Charles Lawrence Ausburn was born in New Orleans, La., on 26 July 1889, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an apprentice seaman on 25 February 1908. Re-enlisting as a seaman in 1912, he later re-enlisted as a quartermaster, third class, in 1916.
Electrician First Class Ausburn manned the emergency wireless station on board the homeward-bound U.S. Army transport Antilles, and, following the ship’s torpedoing on 17 October 1917 by the German submarine U-105 (Kapitänleutnant Friedrich Strackerjan, 30, commanding), remained at his post until the first U.S. transport to be sunk during the Great War [World War I] sank beneath him in four and a half minutes. His selfless gallantry was recognized in the posthumous award of the Navy Cross.
Since other family members spelled their name as Ausburn, the first ship to honor his name followed that spelling. It was later found, however, that he himself signed as Ausburne, and the second ship’s name was so spelled.
(Destroyer No. 294: displacement 1,215; length 314'4"; beam 31'8"; draft 9'10"; speed 35.0 knots; complement 122; armament 4 4-inch, 1 3-inch, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Clemson)
Charles Ausburn (Destroyer No. 294) was laid down on 11 September 1919 at Squantum, Mass., by the Bethlehem Steel Corp.; launched on 18 December 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Della E. Ausburn, sister-in-law of the late Charles Ausburn; and commissioned on 23 March 1920, Lt. Myron W. Hutchinson, Jr., in command.
Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Charles Ausburn—redesignated on 17 July 1920 to DD-294— operated from Charleston, S.C., Norfolk, Virginia, and Newport, R.I. along the Atlantic coast and into the Caribbean through 1924, serving with a reduced complement from October 1920 to May 1922. During those years, as she participated in fleet exercises and training maneuvers, she aided in the development and application of new ideas in naval warfare. In the fall of 1923, Charles Ausburn was equipped to carry a TS-1 floatplane (BuNo A-6300), with which she performed experiments in the rapidly developing field of naval aviation.
In late summer of 1924, Charles Ausburn cruised to northern latitudes to provide plane guard service in the round-the-world flight of U.S. Army aircraft, maintaining stations off Greenland and Newfoundland for the historic event. On 18 June 1925, she sailed from Boston for a year of duty off Europe and in the Mediterranean, visiting at a large number of ports before her return to New York on 11 July 1926. She continued her operations with the fleet, often providing facilities for the training of reservists, until 1 May 1930, when she was decommissioned at Philadelphia.
Stricken from the Navy Register on 22 October 1930, she was sold on 17 January 1931 to Boston Metals, Baltimore, Md., to be broken up.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
17 August 2022