shipwrecks of Cork Harbour


The Queenstown Convoys

The introduction of the convoy system in World War One was a desperate attempt to stem shipping losses due to the U-boat campaign. The tactic of the convoy - groupings of merchant ships escorted by a screen of warships, was not a new one. There had been convoys in times of conflict for centuries.   Even in peacetime, convoys were used to protect sea commerce from the ravages of piracy. Throughout history pirates have been the scourge of merchant shipping. From the Elizabethan era, state-sponsored piracy, in the form of the privateer, added to the menace.

The convoy system had seen it's greatest usage during the Napoleonic War and American War of Independence, when groups of up to a hundred ships would assemble in Cork Harbour for convoy to America and the West Indies. One one occasion the press reported one hundred and forty merchant ships moored in Cork Harbour awaiting convoy.

The convoy system was resisted during most of World War One. The British Admiralty largely saw it as an outmoded tactic, not suitable for modern warfare. They thought that concentrated groups of ships would provide an easy target for submarines and raiders. In fact the opposite was true, with lone ships providing the easy pickings of the u-boat campaign.

It was the United States Commander of Naval forces in Europe, Admiral W.Sims who was the greatest advocate of the convoy system. It was eventually adopted in the summer of 1917, and proved a great success, continuing until war's end. Convoys have continued to be used to this day, vindicating the system.

Queenstown was used as an assembly point and departure port for convoys leaving Europe, from August 1917 to January 1918. For the rest of the war. English and French ports were used, with Liverpool, Brest, Southmpton, Le Havre and Cherbourg becoming the most important by the Armistice.

It must be remembered that the vast majority of cargoes were transported to, not from Europe. It was the ports in the USA, Canada, South America,Australia,New Zealand and West Africa that were the source of food and materials that kept the Allied war machine in operation. Much of Europe, especially Britain, would have starved without these supplies.

Troop transports from North America took a slightly different route. Troop movements were mainly done in fast convoys, staying in deep water, direct from America to the French ports.

Queenstown was a vital port in the convoy system, with up to 37 United States destroyers, 12 Royal Navy sloops, and occasionally a few British destroyers based there.

There was also the important support of the Auxiliary fleet of trawlers, rescue tugs and motor boats. In 1918 there were also United States battleships based in Berehaven, British and American submarines, and a fleet of subchasers. In August 1918 there were also United States Flying boats in operation from Lough Foyle, Wexford, Whiddy Island, and Aghada in Cork.

The Queenstown destroyer and sloop force did not only escort the outward Queenstown Convoys, but would meet incoming convoys and single ships from all over the world. In great feats of seamanship, an incoming convoy, or single troop ship, would be met by Queenstown warships, hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic. Then they would be escorted to their final destination.

The navigational skills of these ocean rendezvous were astounding. There was no satellite navigation, bad weather meant that astral navigation was sporadic, and radio communication was rudimentary at best. There were some terrible accidents and mishaps, but the facts that these tasks were accomplished speaks volumes of the seamanship and bravery of these sailors, both merchant and naval.

The Queenstown convoys were given the designation 'OQ' followed by the number of the convoy, eg; OQ27 - Outward, Queenstown, convoy 27. Homeward convoys were given a 'H' designation and their originating port, eg: HH27 - Homeward Hampton Roads, convoy 27.

For security reasons, the port of destination was never given on these convoy designations.

In total there were 31 'OQ' convoys. Of these, Twenty five left from Queenstown, one left from Milford Haven in Wales, one left from Rosslare via Queenstown, One departed from Rosslare direct. Three were cancelled.

The OQ Convoys ,
Number Date Details Remarks
OQ1 Departed Queenstown 21st August 1917. Two ships were escorted.

Waikawa,   Alconda.
OQ2 Departed Queenstown 25th August 1917. Ships escorted were:

Crosby Hall   Staro   Cornishman

Montfort   Greylarlie   Treyhawk

Vinel   Brendon.   Madura

Convoy dispersed 50N 18W on 27th August.
OQ3 Departed Queenstown on the 30th of August 1917. Ships escorted were:

Pancras   Spilsby   Leucadia  

Skard   Australcrag   Glenrazan  

Esperanza De Larranga      

Routed through 50.30N 09.10W, Dispersed 47.50N 16W

Escorted by -

USS Allen

USS Wilkes

USS Patterson

USS Perkins

USS Winslow

USS Fanning

USS Jenkins

OQ4 Sailed on the 3rd of September 1917. Ships escorted were:

Zuleica   President Le Roy Lallier   Queen Margaret  

Queen Louise   Jason   Ramore Head  

Seattle   Boston City   Eurylochus  

Tascalusa   Buranda   Sutton Hall  

Erlesburgh   Dorington Court   Kaolack  

Elstree Grange   Anglo Canadian   Norefos  

Firtree   Independence    

     

     

Escorted by -

USS Cushing,

USS Sampson,

USS Nicholson,

USS Parker,

USS Drayton,

USS Conyngham,

USS McDougal.

Dispersed lat 52N Lon 16W 4th Sep 1917.
Speed 81/2 knots.
OQ5 Sailed on the 8th of September 1917. Ships escorted were:

     

Crown of Toledo   Batsford   Willaston 

Zone   Jedmoor   Herbert G.Wylie  

Roker   San Patricio   Parana  

Leixoes   Helmsdale   Chicago City 

Escorted by -

USS Cushing,

USS Ericsson,

USS Shaw,

USS Porter,

USS Burrows,

USS Wilkes,

USS Patterson,

USS Ammen.

OQ6 Sailed on the 11th of Sep 1917 Ships escorted were:

     

Cento   Saxoleine   Terek 

Slaattero   PLM7   PLM8  

Hannah      

Escorted by -

USS Conyngham,

USS Nicholson,

USS Winslow,

USS Jenkins,

USS Cummings,

USS Parker,

USS McDougal.


HMS Snowdrop

Dispersed 49.50N 17 W, speed 8 knots
OQ7 Sailed form Queenstown, 13th Sep 1917 Ships escorted :

Houston
Escorted by -

HMS Camellia

HMS Bluebell

Dispersed 49N 17W
OQ8 Sailed 19th September, Ships escorted:

Welshman

Penolver

Christano

Bristol City

Highland Piper

Maylands

Danblair

Grangemoor

Port Hacking

Penare

Dispersed 50N 17W
OQ9 Departed 22nd Sep 1917 Ships escorted:

Headcliffe

Moorlands

Baykerran

Devon City

Ethelaric

Dispersed 49N 15W
OQ10 Sailed 28th Sept 1917 Ships escorted -

Karamea

Karroo

Rathlin Head

Australmead

Oakbranch

H.Luckenbach

Abercorn.

Escorted by:

USS Wadsworh,

USS Tucker

USS Cummings

USS Walke

USS Shaw

USS Allen

HMS P51

HMS P62

OQ 11 Sailed 30th September 1917 Ships escorted were:

Eastwood

Arca

Waiwera

Stathatos

Escorted by:

USS Rowan

USS Wilkes

USS Patterson

USS Burrows

USS Ammen

Shadowed by -
Q-Ship

HMS Tamarisk.

Dispersed 47.42N 15W
OQ12 Sailed 8th Oct 1917 Ships escorted were:

Paul Paix

Clan Mc Bride

Glenorchy

Penhallow

Trevanion

Baygola

Dispersed 48N 14W
OQ13 Departed Queenstown on 13th Oct 1917 Ships escorted:

Abadesa

Warri

Tocantins

Turcoman

Polesley

Dominion

Quessant

Highland Rover

Clintonia

Escorting ships

USS Rowan

USS Patterson

USS Ammen

USS Fanning

USS Winslow

USS Wilkes

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ship

HMS Cullist

Dispersed 49.30N 17W
OQ14 Sailed 16th October 1917. Ships escorted:

Swinburne

Carston

Novian

St Andrew

Escorted by -

USS Conyngham

USS Parker

USS McDougal

USS Jacob Jones

USS Sterett

USS Nicholson

USS Burrows

USS Jenkins

Dispersed 48.30 N 12.30W
OQ15 Sailed 20th Oct 1917. Ships escorted:

Baron Napier

Hyacinthus

Thorpe Grange

Amiral Rigault de Genouilly

Ingleside

Glenaffric

W.I.Radcliffe

Zingara

American Transport

Brod Liffe

Highland Loch

Medomsley

Escorted by -

USS Porter

USS Cushing

USS Trippe

USS Wainwright

USS Drayton

USS Walke

USS Cummings

HMS Camellia

HMS Zinnia

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ship

HMS Heather

Dispersed 50.30N 17W
OQ16 Sailed 25th October 1917 Ships escorted:

Hawsker

Picton

Andreas

Dorisbrook

Mavisbrook

Gorsemoor

Mokoia

Bayhowell

Dispersal: 48N 15W
OQ17 Oct 29th 1917 Due to sail on Oct 29th 1917, was cancelled due to bad weather and intending ships were instructed to join convoy OQ18.
OQ18 Sailed 01st November 1917. Ships escorted were:

Roselands

Brunswick

Welbeck Hall

Havo

Singapore

Booral

Poplar Branch

Keyingham

Port Chalmers

Escorting Vessels were -

USS Porter

USS Wainwright

USS Drayton

USS Trippe

USS Burrows

USS Cummings

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ship

HMS Heather

OQ19 Sailed 13th Nov 1917 Ships escorted were:

Greystoke Castle

St Fillans

Tibet

Middleham Castle

Zinal

Karmala

Lord Sefton

Langholm

Boukadra (returned due to mechanical defects)

Exeter City

Highcliffe

Sunray

Geralarlie

Glennevis

Escorted by -

USS Cushing

USS Wilkes

USS Ericsson

USS Drayton

USS Davis

USS Sampson

HMS Jessamine

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ship

HMS Tamarisk

To 49.30N 17W
OQ20 Sailed , Nov 17th 1917 Ships escorted:

Boukadra

Ramore Head

Highland Pride

Welshman

J.L. Lukenbach

Eurylochus

Rene

Wisley







Escorted by:

USS Nicholson

USS Warrington

USS Cummings

USS Fanning

USS Conyngham

USS Jacob Jones

HMS Zinnia

HMS Viola

To 48N 14W
OQ21 Sailed from Rosslare on Nov 21st 1917 Ships escorted:

Highland Star

Highland Glen

Alston

Wearwood

Breynton

Leikoes

To 51.44N 06.16W then dispersing at 49N 15W
OQ22 Sailed from Rosslare 24th Nov and Queenstown 25th Nov 1917. Ships escorted:

Flavia

Pearl Shell

Crenella

Santa Theresa

Princess Clementine

Queen Margaret

Oaklands Grange

Leitrim

Escorted by:

USS Ericsson

USS Drayton

USS Shaw

USS Davis

USS Downes

USS Cushing

HMS Jessamine

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ship

HMS Tamarisk

To Pos 48.25N 14.30W.
OQ23 Sailed 29th Nov 1917 from Queenstown. Ships Escorted:

H.V.Fisker

Mattawa

Arracan

Zerod

Turret Cape

Hartland Point.

Escorted by -

USS Nicholson

USS Benham

USS Conyingham

USS Jacob Jones

USS Cummings

HMS Camellia

HMS Viola

to pos 50.30N 15W
OQ24 Sailed from Queenstown Dec 03rd 1917 Ships escorted:

Chicago Grange

Beacon Grange

Cedar Branch

Highland Brigade

Comte de Flandre

Escorted by -

USS Balch

USS Duncan

USS Sterett

USS Burrows

USS Winslow

USS Trippe

To 48.20N 14W
OQ25 Due to leave, Dec 08th 1917, cancelled due to lack of merchantmen to be escorted
OQ26 Sailed from Queenstown Dec 14th 1917 Ships escorted:

River Araxes

Clam

Escorted by:

USS Wadsworth

USS Porter

USS Sterett

To 48N 12W
OQ27 Sailed 20th Dec 1917 Ships Escorted:

El Cordobes

Oreland

Lord Downshire

Turcoman

Atholl

Turret Court

Ferro

Rathlin Head

Champlain

Escorted by

USS Ericsson

USS Davis

USS Shaw

HMS Camellia



HMS Jessamine

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ships

HMS Tamarisk

HMS Aubrietta

To 49N 14W
OQ28 Sailed Dec 25th 1917 Ships escorted -

Guernsey

Kathlamba

Highland Scot

Devon City

Dara

Escorted by -

USS Porter

USS Ammen

USS Tucker

USS Jarvis

USS Drayton

HMS Zinnia

To 49.30 15W
OQ 29 Sailed 02nd Jan 1918 Ships escorted:

Bombay

Orn II

Canastota

Paulsboro

Fanad Head

Escorting Ships:

USS Wilkes

USS Fanning

USS McDougal

USS Wainwright

USS O'Brien

USS Sterett

HMS Bluebell

HMS Viola

To 49.40N 13W
OQ30 No information – cancelled?

OQ31 Sailed from Milford Haven, Monday 7th Jan 1918 Ships escorted:

Cornishman

Melania

Cowrie C

Munardan

Cushing

Escorted by -

Ships escorting: (SO) USS Duncan, Jarvis, Trippe, Paulding, Ammen, HMS Zinnia, Q-ShipsHMS Tamarisk and HMS Aubretia shadowing convoy USS Duncan

USS Jarvis

USS Trippe

USS Paulding

USS Ammen

HMS Zinnia

Convoy shadowed
by Q -Ships

HMS Tamarisk

HMS Aubrietta

Passed through position 50.40N 09.00W, dispersed at position 50.40N 14.00W


The Royal Navy in Cork   The Queenstown Q-Ships of World War One 

Royal Navy in Cork, Ships List 
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