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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 Caldwell  DD69
(Caldwell Class, 1917)


USS Caldwell in Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, in 1918.

On the 5th of March, 1918, USS Caldwell 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. She commenced operations as convoy escort as well as duty hunting submarines.

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.

On the 11th of June 1918, Convoy HS42 was escorted by USS Davis, USS Allen, USS Caldwell, USSTrippe, and USS Wilkes. The convoy consisted of 34 ships as well as the Ocean Escort HMS Patia. By the 13th of June, the convoy was joined by 9 British destroyers. USS Davis sighted oil slick and dropped 15 depth charges. No result was noted.

On the 21st of August, 1918, USS Caldwell, and USS Paulding escorted oiler Crenella from Queenstown to Liverpool 

On the 12th of September 1918, SS Galway Castle was torpedoed in position 48.52N, 10. 58W. She had 400 invalids on board. Survivors were landed at Devonport. USS Kimberley, USS Allen, HMS Jessamine and USS Caldwell were sent to assist. However tugs took her in tow. Jessamine and Caldwell were recalled. SS Galway Castle sank on the 15th of September in position 49.10N, 08.00W.

On the 15th of September 1918, USS Caldwell and Rowan escorted oiler Surah from 17.00W to Queenstown.  

Caldwell's duties also included experimentation with underwater listening devices, such as the Fessenden Oscillator, and Hydrophones. These proved to be the beginnings of the real future of underwater warfare.

USS Caldwell returned to the USA in 1919.





The US Naval History and Heritage Website has a comprehensive history of this ship, which can be found

HERE

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