USS Herndon (DD-198)/ HMS Churchill

USS Herndon (DD-198) was a Clemson class destroyer that had a very short career in the US Navy and Coast Guard, before joining the Royal Navy as HMS Churchill, then the Soviet Navy, where she was lost in 1945.  

USS Herndon (DD-198) during Short Range Battle Practise, 1920s
USS Herndon (DD-198)
Short Range Battle Practise,

The Herndon was named after William Lewis Herndon, a US Navy explorer who undertook a lengthy journey up the Amazon in 1851-52, and who was lost when the Pacific Mail steamer Central America sank in a storm in 1857.

The Herndon was laid down at Newport News, launched on 31 May 1919 and commissioned on 14 September 1920. She had a very short US naval career, going into the reserve at Charleston on 3 November 1920 after her shakedown voyage. She was used on a number of training exercises off the East Coast. On 8 March 1921 USS Pope (DD-225) collided with the Herndon during tactical exercises, with the Pope suffering damage to her port propeller that required repairs in a dry dock. The Herndon was decommissioned on 6 June 1922.

In 1930 the Herndon recommissioned for service with the Coast Guard, as CG-17. On 15 January 1932 she was damaged in a collision with the steamship Lemuel Burrows. Her radios were damaged in the collision, and it took half an hour to broadcast a call for help. The Lemuel Burrows was already offering assistance, and began to tow the Herndon to safety. She was then replaced by the Coast Guard revenue cutter Acushnet (AT-63), which towed her to safety in Boston.  She was returned to the navy in 1934 and decommissioned for a second time.

The Herndon was recommissioned once again late in 1939, after the outbreak of war in Europe. She joined the Caribbean Neutrality patrol at Guantanamo Bay on 23 January 1940 and spent the first part of the year operating in that area. In the spring of 1940 the Herndon was the flagship of Destroyer Division 67, consisting of USS Welborn C. Wood (DD-195), USS Abel P. Upshur (DD-198) and USS Welles (DD-257).

In July-August 1940 the Herndon operated from the Panama Canal Zone, taking part in tactical and anti-submarine manoeuvres. In August 1940 the Herndon became the flagship of Destroyer Division 67, with James H. Doyle in command. Doyle went on to hold high rank during the Korean War.

HMS Churchill

The Herndon was chosen as one of the fifty destroyers to go to Britain under the ‘destroyers for bases’ deal. She was handed over to the Royal Navy at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 9 September 1940. She became the flagship of the 1st ‘Town Class’ Flotilla, and spent most of her RN service escorting convoys across the Atlantic and patrolling off the Western Approaches.

In May 1941 she took part in the hunt for the Bismarck in the aftermath of the destruction of HMS Hood.

In August 1941 Winston Churchill visited her on his way back from the Atlantic Conference with President Roosevelt.

In November 1942 the Beverley formed part of the escort for the fleet heading from Britain to North Africa to take part in Operation Torch

On 16 July 1944 the Beverley was transferred to the Soviet Navy, where she became the Delatelnyi or Deyatelny (‘Active’). In Soviet hands she was used as a convoy escort, and on 16 January 1945 she was sunk by U-956 forty miles to the east of Cape Tereberski, while escorting a convoy from Kola Inlet to the White Sea. This made her the last of the destroyers transferred to Britain to be sunk.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

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


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


2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt


 - deck



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



31 May 1919


14 September 1920

Sunk by U-boat

16 January 1945

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 September 2018), USS Herndon (DD-198)/ HMS Churchill ,

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