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Photographic History of the United States Navy


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NII

CLASS - AYLWIN (Classified As A New Class, They Were Repeat CASSIN's) As Built.
Displacement 1,072 Tons, Dimensions, 305' 3" (oa) x 31' 2" x 10' 6" (Max)
Armament 4 x 4"/50, 8 x 18" tt..
Machinery, 16,000 SHP; Direct Drive Turbines With Triple Expansion Cruising Engines, 2 screws
Speed, 29.5 Knots, Crew 98.
Operational and Building Data
Laid down by Cramp, Philadelphia on May 7 1912.
Launched December 21 1912 and commissioned March 26 1914.
Decommissioned June 20 1922.
Balch lost her name to new construction on November 1 1933.
Stricken March 8 1935.
Fate Sold and broken up for scrap in 1935.

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Balch 42kGeorge Beall Balch was born in Shelbyville, Tenn., 3 January 1821 and was appointed acting midshipman on 30 December 1837. After serving in sloop Cyane during a cruise to the Mediterranean between 24 June 1838 and 16 May 1841, Balch saw duty in schooner Grampus and sloop Falmouth before attended the Naval School in Philadelphia, where he was promoted to passed midshipman on 29 June 1843. Eventually assigned to steamer Princeton, Midshipman Balch served in that warship during the war with Mexico. He participated in the abortive August 1846 assault on Alvarado, where strong currents in the river prevented the flotilla's boats from landing, and in the successful 9 March 1847 landing of General Winfield Scott's army at Vera Cruz. During the latter campaign, Balch served as acting master of captured schooner Falcon. Returning to Princeton, he accompanied the steamer on a two year cruise to the Mediterranean, sailing east on 17 August 1847 and returning to the Boston Navy Yard on 17 July 1849. He then saw service at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., where he was promoted to lieutenant on 16 August 1850. Balch then served as executive officer of sloop-of-war Plymouth, sailing to the Orient on 23 August 1851 for an extended cruise on the East Indies Station. While there, Plymouth joined Commodore Matthew C. Perry's expedition to Japan and, in company with side-wheel steamers Mississippi and Susquehanna and sloop-of-war Saratoga, entered Tokyo Bay on 8 July 1853 for trade negotiations with the Tokugawa Shogunate. The squadron departed on 17 July after presenting a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the Japanese asking for the opening of two ports to American trade and better treatment for shipwrecked sailors. The squadron spent the fall in Canton, Hong Kong and Shanghai, helping to protect American trade interests there (primarily tea and silk) following the continued spread of the Taiping rebellion in southern China. While most of Perry's squadron returned to Japan in February of 1854, where the Commodore eventually signed a limited trade agreement on 31 March 1854, Plymouth remained at Shanghai to help protect American-owned warehouses and other property ashore. In February, soon after the squadron's departure to Japan, Imperial Chinese troops began assaulting foreigners, sacking warehouses and exacting tolls on boats sailing up and down the Huangpu river. On 3 April, after two British citizens were accosted by sword-wielding soldiers, the commanders of the British ships Encounter and Grecian, as well as Commander Kelly from Plymouth, together resolved to drive off the Chinese troops, who had established fortified camps in the city. The next day, Balch led 60 sailors and marines and 30 sailors from American merchant ships against the left flank of the entrenchments, while a force of 150 British sailors and marines, and additional "Shanghai volunteers," attacked on the right. Supported by gunfire from two privately owned field pieces and a howitzer, the Allied force routed the Chinese defenders, who "fled in great disorder, leaving behind them a number of wounded and dead." Balch suffered wounds in the action, which also saw one sailor killed and two marines wounded. The sloop-of-war returned to Norfolk on 11 January 1855 before conducting a spring cruise off the east coast as a Naval Academy school ship. After an assignment to the Washington Navy Yard in 1855-57, Balch again went to sea in Plymouth to support a training cruise. He later served in Jamestown, joining that sloop in December 1857 for a cruise in the West Indies before he traveled to Mare Island, California, for service in sloop-of-war St. Mary's. After a short cruise off the west coast of Central America between August 1858 and February 1859, Balch returned to the east coast via Panama. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War April 1861, Balch was ordered to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he helped put frigate Sabine in commission on 30 August. The ship-rigged sailing ship joined the Atlantic blockading squadron on 9 September. Sabine helped rescue 500 men from the chartered troop transport Governor during a storm on 2 November 1861. Balch then assumed command of steamer Pocahontas, leading a flotilla of boats during the Tybee Island landings on 26 December before cruising off the Carolina coast, to keep a watchful eye for Confederate raiders and blockade runners. He was promoted to Commander on 16 July 1862. Given command of screw-sloop Pawnee at Philadelphia later that year, Cdr. Balch coordinated the towing of ironclad Pataspsco south to Port Royal, South Carolina, in February before joining the South Atlantic Squadron. There, the screw-sloop conducted coastal reconnaissance off the southern states, engaging shore batteries as required and watching for blockade runners. On 1 February and 18 June 1864, Pawnee assisted in the capture of Confederate steamers General Sumter and Hattie Brock respectively, seizing their valuable cargoes of cotton, turpentine, rosin and railroad iron. The warship also participated in the Stono River expedition in early July and Broad River expedition in November 1864. The following year, on 9 February 1865, Balch directed Pawnee up the Togoda Creek where, in company with side-wheel gunboat Sonoma and side-wheel steamer Daffodil, the warships destroyed three Confederate batteries near North Edisto, South Carolina. The ships then landed sailors and marines to occupy the town of Georgetown on 23 February 1865, clearing the way for Union ships to supply Major-General Tecumseh Sherman's Army operating in the area. Balch was commended to the Navy Department by Rear-Admiral John A. Dahlgren for his services during this operation. After Pawnee decommissioned at Portsmouth on 26 July 1865, Cdr. Balch received shore service at the Washington Navy Yard, where he was promoted to captain on 25 July 1866. He commanded flagship Albany in the North Atlantic Squadron between 1868 and early 1870. Capt. Balch then returned to the Washington Navy Yard for duty with the Bureau of Navigation, where he was promoted to commodore on 13 August 1872. He served as governor of the Naval Asylum, Philadelphia, between 1873-76 before his appointment to the Light House Board in 1877-78. After a term as a member of the Board of Examiners in 1878, during which time Capt. Balch was promoted to rear admiral on 5 June 1878, Balch undertook a two-year assignment as Superintendent of the Naval Academy between 1879 and 1881. Rear Admiral Balch then took command of the Pacific Station on 21 June 1881. That assignment lasted until he retired from the service in January 1883, initially taking up residence in Baltimore, Md., before eventually moving to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he died on 16 April 1908. Photo #: NH 67329, Rear Admiral George Beale Balch, USN (1821-1908), photographed circa 1879-1881, when he was Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Perkins Collection. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart/Robert M. Cieri
Balch 86kUndated, location unknown.Joe Radigan
Balch 44kPhoto #: NH 103740, USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) underway at high speed, while running trials, probably on 22 February 1914. Collection of Lieutenant Commander Abraham DeSomer, USN. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 52kPhoto #: NH 56319, USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) steaming at 12.337 knots during Run # 21 of her trials, 22 February 1914. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 45kPhoto #: NH 59880, USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) at anchor, circa 1915-1916. Courtesy of Captain C.J. Moore, USN. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 48kPhoto #: NH 100429, USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) moored in European waters, circa 1917 or early 1918. Note her camouflage scheme. Courtesy of Ted Stone, 1985. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 67kPhoto #: NH 88085, USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) underway in 1918, while serving in the European war zone. Note her "dazzle" camouflage. Photographed by Shaffer. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1978. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 67kPort side view of the USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) underway while serving in the European war zone, 1918. Note her "dazzle" camouflage.
State Library Victoria, Photo No. H91.325/2503
Mike Green
Balch 53kPhoto #: NH 56320, USS Balch (Destroyer # 50) underway with her sea detail on deck, 26 February 1919. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 48kPhoto #: NH 103514-D, USS Balch (DD-50) in the North River off New York City, 20 May 1921. Cropped from a panoramic photograph by Himmel and Tyner, New York. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Tony Cowart
Balch 86kDestroyer Squadron 14 in the North River, off New York City, 20 May 1921. Panoramic photograph by Himmel and Tyner, New York. U.S. Navy ships present are (from left to right): USS Cummings (DD-44); USS Wainright (DD-62); USS Parker (DD-48); USS Balch (DD-50); USS McDougal (DD-54); USS Ericsson (DD-56) and USS Dixie (AD-1), squadron flagship. Note what appears to be a yacht club in the lower left (Photo No NH 103514).Robert Hurst

USS BALCH DD-50 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry on the Naval History & Heritage Command website

Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves

LCDR David Carlisle Hanrahan    Mar 26 1914 - Jan 9 1918

LTJG William Faulkner Amsden    Jan 9 1918 - Aug 21 1918

LCDR Lee Payne Johnson    Aug 21 1918 - Jul 15 1919

LT Richard Raymond Claghorn    Jul 15 1919 - Jun 16 1920

LTJG Edwin Friedman    Jun 16 1920 - Jul 14 1921  
LT Edward Dewey Walbridge    Jul 14 1921 - Jun 20 1922 

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
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 30 January 2018