Stephen C. Rowan, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1805, came to the United States at the age of 10 and lived in Piqua, Ohio. Appointed midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 1 February 1826, he took an active role in the Mexican War, serving as executive officer of Cyane during the capture of Monterey on 7 July 1846 and in the occupation of both San Diego and Los Angeles. Captain of the steam-sloop Pawnee at the outbreak of the Civil War, he made gallant attempts to relieve Fort Sumter and to burn the Norfolk Navy Yard. In the fall of 1861, he assisted in the capture of the forts at Hatteras Inlet; then, taking command of a flotilla in the North Carolina sounds, he cooperated in the capture of Roanoke Island in February 1862. Promoted to captain for gallantry, he then supported the capture of Elizabeth City, Edenton, and New Bern. During the summer of 1863, he commanded New Ironsides on blockade duty off Charleston and the following August assumed command of Federal forces in the North Carolina sounds.
Commissioned rear admiral on 25 July 1866, Rowan served as Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard until 1867, when he assumed command of the Asiatic Squadron. Returning in 1870, he was appointed vice admiral in August of that year and served as Commandant of the New York Navy Yard from 1872 to 1876, as Governor of the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia in 1881, and as Superintendent of the Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C., from 1882 until his retirement in 1889. Vice Admiral Rowan died in Washington, D.C., on 31 March 1890.
(Destroyer No. 64: displacement 1,225 (full load); length 315’3”; beam 30’7”; draft 10’9”; speed 29.5 knots; complement 99; armament 4 4”, 2 1-pounders, 3 21” torpedo tubes; class Sampson)
The second Rowan, destroyer No. 64, was laid down on 10 May 1915 by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 23 March 1916; sponsored by Miss Louise McL. Ayres, great-niece of Vice Admiral Rowan; and commissioned at Boston on 22 August 1916, Lt. William R. Purnell in command.
Following shakedown, Rowan, based at Newport, R.I., operated along the Atlantic coast during the fall of 1916, then participated in winter exercises in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. At Norfolk, when the United States entered World War I, she patrolled off the mouth of the York River, then repaired at New York. On 7 May 1917, she departed Boston for Ireland, arriving with Division 7 at Queenstown on the 27th.
From then, through the remainder of the war, Rowan conducted antisubmarine patrols and escorted convoys to both British and French ports. On 28 May 1918, she joined two other destroyers in attacking a U-boat; dropped 14 depth charges; and had the satisfaction of watching oil cover the surface in the attack area.
Rowan departed Queenstown on 26 December 1918 and reached New York on 8 January 1919. Into the summer, she conducted exercises along the east coast and in the Caribbean. On 29 August, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was placed in reduced commission.
Designated DD-64 the following summer, 1920, Rowan resumed operations with the Atlantic Fleet in March 1921 and continued them until March 1922. She then returned to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 19 June 1922. She remained inactive, laid up at League Island, until struck from the Navy list on 7 January 1936. Her hulk was sold for scrap on 20 April 1939.
21 October 2005