Smith (Torpedo Boat Destroyer No. 17).
On 29 June 1906—fiscal year 1907—Congress authorized the first torpedo boat destroyers following the Converse Board’s prescriptions. Nearly a year later, the Navy Department issued advertisements, to which three builders responded. Orders were placed (contract price for the lead ship was $585,000) and keels were laid beginning in March 1908.

Length: 293' 10" overall.

Beam: 26' 5" or 26' 11" extreme.

Displacement: 700 long tons normal.

Draft: 10' to 10' 11" maximum.

Propulsion machinery: direct drive turbines; 10,000 shp; 3 shafts.

Designed speed: 28 knots.

Designed complement: 89 officers and enlisted.


Torpedo battery: 3 x 18-inch torpedo tubes in three trainable single mounts.

Gun battery: 5 x 3-inch/50 caliber rapid fire guns in single pedestal mounts.

Designed by the Navy based on the first classes delivered in 1902–03 but as much as 45 feet longer, the new destroyers (Nos. 17–21) were armed with five 3-inch rapid fire guns (reduced to four in 1916) and three 18-inch torpedoes (increased to six in 1916). The first three ships were authorized in fiscal year 1907; the last two in 1908. Led by Flusser, all except Lamson were delivered in 1909.

The 700-ton Smith class, the first of what became known as the “flivvers,” were the first torpedo boat destroyers designed with steam turbine propulsion. They were also the last to burn coal, a technology superseded in the oil-fired Paulding class that followed in fiscal years 1909–11.

As commissioned, the Smiths carried over stacks of a short length reminiscent of the first destroyers. In 1910 or 1911, however, their stacks were lengthened, which gave them an appearance similar to the Pauldings as built.

On 1 January 1917, the five Smiths formed Division TWO (attached to SQUADRON ONE) of the Atlantic Fleet’s Patrol Force. All five served through World War I.

In 1919, while Flusser, Lamson, Preston and Reid were sold for scrapping, Smith plus battleship Indiana and submarine G-1 were held as targets for bombing experiments, which were conducted in Chesapeake Bay ending in November 1920. Smith was finally sold for scrapping in December 1921.

1 Bureau of Construction and Repair’s General Information book for USS Smith.
2 Bauer and Roberts.