Southern California SCUBA divers have been hopeful for many years that the wreck of the USS Radford lies nearshore off the coast of San Diego, CA. Divers are always hungry for new shipwrecks and a 300 foot flush deck destroyer would make a great wreck dive.
Popular belief is that she lies somewhere in the vicinity of the USS Hogan within diving range. One local diver claimed he discovered the Radford "along time ago". Certainly just wishful thinking as we now know the truth. It would require a trip to the Naval Historical Center in Washington D.C. and a records request to the National Archives to finally get all of the facts.
After being struck from the Naval list on May 19, 1936, Radford was assigned as a target vessel for the DESTROYERS BATTLE FORCE GUNNERY SCHOOL. Firings at Ex-Radford took place during final firing week. Moored at the Coronado Islands, USS Melville acted as a base of operations and for quartering students during night firing periods. USS Preble and USS Dahlgren were two of the ships that sent the Radford to her final resting place on August 5, 1936.
Logbooks from the Preble and Dahlgren confirm the location of the Radford at approximate position 32-15,’ 117-30’. Dahlgren misreported the depth as 1000 fathoms. The actual depth is approximately 1225 meters (670 fathoms).
Unfortunately 4000 feet of water will prevent any divers from visiting this wreck site. Ongoing research is still needed to uncover the location of the remaining WWI destroyers that were disposed of off of San Diego. The search continues...
A special thanks to Scott Brooks for making the trip to Washington D.C. and researching the San Diego Destroyers at the Naval Historical Center.
Location of the USS Radford sunk by USS Preble and Dahlgren on August 5, 1936.
Position shown is 28 nautical miles SW of Pt. Loma, CA in Mexican waters.
USS Preble DD-345
USS Preble Logbook Entry
August 5, 1936
Steaming as before on course 270T making steerageway. 1232 Sounded General Quarters. Steaming on various courses at various speeds making firing run on EX-RADFORD. 1250 Commenced firing. 1253 Ceased firing. Expended 24 rounds 4”/50 cal service ammunition. 1257 C/C to 270T, C/S to steerageway. 1401 EX-RADFORD sank in Lat 32 14’45”, Long 117 30’30”. C/C to 090T, C/S to 15 knots. 1530 C/C to 270T, C/S to 5 knots. 1540 transferred 12 4”/50 cal star shells to USS DAHLGREN.
Lieutenant (jg) U.S. Navy.
USS Dahlgren DD-187
USS Dahlgren Logbook Entry
August 5, 1936
Steaming as before; lying to astern of PREBLE. 1224 PREBLE started gunnery school firing run #40 at speed of 25 knots, DAHLGREN following astern on various courses. 1250 Steaming on various courses at speed of 15 knots getting into position for gunnery school firing run #1. 1253 Changed speed to _ knots, held general quarters. 1302 Steadied on course 070T, 052 PSC. Changed course to 080T, 062 PSC. 1305 Commenced firing. 1307 Ceased firing; secured from general quarters; steaming on various courses at various speeds observing Destroyer Scouting Force Gunnery School firing. 1401 steaming on various courses at various speeds to rendezvous with USS KALMIA. 1504 Astern of KALMIA, slowed to steerage way. Av. Steam 250#. Av. R.P.M. 109.75. EX-RADFORD sank in 1,000 fathoms of water in Latitude 32-15-00N, 117-30-00W.
J.H. FORTUNE, Jr.,
Ensign, U.S. Navy.