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Luce I (Destroyer No. 99)


Stephen B. Luce, born on 25 March 1827 in New York, N.Y., was one of the Navy's outstanding officers in many fields, including strategy, seamanship, education, and professional development.

Entering the naval service on 19 October 1841 as a midshipman, he served with the Atlantic coast blockaders during the Civil War, and commanded the monitor Nantucket at the siege of Charleston, S.C. In 1862, while serving as head of the Department of Seamanship at the U.S. Naval Academy, he prepared one of the first seamanship textbooks used by the Academy.

After the war Luce organized the Navy's apprentice training program to prepare seamen and petty officers for fleet duty. From 1878 to 1881 Capt. Luce was inspector of training ships and, as commodore, he commanded the U.S. Training Squadron from 1881 to 1884.

Based on Luce's urgings and exhaustive reports, the Naval War College at Newport, R.I., was established on 6 October 1884 with Rear Adm. Luce as its first superintendent. He was also instrumental in starting the U.S. Naval Institute and its Proceedings. He again served at sea before retiring on 25 March 1889. He returned to the War College in 1901 and died on 28 July 1917.


(DD‑99; displacement 1,191; length 314'5"; beam 31'9"; draft 9'2"; speed 35.0 knots; complement 133; armament 4 4-inch, 2 1‑pounders, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Wickes)

The first Luce (Destroyer No. 99) was laid down on 9 February 1918 at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore River Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 29 June 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Boutelle Noyes, daughter of Rear Adm. Luce; and commissioned on 11 September 1918, Lt. Cmdr. Ralph C. Parker in command.

Luce departed Boston on 19 September 1918 and reported to Commander Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet, in New York two days later. She sailed with Troop Convoy 67 for France on 23 September. Upon arrival at the Azores on 1 October, she was detached and proceeded to Gibraltar on 19 October. The ship performed escort and patrol duty in the Mediterranean for the duration of the Great War [World War I].

On 26 November 1918 she departed for the Adriatic and for five months patrolled the area in cooperation with the Food Commission. After voyaging to the eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas in May and June 1919, she returned to Gibraltar on 27 June en route to the United States. She arrived New York on 10 July and proceeded to Boston for overhaul.

On 29 October 1919 she was transferred to Reserve Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet, and on 18 March 1920 was reclassified as a light mine layer. In April she departed Boston for Newport where she operated with the destroyer force until July. On 5 July 1921 she joined Mine Squadron 1, Gloucester, Mass., and participated in tactical exercises until October; during that time, on 17 July 1920, she was given the designation DM-4. After conducting operations in the Caribbean in January 1922, Luce arrived at Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 30 June 1922.

Luce was recommissioned on 19 March 1930 and sailed to Panama on 18 April where she operated with submarines of the Canal Zone Control Force until May. She returned to the east coast on 4 June and trained with Mine Squadron 1 until steaming to Boston where she was decommissioned on 31 January 1931.

Stricken from the Navy Register on 7 January 1936, ex-Luce was sold to Schiavone‑Bonomo Corp., New York, on 29 September 1936 and scrapped on 13 November 1936.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

27 March 2023

Published: Mon Mar 27 11:16:22 EDT 2023