USS Rowan (DD-64)

USS Rowan (DD-64) was a Sampson class destroyer that served in European waters in 1917-18, and took part in at least one attack on a suspected U-boat, but without success.

The Rowan was named after Stephan C. Rowan, a US Naval Officer during the Mexican War and the American Civil War. After the war he was promoted to rear admiral and later vice admiral, commanded the Norfolk Navy Yard, the Asiatic Squadron, the New York Navy Yard, the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia and the Naval Observatory at Washington.

USS Rowan (DD-64) at Sea, November 1917
USS Rowan (DD-64)
at Sea, November 1917

The Rowan was laid down on 10 May 1915 and launched on 23 March 1916. She ran trials in late July 1916, with weights installed in place of her guns, which had not yet been installed, and no torpedo tubes. She was commissioned on 22 August 1916, with Lt William R. Purnell in command.

Later in the year Purnell was replaced as her commander by Charles A. Blakely, who later rose to command the carrier Lexington (CV-2) in 1932-34, Commander of Carrier Division 2 (1937) and ended his career as Commander of the 11th Naval District and Commander of the Naval Operating Base at San Diego before retiring on 9 December 1941 due to ill health. The destroyer escort USS Blakely (DE-1072) was named after Blakely and his great grand-uncle Captain Johstoen Blakely, who served in the War of 1812.

The Rowan operated off the Atlantic coast during the autumn of 1916. She then took part in the US Navy's winter exercises in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico over the winter of 1916-17. She was at Norfolk when the US entered the First World War in April 1917, and was briefly used to patrol the mouth of the York River.

The Rowan was part of the second batch of US destroyers (Division 7) sent to Europe after the American entry into the First World War (Tucker (DD-57), Rowan (DD-64), Cassin (DD-43), Ericsson (DD-56), Winslow (DD-53), and Jacob Jones (DD-61)). They reached Queenstown, Ireland, on 17 May 1917.

The Rowan was used for a mix of anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort missions, operating between British and French ports. She was involved in one significant attack on a possible submarine, on 28 May 1918, when she was one of three destroyers to take part. She dropped fourteen depth charges, and oil came to the surface, but no U-boat was destroyed.

The Rowan left Queenstown on 26 December 1918 to return home and reached New York on 8 January 1919. She spent the summer of 1919 operating off the US East Coast and in the Caribbean, before in August being placed into reduced commission at Philadelphia.

USS Rowan (DD-64) and troop transport Madawaka
USS Rowan (DD-64) and troop transport Madawaka

Anyone who served on her between 21 November 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

Anyone who was serving on her on 1 April 1919 qualified for the Haitian Campaign Medal.

The Rowan rejoined the Atlantic Fleet after a brief post-war spell in reduced commission, before moving to Philadephia in March 1922, where on 19 June she was decommissioned. She didn't take part in the Coast Guard's prohibition era 'Rum Patrol' and remained out of commission until she was stuck off on 7 January 1936. She was sold for scrap on 20 April 1939.

One of her wartime commanders was Douglas L. Howard, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his period as commanding officer of the Drayton (DD-23), Rowan (DD-64) and Bell (DD-95) during the First World War. He later rose to command Destroyer Divisions 27 and 33 and ended his career in the Office of Naval Intelligence.

In the period April-June 1918 the Rowan escorted nine troop convoys.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts at 17,500shp (design)
29.57kts at 17,964shp at 1,135t tons on trial (Rowan)


2-shaft Curtis turbines
4 boilers



Armour - belt


 - deck



315ft 3in


29ft 10in


Four 4in/50 guns
Two 1 pounder AA guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings

Crew complement



23 March 1916


22 August 1916



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

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), USS Rowan (DD-64) ,

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