USS Putnam (DD-287)

USS Putnam (DD-287) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Atlantic Fleet and Scouting Fleet in the 1920s before being decommissioned in 1929.

The Putnam was named after Charles Flint Putnam, who served in the US Navy from 1873 until he was lost during an attempt to rescue the survivors of a failed arctic expedition in 1881.

The Putnam was laid down at the Squantum plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps on 30 June 1919, launched on 30 September 1919 and sponsored by Miss Katherine Brown. She was commissioned on 18 December 1919 and after her shakedown cruise joined Division 43, Squadron 3, Destroyer Force of the Atlantic Fleet.

On 8 February 1920 she departed for Guantanamo Bay where she carried out target practice. She was then sent to Mexico to join the Isherwood (DD-284) and the Reid (DD-292) to watch the potentially dangerous political situation, staying off Tampico from 10 May-14 June. This was followed by a reservist training cruise between Philadelphia and Newport. She was then placed into the reserve at Charleston on 22 September 1920.

USS Putnam (DD-287) from the front
USS Putnam (DD-287)
from the front

The Putnam returned to active duty on 1 May 1921 and was assigned to Destroyer Division 49, Squadron I. She took part in the Destroyer Force’s summer exercises from Newport which lasted until 16 November. She then spent the winter of 1921-22 back in the reserve at Charleston.

On 27 June 1922 she joined Destroyer Division 25, Squadron 9 at Newport. From 16 April-25 May 1923 she took part in gunnery drills at Guantanamo Bay. This was followed by an overhaul at Boston.

On 5 April 1924 she joined her division at Guantanamo bay to take part in exercises with the Scouting Fleet Destroyers. This was followed by similar exercises off Hampton Roads, which lasted until 29 October. This period also included a rare chance to carry out practice torpedo firing in late May. 

From 6 January-10 February 1925 the Putnam took part in fleet torpedo exercises in the Caribbean. From 14 February-1 July she underwent repairs at Boston. She then moved to the Newport Naval Torpedo Station for experimental work. This also including taking part in the search for the wreck of the submarine USS S-51 on 26 September. On 2 October she left for Gonaives, Haiti, Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Bay for exercises with the Scouting Fleet Destroyers.

On 20 February 1926 she moved to Boston for a refit that lasted until 28 April. She then returned to Newport to continue with the torpedo experiments. Between then and October 1927 she split her time between fleet exercises off Haiti and the experimental work.

In January-February 192 she took part in exercises off Haiti. From 30 June-24 August she carried out three reservist training cruisers between Philadelphia and Newport. On 31 August she departed for Charleston where she carried out depth charge practice.

In January 1929 she took part in Fleet Problem IX, which took her briefly into the Pacific. She then carried out gunnery drills off Haiti, before returning to Boston at the end of April. From 19 July-30 August she carried out two reservist cruises from Tomkinsville, New York.

By now her Yarrow boilers were badly worn. The Navy decided to place most of their Yarrow powered Clemson class destroyers into the reserve, and the Putnam was decommissioned on 21 September 1929. She was struck off on 22 October 1930 and sold on 17 January 1931 under the terms of the London Naval Treaty. She was scrapped later in 1931.

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)


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 September 1919


18 December 1919

Sold for scrap

17 January 1931

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 (3 June 2020), USS Putnam (DD-287) ,

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