U.S.S. Chauncey (1901)

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U.S.S. Chauncey (1901)
Hull Number: DD-3
Builder: Neafie & Levy[1]
Laid down: 2 Dec, 1899[2]
Launched: 26 Oct, 1901[3]
Commissioned: 20 Nov, 1902[4]
Collision: 19 Nov, 1917[5]
Fate: w/ S.S. Rose[6]
U.S.S. Chauncey was one of five Bainbridge class destroyers completed for the U.S. Navy.


Chauncey was launched 26 October 1901 by Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa.; sponsored by Mrs. M. C. S. Todd.


Chauncey was placed in reduced commission on 20 November, 1902, then went into reserve on 2 December, 1902. She was finally placed in full commission on 21 February, 1903, with Lieutenant Stanford E. Moses in command, and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.

Chauncey served with the Coast Squadron until 20 September, 1903, when she was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet along with her sister ships. The destroyers, accompanied by the auxiliary cruiser Buffalo left Key West for the Orient on 18 December. She was one of five destroyers assigned to the First Torpedo Flotilla at the start of 1904.

After sailing by way of the Suez Canal, she arrived at Cavite to join the force representing American strength and interest in the Far East as she cruised in the Philippines during winters, and off China during summers. Aside from the period 3 December, 1905 through 12 January, 1907 when she was in reserve at Cavite, the Chauncey continued this service until the entrance of America into World War I.

The destroyer sailed from Cavite on 1 August, 1917 for convoy escort duty in the eastern Atlantic, based at St. Nazaire, France.


On 19 November 1917, while about 110 miles west of Gibraltar on escort duty, Chauncey was rammed by the British merchantman S.S. Rose as both ships steamed in war-imposed darkness. At 0317 the Chauncey sank in 1500 fathoms, taking to their deaths twenty-one of her crew including her captain, Lieutenant Commander Walter E. Reno. The sole surviving officer, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Francis K. O'Brien, reported on the collision:

"I was awakened at 1:46 A.M. by the quartermaster on watch, and told that a merchant ship was close at hand on the port bow. Just as I was getting up, I heard the shout, 'Full speed!' and, a moment later, 'Hard right!'

"When I reached the bridge, I could see this dark object to port. She was so close that white water churned up by her bow was plainly visible. I yelled to the helmsman, 'Hard left!' hoping, that by turning toward the fast approaching vessel, we might escape with only a glancing blow. But—too late. The dreaded sound of crunching steel was heard as the merchantman sliced into the Chauncey.
"We began to sink rapidly. I called for lookouts to unhook four cork life rings and drop them into the water. I then directed Chief Gunner's Mate L. R. Smith—who had a megaphone—to call over to the merchant ship's captain to back down his vessel, and send lifeboats.
"I calculated our position, and told the wireless operator, A. R. Ridlon, to send an SOS. But, the antenna had been carried away, and he could not get a message through. I then had a searchlight turned on, but it blew a fuse and went out.
"By this time, it was almost 3 A.M., and the Chauncey was beginning to list heavily. I had our boilers secured to prevent an explosion. I then rushed to the forecastle where I saw a lifeboat approaching. I told Smith to use his megaphone and tell the boat's coxswain to hurry as we could not last much longer.

"The quartermaster and I went up to the bridge and grabbed the charts, logs, and night order book. We then climbed into the waiting lifeboat—but had some trouble getting clear of the destroyer due to the suction created as she began to go under."[7]

Seventy survivors including O'Brien were rescued by the Rose and carried to port.


See Also


  1. Friedman. U.S. Destroyers. p. 428.
  2. Friedman. U.S. Destroyers. p. 428.
  3. Friedman. U.S. Destroyers. p. 428.
  4. Friedman. U.S. Destroyers. p. 428.
  5. Friedman. U.S. Destroyers. p. 428.
  6. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 157.
  7. Feuer. U.S. Navy in World War I. p. 23.


  • Bauer, K. Jack and Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. New York: Greenwood Press.
  • Chesneau, Robert; Kolesnik, Eugene (editors) (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Gray, Randal (editor) (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Feuer, A. B. (1999). The U.S. Navy in World War I: Combat at Sea and in the Air. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers.
  • Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com).
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). The U.S. Navy Warship Series: The New Navy 1883-1922. New York: Routledge.

Bainbridge Class Destroyer
Bainbridge Barry Chauncey Dale Decatur
  Destroyers (US) Paul Jones Class –>