USS Rathburne (DD-113/ APD-25)

USS Rathburne (DD-113/ APD-25) was a Wickes class destroyer that performed convoy escort duties during the First World War and served as a fast transport during the Second World War, serving in the Philippines and at Okinawa.

The Rathburne was named after John Peek Rathbun, an officer in the Continental Navy who was captured by the British while commanding a privateer.

Crews of Rathburne, Talbot, Dent, Waters, Lea and Dorsey
Crews of Rathburne, Talbot,
Dent, Waters, Lea

and Dorsey

The Rathburne was laid down by William Cramp of Philadelphia on 12 July 1917, launched on 27 December 1917 and commissioned on 24 June 1918 with Comdr. Ward. R. Wortman in command.

Between July and November 1918 the Rathburne escorted coastal convoys from the mid-Atlantic coast of the US north to Halifax, and trans-Atlantic convoys as far as the Azores.

On 23 August 1918 she left the US as part of the escort for Mercantile Convoy H x 46 (fast), along with the cruiser USS South Dakota (Armored Cruiser No.9). The convoy contained eleven merchant ships, and reached Liverpool and Bordeaux in early September, although by then the US escort had turned back.

Anyone who served on her between 27 June and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Rathburne's last convoy escort mission ended at New York on 27 November 1918. During December her wartime camouflage pattern was painted over with the standard post-war grey.

Early in 1919 the Rathburne left New York to take part in the Navy's winter maneuvers around Cuba. In the spring of 1919 she returned to European waters, and she was based at Brest in May-June, before returning to New York in July. In August she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet. She operated off the US West Coast from August 1919 until the summer of 1921.

Crew of USS Rathburne (DD-113)
Crew of USS Rathburne (DD-113)

In July 1921 the Rathburne headed west to join the Asiatic Fleet, reaching her new base at Cavite in August. She was based in the Philippines until July 1922, when she left for a six week cruise off the coast of China. At the end of August she visited Nagasaki, Japan, and then returned across the Pacific. This ended her first period of service, and on 12 February 1923 she was decommissioned at San Diego and joined the reserve fleet.

The Rathburne was recommissioned on 8 February 1930, and was based on the US West Coast. Most of her time was taken up with fleet problems off the West Coast. In the spring of 1934 she took part in Fleet Problem XV, an elaborate three-staged exercise (attack and defence of the Panama Canal, the capture of advanced bases and a fleet action). After a cruise up the US East Coast she returned to San Diego in the autumn of 1934.  In 1936 she joined the West Coast Sound Training Squadron, and spent most of the next few years being used as a school ship.

Amongst her crew in 1933 was Ernest Edwin Evans, who commanded the destroyers USS Alden (DD-211) and USS Johnston (DD-557) during the Second World War, and was killed when the Johnston was sunk on 25 October 1944, during the battle of Leyte Gulf, when she helped hold off Admiral Kurita's Centre Force, which had almost broke through into Leyte Gulf (Battle of Samar). Evans was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Amongst her crew in the spring of 1934 was Samuel David Dealey, who later joined the Submarine force, and who was lost when USS Harder (SS-257) was sunk by Japanese depth charges in Dasol Bay in the Philippines on 24 August 1944, during its  Sixth War Patrol. Dealey was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.

USS Rathburne (DD-113), c.1920
USS Rathburne (DD-113), c.1920

In 1944 the Rathburne was chosen for conversion into a high speed transport. On 20 May she was reclassified as APD-25. The conversion was done at Puget Sound, and she then underwent a short spell of amphibious training at San Diego in June, before in July she departed for Pearl Harbor. Once she was there she trained with underwater demolition teams, expert divers who prepared the way for landing operations, and on 10 August UDT 10 came aboard. 

On 12 September the Rathburne entered combat in the Palaus, taking part in the pre-invasion bombardment and minesweeping off Peleliu and Angaur islands. On 14-15 September she supported UDT 10 as they cleared the approaches to the landing beaches on Angaur. She then performed covering fire for UDT 8. Between 16-19 September she formed part of the screening forces protecting the invasion fleet.

On 19 September the Rathburne departed for Ulithi. On 21 September UDT 10 conducted reconnaissance of the landing beaches at Falalop and Asor. The uncontested occupation of Ulithi  was carried on on 23 September and it became a major US naval base.

USS Rathburne (APD-25), 1944
USS Rathburne (APD-25), 1944

From Ulithi the Rathburne moved south to prepare to take part in the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines. On 18 October she entered Leyte Gulf, and on 19 October UDT 10 landed on Red Beach, between Palo and San Ricardo. The Rathburne provided fire support until noon, when the landing team withdrew. On 20 October she supported the main landings and was then was used to carry messengers and passengers between the northern and southern transport areas, but on the following day she departed from Leyte, to prepare for the invasion of Luzon.

On 28 December the Rathburne set off for Lingayen Gulf, as part of TU 77.2.1, the San Fabian fire support group, which was to operate on the left of the initial landing beaches, deep into the gulf. During the voyage she formed part of the anti-aircraft screen, and on 5 January 1945 she shot down two Japanese aircraft. The naval bombardment began on 6 January, and the Rathburne was used to screen the larger warships that actually carried out the bombardment. On 7 January she landed UDT 10 on Blue Beach, and supported them as they prepared the area for the landings. On 8 January she rejoined the bombardment forces.

The landings took place on 9 January. On 9-11 January the Rathburne carried out a mix of fire support and patrol duties. On 11 January she departed for Leyte, before on 25 January returning to Luzon to support the advance on Manila. She landed UDT 10 at San Narciso (south-east of Manila) on 29 January, where they found no Japanese troops.

On 4 February the Rathburne left San Pedro Bay and moved to Saipan. In early march she carried out a mail run from Saipan to Iwo Jima. In mid March she carried out anti-submarine patrols around the Bonin and Volcano Islands, before on 22 March she left the area to carry POWs to Guam.

The Rathburne's last combat came during the invasion of Okinawa. She escorted LST Group 91 to the island, and arrived at Kerama Retto (in a group of island 20 miles to the south-west of Okinawa, occupied by the US in March 1945) on 18 April. On the following day she moved to the Haguski anchorage, off the west coast of Okinawa, where she was used for screening and escort duties.

On the evening of 27 April the Rathburne was hit at the waterline on the port bow by a kamikaze. Three compartments were flooded, her sonar was knocked out and some fires started on the forecastle, but surprisingly there were no casualties. She was able to make way under hwer own power, although at slow speed (5 knots), and returned to Kerama Retto. In mid-May, after temporary repairs had been carried out, she departed for San Diego (alongside the Hazelwood (DD-531), hit by a kamikaze on 29 April).

She departed Ulithi on 25 May, escorted by USS Wintle (DE-25), and reached Eniwetok on 29 May, where her escort departed.

The Rathburne reached San Diego on 18 June 1945. By now she wasn't required as a fast transport, and she was converted back into a destroyer. On 20 July she was reclassified as DD-113. The Rathburne was still undergoing repairs when the war ended. By now she was totally surplus to requirements, and she was chosen for immediate disposal. She departed for the East Coast on 29 September, was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 16 October, decommissioned on 2 November 1945, struck off on 28 November and sold for scrap in November 1946.

The Rathburne earned six battle stars during the Second World War, for the Western Caroline islands, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa Gunto and Manila Bay-Bicol.

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

12 July 1917


27 December 1917


24 June 1918


16 October 1945

Struck off

28 November 1945

Sold for scrap

November 1946

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 (4 July 2017), USS Rathburne (DD-113/ APD-25) ,

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