USS MacDonough (DD-331)

USS Macdonough (DD-331) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s, before being scrapped because of her badly worn boilers.

The Macdonough was named after Commodore Thomas Macdonough, who fought in the War with Tripoli of 1803-4 and the War of 1812, where his victory at Plattsburg Bay won the Americans command of Lake Champlain.

USS MacDonough (DD-331) at San Diego, 1920s USS MacDonough (DD-331) at San Diego, 1920s

The Macdonough was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco on 24 May 1920, launched on 15 December 1920when she was sponsored by Mrs. Charles W. Dabney, great‑granddaughter of Commodore Thomas Macdonough and commissioned on 30 April 1921. The MacDonough was based at San Diego for her entire career, and spent most of her time operation along the US West Coast.

In 1925 the Macdonough took part in joint Army-Navy exercises off Hawaii. From 20 June to 26 September 1925 she then took part in a massive good will cruise to Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. 

At the start of September 1925 a PN-9 flying boat that was attempting to fly from the US West Coast to Hawaii was forced to ditch after running out of fuel. Despite a massive naval search, the missing aircraft wasn’t found, but her crew managed to rig a sail, and continued on towards Hawaii at a much slower pace. They were finally spotted ten miles off Kauai after a voyage of 400 miles. The MacDonough was sent out to pick up her crews, and tow the aircraft to port.

In August 1927 the MacDonough served as the flagship of Rear Admiral Richard Jackson, commander-in-chief of the Pacific Battle Fleet, as he led the attempts to find three aircraft lost during the Dole Air Race, a disastrous attempt to carry out a race between the US West Coast and Hawaii. None of the aircraft were found.

USS MacDonough (DD-331) making smoke USS MacDonough (DD-331) making smoke

Destroyer Division 36,San Diego, 18 February 1928 Destroyer Division 36,San Diego, 18 February 1928

The MacDonough probably took part in Fleet Problem IX, a mock attack on the Panama Canal, returning to San Diego on 22 March 1929.

By now it was clear that the Macdonough’s Yarrow boilers were badly worn. The US Navy decided to swap thirty four of the badly worn destroyers for almost fresh sister-ships that had been in the reserves for most of the 1920s. The Macdonough was decommissioned at San Diego on 8 January 1930and sold for scrap on 20 December 1930, helping to fulfil the terms of the London Naval Treaty.

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



15 December 1920


30 April 1921

Sold for scrap

20 December 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 (31 March 2021), USS MacDonough (DD-331) ,

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