Truxtun Class Destroyers

The Truxtun class destroyers were the last of the first sixteen torpedo boat destroyers built for the US Navy, and were more strongly built than normal and carried one extra 6-pounder gun.

On 4 May 1898 the US Congress authorised the first sixteen torpedo boat destroyers to be built for the US Navy. Thirteen were built as part of the large Bainbridge class (divided into five sub-classes) and the last three as the Truxtun class.

USS Truxtun (DD-14)
USS Truxtun (DD-14)

These early destroyers were built to a mix of Navy and private designs. The Truxtun class was designed by the Maryland Steel Company, which also built all three members of the class. The navy design included a high forecastle, included to improve the sea keeping abilities of the ships. Most of the private designs used a turtleback foredeck, which saved on weight and thus helped improve the type's top speed in smooth water. This was what was tested in the standard US Navy trials of the period, and was thus the first thing that the design would be based on.

The Truxtun class ships carried two forward 6-pounder guns inside gun ports built into the back of the turtleback, placing them below and on either side of the forward 3in gun.  This allowed them to carry six 6-pounders instead of the five on the Bainbridge class ships. They had four short funnels

Although their official standard displacement was 433 tons, the Truxtun class ships averaged 496 tons on trials, and this was only with a very light load. Their deep load displacement was judged to be close to 700 tons. This was partly because they were more sturdy than some of the other early destroyers - their main hull structure weighed 195 tons, compared to only 123 tons on the Lawrence class, but also because the design displacement of these early destroyer types were all unrealistic.

Postcard of USS Whipple (DD-15)
Postcard of USS Whipple (DD-15)

In trials at 620 tons she reached a speed of 26 knots, and these experiments helped convinced the General Board of the Navy that their next destroyers should be designed with a higher displacement in mind, and tested with a more realistic load.

Crew of USS Worden (DD-16)
Crew of
USS Worden (DD-16)

On 24 February 1916 the US Navy reclassified all sixteen of the earliest destroyers as Coast Torpedo Vessels, recognising that they had been left behind by advances in destroyer design. By this point the Tucker class destroyers were entering service. These displaced over 1,000t, carried four 4in guns and 8 21in torpedoes, could lay mines, used oil fuel and turbine power, and were much more effective than the early 400 tonners. Despite this decision all sixteen saw active service during the First World War, although they were scrapped soon after the end of the war.

USS Truxtun (DD-14) operated around Panama and Colombia after the US entry into the First World War, spent a few months operating off the US East coast and then moved to the Azores and finally to Brest, from where she performed convoy escort duties and anti-submarine patrols. 

USS Whipple (DD-15) was based at the Azores and then at Brest after the US entry into the First World War, performing convoy escort duties and anti-submarine patrols.

USS Worden (DD-16) was based at Brest after the American entry into the First World War, and performed convoy escort duties along the French coast.

All three were scrapped soon after the war as the US Navy disposed of its coal powered destroyers.

Displacement (design)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30kts at 486 tons
26kts at 620 tons


4 Thornycroft boilers
2 Vertical Triple Expansion engines


259ft 6in


23ft 3in


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

Crew complement


Ships in Class

USS Truxtun (DD-14)
USS Whipple (DD-15)
USS Worden (DD-16)


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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 December 2015), Truxtun Class Destroyers,

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