USS Wadsworth (DD-60)

USS Wadsworth (DD-60) was a Tucker class destroyer that operated from Queenstown and then Brest during the American involvement in the First World war, carrying out a large number of attacks on possible U-boats without recorded success.

The Wadsworth was named after Alexander Scammel Wadsworth, a US Naval officer during the War of 1812 who took part in the dual between the Constitution and the Guerriere, then fought in the Algerian Wars, commanded the Pacific Squadron from 1834-36 and ended his career as Inspector of Ordnance. 

USS Wadsworth (DD-60) in rough seas
USS Wadsworth (DD-60)
in rough seas

The Wadsworth was laid down at Bath, Maine, on 23 February 1914, launched on 29 April 1915 and commissioned on 23 July 1915. She was the first US destroyer to have her main turbine connected to the propellers through gears, to allow the high revolutions that were most efficient for the turbines to be converted to the lower revs best for propellers. This lowered the propeller speed to 460rpm. She achieved a top speed of 30.7 knots at 16,100shp at 1,050 tons displacement, and at 16 knots could go 5,640 nautical miles on 326 tons of fuel. She was built as a test bed, and her trials took up most of the summer of 1915. She finally entered active service in October, operating along the coast of New England.

Her trials took up the summer of 1915 and she entered active service in October, operating along the coast of New England.

She took part in the neutrality patrol, and also took part in the standard mix of exercises off the East Coast and in Caribbean waters.

In the weeks before the US entry into the First World War the Wadsworth helped guard the approaches to US naval bases on the East Coast to prevent any daring U-boat attacks (serving with the 5th Naval District Patrol Force). After the US entry into the war she became the flagship of the first group of destroyers to be sent to European waters (Wadsworth, Porter (DD-59), Davis (DD-65), Conyngham (DD-58), McDougal (DD-54), and Wainwright (DD-62). They left New York on 24 April and escorted the first US troop convoy across the Atlantic, reaching Queenstown on 4 May.

The Wadsworth began active operations on 5 May. She conducted a mix of anti-submarine patrols, rescue missions and escort duties.

On 18 May she spotted a U-boat, but couldn't get into a position to attack before it submerged.

On 21 May she rescued survivors from HMS Paxton, which had been torpedoed and sunk on 20 May.

On 7 June the Wadsworth spotted another U-boat, but again was unable to attack before it submerged.

On 24-26 June the Wadsworth escorted the first US troop convoy on the later stages of its trip across the Atlantic.

USS Melville (Destroyer Tender No.2), Queenstown, 1917
USS Melville
(Destroyer Tender No.2),
Queenstown, 1917

In July the Wadsworth carried out five depth charge attacks (on the 10th, 11th, 21st and twice on 29th) and one gun attack (20th) on U-boats. The first two depth charge attacks and the gun attacks had no results. The attack on 21st produced a patch of reddish-brown material on the surface, but no other evidence of damage.

On 29th July she made two separate attacks. At around 5.25pm she dropped several depth charges on the wake of something judged to be a submerged U-boat, and heavy oil was found on the surface. At 23.00 another possible U-boat wake was attacked, and soon afterwards USS Trippe (DD-33) hit a submerged metal object, although given the amount of wreckage in the war zone that could easily have been part of a destroyed ship (just as many wakes were probably whales).

In August the Wadsworth escorted the first US merchant convoy on the last stage of its trip across the Atlantic. On 16 August, while escorting the convoy, she carried out another depth charge attack on a suspected convoy.

This was followed by a long gap, before another suspected U-boat was attacked on 17 December, again without results.

On 4 March 1918 the Wadsworth moved to Brest,which became her baseuntil the end of the war. During this period she carried out depth charge attacks on 1 June and 25 October, again without results.

Anyone who served on her between 4 May 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

Amongst her wartime commanders was Isaac Foote Dortch, who received the Navy Cross for his time in command of Wadsworth and Talbot (DD-114). He died on active duty in 1932 and the Fletcher class destroyer USS Dortch (DD-670) was named after him.

The Wadsworth left Brest on 31 December 1918 and reached Boston on 9 January 1919. In May 1919 she helped support the trans-Atlantic flight made by four Curtiss NC flying boats, one of which successfully crossed the ocean. She was placed in reduced commission on 29 August 1919, where she remained until she was returned to active service on 9 May 1921. She was decommissioned for the final time on3 June 1922, struck off on 7 January 1936 and sold for scrap on 30 June 1937.

Displacement (design standard)

1,090t (DD-57 to DD-59)
1,060t (DD-60)
1,150t (DD-61 to DD-62)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts at 17,000-18,000shp
29.56kt at 16,399shp at 1,103tons on trial (Tucker)


2-shaft Curtis turbines
4 boilers
17,000shp apart from
18,000shp (DD-58, DD-59)
17,500shp (DD-60)


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


315ft 3in


30ft 6in (DD-58, DD-59, DD-51)
29ft 9in (DD-57, DD-60, DD-62)


Four 4in/50 guns
Eight 21in torpedo tubes in twin mountings
Depth charges

Crew complement



29 April 1915


23 July 1915


Sold for scrap 1936

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 (18 October 2016), USS Wadsworth (DD-60),

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