USS Truxtun (DD-14)

USS Truxtun (DD-14) was the name ship of the Truxtun class of destroyers. She served in Panamanian and Columbia waters during the early months of the US involvement in the First World War, then spent three months based at the Azores before operating from Brest in France during 1918.

The Truxtun was named after Thomas Truxtun, a privateer and naval officer during the US War of Independence and one of the first six captains in the post-independence US Navy. He fought in the undeclared naval war against France, where he won two frigate actions.

USS Truxtun (DD-14)
USS Truxtun (DD-14)

The Truxtun was laid down by the Maryland Steel Co. on 13 November 1899, launched on 15 August 1901 and commissioned on 11 September 1902.

Early in her career the Truxtun played a part in a debate over the correct size for destroyers. Her class had an official trial displacement of 433 tons, but emerged at nearly 500 tons during trials. The Truxtun herself underwent trials at 620 tons displacement, where she reached 26kts (compared to a design speed of 30kts), and fully loaded she came close to 700 tons. These trials helped convince the navy to increase the design displacement of their next destroyers, and the Smith class became the first in a series of 700-tonners.

After being commissioned the Truxtun joined the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla. After trials during the summer of 1903 the flotilla joined the Coast Squadron, Nort Atlantic Fleet in September 1903, and she operated off the US Atlantic Coast and in the Caribbean from then until 1907.

In December 1907 the Truxtun was one of six destroyers that joined the battleships of the Atlantic Fleet at the start of the round the world voyage of the 'Great White Fleet'. The Truxtun then accompanied the fleet on the first stage of the voyage, around South America, and up to the US West Coast.

In May 1908 the Truxtun joined the Pacific Torpedo Fleet. Her time in the Pacific began with a trip to Hawaii, before in December she moved to her new home base at San Diego. From then until 1 June 1912 she was a active member of the fleet, operating along the entire US West Coast from Alaska to California.

USS Hull, Lawrence, Hopkins, Whipple & Truxtun, 1907
USS Hull, Lawrence, Hopkins, Whipple & Truxtun, 1907

On 1 June 1912 the Truxtun joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet in an attempt to save money, although she remained partially commissioned during this period and continued to put to sea.

The Truxtun was placed back in commission on 12 October 1912, and remained in the Pacific. In the summer of 1914 she operated in Mexican waters, during a period in the long Mexican Revolution that also saw US forces occupy Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. She was used to watch Mexican warships. In the summer of 1916 she returned to Mexican waters during the period of cross-border tension that also saw Pancho Villa raid New Mexico. Anyone serving on her between 25 April and 13 July 1914 or 24 June and 27 August 1916 qualified for the Mexican Service Medal.

In July 1916 the Truxtun joined the reserve division of the Coast Torpedo Force (later Division 2 (Reserve), Coast Torpedo Force), but she remained in partial commission.

On 18 February 1917 the Truxtun was recommissioned, as a possible US entry into the First World War became more likely. She spent the last weeks of peace patrolling the Panama Canal Area. On 6 April 1917 the United States officially entered the war. On the same day the Truxtun was sent to the port of Puerto Colombia, to watch the German SS Prinz August Wilhelm, a steamer in the Hamburg America Line. She was replaced by the Steward (DD-13) on 14 April and returned north, spending the next three months patrolling in Panamanian and Columbian waters.

USS Truxtun (DD-14) at Norfolk Navy Yard, 1907
USS Truxtun (DD-14)
at Norfolk Navy Yard,

In July 1917 Truxtun, Stewart, Preble (DD-12) and Whipple (DD-15) moved from the Pacific to the Atlantic. From mid July until late August the Truxtun patrolled in the Chesapeake Bay area. In August 1917 she was one of eight destroyers that escorted the Battleship Force Atlantic as it moved between Bermuda and New York. She was used to escort USS Texas (BB-35).

From 16 September to early December 1917 the Truxtun was based at the Azores, protecting trans-Atlantic shipping. On 30 September-3 October she and the Whipple escorted the SS Caproni to the islands. In mid October she visited Funchal, and in late October she took part in a search for survivors from a torpedoed ship.

On 6 December the Truxtun left the Azores, and on 15 December she reached her new base at Brest, her base for the rest of the war. Her time was split between escort duties and offensive anti-submarine patrols.

On 17 April 1918 the Truxtun helped rescue the survivors from the SS Florence H., a munitions ship that had exploded in Quiberon Bay. Her commander, Lt. Wate, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for this exploit.

On 18 May 1918 the Truxtun sighted a possible U-boat while on convoy escort duty. For half an hour she dropped depth charges in the target area, although many turned out to be faulty. The boat, which was probably UC-56, escaped intact.

The Truxtun left Brest on 18 December, along with the Flusser (DD-20), Stewart, Whipple and Warden (DD-16) and returned to the United States. She was decommissioned on 18 July 1919, as the US Navy disposed of its early coal fired destroyers. She was sold on 3 January 1920 for conversion into a fruit carrier, a surprisingly common fate for early destroyers.

Displacement (standard)

c.500t on trials

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



4 Thornycroft boilers
2 Vertical Triple Expansion engines


259ft 6in


23ft 3in


Two 3in/50 guns
Six 6 pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



15 August 1901


11 September 1902


Sold 1920

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 (21 December 2015), USS Truxtun (DD-14) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies