USS Worden (DD-288)

USS Worden (DD-288) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Atlantic and Scouting Fleets during the 1920s, visited European waters in 1924-25 before being decommissioned in 1930. She was then turned into a banana boat, but was lost in 1933.

The Worden was named after John L. Worden, the commander of the ironclad USS Monitor during her famous battle with the CSS Virginia.

The Worden was laid down at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp’s Squantum plant on 30 June 1919 and launched on 24 October 1919 when she was sponsored by Mrs Emilie Neilson Worden. She was commissioned on 24 February 1920 and after her shakedown cruiser joined Destroyer Division 42, Squadron 3, Atlantic Fleet.

USS Worden (DD-288) at Boston, 1930
USS Worden (DD-288)
at Boston, 1930

From May-July 1920 the Worden operating along the Atlantic coast, ranging from Key West to Newport. On 21 July she arrived at Charleston, where she remained for the next year.

On 24 June 1921 she left Charleston, to visit New York on 4 July 1921. In August she carried out a reservist training cruise to Guantanamo Bay with midshipmen from the Naval Academy. This was followed by repairs at Boston that were completed in November 1921. She then returned to Charleston, where she remained into 1922.

On 29 May 1922 she left Charleston to visit Philadelphia, then carried out gunnery drills in the waters off Yorktown. After a visit to New York she then moved to the southern drill grounds off the Virginia Capes, carrying out battle practice in August, September and October. She then returned to Boston for more repairs.

The Worden moved to Guantanamo Bay in January 1923 to take part in gun and torpedo drills. She then joined the Scouting Fleet and passed through the Panama Canal to take part in Fleet Problem I, the first in a series of large scale exercises that would only end with the outbreak of the Second World War. She returned to Guantanamo Bay in late March and remained there until the end of April. This was followed by a brief cruise along the US East Coast, followed by a spell of repairs at Philadelphia that lasted from mid June to 12 October. From mid-October to mid-November she carried out more training at the southern drill grounds, but she then had to return to Philadelphia to have a ruptured boiler repaired. 

At the start of 1924 the Worden joined the Scouting Fleet to take part in Fleet Problems II, III and IV, in January-February 1924 off Panama. The spring of 1924 was spent exercises in the West Indies.

Her normal pattern of activities was interrupted in June 1924 when she departed for a year long visit to European waters. She passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 27 June 1924, visited Palermo and then entered the Adriatic. Her visit may have been a reaction to unrest in Albania, where two Americans had been murdered. Opposition to then Prime Minster Zogu led to his being forced into exile in June 1924, although he soon returned with Yugoslavian aid. In 1925 he became President, but he is better known as King Zog I. The Worden visited Pola and Venice, Split (Spalato) in Yugoslavia and Durazzo in Albania. Towards the end of 1924 she moved from the Mediterranean to northern Europe, visiting Gravesend in England, Cherbourg in France, Leith in Scotland and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She then departed for the United States, arriving at New York on 16 July 1925.

The Worden rejoined the Scouting Fleet. On 13 September she moved to Philadelphia for repairs, which lasted until December 1925. On 7 December she moved south to join the rest of the fleet during for Fleet Problem VI. She passed through the Panama Canal on 4-5 February 1926 to take part in the problem, before returning to the Caribbean in March 1926. The early spring was spent in that area, before she returned to the US East Coast in May 1926. She operated along the New England coast until 2 July, when she returned to Philadelphia for three months of repairs. These were complete by 11 October when she departed for Guantanamo Bay. This time she only spent a month in the Caribbean, undergoing engineering trials and battle practice, before returning to US waters in November. She visited the Naval Academy, then returned to Philadelphia on 15 December.

She left Philadelphia on 5 January 1927 heading for Guantanamo Bay once again. A period of gunnery and battle practice was followed by Fleet Problem VII, which saw the Battle Fleet move to the Caribbean in March. In April the Worden moved to New York, and she spent the rest of the summer exercising off the east coast. She also took part in a Presidential Fleet Review for President Calvin Coolidge in June. On 11 September she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The Worden didn’t take part in Fleet Problem VIII in 1928. She did carry out her normal summer programme of training along the Atlantic coast, ending in late October. She then spent most of the rest of year on local operations from her new base at Charleston.

In January 1929 she moved to Norfolk for repairs to her turbines. She reached Guantanamo Bay in late February to take part in the normal winter exercises, and returned to New York on 2 May. A final summer of operations along the east coast followed. However by now her Yarrow boilers were badly worn, and the Navy decided to decommission their yarrow powered Clemson class ships and replace them with fresh ships from the reserve. The Worden was decommissioned on 1 May 1930, struck off on 22 October and sold on 17 January 1931.

Unusually this wasn’t the end of her story. She was purchased by the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company of New Orleans, who had her converted into a banana boat capable of carrying 20,000 stems of bananas. She was given diesel engines and her hull was split into four cargo holds. In her new configuration she needed a much smaller crew, and when she was lost there were only nineteen people on board. She was renamed as the Tabasco and entered commercial service. However on 18 May 1933 she ran onto the Alacran Reef in the Gulf of Mexico. All nineteen of her crew survived, but she was lost.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)


2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
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



24 October 1919


24 February 1920

Lost while serving as banana boat

18 May 1933

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
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 June 2020), USS Worden (DD-288) ,

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