Destroyers OnLine
The Destroyers
The destroyer class of ship came into existance as a weapon against the torpedo boat which itself came about as a cheap weapon against capital ships. The destroyer was in fact developed out of torpedo boat design. When opportunity provided, the destroyer could itself fulfill the mission of the torpedo boats and attack capital ships with torpedoes. Destroyers also were capable, being larger and more durable than torpedo boats, of serving as scout ships for the fleet. Eventually they became the general workhorses of the world's navies. They were small, expendable, and supremely seaworthy.

Torpedo boats were powered at first by steam and, initially, very much resembled the MTBs/PTs/S-Boats of WWII in size and use. The term "motor torpedo boats," is usually associated with later, internal combustion-engined types and their WWI predecessors.

The very first "torpedo boats" were actually steam-driven boats carried aboard larger ships and equipped to carry a Whitehead locomotive torpedo. Their use was probably thought of as analogous to the earlier "cutting-out" and fireship tactics against a force in harbor as I doubt they could have been much depended upon for open sea work. Their size, etc., points toward the later Motor Torpedo Boat.

True torpedo boats began to appear in the latter 1870s and were relatively small, steam driven vessels, usually armed with a single tube and some form of rapid fire weapon. Like the later MTBs they were ge- nerally looked upon as coastal weapons. As they grew in size and power they came to be perceived by the British Admiralty as a sea-going threat to the British Fleet particularly in the Channel and Baltic Sea. This led, first, to the Torpedo Gun Boat, a larger, more heavily-armed Torpedo Boat, and, ultimately, to the Torpedo Boat Destroyer - the direct ancestor of the Destroyer.

The term Torpedo Boat Destroyer became simply "Destroyer," but the original sense still appears in the French and Italian designations "contre-torpilleur" and "cacciatorpediniere."

Best current read for this: Lyon, David, " The First Destroyers," Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1996. (For more Book selections, see our Book Review section.) If you're interested in a video, A & E has The Great Ships - Destroyers (2001) and from U.S. News & World Report: The Destroyers (1992).


The destroyer is different from the rest of ships. It is small, fast and personal. No other ship offers the experience that a destroyer does in any sea state. Long after they are gone, their crews remember.

The First Destroyers
by David Lyon

"U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History" by
Norman Friedman

"Blood on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II"
by Robert Sinclair Parkin

Sumner-Gearing-Class Destroyers Their Design, Weapons, and Equipment.
By Robert F. Sumrall

Buy from Amazon.com "Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia" by M. J. Whitley


USS Damato (DD 871)
1966: USS Damato (DD 871) on a High Speed run in the Med
Art Gorman

The Destroyer Classes of old

Class Name


Lead Ship


Hull Number


Commissioned


Ships Built


Bainbridge Bainbridge DD 1 November 24, 1902

9

Hull Hull DD 7 May 20, 1903

2

Lawrence Lawrence DD 8 April 14, 1903

2

Truxtun Truxtun DD 14 September 11, 1902

3

Smith Smith DD 17 November 26, 1909

3

Flusser Flusser DD 20 October 28, 1909

2

Paulding Paulding DD 22 September 29, 1910

21

Cassin Cassin DD 43 August 9, 1913

8

O'Brien O'Brien DD 51 May 22, 1915

6

Tucker Tucker DD 57 April 11, 1916

6

Sampson Sampson DD 63 June 27 1916

6

Caldwell Caldwell DD 69 December 1, 1917

6

Wickes Wickes DD 75 July 31, 1918

111

Clemson Clemson DD 186 December 29, 1919

156

Farragut (1500 Tonner) Farragut DD 348 June 8, 1934

8

Porter Porter DD 356 August 25, 1936

13

Mahan Mahan DD 364 November 16, 1936

18

Somers Somers DD 381 June 30, 1938

5

Gridley Gridley DD 380 June 24, 1937

4

Bagley Bagley DD 386 June 12, 1937

8

Sims Sims DD 409 August 1, 1939

12

Benham Benham DD 397 February 2, 1939

10

Benson Benson DD 421 July 25, 1940

24

Bristol Bristol DD 453 October 22, 1941

72

Fletcher Fletcher DD 445 June 30, 1942

175

Sumner Allen M. Sumner DD 692 January 26, 1944

70

Gearing Gearing DD 710 May 3, 1945

105

Forrest Sherman Forrest Sherman DD 931 November 9, 1955

18

Charles F. Adams Charles F. Adams DDG 2 June 16, 1958

23

Norfolk Norfolk DL 1 March 4, 1953

1

Mitcher Mitcher DD 927( DDG 35 ) May 15, 1953

4

Coontz Coontz DDG 40( DLG 9 ) December 10, 1960

10

Spruance Spruance DD 963 September 20, 1975

31

Kidd Kidd DDG 993 June 27, 1981

4




Destroyers OnLine
These pages do not represent any organization.
Web authoring services provided by Destroyers Online as a public service.
Copyright 1996 - 2013 Destroyers OnLine.