USS Stockton (DD-73)/ HMS Ludlow

USS Stockton (DD-73) was a Caldwell class destroyer that served in the First World War with the US Navy and in the Second World War as HMS Ludlow, after taking part in the Destroyers for Bases deal.

The Stockton was named after Robert Field Stockton, a US naval officer during the War of 1812, the war against the Barbary pirates and the Mexican War.

The Stockton was laid down on 16 October 1916 by Cramp of Philadelphia, launched on 17 July 1917 and commissioned on 26 November 1917.

Twin 4in/ 50 guns on USS Stockton (DD-73)
Twin 4in/ 50 guns on
USS Stockton (DD-73)

Although most ships of the Caldwell class were armed with four 4in/ 50 guns, the Stockton was unusual in that she carried a twin 4in/ 50 gun in the forward position, giving her a total of five guns.

The Stockton was based at Queenstown, Ireland, for most of 1918. During that period she had one genuine encounter with a U-boat. On 30 March the Stockton and USS Ericsson (DD-56) were escorting the troopship St. Paul between Queenstown and Liverpool. The Ericsson opened fire on a submarine, which then fired a torpedo at the Stockton. She avoided the torpedo, and the two destroyers then carried out a depth charge attack on the submarine, but without any success. The day was rather marred when the Stockton collided with the merchant ship SS Slieve Bloom near the South Sark Light. The Stockton suffered damage to the forward part of her bow, but was able to reach Liverpool without any problems. The Slieve Bloom was less fortunate, and sank. 

View inside bridge of USS Stockton (DD-73)
View inside bridge of USS Stockton (DD-73)

Anyone who served on her between 7 February 1918 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

After the end of the war the Stockton returned to the United States, where she spent three years operating with the fleet. On 7 May 1919 the steam belt on #2 turbo generator exploded and flying fragments killed Chief Machinist Mate Harry James Welch.

Crew at fire quarters, USS Stockton (DD-73)
Crew at fire quarters,
USS Stockton (DD-73)

On 26 June 1922 the Stockton was decommissioned at Philadelphia, where she remained for almost twenty years. She was then chosen to take part in the Destroyers for Bases deal with Britain, and on 16 August 1940 she was recommissioned.

The Stockton was transferred to the Royal Navy at Halifax on 2 October 1940, where she became HMS Ludlow (
Pennant number G-57). She underwent a refit at Devonport and then joined the Rosyth Escort Force, used to escort convoys between the Thames and the Firth of Forth. She carried out this duty for the rest of the year, with occasion breaks for repairs and refits. She also took part in the D-Day invasion, possibly as part of the escorts for the Mulberry harbour sections as they were floated across the Channel.

Port 4in/50 gun on USS Stockton (DD-73)
Port 4in/50 gun on USS Stockton (DD-73)

By July 1944 she was armed with a 12-pounder gun forward (replacing the original twin 4in/ 50), a US 3in/ 50 gun aft, 2-pounder guns in the beam positions and Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns in bandstands. She had been given Type 291 air search radar, Type 86M ship-to-air radio and a Type 291 lantern. She had also been given an extended upper bridge, which was built on top of the standard US bridge.

After the end of the war the Ludlow was chosen for use as a target for rocket firing aircraft. She was sunk by rockets off Fidra Island, in the Firth of Forth, on 6 June 1945.

Displacement (standard)

1,120t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30kts at 18,500shp
30.20kts at 19,930shp at 1,192 tons on trial (Gwin)


2-shaft turbines
4 boilers


2,500nm at 20kts


315ft 7in


30ft 6in


Five 4in/50 guns
Two 1-pounder AA guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in four triple mounts
One Y-gun (DD-70 to DD-71)

Crew complement



17 July 1917


26 November 1917

To Royal Navy

October 1940

Sunk by rockets

6 June 1945

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 (3 January 2016), USS Stockton (DD-73)/ HMS Ludlow ,

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