O'Brien Class Destroyers

The O'Brien Class Destroyers were an improved version of the Cassin class, armed with new 21in twin torpedo tubes

The Cassin class had been based on the idea of the destroyer as a largely defensive weapon, built to protect the fleet against torpedo boat attack, and thus with its guns as its main weapon. In contrast many within the torpedo squadrons saw it as an offensive weapon, best used to make torpedo attacks on the enemy battle fleet.

USS Cushing (DD-55) on trials, 1955
USS Cushing (DD-55)
on trials, 1955

USS Winslow (DD-53) on trials, 1915
USS Winslow (DD-53)
on trials, 1915

USS O'Brien (DD-51) on trials, 1914
USS O'Brien (DD-51)
on trials, 1914

On 16 May 1912 the Chief of Ordnance suggested a compromise - two extra torpedo tubes would be installed, 21in torpedoes adopted in place of the earlier 18in torpedoes and one 4in aft gun removed. Two side-mounted twin tubes were to replace the centrally mounted fitting of the earlier designs. This was accepted for the O'Brian class. A similar layout was adopted for the Cassin class ships, which were then in the early stages of construction, but using twin 18in torpedo tubes.

The O'Brien Class was authorised on 4 March 1913.

The O'Brien class had a mix of cruising engines. DD-51, DD-52 and DD-53 had two reciprocating engines, one for each shaft. DD-54 and DD-56 had a single reciprocating engine that could drive one shaft at speeds of under 15 knots. DD-55 had a pair of cruising turbines.

USS McDougal (DD-54) with Franklin D. Roosevelt on board, 1914
USS McDougal (DD-54)
with Franklin D. Roosevelt
on board, 1914

USS Nicholson (DD-52) on builder's trials, 1914
USS Nicholson (DD-52) on builder's trials, 1914

All six members of the class had similar careers. After the American entry into the First World War they moved to Queenstown, Ireland, where they carried out a number of attacks on U-boats, but without confirmed victories (although USS Cushing played a part in the sinking of U-104). Some moved to Brest, France, in 1918. After the war they briefly operated off the US coast, but were then decommissioned in 1921-22. USS McDougal and USS Ericsson were reactivated to serve with the Coast Guard in 1924-32/3, but the other members of the class were never recommissioned.

USS O'Brien (DD-51) served at Queenstown from May 1917 to the summer of 1918, and then from Brest. On 16 June 1917 she attacked U-16, but probably didn’t damage the submarine. She was decommissioned after the war and scrapped in 1935.

USS Nicholson (DD-52) served at Queenstown in 1917 and at Brest in 1918. She was decommissioned in 1921 and scrapped in 1936.

USS Winslow (DD-53) was based at Queenstown until April 1918, and then from Brest. She took part in several attacks on U-Boats, but without any confirmed successes. She was decommissioned in 1922 and scrapped in 1937.

USS McDougal (DD-54) was based at Queenstown from May 1917 until July 1918, from where she took part in one U-boat. She then moved to Brest. After the war she was decommissioned, but was reactivated in 1924 for use with the Coast Guard's 'rum patrol'. She returned to the Navy in 1933 and was scrapped in 1934.

USS Cushing (DD-55) had a more active time at Queenstown. She rescued the crews of several torpedoed merchant ships. On 23 April 1918 she inflicted heavy damage on U-104, which was then sunk later on the same day by HMS Jessamine. After the war she was decommissioned in 1920 and scrapped in 1936.

USS Ericsson (DD-56) also served at Queenstown. She was involved in several attacks on U-boats, before moving to Brest in the summer of 1918. She was decommissioned in 1922, but reactivated to serve with the Coast Guard from 1924 to 1932. She was scrapped in 1934.

The six ships of the O'Brien class were decommissioned in 1934-1936 under the terms of the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

Displacement (standard)

1,050t design

Displacement (loaded)

1,117t

Top Speed

29kts at 17,000shp
30kts at 16,974shp at 1,021t on trial (McDougal)

Engine

2-shaft Zoelly turbines plus reciprocating cruising engine
4 boilers

Length

305ft 5in

Width

31ft 2in

Armaments

Four 4in/50
Eight 21in torpedoes in twin mountings
Depth charges

Crew complement

101

Ships in Class

USS O'Brien (DD-51)

 

USS Nicholson (DD-52)

 

USS Winslow (DD-53)

 

USS McDougal (DD-54)

 

USS Cushing (DD-55)

 

USS Ericsson (DD-56)

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 July 2016), O'Brien Class Destroyers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_OBrien_class_destroyers.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies