Paulding Class Destroyers

The Paulding class destroyers were the first US destroyers to be powered by oil instead of coal, and were thus the oldest not to be scrapped at the end of the First World War.

USS Roe (DD-24) before launch, 24 July 1909
USS Roe (DD-24)
before launch,
24 July 1909

The Paulding class destroyers were authorised by Congress on 4 May 1908. The class was an improved version of the Smith class, with three significant changes. First was the change to oil, which was a more economical fuel, made it easier to refuel at sea, and was easier to operate. Engine power was increased to a normal figure of 12,000shp, capable of being increased to over 17,000shp at full power. Third, the single 18in torpedo tubes and single reload of the Smith class was replaced with three twin torpedo tubes. These were actually lighter than the single tubes, and also eliminated the storage for the single reload.

The Paulding class ships had the same gun armament as the Smith class ships, carrying five 3in guns. One was carried on the raised forecastle. Two were on the sides just behind the bridge structure. One was between the aft deckhouse and rear funnel and one was at the stern.

USS Drayton (DD-23), Boston Navy Yard, 1919
USS Drayton (DD-23),
Boston Navy Yard, 1919

One torpedo tube was carried between the aft deck house and the rear gun. Two were carried on the sides of the ship, almost level with the rear funnel. This layout was chosen to avoid having a centre line torpedo tube at the widest part of the ship.

The Paulding was reported as having a cruising radius of 3,000 miles at 16 knots, using 241 tons of oil, an increase of 200 miles over the Smith class ships, and using 63 tons less fuel.

USS Little (DD-79), USS Jarvis (DD-38) and USS Burrows (DD-29), Brest, 1918
USS Little (DD-79),
USS Jarvis (DD-38)
USS Burrows (DD-29),
Brest, 1918

USS Mayrant (DD-31) and USS Warrington (DD-30) fitting out, 1910
USS Mayrant (DD-31)
USS Warrington (DD-30)
fitting out, 1910

Six of the ten ships had the same arrangement of machinery as the Smith class, with triple screws and Parsons turbines. The middle screw was powered by a high-pressure turbine, the outer screws by low-pressure turbines and the cruising turbines. The two ships built by Fore River (DD-26 and DD-27) and the two built by Cramp (DD-30 and DD-31) only had two turbines, with Fore River using Curtis and Cramp using Zoelly turbines. In both cases the separate cruising turbines were replaced by a cruising stage built into the main turbines.

USS Perkins (DD-26) at anchor, 1918
USS Perkins (DD-26) at anchor, 1918

USS McCall (DD-28) refueling at sea, 1917
USS McCall (DD-28) refueling at sea, 1917

USS Warrington (DD-30) at sea USS Warrington (DD-30) at sea

USS Terry (DD-25) with crew lined up
USS Terry (DD-25) with crew lined up

The two Cramp ships, the Fore River ships and the Newport News ships (DD-24 and DD-25) had the two middle funnels trunked together. The New York Shipbuilding ships (DD-28 and DD-29) had four funnels.

In 1915 the Mayrant (DD-31) and Monaghan class destroyer  Henley (DD-32) were both given 13,000hp geared Westinghouse turbines, which produced lower propeller speeds, making them more efficient.

Some sources, including the US Navy's own Dictionary of American Naval Fighting ships, split most members of this class off into the Roe class. However this would appear to be an error caused by the Roe (DD-24) being laid down and launched several months ahead of the Paulding (DD-22).

During the First World War all nine members of the class took part in anti-submarine operations, escorting convoys and hunting for Germans submarines. Most spent the early period after the US entry into the war operating in home waters, before crossing the Atlantic. Paulding, Terry, Perkins, Sterrett and McCall were all based at Queenstown Ireland during their war service. Drayton, Burrows and Warringtonwere also based at Queenstown and then moved to Brest. The Roe went straight to Brest, while the Mayrant remained on the US East Coast, protecting the western part of the convoy routes.

USS Paulding (DD-22) at Queenstown, 1918
USS Paulding (DD-22)
at Queenstown, 1918

The Paulding class ships were the oldest US destroyers not to be scrapped at the end of the First World War, saved by their oil fired boilers. That didn't save them from being taken out of commission almost immediately, and Drayton, Perkins, Sterrett, Warrington and Mayrant remained out of commission for the rest of their naval careers.

Five members of the class (Paulding, Roe, Terry, McCall and Burrows) were used by the Coast Guard from 1924 to 1930 as part of the prohibition-ear 'Rum Patrol'. They then returned to the Navy and were decommissioned for the second time.

All ten members of the class were broken up in 1934-1935 in order to satisfy the terms of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. 

Displacement (design)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29.5kts design
32kts at 17,393shp at 887 tons on trial


3-shaft Parson turbines
4 Normand boilers
12,000shp normal
17,393shp trial


3,000nm at 16kts design
3,343nm at 15kts on trial
2,642nm at 20kts on trial




26ft 3in


Five 3in/50 guns
Six 18in torpedo tubes in three twin mounts

Crew complement


Ships in Class

USS Paulding (DD-22)


USS Drayton (DD-23)


USS Roe (DD-24)


USS Terry (DD-25)


USS Perkins (DD-26)


USS Sterett (DD-27)


USS McCall (DD-28)


USS Burrows (DD-29)


USS Warrington (DD-30)


USS Mayrant (DD-31)

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 February 2016), Paulding Class Destroyers ,

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