USS Caldwell, a 1125-ton (normal displacement) four-stack destroyer built by the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, was the name ship of a class of six destroyers that reintroduced the soon to be widely used "flush deck" hull form to the U.S. destroyer force. USS CALDWELL (DD 69) was the first destroyer with 12 21-inch torpedo tubes. This was the first standard 21-inch torpedo tube installation. The Caldwell class of destroyers served in the United States Navy near the end of World War I. Keels were laid for four, beginning with Manley, in 1916, the other two were actually laid down after work had begun on the first Wickes-class ships.
Built in 1917 and 1918, the 6 ships of the Caldwell class were flush-decked to remove the fo'c'sle break weakness of the preceding Tucker class. In 1915 the American designers carried the high freeboard of the bow throughout the length of the vessel, thereby producing what was known as the flush-deck type. The forward sheer of the Caldwell class was improved to keep "A" turret from being constantly washed out. The class had beam torpedo tubes and wing turrets, both flaws in design.
The later classes, 1915 to 1918, had a continuous flush main deck from stem to stern, but with considerable sheer ; the bow, while less conspicuously elevated than in the earlier classes, having decidedly more freeboard than the stern. The change from the high and cut away forecastle to the flush deck produced great improvement in seaworthiness, habitability, and all around efficiency. In the flush-deck type, the reluctance to turn into the wind still existed, but in a much less marked degree ; while the tendency towards excessive leeway, which is characteristic of all destroyers because of their necessarily shallow draft and the large area which they expose to the wind, is somewhat increased.
The earliest of the flush-deck type (Caldwell, Craven, Conner, Gwin, Stockton and Mauley) lacked the fine underwater body lines of the later vessels of their class, being decidedly flat-bottomed forward, as a result of which feature they pound heavily when being driven into a sea and list deeply when the rudder is put over at high speed.
The destroyer of this type was of 1,100 tons displacement and 310 feet long. This vessel, a 30-knot boat, was the most advanced destroyer in use by the US Navy on the date of the declaration of war. When the United States entered the war in April 1917 there was already significant anxiety about a potential submarine threat off the East Coast. Further exacerbating this concern was the Navy's relative lack of first-line destroyers - approximately 50 in mid-1917 - and the decision to send most of those to Europe. A massive building program was already underway - it would lead to the eventual construction of 273 four-stack, "flush-deck" destroyers by 1921 - but for the rest of 1917, only two Sampson-class and the first three of the Caldwell class would be commissioned, and the need to escort troop convoys to France took top priority. As a stopgap, U.S. submarines were drawn increasingly into the anti-submarine campaign on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and two divisions were even shifted from Hawaii and Puget Sound to bolster their ranks.
All served until 1922, when they were placed in reserve. USS Caldwell was decommissiond in late June 1922 and laid up at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania. She was sold at the end of June 1936.
USS Manley (Destroyer No. 74) decommissioned at Philadelphia 14 June 1922. The destroyer recommissioned 1 May 1930 for service as an experimental torpedo-firing ship at Newport, R.I. On 19 August 1930 she joined the Scouting Fleet in battle practice along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean. Manley's high-speed destroyer transport (APD) conversion, removing her forward stacks and boilers, gave her the capacity to lift 200 Marines and four 11m (36') Higgins assault boats. Reclassified a miscellaneous auxiliary 28 November, she was redesignated AG-28. Manley was outfitted as a troop transport in the New York Navy Yard by 7 February 1939. She saw action at Guadalcanal and Kwajalein.
Throughout the growing crisis over the summer of 1940, as France and the Low Countries fell swiftly to the Nazi and British troops came back wet and bedraggled from the near-miraculous evacuation of Dunkirk, Churchill held firm to ensuring that America remained a reliable supplier of war materials to Great Britain. By the late summer of 1940, Great Britain was well along towards acquiring thousands of American aircraft to fulfill a variety of roles ranging from training and air combat to strategic bombing and maritime patrol.
Destroyers were more difficult, a "colossal political risk" for Roosevelt. Although the destroyer loan at first appeared unworkable, Roosevelt and his advisors, particularly the Secretaries of the Navy and War Departments, Frank Knox and Henry Stimson, labored over the summer of 1940 and were able to arrange a "destroyers for bases" deal that satisfied the requirements of wartime neutrality laws yet meet Britain's need for ships. By September 1940 the United States had negotiated a Destroyers-for-Bases deal with Great Britain, securing strategic military bases in British possessions in the Atlantic and Caribbean in exchange for fifty overage destroyers. Three entered Royal Navy service under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement as the Leeds-class. Leeds provided cover at Gold Beach on 6 June 1944; her sisters served as convoy escorts. All survived the war, two being sunk as targets and one scrapped, postwar.
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