USS Jarvis (DD-38)

USS Jarvis (DD-38) was a Monaghan class destroyer that took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914, then served from Queenstown and Brest during the First World War.

The Jarvis was named after James C. Jarvis, a 13 year old midshipman who was killed during the battle between USS Constellation and the French frigate La Vengeance on 2 February 1800, during the Quasi-War with France.  

USS Little (DD-79), USS Jarvis (DD-38) and USS Burrows (DD-29), Brest, 1918
USS Little (DD-79),
USS Jarvis (DD-38)
USS Burrows (DD-29),
Brest, 1918

The Jarvis was laid down at Camden New Jersey on 1 July 1911, launched on 4 April 1912, carried out her trials in September 1912 without her guns installed and commissioned on 22 October 1912.

One of her commanders in the pre-First World War period was William Halsey, later one of the most important US Admirals of the Second World War. He commanded her from September 1913 until July 1915, when he moved to the Naval Academy.

In 1915 she was briefly commanded by Arthur L. Bristol, later to serve as the first commander of USS Ranger¸ the first US aircraft carrier built as such from the keel up, and later Commander, Support Force, Atlantic Fleet during the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Jarvis took part in the US intervention in Mexico in 1914, patrolling off Tampico and Veracruz. Anyone who served on her between 22 April and 20 May 1914 or 4-12 June 1914 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal.

Before the American entry into the First World War the Jarvis served in the Atlantic. After the American entry into the war in April 1917 she was one of the first destroyers to be sent to the European theatre. On 25 May she sailed as part of the escort of the Neptune (AC-8), the first ship to carry US troops across the Atlantic after the American entry into the war. After escorting the Neptune to St Nazaire, she moved to Queenstown, arriving on 11 June. She then began a mix of anti-submarine patrols and individual ship escort missions, later adding convoy escort duties to her roles. On 19 June 1917 she rescued 41 survivors from the SS Batoum, and on 25 July she rescued 22 survivors from the Purley. She then put herself between a possible U-boat and the SS Mechanician, to block a possible attack.

USS Jarvis (DD-38) at Brest, 27 October 1918
USS Jarvis (DD-38) at Brest, 27 October 1918

On 15 February 1918 the Jarvis left Queenstown and headed for her new base at Brest. She operated from Brest until 28 December 1918, mainly escorting shipping around the French coast.

In June-July she was one of seven destroyers escorting a convoy of eight transport ships west across the Atlantic after carrying US troops to France (Little DD-79, Conner DD-72, Cummings DD-44, Porter DD-59, Jarvis DD-38, Smith DD-17 and Reid DD-21). On 1 July 1918 U-86 sank the transport ship Covington (ID # 1409), previously the SS Cincinnati of the Hamburg-American Line. According to the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships six crewmen were killed and 770 rescued.

USS Jarvis (DD-38) with damaged bow
USS Jarvis (DD-38)
with damaged bow

On 22 July 1918 the Jarvis was damaged in a collision with USS Benham (DD-49), suffering damage to her bow. At Brest the damaged bow was removed and the gap plugged with concrete by a repair gang from USS Prometheus (AR-3), the station ship at Brest. The Jarvis then moved to Birkenhead under her own power to have a new bow installed. The work was completed by September 1918.

In October 1918 she helped escort Troop Convoy 70 on the last stage of its voyage across the Atlantic. This convoy was noteworthy for suffering a high number of fatalities early in the great Influence Epidemic

On 1 November 1918 the Wainwright (DD-62) ran onto the breakwater at Brest. Jarvis attempted to pull her free but wasn't powerful enough.

On 28 December 1918 she left France at the start of her return voyage to the United States. She arrived on 12 January 1919, and spent the next few months operating along the US East Coast. This ended on 21 July and she was decommissioned on 26 November. She remained in the reserve until 23 April 1935, when she was sold for scrap.

Anyone who served on her between 8 June 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

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



4 April 1912


22 October 1912


Sold for scrap 1935

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 Jarvis (DD-38) ,

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