(DD-91: dp. 1,060, l. 315'5", b. 31'8" dr. 8'6", s. 35 k. cpl. 100; a. 4 4", 3 .30 cal. mg., 12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)
The first Harding (DD-91), a torpedo-boat destroyer, was launched 4 July 1918 by Union Iron Works,
San Francisco; sponsored by Mrs. George A. Armes; and commissioned 24 January 1919, Comdr. Henry D.
Cooke in command.
Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Harding sailed 3 February 1919 for Newport, R.I., via Santa Cruz and
the Panama Canal. Arriving 18 February, she shifted to Boston 2 days later and stood out of the harbor 21
February to escort George Washington, carrying President Wilson back to the United States from the Versailles
Conference Harding participated in the ceremonies in Boston harbor following the berthing of George
Washington 23 February
After repairs Harding departed Norfolk 8 March for fleet exercises in Cuban waters, then steamed to
New York, arriving 14 April. She departed New York again 1 May as part of the destroyer group acting as guide
for the historic flight of Navy seaplanes across the Atlantic Harding and the other destroyers made smoke by
day and provided searchlight illumination by night during the first long leg of the flight; NC-1 and NC-3 made
forced landings near the Azores and Harding rendered assistance to NC-1 before it sank. NC-4, the remaining
seaplane arrived Ponta Delgada 20 May and as she took off for the last leg of her journey, Harding got
underway to provide radio compass signals at sea. After the seaplanes landed at Plymouth, England, to
complete the flight 31 May 1919, Harding visited Brest and the Azores before returning to Newport 18 June.
For the next few months Harding trained out of Newport and Norfolk, reporting to the Philadelphia
Navy Yard 13 December 1919 for conversion to seaplane tender. She completed the conversion at Charleston
Navy Yard and sailed 20 May 1920 for duty at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Before she could take up her new
duties, however, Harding was ordered to Vera Cruz, Mexico, with urgently needed medical supplies for the
American Red Cross. Reaching Vera Cruz 9 June 1920, she unloaded her precious bubonic plague serum and
other supplies, touched at Tampico, and returned to Pensacola 13 June Harding's fast response had helped to
save many lives.
Hardings role at the burgeoning Pensacola Naval Base was a key part of the training program for
seaplane pilots. She remained there until 4 August, after which she operated in the Caribbean area tending
seaplanes until 23 February 1921. She then arrived Key West, and after a short period at Philadelphia
proceeded to Hampton Roads to take part in the bombing tests on U-117. Steaming from Norfolk; 21 June,
Harding spent the next month witnessing the important experiments that gave much valuable information on the
effects of bomb explosions on warships. The tests came to a climax with the controversial sinking of ex-German
battleship Ostfriesland 21 July 1921, and Harding was detached from duty 22 July.
Harding subsequently trained out of Newport and other Atlantic ports until 27 December 1921, when
she arrived Charleston. Remaining there until 3 April 1922, she sailed to Philadelphia where she
decommissioned 1 July 1922. Harding was sold for scrap 29 September 1936 to Schievone-Bonomo Corp.,
New York City.