: to 8 September 1923

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)


2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement



5 December 1918


28 February 1920

Ran aground

8 September 1923

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
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 August 2020), USS Fuller (DD-297) ,

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