Charles Flint Putnam was born in Freeport, Illinois 1 December 1854 and entered the Naval Academy at the age of 14. Upon his request at graduation in 1873, he was ordered to the Far East in Kearsarge, serving in that vessel with the Asiatic Squadron until 1875. Master Putnam was stationed at San Francisco in 1876 and was attached to schoolship Jamestown in 1877–78. In 1879 he joined the Coast Survey steamer Hassler in the North Pacific. Putnam volunteered in 1881 for service in Rodgers, fitted out to search for Jeanette, which had been lost in the Arctic on an expedition to reach the North Pole. When Rodgers burned at St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia, 30 November 1881, Putnam took supplies to the survivors on dog sledges. On his return to his depot at Cape Serdze, he missed his way in a blinding snow storm 10 January 1882, drifted out to sea on an ice-floe and was never heard from again.
(DD–287: dp. 1,190; l. 314’5”; b. 31’8”; dr. 9’3”; s. 34 k.; cpl. 120; a. 4 4”, 1 3”, 12 21” tt.; cl. Clemson)
Putnam (DD–287) was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Squantum, Mass. 30 June 1919; launched 30 September 1919; sponsored by Miss Katherine Brown; and commissioned at Boston 18 December 1919, Comdr. Wilbur Rice Van Auken in command.
Upon completion of shakedown out of Boston, Putnam was assigned to Division 43, Squadron 3, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet based at Newport, R.I. She sailed from Newport 8 February 1920 for Guantanamo Bay where she carried out target practice until 26 April. Putnam was later sent to Tampico, Mexico, to join Isherwood and Reid in observing the volatile political situation there 10 May 14 June. She made a reservist training cruise between Philadelphia and Newport before being placed in reserve at Charleston 22 September.
Putnam was reassigned to Destroyer Division 49, Squadron I upon returning to active duty 1 May 1921 and took part in summer exercises with the Destroyer Force out of Newport until 16 November. After spending the winter in reserve at Charleston, she was ordered to Destroyer Division 25, Squadron 9, at Newport 27 June 1922. Putnam engaged in gunnery drills at Guantanamo Bay (16 April–25 May 1923) before returning to Boston for periodic overhaul. She rejoined her division at Guantanamo Bay 5 April 1924 for maneuvers with Scouting Fleet Destroyers there and later off Hampton Roads until 29 October. Putnam rendezvoused with the fleet for torpedo exercises in the Caribbean again 6 January–10 February 1925.
Following repairs at Boston (14 February–1 July 1925), Putnam reported to the Newport Naval Torpedo Station for experimental duty and participated in the search to locate the wreck of S–51 on 26 September. She departed Newport 2 October for Gonaives, Haiti, Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal Zone to continue her readiness operations with Scouting Fleet Destroyers. Putnam sailed for Boston 20 February 1926 for a refit.
Upon completion of repairs at Boston 28 April 1926, Putnam resumed her schedule of experimental torpedo duty at Newport and fleet maneuvers off Haiti until October 1927. She then proceeded to Charleston for Fleet Problem II (30 October–2 December).
After exercises off Haiti in January and February, Putnam completed three reservists’ training cruises between Philadelphia and Newport (30 June–24 August) before sailing 31 August for Charleston and depth charge practice. She resumed operations in Panamanian waters 16 January 1929, participated in Fleet Problem IX, transited and retransited the Panama Canal and later engaged in gunnery drills off Haiti before sailing for Boston 27 April. Putnam served as a reservists’ training ship for two cruises out of Tomkinsville, N.Y. (19 July–30 August).
Putnam decommissioned at Philadelphia 21 September 1929; was struck from the Navy List 22 October 1930; sold 17 January 1931; and scrapped in 1931 by her purchasers.
Putnam (DD–537) was renamed The Sullivans (q.v.) 10 February 1943.