USS Sampson (DD-63) History

With the important role played by capital ships in modern steel navies at the turn of the last century, it became imperative to develop a counter and this was found in the form of the "Torpedo Boat". In turn, the "Torpedo Boat Destroyer" was developed to counter the threats posed by the torpedo boat which could easily outmaneuver the larger capital ships and move in for the strike. The torpedo boat destroyer name was eventually shortened to simply "Destroyer", a name which is still in use today - but these vessels all had origins in the torpedo boat destroyer of old.

For the growing American Navy, one group of torpedo boat destroyers formed was the Samson-class. This group grew to number six ships and was led by USS Sampson (DD-63) herself. The warship was laid down by Fore River Shipbuilding Company on April 21st, 1915 and launched on March 4th, 1916. She was formally commissioned for service in the United States Navy (USN) on June 27th, 1916.

By this time in history, the empires of Europe had gone to war to begin World War 1 (1914-1918). The American entry into the conflict would not occur until 1917. Nevertheless, American leaders were not blind to developments going on in the European mainland and procurement projects continued on pace - USS Sampson being one of them.

The destroyer displaced 1,110 tons under normal load and 1,225 tons under full load. It featured a length of 315 feet, a beam of 30.5 feet and a draught of 10.8 feet. Power was from 4 x boiler units feeding 2 x Curtis turbines developed 17,700 horsepower and driving 2 x Shafts. The warship made headway at nearly 30 knots. its crew complement numbered 99 men.

Installed armament included 4 x 4" (100mm) /50 caliber main guns backed by 2 x 1-pounder (37mm) Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns, the latter useful in countering the new threat posed by enemy aircraft. 12 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes were also carried in four triple-tubed launcher installations.

Sampson's profile was long and lean. The bridge was set near the forecastle with the four smoke funnels positioned amidships. Two mast works were erected at either end of the in line funnels. Gun positions were exposed emplacements and dotted the main deck of the warship.

Following commissioning in 1916, USS Sampson was assigned to the Atlantic Destroyer Force putting it within reach of European waters. During the run=up to direct American involvement in World War 1, Sampson served the critical role of convoy escort. She made her first run to Europe in May of 1917 when she arrived in Irish waters and then centered her wartime career near the British Isles and was further called to protect American transport ships arriving in France (by this time depth charge projectors were added to her armament suite). Her primary base of operations was out of Queenstown, Ireland. In November of 1918, the last month of the war, USS Sampson left Brest, France to help bring in USS George Washington with none other than U.S. President Woodrow Wilson aboard. She left European waters in January of 1919.

That same year, the warship made it back stateside and arrived at the New York Navy Yard for repairs. During this time, she was assigned as part of the 4th Division, 2nd Flotilla Destroyer Force. From there came a stint with Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island where she was used to test naval mines and torpedoes. Her last notable service came in escorting an NC-4 "Nancy" flying boat aircraft across the Atlantic during May of 1919 - this becoming the first successful transatlantic crossing by air.

USS Sampson was decommissioned in 1921 and sat on the sidelines until July 1935 when she was ordered scrapped to adhere to the new restrictions placed on major nations by way of the London Naval Treaty. She was sold off in September 1936.

USS Sampson (DD-63) Specification


Decommissioned, Out-of-Service
99 Personnel


- Blue Water Operations

- Fleet Support

- Hunter

- Direct-Attack



315.2 ft (96.07 m)

Width / Beam:

30.6 ft (9.33 m)

Height / Draught:

10.8 ft (3.29 m)


Displacement (Surface):

1,115 tons


4 x Boilers feeding 2 x Curtis turbines developing 17,700 horsepower to 2 x Shafts.


Speed (Surface):

30 kts (34 mph)


4 x 4" (100mm) /50 caliber main guns.

2 x 1-pounder (37mm) Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns.

12 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes in three quadruple launchers.



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