USS S P Lee (DD-310)

USS S P Lee (DD-310) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet before being lost in the Honda Point disaster of 8 September 1923.

The S P Lee was named after Samuel Phillips Lee, who served in the US Navy during the Mexican War and the American Civil War, commanding the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron then the Mississippi Squadron.

The S P Lee was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco on 31 December 1918 and launched on 22 April 1919, when she was commissioned by Mre Thomas J. Wyche. She was commissioned on 30 October 1920 and assigned to the Reserve Destroyer Division of the Pacific Fleet.

USS S P Lee (DD-310) in drydock USS S P Lee (DD-310) in drydock

The S P Lee spent the first two years of her carreer at San Diego, with a reduced complement. She became more active in 1923. On 6 February 1923 she departed for the Canal Zone with Destroyer Squadron 11 to take part in Fleet Problem I, a simulated attack on the canal defences. She arrived at Balboa in the canal zone on 26 February, took part in the problem, and was back at San Diego on 11 April.

From 25 June to 30 August the S P Lee took part in a large fleet move to northern waters, where President Warren Harding had arrived on his long cruise around the American coastline. The S P Lee provided part of the escort for the President when he arrived at Seattle on 27 July, but by this point Harding was seriously ill, and he died a few days later.  In August she took part in exercises with Battleship Division 3, and reached San Francisco on 31 August.

On 8 September the S P Lee was part of a destroyer force heading for Santa Barbara. However at 21.00, in poor visability, the flotilla turned east too soon, and instead of heading into the Santa Barbara channel hit the shore at Point Pedernales (also known as Honda Point). USS Delphy, which was leading the force, hit the rocks first. TheS P Lee was second to hit. She hit rocks, and then swung to the side, ended up parallel to the bluffs. Her crew were unable to save her, and had to abandon ship on the following morning.

USS S P Lee (DD-310) at Honda Point USS S P Lee (DD-310) at Honda Point

She was soon declared a total loss, and was struck off on 20 November. Two years later, on 19 October 1925, the wreck was sold to Robert J Smith of Oakland, who was able to salvage some of her equipment.

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



22 April 1919


30 October 1920

Lost at Honda Point

8 September 1923

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 (7 November 2020), USS S P Lee (DD-310) ,

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