USS Paul Jones (DD-230)

USS Paul Jones (DD-230) was a Clemson class destroyer that survived the disastrous campaign in the Dutch East Indies in 1941-42, and spent most of the rest of the war on escort duties or working with hunter-killer anti-submarine groups.

The Paul Jones was named after John Paul Jones, the famous pioneer of US naval power during the War of Independence.

The Paul Jones was laid down at Cramp’s of Philadelphia on 23 December 1919, launched on 30 September 1920 and commissioned on 19 April 1921.

The Paul Jones spent two years operating with the Atlantic Fleet before being moved to the Asiatic Fleet in 1923. She took part in the normal routine of the Asiatic Fleet, spending the summers in Chinese waters and the winters around the Philippines. This meant that she was often caught up in the ongoing civil wars in China and the early clashes between China and Japan.

USS Paul Jones (DD-230) Fitting Out
USS Paul Jones (DD-230)
Fitting Out

In the summer of 1925 the Asiatic Fleet put some of its marines ashore at Hankow to help the British. On 12 June the Paul Jones put ashore a landing party to relieve an earlier group from the gunboat Villalobos (PG-42).

In April 1926 the Paul Jones took part in a visit to French Indochina, visiting Saigon and Cape St James.

From July 1927-September 1928 her commander was Walden Lee Ainsworth, a senior naval officer during the Pacific campaign of the Second World War.

In August 1930 the Paul Jones was based at Tsingtao, then in Chinese hands, where she took part in short range battle practice.

Early in 1932 the Japanese attacked Shanghai. The Paul Jones was part of a US naval squadron that was rushed to the area, and moved close to the city on 6 February.

In December 1936 she took part in a cruise in the southern Philippines, along with the Pope.

In 1937 she took part in the first official visit by US warships to a Soviet Port since the establishing of diplomatic relations in 1933. This was carried out at the Soviet’s request, in the hope that it might convince the Japanese to restrict their aggression in China. A flotilla made up of the cruiser Augusta (CA-31) and the destroyers Paul Jones, Alden (DD-221), Barker (DD-213) and Whipple (DD-217). The fleet reached Vladivostok on 28 July and stayed until 1 August, but although the visit was success in its own right, it had no impact on the Japanese, and open warfare had already broken out in China.


The Paul Jones was the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 29 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She was at Tarakan on Borneo, having been moved there as part of an attempt to disperse the Asiatic Fleet. She almost immediately put to sea with the Marblehead (CL-12), Stewart (DD-224), Barker (DD-213) and Parrott (DD-218). This small fleet moved to the Makassar Roads, Sulawesi, in the Dutch East Indies. For most of December she served as a picket boat in the Lombok Strait and around Surabaya, Java. One of her first missions in this role was to hunt for a Japanese submarine which had sunk the Dutch ship Langkoems and rescue her survivors. There was no sign of the submarine, but she did pick up the survivors from Bawean Island, north of Java.


On 9 January 1942 the Paul Jones saved 101 men from a second sunken Dutch merchant ship.

USS Paul Jones (DD-230) from above, July 1943 USS Paul Jones (DD-230) from above, July 1943

On 12 January she and HNMS Van Ghent salvaged the US Army cargo vessel USS Liberty, which had abandoned by her crew, and towed her to Surabaya.

The Paul Jones then joined a naval force that was sent to try and intercept the Japanese landing at Balikpapan. This force included the cruisers Marblehead and Boise (CL-47), and the destroyers John D. Ford (DD-228), Pope (DD-225), and Parrott (DD-218). The Boise soon had to withdraw and the Marblehead suffered a turbine problem, so the eventual attack was made by the four destroyers. The resulting battle of Balikpapan (23-24 January 1942) was one of the few Allied victories of this campaign, and saw the four US destroyers inflict heavy loses on the Japanese, who appear not to have realised they were being attacked by surface ships.

On 31 January the Paul Jones left Surabaya with the Houston and the Whipple, to cover a raid into the Makassar Strait by the Marblehead and her escorts, but this was cancelled by the Marblehead on 2 February and the Houston withdrew.

On 5 February the Paul Jones attempted to escort the SS Tidier from Sumbawa to Timor, but soon after the two ships met up they were attacked by Japanese bombers and the Tidier was forced to run aground, becoming a total loss. The Paul Jones rescued her crew and then moved to Java.

The Paul Jones was part of the ABDA force that suffered a crushing defeat in the battle of the Java Sea (February 1942). However she expended all of her torpedoes on 27 February, and along with several other destroyers was sent back to Surabaya to take on fuel. On the following morning she was one of four destroyers that managed to slip out of the Japanese trap. She and the John D. Ford escorted the Black Hawk (AD-9) to Fremantle, Australia, reaching safety there on 4 March. By this point she was in urgent need of repairs. After some initial work at Fremantle she moved to Melbourne for more work.

The Bulmer and the Paul Jones left Australia heading for Pearl Harbor on 22 May. On 25 May they met up with HMNZS Leander at Nouna, New Caledonia, and the three moved on to Efate. They reached Fiji on 1 June. By 6 June the US ships were at Pago Pago in American Samoa, and on 16 June they reached Pearl Harbor.

The Paul Jones reached San Francisco on 29 June. She then joined the forces escorting convoys between California and Pearl Harbor, in the expectation that the Japanese would try and disrupt that vital supply line. This duty lasted until March 1943, without any serious incidents.


At the end of March the Paul Jones, Parrott and Barker left San Francisco heading for the Atlantic. They passed through the Panama Canal on 6 May and began escort duty on 28 May, operating on the route between North Africa and the US.

In the autumn of 1943 she formed part of Task Group 21.16, built around the escort carrier USS Block Island (CVE), with the Parrott (DD-218), Barker (DD-213) and Bulmer (DD-222). The group left Hampton Roads on 15 October 1943 as part of the cover for convoy UGS-21, before on 17 October being detached to search for U-boats north of the Azores. On 25 October they found and shelled the large submarine U-488, which escaped with light damage. Over the next two hours the Paul Jones attacked a number of contacts without success. On 28 October the Block Island’s aircraft attacked two U-boats, sinking U-220. The group reached Casablanca on 5 November.

The group departed Casablanca on 10 November, as part of the escort for convoy GUS-220. It was then detached to hunt for U-boats, but without success, and returned to Norfolk on 25 November 1943.

The same group left Hampton Roads on 15 December to support Convoy UGS-27. Once again it was detached after a few days and sent after a suspected group of U-boats. On 29 December the group ran into a concentration of nine U-boats in weather so bad that the carrier’s aircraft couldn’t fly. As a result no U-boats were destroyed. The group reached Casablanca on 4 January 1944.


The group left Casablanca on 8 January 1944 to escort two British convoys. On 11 January aircraft from the Block Island damaged U-758, forcing her to abandon her patrol. On 14 January the group rescued 43 survivors from U-231, sunk by British aircraft. Bad weather then intervened, and she returned to Norfolk on 3 February. On her next voyage the Block Island had a new escort group.

The Paul Jones carried out convoy escort duties until April 1944. This was followed by a brief spell of anti-submarine warfare patrols off Chesapeake Bay, before she returned to convoy escort duty, this time to the United Kingdom.

On 9 November the Paul Jones began to operating as a training ship for newly commissioned submarines, based at Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone. This role lasted until 6 April 1945.

Convoy assignments were carried out until April 1944 when Paul Jones was assigned temporarily to ASW patrol seaward of Chesapeake Bay. She then made convoy runs to several United Kingdom ports before being assigned as training ship for newly commissioned submarines at Balboa, Canal Zone, which commenced 9 November and terminated 6 April 1945, when she sailed for New York.


The Paul Jones then joined a task force of destroyers and oilers, which operated as a floating refuelling base, serving escorts of convoys moving between the Azores and Morocco.

This lasted until the summer of 1945. On 11 June she returned to Norfolk, where she became a plane guard for the new carrier Lake Champlain (CV-39). This lasted until 4 August, when she sailed for Norfolk to prepare to be de-activated. By this point she had been reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG-12).

In October 1945 the Paul Jones was allocated to the 5th Naval District and on 5 November she was decommissioned. She was struck off on 28 November 1945 and sold for scrap on 5 October 1947.

Paul Jones earned two battle stars for Pacific service in World War II, the first for Asiatic Fleet operations 8 December 1941-4 March 1942, the second for Makassar Strait (23-24 January 1942) and the Java Sea (27 February 1943).

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)

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



30 Septempter 1920


19 April 1921

Sold for scrap

5 October 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

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 July 2019), USS Paul Jones (DD-230) ,

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