USS Yarborough (DD-314)

USS Yarborough (DD-314) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s, before being scrapped because her Yarrow boilers were badly worn.

The Yarborough was named after George H. Yarborough Jr, an officer in the US Marine Corps who was killed during the battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918.

The Yarborough was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at San Francisco on 27 February 1919 and launched on 20 June 1919, when she was sponsored by Lt Yarborough’s fiancée Miss Kate Burch. She was commissioned on 31 December 1920.

USS Yarborough (DD-314) at sea USS Yarborough (DD-314) at sea

The Yarborough spent most of 1921 and 1922 in the rotating reserve at San Diego. During this period she made occasional trips out of harbour. On 18 April 1921 she was used to transport Marine detachments from the cruisers Charleston (CA-19) and Salem (CL-3) to Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California. In early July she went into the drydock at Mare Island. She was then damaged by heavy seas during trials on 11 July. In late October her crew was padded out by drafts from the Jacob Jones (DD-130) and she carried out gunnery drills alongside the Wood (DD-317).

During 1922 she was part of the active segment of the rotating reserve, visiting ports in Washington state and California, working with with the west coast battleships and taking part in a number of exercises .

In 1923 she joined the active fleet. On 9 February 1923 she departed for Panama to take part on Fleet Problem I, an attack on the Panama Canal. The Yarborough was used as part of the screen for the Battle Fleet, which faced off against the Scouting Fleet (with more battleship support). The problem lasted until late March. The Yarborough left Panama on 31 March as part of the screen of the battleships as they headed home, reaching San Diego on 11 April. The Yarborough spent the rest of 1923 operating around San Diego and San Pedro, and thus wasn’t part of the destroyer force that moved north and suffered the Honda Point disaster in September.

On 2 January 1924 the Yarborough departed for Panama to take part in Fleet Problems II, III and IV, which took place alongside each other. Problem II was the first part of a westward advance across the Pacific, Problem III an attack on the Carribean end of the Panama Canal and Problem IV an attack on Japan from a base in the western Pacific. The Yarborough operated with the US Navy’s first carrier, the Langley (CV-1), and was part of her screen on 25 January when the carrier was actually attacked by aircraft from the opposing fleet! After the Problems were over the Yarborough visited New Orleans (1-11 March), her first visit to the East Coast and her only visit to New Orleans. This was followed by exercises off Puerto Rico, before she departed for home, arriving at San Diego on 22 April.

The Yarborough appears to have missed Fleet Problem V of March 1925, but departed from San Francisco on 15 April 1925 to take part in Joint Army and Navy Problem No.3 and a voyage to Hawaii. During the voyage she was part of Destroyer Division 34, the screen for Battleship Division 5. However during execises in May her division served as ‘Cruiser Division 1’! Once the exercises were over the fleet took part in a massive goodwill cruise in the South Pacific. The Yarborough visited Pago Pago, Samoa (10-11 July), Melbourne (23-30 July), Lyttleton, New Zealand (11-21 August) and Wellington (22-24 August). On 7 September, during the voyage back towards Hawaii, she took part in the hunt for the flying boat PN-9, which had been lost during an attempt to fly from the US West Coast to Hawaii. The massive naval hunt failed to find PN-9, but the aircraft’s crew managed to rig sails and were finally found a few miles off Oahu! The Yarborough finally returned to San Diego on 19 September, where she spent most of the rest of the year.

Fitting out Clemson Class Destroyers, Bethlehem, San Francisco Fitting out Clemson Class Destroyers, Bethlehem, San Francisco

Early in 1926 the Yarborough took part in Fleet Problem VI of the west coast of Central America, operating with the Battle Fleet, which opposed the Scouting Fleet. Later in the year she visiting Washington State.

On 17 February 1927 the Yarborough departed from San Diego heading for the Atlantic, passing through the Panama Canal on 5 March. However she was then called back west to take part in the hunt for the German steamship Albatross, which had been lost off the Galapagos Islands. Nothing was found and the search was abandoned on 13 March. The Yarborough then returned east, to take part on Fleet Problem VII. After the problem was over, she visited New York  in late May and early June, and was part of the fleet inspected by President Calvin Coolidge.

The Yarborough’s one spell of active service came in June 1927, when she was sent to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, where she operated alongside the Denver (PG-28) and Robert Smith (DD-324) to protect American interests during a period of unrest. She was present at Puerto Cabezas in two spells between June and early August. She left for home on 5 August and was back at San Diego by 23 August. She spent the rest of the year operating around her home port.

In 1928 the Yarborough took part in Fleet Problem VIII, which took place in the waters between San Francisco and Honolulu. She spent the rest of the year operating from San Diego, San Pedro and Port Angeles.

In January 1929 the Yarborough took part in Fleet Problem IX, which took place between San Diego and the Pacific end of the Panama Canal Zone. This was the first time that the Lexington (CV-2) took part in a fleet problem, as part of the augmented Scouting Force. The Yarborough formed part of the the escort for the opposing Battle Fleet.

USS Yarborough (DD-314) after decommissioned USS Yarborough (DD-314) after decommissioned

By now it was clear that the Yarborough’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 crew of the Yarborough  helped recommission two of those ships, the Upshur (DD-144) and Tarbell (DD-142). The Yarborough was decommissioned at San Diego on 29 May 1930 and sold as 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 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



20 June 1919


31 December 1920

Sold as 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.
cover cover cover
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), USS Yarborough (DD-314) ,

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