USS Sumner (DD-333)

USS Sumner (DD-333) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s then as a barracks ship and test ship in the early 1930s before being sold for scrap in 1934.

The Sumner was named after Allen M. Sumner, a captain in the US Marines who was killed during the First World War.

USS Sumner (DD-333) returning torpedoes to USS Lexington (CV-2) USS Sumner (DD-333) returning torpedoes to USS Lexington (CV-2)

The Sumner was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco on 27 August 1919, launched on 27 November 1920 when she was sponsored by his ten year old daughter Margaret Sumner and commissioned on 27 May 1921. She then joined Destroyer Division 49, Squadron 13, Flotilla 2 of the Pacific Fleet.

In November 1923 the Sumner ran aground on a mud bank near the San Diego marine base while heading for the training grounds near the Coronado islands.

On 17 January 1924 the Sumner was one of six destroyers that were sent to Vera Cruz, Mexico, to protect US interests during part of an ongoing Mexican revolution. She was on the US west coast by early April.

On 1 July 1925 the Sumner joined the battle fleet for a goodwill cruise to Samoa, Australia and New Zealand, visiting Pago Pago, Melbourne and Sydney, Auckland, Lyttleton, Wellington, and Dunedin. She had probably been in Hawaii for joint Army-Navy exercises. She was back on the US west coast by 26 September.

USS Sumner (DD-333) refueling from the Cuyama (AO-3) USS Sumner (DD-333) refueling from the Cuyama (AO-3)

In March 1927 she passed through the Panama Canal to take part in Fleet Problem VII, an attack on the canal. She then cruised up the east coast, reaching Boston. She returned to the Pacific in June 1927.

In August 1927 she took part in the unsuccessful attempts to find the aircraft that went missing during the Dole Air Race, a disastrous attempt at a race between the US West Coast and Hawaii. Two aircraft were lost during the race itself, and a third after attempting to search for the first two. By the time the Sumner was reported as being involved in the search, all three were missing, and none were found.

In mid-November 1927 the Sumner and the Zeilin (DD-313) collided off Point Loma, while on their way to take part in manoeuvres with the battle fleet. Both destroyers were reported to have suffered serious damage, but never to have been in danger of sinking.

In 1928 she visited Hawaii once again, probably while taking part in Fleet Problem VIII, which was held in the seas between California and Hawaii.

USS Sumner (DD-333) at Hawaii, late 1920s USS Sumner (DD-333) at Hawaii, late 1920s

By now it was clear that the Sumner’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 Sumner was decommissioned at San Diego on 29 March 1930. She was then used as a barracks ship for submarine crews and a test ship for structural strength tests, before finally being sold for scrap on 12 June 1934, 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



27 November 1920


27 May 1921

Sold for scrap

12 June 1934

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 (14 April 2021), USS Sumner (DD-333) ,

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