The two Lawrence (DD-8) class destroyers were part of the original sixteen torpedo boat destroyers authorized by Congress on 4 May 1898. The Naval Construction Board prepared the specifications of the proposed destroyers and torpedo-boats to be built in accordance with the authority conferred by the naval appropriation act. Twenty-eight boats - 16 torpedo-boat destroyers and 12 torpedo-boats - were to be built. Bids were invited on the basis that the destroyers shall be of not less than 400 tons nor more than 435 tons displacement, capable of making a speed of not less than 30 knots an hour, with two quadruple- expansion engines of 11,000 horse power and twin screws. They were to be protected with 2 inches of inclined nickel steel armor over cellulose.
One of the most important requisites of the proposed vessels was that the destroyers be able to make a high speed in a heavy seaway and torpedo-boats a high speed in a moderate seaway. The destroyers are to have a minimum coal capacity of 100 tons, which will give them a steaming radius of 5000 miles. The destroyers were to be given batteries including two 12-pounder and five 6-pounder semi-automatic rapid-fire guns and two torpedo tubes. The total cost of each destroyer was fixed at $295,000. It is proposed that the destroyers shall be furnished to the Government within 18 months. The contracts will provide penalties for each quarter-knot below the contract requirement and for every day's delay beyond the time limit to be fixed.
By 1900 there were 16 Torpedo Boat Destroyers in the Navy, built or building, named as follows: Bainbridge, Barry, Chauncey, Dale, Decatur, Hopkins, Hull, Lawrence, Macdonough, Paul Jones, Perry, Preble, Stewart, Truxton, Whipple, Worden. Their keels were laid in 1899. They were each from 400 to 433 tons displacement, from 28 to 30 knots speed, of from 7,000 to 8,300 horsepower, cost from $281,000 to $286,000, and have batteries of 2 14-pounder rapid-fire, 5 or 6-pounder rapid-fire, and 2 18-inch Whitehead torpedo tubes.
Two Lawrence (DD-8) class destroyers were laid down by Fore River Shipbuilding, Quincy MA on 10 April 1899 and commissioned in 1903. Two 3-inch guns were planned to be fitted but never were; instead this class carried two additional 6-pdr guns for a total of seven. These served in torpedo flotillas until 1912, then served coastal defense duties during World War I. Both were sold for scrap in 1920.
The Fore River Ship & Engine Company on the Quincy shore of Boston Harbor, was in many ways the most interesting in America of the day. Its great workshops stood in what a year and a half earlier was an open field on the edge of the old town of Quincy. The new yard was the swift outgrowth of a modest concern that used to build steam yachts a couple of miles up the Fore River, and built them so well that it secured Navy Department contracts for the torpedo-boat destroyers "Lawrence" and "Macdonough," and the cruiser "Des Moines." It was the perfect modern equipment of the Fore River Ship & Engine Company which has made it possible to produce an economical cargo-carrier of entire steel construction. This new yard possesses a mechanical plant of the highest order. It is said to be the only shipyard in the country which does all of its own heavy forging, and its machine shops are capable of fabricating the engines of either a steam-cutter or a ship-of-the-line.
As with the Bainbridge class, these had coal-fired boilers. The Fore River Boiler was a bent, small-tube boiler, made by the Fore River Ship and Engine Co., and fitted on the torpedo boat destroyers " Lawrence " and " Macdonough." It had drowned tubes, and the general features are similar to the "Normand" type, with a modification designed to make two furnaces. The drum was of steel, 42 inches in internal diameter, with welded joints, and the lower part heavier than the rest; the heads are welded on. There are two wing drums and a central one, all in the same plane and of the same size, 18 inches in internal diameter. A few rows run to the central drum, and separating the furnace space into two parts. The back and front of the boiler were made of brick walls, the latter being pierced by triangular air holes opposite the furnace ends. The outside casing was separated from the walls by an air space at each end, If inches wide, which communicates with the ash pit?, through which all air enters from the closed fire room. On the furnace side of the wing nests, the two inner rows form a wall, except at the back end, where seven tubes are left open. The two outer rows, and the next two rows from the outside, are bent to form walls, except eight tubes at the front end of each. This inside wall is designed as a shield for the outer one, so that the tubes in the latter, being of a lower temperature, will act as downtakes. With this design of tube walls, no outside down-takes were contemplated. The two inner rows of tubes on the lower central drum form a complete wall, thus closing off the diamond-shaped space from the gases of combustion ; the other rows are open. All generating tubes are bent to enter the drums normally.
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