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Photographic History of the United States Navy


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NUPQ

Displacement 1,215 Tons, Dimensions, 314' 5" (oa) x 31' 8" x 9' 10" (Max)
Armament 4 x 4"/50, 1 x 3"/23AA, 12 x 21" torpedo tubes
Machinery, 26,500 SHP; Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 35 Knots, Crew 114
Operational and Building Data
Built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Squantum, MA (YN 374)
Laid down 08 September 1919
Launched 10 December 1919
Commissioned 01 March 1920
Decommissioned 01 May 1930
Stricken 22 October 1930
Fate Sold for scrap in a block buy with other destroyers for $5,789.00 each to Boston Metals, Baltimore, MD, 17 January 1931

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Born in Winona, Mississippi on 24 April 1887, William Devotie Billingsley was appointed to the US Naval Academy from his native state in April 1905, entering the Academy 05 July 1905. He was graduated with the Class of 1909 on 04 June of that year and served the two years at sea then required by law, as a Passed Midshipman aboard West Virginia (Armored Cruiser No. 5) on Pacific Station, and Petrel (Gunboat No. 2) on Special Service on the Atlantic. He was commissioned Ensign, to date from 05 June 1911, and in May 1912 was transferred to Nebraska (Battleship No. 14).

Billingsley was ordered in November 1912 to return to the Naval Academy for duty in connection with aviation, reporting to the Aviation Camp in Annapolis to train on the Wright B-2 aircraft on 02 December 1912. Upon completion of instruction he was designated Naval Aviator No. 9. On 06 January 1913, the aviation group went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to train with fleet ships in scouting missions, searching for submarines, bombing runs, aerial photography, as well as to accustom fleet personnel with working with aircraft. It was the first aviation base for naval operations with the fleet. Earlier experiments with modifying aircraft into "hydroaeroplanes" had been going on since early 1911; that project was now extended to the B-2 biplane. In the early spring of 1913, the aviation group returned to Annapolis.

On 20 June 1913, Billingsley departed from the Aviation Station near Annapolis in the hydroaeroplane B-2 on a trial run. He carried Lieutenant John Towers as a passenger, taking off in the morning at about 10 AM for Claiborne, on Maryland's eastern Shore, eighteen miles from Annapolis. A Curtiss machine, crewed by Ensign Godfrey DeC. Chevalier and Lieutenant Isaac F. Dortch, also took the trip to observe the flight. They were followed at a distance of several miles by a launch containing Chief Electrician Dallas L. Bronson, a mechanic at the camp; F. Killian, a seaman, and Nial F. Twigg, a student of St. John's College and friend of Ensign Billingsley. From an account by Lieutenant Towers and the other aviators in the flight, Billingsley's aircraft hit some turbulence about four miles off Kent Island and the nose dropped abruptly, lurching forward and down. Billingsley slipped from the wing and through the forward supports, his body damaging the rigging and causing the upper wing to fold down, putting the aircraft into a descent. Towers also slipped from the wing, but fortunately caught a strut or cable with his arm, and clung to the airplane as it fell toward the water, sixteen hundred feet below. The aircraft stabilized momentarily before hitting the water and Lieutenant Towers took the chance to leap clear of the aircraft before it crashed. He survived the water entry and was picked up by onlookers. Ensign Billingsley's body was found in the Chesapeake Bay on 27 June near Kent Island by the crew of schooner T.R. Creamer and was returned home to Winona, Mississippi, for burial. He was the first American naval aviator killed in the line of duty.

0529305: Photo of William D. Billingsley as a midshipman, from the 1909 Lucky Bag.
0529315: Image of Ensign Billingsley at the controls of a hydroaeroplane, from Washington, DC Evening Star, 21 June 1913.
0529314: Image of Ensign Billingsley's grave in Oakwood Cemetery, Winona, Mississippi.

Dave Wright
USS Billingsley (DD-293)
219kRPPC image of Billingsley, probably in the East River, New York City, soon after commissioning.Dave Wright
39kMoored at Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1920s.E Mark Baland
605kUnderway during the early 1920s, photographed by N. Moser, New York City. Note the submarine barely visible at the top.
Naval History & Heritage Command photo NH 96687
Joe Radigan
86kBillingsley policing the course in New York harbor for the America's Cup race between the yachts Resolute and Shamrock IV, 17 July 1920. From the collection of Bill's Grandfather.William Meredith
78kAs above.William Meredith
185kUSS Flusser (DD-289) and USS Billingsley (DD-293) underway in the Baltic, circa 1924-1925. Photo taken by Ian's mother from a passenger ship.Ian W H Davies
142kUSS Flusser (DD-289), USS Reid (DD-292) and USS Billingsley (DD-293) moored in front of Riga Castle, portside of the right bank of the Daugava river, Riga, Latvia, July 1924.-
100kUSS Billingsley towing the disabled US Army Douglas World Cruiser Boston during the first circumnavigation of the globe by air, 03 August 1924. Boston lost an oil pump and awas forced to land in the North Atlantic between Iceland and the Orkney Islands. Billingsley attmepted to tow the disabled aircraft to the Faroes, but the plane capsized and sank enroute.Tommy Trampp
136kAnother shot of Billingsley towing Boston, August 1924.
Photo from the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.
Darryl Baker
92kAs above.Tommy Trampp
556kUSS Flusser (DD-289), USS Billingsley (DD-293), and USS Dale (DD-290) at Venice, Italy, 1924-25.
Naval History & Heritage Command photo NH 93983, courtesy of Jack Howland, 1982
Fred Weiss
95kFiring her 4" guns while steaming at high speed in 1926.
Naval History & Heritage Command photo NH 61682
Joe Radigan
74kUnderway in the Western Mediterranean, circa 1926.Marc Piché
247kReal photo postcard of Billingsley alongside another ship having her port propeller replaced, probably in the late 1920s. Note the cofferdam attached to the propeller guard.Dave Wright

View This Vessels DANFS History entry at the Naval History & Heritage Command website

Commanding Officers
01CDR Henry David Cooke, Jr. (USNA 19xx)01 March 1920 - 15 November 1921
02LCDR Robert Morris Doyle, Jr. (USNA 19xx)15 November 1921 - 21 May 1922
03CDR Archibald Graham Sterling (USNA 19xx)21 May 1922 - 19 June 1923
04LT William Faulkner Amsden (USNA 19xx)19 June 1923 - 06 December 1925
05LCDR Joseph Franklin Crowell Jr. (USNA 19xx)06 December 1925 - 15 August 1927
06LCDR Walter Atlee Edwards (USNA 19xx)15 August 1927 - 10 September 1929
07LCDR Calvin Hayes Cobb (USNA 19xx)10 September 1929 - 01 May 1930

Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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This page was created by Fred Willishaw (ex ARG-4, AS-11 & DD-692) and is maintained by David L. Wright
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Last Updated 11 April 2021