John Shaw was born at Mt. Mellick, Queens County, Ireland, in 1773. He came to the United States in 1790, settled in Philadelphia, and entered the merchant marine. Appointed Lieutenant in the United States Navy on 3 August 1798, he first served in Montezuma in Commodore Truxtun's squadron in the West Indies during the early part of the naval war with France. On 20 October 1799, he was given command of the schooner Enterprise in which, during the next year, he captured seven armed French vessels and recaptured several American merchantmen. By the time he was relieved of command due to ill health in October 1800, he had made Enterprise one of the most famous vessels of the Navy. During the Barbary War, Shaw commanded frigate, John Adams, in the Mediterranean under Commodore Rodgers from May to November 1804; and frigate, United States, during the War of 1812. Captain Shaw died at Philadelphia on 17 September 1823.
(DD-68: dp. 1,110; l. 315'3"; b. 29'11"; dr. 10'8½ "; s. 29.5 k.; cpl. 130; a. 4 4", 2 1-pdrs., 12 21" tt; cl. Sampson)
The first Shaw (DD-68) was laid down on 7 February 1916 by the Mare Island Navy Yard; launched on 9 December 1916; sponsored by Mrs. Virginia Kemper Lynch Millard; and commissioned on 9 April 1917, Lt. Comdr. Milton S. Davis in command.
Shaw sailed from Mare Island on 25 May 1917 and arrived at New York on 10 June 1917 ready for distant service. She sailed a week later as one of the escort of Group 4 of the Expeditionary Force from the United States to France. On 26 June, she fueled at sea from a tanker, and the convoy arrived at Quiberon Bay, France, on 1 July. On the 4th, she sailed from St. Nazaire and arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, the next day. On 10 July, she began patrol and convoy escort duty based on Queenstown, convoying eastbound and westbound ships through the submarine danger zone around the British Isles, for the most part without incident. On 1 July 1918, she received an SOS from the torpedoed American transport, USS Covington, and rushed to her aid. On arrival, she found that Covington's survivors bad been removed and the ship had been taken undertow. But, the crippled transport sank later in the day. On 25 September, a ship in Shaw's convoy was attacked by a submarine but not damaged.
Shaw's own ordeal came on 9 October 1918. While escorting the giant British transport, Aquitania, Shaw's rudder jammed just as she was completing the right leg of a zigzag, leaving her headed directly towards the transport. A moment later, Aouitania struck Shaw, cutting off 90 feet of the destroyer's bow, mangling her bridge and setting her on fire. Shaw's crew heroically brought her damage under control, and a skeleton crew of 21 men took the wreck 40 miles into port under her own power.
Shaw remained under repair at Portsmouth, England, until 29 May 1919 when she sailed for the United States. She arrived at New York on 17 June 1919 and moved to the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 2 October where she joined the reserve destroyer group and was decommissioned on 21 June 1922.
Shaw was struck from the Navy list on 25 March 1926 and transferred to the Coast Guard the same day. She was returned to the Navy by the Coast Guard and reinstated on the Navy list effective 30 June 1933. Her name was cancelled on 1 November 1933 for assignment to a new destroyer, and the ship was struck again on 5 July 1934 and sold on 22 August 1934 for scrapping to Michael Plynn, Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.