Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Destroyer
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

Dahlgren II (Destroyer No. 187)


The second U.S, Navy ship named for Rear Adm. John Adolphus Dahlgren (1809 -1870); see Dahlgren I for biography. 


(Destroyer No. 187: displacement 1,190; length 314'5"; beam 31'9"; draft 9'4"; speed 35.0 knots; complement 101; armament 4 4-inch, 3 3-inch, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Clemson)

The second Dahlgren (Destroyer No. 187) was laid down on 8 June 1918 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 20 November 1918, nine days after the Armistice; sponsored by Mrs. Josiah [Ulrika Dahlgren] Pierce, daughter of Rear Adm. Dahlgren; and commissioned on 6 January 1920, Cmdr. Leo Sahm in command.

Dahlgren---redesignated as DD-187 on 17 July 1920---joined the Atlantic Fleet for exercises and training along the east coast, in Mexican waters, off Guantanamo Bay and in the Canal Zone. She took part in the Presidential Fleet Review at Norfolk in April 1921, and in aerial bombing tests on former German warships off the Virginia coast that summer. On 30 June 1922 she was placed out of commission at Philadelphia.

Recommissioned on 25 October 1932, Lt. Cmdr. Harry W. Van Hasseln in command,  Dahlgren stood out of Norfolk on 7 November for San Diego, Calif., arriving on 30 November. Destroyer operations engaged her along the west coast until April 1934 when fleet exercises brought her to the Atlantic. In January 1935 she returned to San Diego. After a period of similar operations on the west coast, she sailed again for the east on 1 July 1937, and having rescued the crew of a U. S. Coast Guard seaplane during the passage, reached New York on 21 July 1937. She served in engineering experiments until 14 June 1940.

Dahlgren sailed out of Norfolk and Newport on patrols and escorted submarines in their training, and from January to 1 April 1941 she served in the Patuxent River, Md., in experiments in ordnance and submarine detection. Through the summer of 1941 she tested a variable pitch propeller, and subsequently escorted a new cruiser during her trials.

On 4 January 1942, Dahlgren arrived at Key West to escort the battleship Washington (BB-56) in operations in the Gulf of Mexico. She returned to New York on 8 February for a brief period of coastal patrol, and on 24 March sailed to Key West to serve the Fleet Sonar School and carry out patrols.

During those operations, Dahlgren rescued 57 survivors of the U.S. tanker Pennsylvania Sun (Fredericki Lyall, Master) on 15 July 1942, after she had been torpedoed by the German submarine U-571 (Kapitanleutnant Helmut Mohlmann, commanding). The destroyer took the rescued men to Key West. Esso Pennsylvania was re-boarded late the next day and, assisted by the salvage vessel Willet (ARS-12), was towed to Key West. Dahlgren also rescued the survivors of the blimp K-74,  (Lt. Nelson G. Grills, A-V(S), USNR) on 19 July 1943, after the ZP-21 blimp had been shot down in in a heroic attackl on U-134 (Oberleutnant Hans-Gunther Brosin) the day before.  K-74, the only airship lost to enemy action in WW II, damaged the enemy boat.  A Grumman J4F-2 Widgeon amphibian, also from ZP-21, directed ships to the rescue of what would be nine of the downed blimp's crew, Dahlgren sailors firing rifles and Thompson submachine guns to keep the sharks at bay, but not before, tragically, the sharks had killed AMM2c Isadore Stessel (who had released two depth charges in the attack) before he could be rescued.   The British frigate HMS Rother (K. 224) sank U-134 in the Bay of Biscay on 27 August 1943, that boat going to the bottom with all 48 souls.

On 11 January 1945, Dahlgren arrived at Charleston, S.C. to operate with submarines in training until 1 March, when she was reclassified as a "miscellaneous auxiliary," AG-91. She served the Mine Warfare Test Station at Solomons Island, Md., until 16 November 1945 when she moored at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. There she was decommissioned on 14 December 1945. Stricken from the List of Naval Vessels on 8 January 1946, the well-traveled vessel was sold for scrap on 17 June 1946 and broken up subsequently.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

22 April 2024

Published: Mon Apr 22 21:02:26 EDT 2024