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Site Last Updated October 2016

Ships of the United States Navy in Cork Ireland during World War One
(For fleet list click here)

USS AYLWIN DD47
(Cassin  Class, 19##)


Pre-War picture of USS Aylwin.
Photo from Naval History and Heritage website:
http://156.112.98.23/photos/images/h77000/h77908.jpg

USS Aylwin crossed the Atlantic to Ireland, early in 1918  and arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland. This was the centre for anti-submarine forces, on the Western Approaches, under the command of Admiral Lewis Bayley, Commander in Chief , Coast of Ireland.  

Initially there was uncertainty as to the most effective use of  destroyers. At first they were given patrol areas which they would scout, singly or in pairs. Any stray incoming merchantmen seen, were to be escorted to near their destinations. This was a most ineffective use of the force, as the chances of coming across, and destroying a lone submarine in the vastness of the Western Approaches was virtually nil.

By Summer 1917, under the urging of commanders such as Admiral Sims, Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, the convoy system was initiated. Groups of merchantmen were escorted through the war zone by flanking destroyer screens. This had the dual effect of reducing the amount of targets for German u-boats, and allowing destroyers and sloops to attack the harassing submarines.  The priorities of the destroyers were to:

Destroy Submarines.

Protect and escort Merchantmen.

Save the crews and passengers of torpedoed ships.

Anti-submarine patrols did continue also for the duration of the war, especially in the Irish Sea and close to the coast of France, where u-boats would try to sink merchantmen as the convoys dispersed.  In 1918, any destroyer in the Irish Sea, which was not actively convoying, came under the orders of The Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla, under the command of Captain Gordon Campbell VC based in Holyhead, Wales.  US destroyers  were also used to patrol the west coast of Ireland to hunt suspected gun-running ships, for Irish Republicans.

The destroyers , initially, were ill-equipped to fight submerged submarines. When they arrived in Europe they were armed with guns and torpedoes. The only undersea weapons supplied were single hand-launched 50lb depth charges which were particularly ineffective. It was the later fitting of dual depth charge racks on the sterns of the ships, Thornycroft depth charge throwers, and Y shaped charge throwers that turned them into a dangerous force. These were capable of dropping and firing a continuous patterned barrage  of 200lb, charges around a submarine's suspected position. Most of the retro-fitting of these armaments was done at Cammel Laird in Birkenhead, England.

USS Aylwin spent the remainder of the war conducting anti-submarine patrols and escorting shipping.
On the
21st of August 1918 USS Aylwyn,Shaw, and Beale escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Liverpool.  
On the 7th of September 1918, USS Alwyn, Cassin, Sampson, Trippe, escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Southampton

For some time beginning in late December 1918, Aylwin was part of a U.S. Navy force that entered the Baltic Sea to inspect German ports there. She left European waters in June 1919 and, soon after arrival home, was placed in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.


Notes

Commanding Officer, Lieut Commander G.T.Swasey June 1918






The US Naval History and Heritage Website has a comprehensive history of this ship, which can be found at
http://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs.html

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