Lawrence Class Destroyers

The Lawrence Class destroyers were a sub-group within the Bainbridge class, and had a different layout forward and a different arrangement of funnels.

USS MacDonough (DD-9), 1908
USS MacDonough (DD-9)

In 1898 Congress authorised the construction of sixteen torpedo boat destroyers. Thirteen were produced as members of the Bainbridge class and three as the Truxtun class. The Bainbridge class is normally subdivided into several sub-classes. The first five formed the standard Bainbridge class. They had a raised forecastle deck, four funnels in two groups and four Thornycroft boilers. They carried one 3in gun above the bridge structure and one on a raised platform behind the rear funnel. One torpedo tube was carried between the funnels and the other at the rear of the ship.

The two Lawrence class ships were built by the Fore River Ship & Engine Co. They used four Fore River boilers, and had all four funnels in a single group. This meant that there wasn't room for a torpedo tube between the middle funnels, and so both were carried behind the rear funnel - one aft, and one far aft. They were expected to produce 30 knots in trials, but none got above 29 knots.

Conning Tower of USS Lawrence (DD-8)
Conning Tower of USS Lawrence (DD-8)
Forward Superstructure of USS Lawrence (DD-8)
Forward Superstructure of
USS Lawrence (DD-8)

They were generally felt to be the worst of the first sixteen destroyers, and they were quite lightly built - their hull structure weighed only 123 tons, compared to 195 tons on the Truxtun class ships. During their service career the two 3in guns were removed because they put too much stress on the weakly constructed hulls and replaced by 6 pounders, giving them an armament of seven 6 pounders.

USS Lawrence (DD-8) began her career on the East Coast. She took part in the first stage of the cruise of the 'Great White Fleet', around South American, and was then based on the Pacific coast. During the First World War she guarded the Panama Canal and then operated from Key West.

USS MacDonough (DD-9) operated on the US East Coast for most of her career. After the US entry into the First World War she carried out screening operations off the East Coast until January 1918. She then moved to France, where she performed convoy escort missions and carried out patrols.

After the war both ships were scrapped as the US Navy got rid of its coal powered destroyers.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30kts (designed), 29kts (trial)


4 Four River Boilers
2 Vertical Triple Expansion engines
2 shafts




246ft 3in


22ft 3in




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

Crew complement


Ships in Class

USS Lawrence (DD-8)
USS MacDonough (DD-9)

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 November 2015), Lawrence Class Destroyers ,

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