USS Lamberton (DD-119/ AG-21/ DMS-2)

USS Lamberton (DD-119/ AG-21/ DMS-2) was a Wickes class destroyer that saw brief service in the last weeks of the First World War, was used as an auxiliary in the interwar period, and then as a fast minesweeper for most of the Second World War.

The Lamberton was named after Benjamin P. Lamberton, a US Naval Officer for most of the second half of the nineteenth century, and who fought at the battle of Manila Bay.

The Lamberton was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding on 1 October 1917, launched on 30 March 1918 and commissioned on 22 August 1918 with Lt Comdr Frank L. Slingluff in command.

On 22 September the Lamberton came to the aid of the steamship Maine, which had lost three of her propeller blades, lowering her speed to only three knots. The Lamberton replaced the cruiser South Dakota, which had reached the scene at just after noon, at 1800.

On 29 September a steam hose burst in the fireroom, fatally wounding Fireman First Class William Thomas Batstone, who died of his injuries on 11 October 1918.

USS Lamberton (DMS-2), 4 May 1945
USS Lamberton (DMS-2),
4 May 1945

The Lamberton's shakedown cruiser took her to the Caribbean. She then joined the Atlantic Fleet manoeuvres off the Azores early in 1919, before being assigned to the new Pacific Fleet in the summer of 1919. She reached her new base at San Diego on 7 August 1919, and operated along the west coast from then until 30 June 1922 when she was decommissioned. During this period she was used for training and to test out experimental tactics.

Anyone who served on her between 9 September and 1 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal

Her executive officer late in 1919 was Ryland Dillard Tisdale, who later served on the Philippines, and was killed while fighting on land on Mindanao on 23 May 1942. The destroyer escort USS Tisdale (DE-33) was named after him.

The Lamberton was recommissioned on 15 November 1930 with Lt Comdr S.N. Moore in command. Once again she was based on the west coast, and for the next two years she took part in training exercises.

On 16 April 1932 the Lamberton was redesignated as an auxiliary, AG-21. She was converted into a target towing ship, and from 1933-40 was used to tow targets for training exercise involving surface warships, submarines and aircraft. She was also used in experimental minesweeping exercises.

On occasion she was used as a radio controlled high speed target ship, including a spell in late June 1937 when she was used as a target by the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41).

Amongst her crew in 1936-37 was Lynne Cline Quiggle, who later served as gunnery officer on USS Iowa from her entry into service in February 1943 to March 1944, and who died at sea while serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for the commander of the US forces in Japan in 1958.

On 19 November 1940 the Lamberton was reclassified as a fast minesweeper, DMS-2. She moved to Pearl Harbor in the autumn of 1941, arriving on 11 September 1941. She was out of port when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, escorting the Minneapolis to Oahu. After the attack she returned to port to search for any fresh mines. She then spent seven months carrying out offshore patrols in the Hawaiian islands.

On 11 July 1942 the Lamberton headed north to Alaska, arriving at Kodiak on 18 July. She remained in Alaska and the Aleutians for the next year, where she spent most of her time on patrol and escort duties. In late July the Americans planned to bombard the Japanese positions on Kiska, but the first attempt, on 27 July, had to be abandoned due to heavy fog. As the fleet withdrew the Lamberton accidentally rammed the Chandler (DMS-9). The Monaghan (DD-354) came to investigate, and also collided with the Lamberton. In May 1943 she escorted a task group carrying reinforcements to Massacre Bay on Attu.

In July 1943 the Lamberton returned to San Diego, and she spent the rest of the war towing targets off the US west coast and from Pearl Harbor. On 1 May 1945 she was still officially part of Mine Division Six, Mine Squadron Two, Minecraft, Pacific Fleet.

On 5 June 1945 the Lamberton was reclassified as an auxiliary once again, reverting to her earlier designation of AG-21.

The Lamberton was present at Okinawa on 9 October 1945 when the US fleet was hit by Typhoon Louise. She was one of 222 ships to be grounded, but she was refloated and repaired. She then returned to the US West Coast, where she was used as an auxiliary, based at San Diego.

The Lamberton was decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington, on 13 December 1946 and was sold for scrap on 9 May 1947.

The Lamberton earned one battle star during the Second World War, for the occupation of Attu in the Aleutians.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)


3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

1 October 1917


30 March 1918


22 August 1918


13 December 1946

Sold for scrap

9 May 1947

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 (2 August 2017), USS Lamberton (DD-119/ AG-21/ DMS-2),

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