USS Smith Thompson (DD-212)

 USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) was a Clemson class destroyer that served in European waters, with the Asiatic Station and off the US East Coast before being written off after a collision with one of her sister ships in 1936.

The Smith Thompson was named after the Secretary of the Navy from 1818.She was laid down at Cramp on 24 March 1919, launched on 14 July 1919 and commissioned on 19 December 1919.

The Smith Thompson was allocated to the US forces in European Waters, setting sail on 8 February 1920. She reached Constantinople on 25 February, and joined the United States Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters under Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol. She was based in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean for the next year, visiting ports in Turkey, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Syria, Greece and Egypt. She was used as a mail ship, to carry State Department and charitable officers. She was sometimes used as the flagship of Rear Admiral N.A. McCully, a special agent of the State Department operating in southern Russia. She was also used to rescue Russian refugees from Black Sea ports.

USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) from the right
USS Smith Thompson (DD-212)
from the right

USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) being scuttled, 25 July 1936
USS Smith Thompson (DD-212)
being scuttled, 25 July 1936

On 2 May 1921 she departed for the Far East, heading through the Suez Canal and reaching Cavite in the Philippines on 29 June 1921. She joined the Asiatic force, and spent four years operating from the Philippines and in Chinese waters. In Septembe 1923 she was sent to help the Japanese relief effort after an earthquake and tidal wave devastated Tokyo and Yokohama. The Smith Thompson and her destroyer division were sent to Japan with emergency medical supplies. The Smith Thompson arrived on 5 September and was used as a radio relay ship at Yokohama and then the station ship at Tokyo, before leaving on 21 September. The American destroyers were the first foreign ships to reach Yokohama, and won a great deal of good will in Japan.

In 1924 the Smith Thompson was posted off the coast of China between 7-10 June, supporting a round the world flight by four Douglas World Cruisers, being operated by the US Army.

In 1925 the Smith Thompson returned to the United States. She joined the Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet, and operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean. In September-October 1926 and January 1927 she joined the US Special Service Squadron operating off the coast of Nicaragua. Anyone who served on her between 25-30 September 1926, 3 October-1 November 1926 or 11-16 January 1927 qualified for the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal.

Between June 1927 and January 1928 the Smith Thompson visited the Mediterranea and Adriatic. She then joined the Destroyer Squadrons of the Battle Fleet, on the US West Coast.

On 1 August 1929 she departed for the Far East to rejoin the Asiatic Fleet. She spent the next seven years operating in the Philippines in the winter and in Chinese waters in the summer, helping to defend US interests during the early clashes between Japan and China. During this time she spent some time operating with the Yangtze River Patrol and the South China Patrol. In February 1932 she moved to Shanghai to help protect the International Settlement after the Japanese attacked the city. On this occasion she remained in Chinese waters until 28 May.

USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) at Constantinople, c.1920-21
USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) at Constantinople, c.1920-21

USS Whipple (DD-217) and USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) at Dewey Dry Dock after 1936 Collision
USS Whipple (DD-217) and USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) at Dewey Dry Dock after 1936 Collision

Anyone who served on her between eight sets of dates between 1 July 1930 and 25 October 1932 qualified for the Yangtze Service Medal.

On 14 April 1936 the Smith Thompson was rammed amidships by USS Whipple (DD-217) while heading from Manila to Shanghai. Although the damage to the Whipple was more dramatic, with part of her bow removed, the Smith Thompson was actually the more seriously damaged. She was towed back to the Philippines by the Barker (DD-213), reaching Subic Bay on 17 April. It was decided that she was too badly damaged to be worth repairing, and she was decommissioned on 15 May and sunk at sea off Subic Bay on 25 July 1936.

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)

Armour - belt


 - deck



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



14 July 1919


19 December 1919

Sunk at sea

25 July 1936

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 November 2018), USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) ,

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