The U.S.S. ERIE, like her sister ship the U.S.S. CHARLESTON, was designed to conform to the requirements of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. Per Article VIII (b) of the Treaty, signatories were allowed to construct an unlimited number of sloops (gunboats) having: a displacement not exceeding 2,000 tons; no torpedo tubes; a maximum cruising speed of 20 knots; and, no more than four guns above 3.1 inch in caliber (none of which could exceed 6.1 inch in caliber).

As can be seen in viewing her specifications below, the ERIE conformed to these requirements. The one possible exception had to do with protective (armor) plating. Since gunboats were viewed as minor combatants, it might have been assumed that this was disallowed. However, U.S. Navy officials decided that this was allowable under the Treaty, and so certain spaces on the ERIE (see OTHER FEATURES section of specifications below) were protected with armor plating that was anywhere between 1 and 4 inches thick.

These specifications include any modifications made during the last major overhaul of the ERIE, during the months of August and September 1942, at the Mechanical Division, Balboa, Canal Zone.

The info listed below is taken from: U.S.S. ERIE PG-50
Booklet of General Plans (completed July 31, 1934); Naval Expenditures 1937 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1938); Ships Data, U.S. Naval Vessels (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1938); K. J. Bauer and S.S. Roberts, Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1991); and, U.S. Navy reports dealing with the torpedoing and loss of the ERIE.

The ERIE’s 36-ft. motor launch and 35-ft. motor boat were removed in 1942 (the exact time is unknown).


Named for: City of Erie (Pennsylvania)
Constructed at: New York Navy Yard
Chief designers: Howard C. Fletcher and Mandell Rosenblatt
Date of Act authorizing construction: June 16, 1933
Date construction allocated to New York Navy Yard: June 19, 1933
Date formal contract signed and name assigned: September 1, 1933
Contract effective date:
November 1, 1933
Contract completion date: February 1, 1936
Date keel laid
: December 17, 1934
Date Launched: January 29, 1936
Cost of construction: $5,198,868
Date commissioned: July 1, 1936
Ship sponsor: Ida May (nee Illig) Knoll


Length overall: 328 feet, 6 inches
Length on water line: 308 feet (at standard displacement)
Extreme beam at/below water line: 41 feet, 3 inches (at standard displacement)


Mean draft: 11 feet, 4 inches (at standard displacement)
Maximum draft in service: 14 feet, 6 inches
Design displacement: 2,000 tons
Displacement in service: 2,830 tons


Maximum speed: 20 knots
Range: 8,000 nautical miles at 12 knots


Engines: 2, Parsons geared turbine
Boilers: 2, Babcock and Wilcox
Generator sets: 3 (2 turbo, 1 diesel), all A.C.


6-in., 47 caliber, Mark 17 guns: 4, with Mark 35 battery director
1.1 in., quadruple anti-aircraft guns: 4
20 mm, single anti-aircraft guns: 4
Depth charge roll-off racks: 2, Mark 6 (each holding 15 depth charges)


Smoke pipes: 1
Masts: 2
Armor: 3½ inch side belts (over vital spaces)
Armor: 1 inch on six-inch gun shields
Armor: 1¼ inch on main deck
Armor: 4 inches on conning tower
Radar: 1, Mark 3 (mounted atop battery director)
Sonar: 1, ASDIC
Scout plane: 1, OS2U "Kingfisher"


Captain's cabin: 1
Admiral's cabin: 1
Guest cabin with 2 staterooms: 1
Officers' wardrooms: 15
Chief Petty Officers' quarters: 18
Enlisted men's berths (inc. 44 Marines): 213


36-ft motor launch (70 men): 1
35-ft motor boat (27 men): 1
30-ft motor launches (40 men each): 2
26-ft motor whale boats (24 men each): 2
Balsa life floats (25 men each): 2
10-ft punt: 1