USS William Jones (DD-308 )

USS William Jones (DD-308) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s before being sold for scrap in 1932.

The William Jones was named after William Jones, a veteran of the US War of Independence, who served as Secretary of the Navy in 1813-1814.

The William Jones was laid down on 2 October 1918 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco. She was launched on 9 April 1919 when she was sponsored by Mrs Ernest P. McRitchie, wife of the company’s assistant naval architect. She was commissioned on 30 September 1920 and joined Division 34, Squadron 12, Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet. From then until October 1921 she operated with the Officer’s Engineering School, moving between Seattle in the north and the Panama Canal Zone in the south.

Collision Damage on USS William Jones (DD-308) Collision Damage on USS William Jones (DD-308)

Early in 1922 the William Jones was moved to the Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet, and she remained with that unit for the rest of her active career. She took part in the standard mix of operations along the US West Coast and exercises with the fleet.

In March 1925 she took part in one section of Fleet Problem V, screening the Battle Fleet while they operated off Baja California practising refuelling at sea, and an attack on a lightly defended position.

In August 1925 she supported the first attempt to fly non-stop from the US west coast to Hawaii. The flight was attempted by two Naval Aircraft Factory PN-9 flying boats. Ten destroyers were posted along the road to give radio bearings, and to make smoke by day and light their searchlights at night to illuminate the route. The William Jones was the nearest to California. Both of the aircraft flew over her as planned, but Lt Snody’s aircraft then suffered an oil failure and had to land. The William Jones and McCawley both headlined towards the downed aircraft, which was found by the William Jones. The aircraft was then towed back to California. The second aircraft, flown by Commander John Rodgers, had to ditch 300 miles short their target after running out of fuel. After several days at sea her crew rigged sails and completed most of the rest of the trip as a boat! Rodgers and his crew were rescued by the submarine R-4 only ten miles from Kaui on 10 September.

From 5-15 September 1925 the William Jones took part the Diamond Jubilee celebrates at San Francisco, celebrating 75 years since California became a state.

On the night of 31 January 1926 the William Jones and the Percival (DD-298) collided in the Coronado Roads, California. The bow of the Percival hit the side of the William Jones, puncturing the port forward oil tank, cutting three gashes in the hull and cracking several frame plates. The William Jones had to return to harbour for repairs, while the Percival continued on to Panama to take part in Fleet Problem VI.

On 3-4 March 1926 she passed through the Panama Canal to take part in fleet manoeuvres in the Atlantic (not that year’s Fleet Problem, which took place off the west coast of Central America). After the exercises were over she visited a series of east coast ports before returning to San Diego on 30 June.

From 7-21 July 1928 the William Jones carried out a reservist training cruise in Alaskan waters, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka. She then returned to San Diego, before moving south to take part in tactical exercises off Bilbao in the Canal Zone.

In July 1929 she took part in joint Army-Navy exercises off Port Angeles, Washington. This was her last active duty – in August she returned to San Diego, and remained inactive for the rest of her career.

By now it was clear that the William Jones’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 William Jones was decommissioned at San Diego on 24 May 1930 and sold for scrap on 25 February 1932, 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



9 April 1919


30 September 1920

Sold for scrap

25 February 1932

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 (21 October 2020), USS William Jones (DD-308 ) ,

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