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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 CASSIN  DD43
(Cassin Class, 1913)


USS Cassin in Queenstown (Cobh)

USS Cassin arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland, on the 17th of May, 1917. She was in company of Rowan, Tucker, Ericsson, Winslow and Jacob Jones.   Queenstown was the centre for anti-submarine forces, on the Western Approaches, under the command of Admiral Lewis Bayley, Commander in Chief , Coast of Ireland. The Cassin commenced operations a week later.

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 22nd of May, 1917, Cassin sunk the derelict Lynton, floating bottom up, in position 51.02N, 08.41W.

On the 5th of June, 1917, the SS Manchester Miller was torpedoed, in position 52.57N, 14.35W. USS Jacob Jones, and USS Cassin, who had been on patrol joined the escort, as the Manchester Miller was taken in tow by HMS Camellia. The damaged ship however, sank, and Jacob Jones and Cassin were ordered back on patrol.

In the week of the 21st of July, 1917, USS Porter, USS Nicholson, USS Cassin, USS Ericsson, and USS O’Brien returned from convoy duty in France. The latter two ships escorting to Queenstown the USS Kanawha

On the 4th of August, 1917, when in position 15 miles SW of Kinsale, USS Cassin sighted periscope. Cassin manoeuvred to attack but periscope disappeared.

On the 28th of September, 1917, the Q-Ship HMS Cullist damaged an enemy submarine, and chased her on the surface. USS Cassin, USS Ericsson, and HMS Tamarisk joined in the chase. Ericsson caught up with the enemy, and shelled her, but lost her in the darkness.

On the 15th of October, 1917, in pos 20 Miles south of Mine Head, USS Cassin was torpedoed by U61. Gunners Mate Ingram Osmond Kelly was killed trying to release depth charges. He was awarded posthumous Medal of Honour. Nine other crew were wounded. HMS Tamarisk proceeded a full speed to her assistance and arrived at about 9pm. Weather and sea bad and getting worse. At 2am, after failing to drift line, Tamarisk lowered a boat with a volunteer crew and got a line to Cassin. 2.30 Tamarisk towed Cassin for an hour but tow parted. Considering nearness of Cassin to a lee shore and the state of the night, this splendid feat of seamanship on the art of the Tamarisk undoubtedly saved Cassin. When daylight came trawlers James Johnson and Indian Empire towed Cassin, until relieved by HMS Snowdrop who towed Cassin to Queenstown, being escorted by Cushing ,Porter, HMS Jessamine, and Tamarisk After extensive repairs in Queenstown and England, USS Cassin returned to service in June 1918.

Stern of USS Cassin, showing torpedo damage (in Haulbowline Dockyard, Cork)

On the 27th of June, 1918, the hospital ship Landovery Castle was torpedoed and sunk in pos 116 miles 247deg from Fastnet Rock. HMS Lysander picked up one boat containing 24 survivors. HMS Snowdrop, HMS Safeguard, and USS Cassin searched for survivors. USS Kimberley, USS Stockton and USS Sterrett joined Snowdrop in search at 7am on June 30th.

On the 14th of July, 1918, USS Davis, Cassin, Allen, and Conyngham escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Liverpool.  

On the 15th of  July, 1918 USS Davis, Allen. Cassin, Conyngham, and Sampson, escorted HMS Mauretania from Liverpool to 15.00W.  
On the 3rd of August 1918, USS Stockton, Downes, Sampson, Cassin, and Ammen, escorted HMS Mauretania from 15.00W, to Liverpool.  
On the
10th of August 1918, USS Stevens, Cassin, Sampson, Balch, and Beale, escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Liverpool.  

On the 7th of September 1918, USS Alwyn, Cassin, Sampson, and Trippe, escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Southampton.  
On the
30th of Septemebr 1918, USS Cassin and McCall escorted hay transport Penare from Queenstown to Falmouth.

On the 12th  and 13th of  December 1918, Cassin was chosen as one of the escort for the George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson into Brest, France, for his attendance at the Versailles Peace Conference. Cassin returned to Boston, Mass., 3 January 1919.


Notes:

Commanding Officer, Lieut Commander Vernou , 1917,
Commanding Officer, A.Claude, 1918,
Commanding Officer, C.C.Hartigan, 1918,



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

HERE

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