USS Robert Smith (DD-324)

USS Robert Smith (DD-324) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet in the 1920s, before being scrapped because of her badly worn boilers.

The Robert Smith was named after Robert Smith, a veteran of the War of Independence who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1801 to 1809.

The Robert Smith was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco and launched on 19 September 1919 when she was sponsored by Miss Jane Cooper and commissioned on 17 March 1921.

USS Robert Smith (DD-324) at sea USS Robert Smith (DD-324) at sea

In October 1920 the Marcus, Mervine, Chase, Robert Smith and Mullany were allocated to Destroyer Division 45, part of Destroyer Squadron 13 of Flotilla No.2.

On 5 April 1921 the Robert Smith left San Francisco to move to San Diego, where she became the flagship of Destroyer Division 45. Either later in the year or in September 1922 this was renumbered as Destroyer Division 35.

The Robert Smith spent most of July and August 1922 operating with the Battle Fleet in the waters around Puget Sound, before returning to San Diego late in August.

In March 1925 the Robert Smith was damaged in a collision with the aircraft carrier USS Langley during exercises being held off San Diego. This may have stopped her taking part in Fleet Problem V of March-April 1925, but she was back in action by 19 May 1925 when she left Mare Island to join the Battle Force for exercises off Lahaina Roads, Hawaii. On 1 July she left Pearl Harbor to take part in a massive goodwill tour of the South Pacific, visiting Pago Pago (Samoa), Melbourne (Australia), Lyttleton and Wellington (New Zealand) and Tutuila (Somoa) before returning to Pearl Harbor on 18 September. 

In April 1927 she passed through the Panama Canal on a rare visit to the east coast, where she visited Tompkinsville, New York, before moving south to Panamanian waters in July.

In the summer of 1928 she was part of Destroyer Division 35 (Marcus, Mervine, Mullany, Selfridge, Chase and Robert Smith). This division was used to take naval reservists from southern California on a training cruise to Honolulu and back (visiting Hawaii in May and July 1928), then in late July departed from Puget Sound to join the battle fleet which was carrying out manoeuvres in northern waters.

On 26 March 1929 the Robert Smith arrived at Mazatlan, Mexico, after leaving San Diego on the previous Saturday. In April 1929 the Robert Smith was posted off Tobari Bay, before moving to Topolobampo after a request from the State Department. The Moody (DD-277) was moved from San Diego to Tobari to replace her.

By now it was clear that the Robert Smith’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 Robert Smith was decommissioned at San Diego on 1 March 1930, scrapped at Mare Island and her materials sold 10 June 1931, 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)


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



19 September 1919


17 March 1921

Sold for scrap

10 June 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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 February 2021), USS Robert Smith (DD-324) ,

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