USS John Paul Jones
In Harms Way
Named in honor of Naval hero, John Paul Jones.

John Paul Jones


USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG 53) honors the Father of the American Navy. The ship derives her motto from a famous John Paul Jones quote, "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way."

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) honors the Father of the American Navy. Born in Scotland, Commodore John Paul Jones earned the undying respect and admiration of his countrymen by his extraordinary courage, tactical genius and audacity during the American War for Independence. Without hesitation, he took the war at sea to the British, attacking their coastlines and capturing their ships in the British fleet’s home waters. These acts inspired and transformed the fledgling Colonial Navy from an upstart band of rebels to a recognized fighting force, providing critical justification for recognition of the colonies and their right to independence from Great Britain.

John Paul Jones is best remembered for his heroic defeat of the British 50-gun frigate Serapis on September 23, 1779. The three-hour battle off Flamborough Head, in which John Paul Jones, in command of Bonhomme Richard, was victorious over a vastly superior British foe, established the spirit from which has grown the greatest Navy the world has ever known. Today, USS John Paul Jones proudly displays the flag of the captured Serapis as her Battle Ensign. DDG 53’s motto, “In Harm’s Way” reflects Commodore Jones’ understanding that victory at sea will always require fast ships which are prepared to close and defeat the enemy.

For more detailed history of John Paul Jones visit the Navy Archive page at

1st USS John Paul Jones

The first USS Paul Jones, named for John Paul Jones, was a sidewheel, double-ended, steam gunboat that was launched 30 January 1862 by J.J. Abrahams, Baltimore, Md. and commissioned 9 June 1862 at Baltimore with Comdr. Charles Steedman as the commanding officer.

The USS Paul Jones joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron as it engaged the fort at Jones Point, Ogeechee River, Ga., 29 July. Continuing south she, along with the Patroon and Cimarron, helped silence the fort on St. John’s Bluff, St. John’s River, Fla., on 17 September. While patrolling on blockade duty she assisted in capturing the schooner Major E. Willis 19 April 1863 off Charleston, S.C. and successfully took the sloop Mary off St. Simons Sound, Ga. on 8 July. Paul Jones participated in attacks on Fort Wagner in Charleston Harbor, S.C. in 18–24 July.

The Paul Jones continued her coastal operations until late August 1864 when she sailed to Boston and decommissioned 19 September. Paul Jones recommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard 1 April 1865 for further service in the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. On 31 March 1866 she was stationed at Mobile, Ala., and in July 1867 she returned to New York and was decommissioned .

2nd USS John Paul Jones

The second USS Paul Jones (DD–10) was laid down 20 April 1899 by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif., launched 14 June 1902 and commissioned 19 July 1902 with Lt. R. F. Gross as the commanding officer.

Originally built as a torpedo boat destroyer, Paul Jones served in the Pacific Fleet, as a unit of the Pacific Torpedo Fleet, homeported at San Francisco. On 23 April 1917, at the beginning of World War I, Paul Jones sailed for Norfolk, Va. On 4 August she took station off the York River on patrol assignment until 13 August when she joined Battleship Force Atlantic. On 24 August Paul Jones began a series of convoy patrols up and down the coast.

On 15 January 1918 Paul Jones sailed for the Azores by way of Bermuda. After departing Bermuda, she had to request permission to turn back due to a serious leak. From 23–26 January Paul Jones’ crew struggled magnificently against great odds and succeeded in saving the ship from sinking. Wallowing in stormy seas, barely able to maintain headway, losing all drinking and feed water and steaming under two boilers with salt feed, manning bucket brigades for lack of operable pumps, and receiving no answers to her distress signals, she finally sighted a light off David’s Head, Bermuda, signalled the fort for assistance and dropped her anchor. On 22 February she sailed for Philadelphia. Paul Jones reported to Fortress Monroe, Va. 18 April, and performed various duties in and around Chesapeake Bay until 6 August.

The highlight of Paul Jones’ came on 2 July 1918 when Henderson (ID.-1) was afire in the Atlantic north of Bermuda and east of Virginia. Paul Jones made four trips from the burning ship to Von Steuben (ID.-3017) saving 1,250 Marines and officers together with over 50 tons of gear.

Paul Jones reported at Hampton Roads 9 August and remained in and around Chesapeake Bay conducting mine patrols, convoy duties and other services until slated for inactivation 31 January 1919. She decommissioned 29 July 1919; was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 15 September 1919.

For more detailed history on the second USS Paul Jones visit the Navy Archive page at

3rd USS John Paul Jones

The third USS Paul Jones (DD–230) was laid down 23 December 1919 by Win. Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa., launched 30 September 1920 and commissioned 19 April 1921.

The USS Paul Jones joined the Atlantic Fleet until transferred to the Pacific in 1923 at which time she joined Asiatic Fleet. Paul Jones participated in the Yangtze River patrol and was assigned other patrol duties along the China coast, while making occasional voyages to and from Manila.

As flagship of Destroyer Squadron 29, Asiatic Fleet, she received the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor 8 December 1941, at Tarakan, Borneo. She got underway and for the remainder of December acted as a picket boat in the vicinity of Lombok Strait and Soerabaja Harbor, Java. Her first war orders were to contact Dutch Naval Units for instructions after the Dutch vessel Langkoems was sunk by a Japanese submarine. Paul Jones rescued the Dutch crewmen. On 9 January 1942, after a Japanese submarine had sunk a second Dutch merchantman, Paul Jones saved 101 men. She joined a raiding group and engaged a Japanese convoy and its screening warships the night of 23–24 January. The Japanese suffered large losses from the torpedo attacks launched by the destroyers as they raced back and forth through the convoy formation. In February Australian, British, Dutch, and American Naval units, banded together under a joint command (ABDA), and searched for enemy surface forces in the Java area. They encountered a Japanese covering force on 27 February and the Allies opened fire, beginning the Battle of the Java Sea. Soon Paul Jones expended her torpedoes. Dangerously low on fuel, she retired to Soerabaja. The next morning Paul Jones and three other U.S. destroyers escaped encirclement by Japanese forces in Java by hugging close to the shore line and laying smoke at high speed.

Paul Jones reached San Francisco 29 June 1942 and was assigned convoy escort duty between California and Pearl Harbor which continued until the end of March 1943. Paul Jones reported to New York where she commenced convoy escort duty 28 May between North African ports and the U.S. Convoy assignments, ASW patrol and duties as a training ship were performed by Paul Jones until 6 April 1945 when she sailed for New York for duty in a task group consisting of oilers and destroyers that refueled convoy escorts.

Paul Jones moored at Norfolk in June 1945 and was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxilliary (AG–120) and assigned as a plane guard destroyer for Lake Champlain (CV–39) until 4 August. In October she was stripped and assigned to the Commandant 5th Naval District for administrative purposes. She decommissioned 5 November 1945 and was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 28 November 1945.

Paul Jones earned two battle stars for Pacific service in World War II.

For more detailed history on the third USS Paul Jones visit the Navy Archive page at

4th USS John Paul Jones

The fourth USS John Paul Jones (DD-932) was laid down 18 January 1954 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, launched 7 May 1955 and commissioned at Boston 5 April 1956 with Comdr. R. W. Hayler, Jr. as the commanding officer.

John Paul Jones departed for her first cruise with Sixth Fleet 25 March 1957. In May she took part in a show of naval force in the Mediterranean as leftist attempts to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan were foiled by American warships offshore. John Paul Jones joined NATO maneuvers in the North Atlantic in October. After another brief cruise to the Mediterranean she took part in fleet exercises in the Caribbean in January 1958. In the spring of 1958 John Paul Jones operated with Canadian ships on training maneuvers in the Atlantic. The USS John Paul Jones sailed again for the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet 17 March 1959.

1960 began with 2d Fleet operations out of Newport, and in June the destroyer embarked midshipmen for a training cruise. She then departed 22 August for a cruise to South America as part of Operation "Unitas". During 1961 and 1962 the ship carried out antisubmarine exercises in the Caribbean. In April 1962 she took part in a fleet review and weapons demonstration for President Kennedy, and in July she again embarked midshipmen for training. In October 1962 the ship was on station with the Atlantic Recovery Forces during the flight of Commander Schirra, and soon afterward moved off the coast of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The following year saw the veteran ship embark on another Mediterranean cruise 6 February to 1 July; the remainder of 1963 was spent on antisubmarine exercises in the Atlantic. Operations along the Atlantic Coast continued until John Paul Jones began another 6th Fleet deployment 20 June 1964. Early in 1965 she participated in Operation "Spring board" in the Caribbean. John Paul Jones sailed to the Mediterranean 18 June for NATO exercises. She returned to Norfolk 6 November, sailed to Philadelphia 2 December, and entered the Naval Shipyard and decommissioned 20 December for conversion to a guided missile destroyer.

Reclassified DDG-32, she recommissioned in the fall of 1967. She began 1968 en route to Long Beach, California, and by summer, was on her way to the Western Pacific. In January 1969 the John Paul Jones was in the Tonkin Gulf as plane guard for the Coral Sea (CVA-43). In 1970 John Paul Jones screened the carriers and spent time on the gun line. She steamed for the Western Pacific on 7 January 1972 and entered the Gulf of Tonkin in early March for duty. On the gun line north and south of the seventeenth parallel, her gunners fired over 5,400 rounds of 5-inch 54-caliber shells against more than 550 enemy targets and on 24 May, supported the landing of the South Vietnamese marines north of Hue. Her gun crews continued shelling North Vietnamese positions until early July 1972.

In 1973, the John Paul Jones assumed antiaircraft picket duty and also took part in minesweeping operations in the Gulf of Tonkin before leaving the Gulf of Tonkin on 26 September 1974. Later that fall, the John Paul Jones was back in the Far East in response to renewed hostilities in Vietnam. Escort duty with the Enterprise and Midway continued into 1975 interspersed with joint operations with the Seventh Fleet and Japanese naval forces. In April 1975, the John Paul Jones covered the evacuation of South Vietnam. In the course of the pull-out, the destroyer moved in close to the coast to cover amphibious forces against air attack. At one point, she encountered 400 refugees packed aboard a small boat and helped them with food, medical supplies, and a compass. She later escorted a refugee convoy before heading for home on 17 May.

Local operations, exercises in the Northern Pacific, and another deployment in the Western Pacific took the John Paul Jones through 1979. In 1980, she patrolled the Persian Gulf during the hostage crisis in Iran. Sea trials, inspections, and refresher training, carried her to November 1982 when the ship received orders to stand down and cease all operations. John Paul Jones was a member of the U. S. Pacific Fleet when she was decommissioned on 15 December 1982. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 November 1985.

For more detailed history on the fourth USS Paul Jones visit the Navy Archive page at

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