USS Henshaw (DD-278)

USS Henshaw (DD-278) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet in the 1920s, before being decommissioned because of badly worn Yarrow boilers.

The Henshaw was launched on 28 June 1919, and sponsored by Miss Ethel H. Dempsey. She was commissioned at Boston on 10 December 1919.

USS Henshaw (DD-278) making smoke
USS Henshaw (DD-278)
making smoke

Early in 1920 she departed for the Caribbean, ready to join a US squadron that was based off Honduras ready to protect US interests if a possible revolution began in Guatemala. She was in place from 24 February to 4 March 1920, but had gone by the time an uprising overthrew President Manuel Cabrera in April 1920 (Tragic Week). The Henshaw then moved west, to join the Destroyer Squadron of the Pacific Fleet. Soon after arriving as San Diego she was part of the flotilla that escorted the Prince of Wales as he visited San Diego on HMS Renown (7-8 April 1920). On 10 July she joined the fleet escorting Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, and John B. Payne, Secretary of the Interior on a tour of Alaska, visiting nine ports including Ketchikan, Sitka, Dundas Bay, and Juneau. During the cruise the Henshaw had been used to carry Governor Thomas Briggs of Alaska from Sitka to Juneau.

After this exciting start to her career, the Henshaw spent most of the next two years taking part in training and battle exercises along the coast of California, before she was decommissioned at San Diego on 15 June 1922.

The Henshaw was recommissioned on 27 September 1923 and joined the Destroyer Squadron, Pacific Fleet. The Henshaw was recommissioned to replace the Young (DD-312), one of the Clemson class destroyers that were lost when they ran aground at Honda Point, California, on 8 September 1923. Twenty of her crew were lost, the most of any ship involved, and the seventy survivors were transferred to the Henshaw. Her new commander, Lt. E.G. Herzinger, had been the executive officer on the Young when she was lost. 

In May 1924 she was part of Squadron Eleven in the Battle Fleet.

Life for the Pacific Fleet destroyers followed a fairly set pattern, starting with the annual Fleet Problem early in the year (in the Caribbean in 1924), followed by an overhaul then exercises in the US North West. This meant that the Henshaw visited Hawaii for the 1925 exercises.

In 1929 the Navy discovered that the Yarrow boilers in the Henshaw and other Bethlehem built destroyers were decaying unexpectedly fast. As a result she was chosen as one of the destroyers to be decommissioned under the terms of the London Naval Treaty of 1930, and she was decommissioned at San Diego on 11 March 1930. She was struck off on 22 July 1930 and sold for scrap on 14 November 1930.

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



28 June 1919


10 December 1919

Sold for scrap

14 November 1930

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 (15 April 2020), Title,

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