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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 DAVIS DD 65
(Tucker  Class, 1916)


Postwar illustration of USS Davis capturing the crew of U-105 in May, 1918.

On the 4th of May, 1917, the first squadron of United States destroyers arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland. The group consisted of USS Wadsworth, Conyngham, Porter, McDougal, Davis, and Wainwright.  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 Davis commenced operations the following week.

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 May 1917, in pos 51.00N, 14.44W, USS Davis picked up 23 survivors of barque Killarney sunk by submarine on the 8th of May.  

On the 12th of May, USS Davis encountered SS Picton, with a specially valuable government cargo in pos 15.15W. The Davis escorted this ship to the Tuskar Rock.  

On the 28th of May, 1917, in pos 51.12N, USS Davis sighted a submarine which immediately dived,  

On the 20th of June, 1917, in pos 51.54N, 07.28W, USS Davis, while escorting SS Mechanician, sighed submarine 1 mile o starboard bow of convoy. USS Davis headed for enemy, which submerged.  

On the 4th of July, 1917, the SS Thirlby was torpedoed and sunk in pos 51.39N, 12.52W. USS Davis rescued 20 survivors and landed them at Bantry. On returning to patrol Davis picked up 42 survivors of SS Matador, sunk on the 3rd of July in pos 51.06N, 12.25W. 

USS Davis - Torpedo wake sighted - August 14th, 1917  

On August 14th, 1917, Davis, escorting oilers Tacoma and Caloria, westbound, at 9.25am, sighted wake on port bow, presumably a torpedo. Went hard left, and wake passed astern. Circled ships at full speed, but saw nothing suspicious. 8am position 51.10N, 09.50W.

On November 6th, 1917, USS Cushing,Wilkes, Davis and Sampson, met and escorted USS Huntington and USS St Louis to Devonport. The ships were carrying the Commission from from the United States to the Allied Conference in Paris. Upon completion the following message was received – Admiral Benson thanks you for services and congratulates you and your force for the splendid manner in which your duty was performed.

On the 2nd of December, 1917, in position, 54.17N, 05.20W, USS Davis sighted submarine on surface, which submerged immediately.

On the 1st of January, 1918, in pos, 51.38N, USS Davis sighted periscope of enemy submarine. Dropped depth charge. No result was seen  

On the 4th of January, 1918, in pos,51.35N, o8.02W, USS Davis sighted periscope of submarine. No report of attack made.

On the 23rd of January, 1918, USS Davis and Sampson escorted HMS Thetis from Belfast to Chatham

On February 7th , 1918, USS Trippe, Davis, Porter, and Cushing, escorted SS Leviathian from Liverpool to 17.00N.  

On the 17th of February, 1918, in pos 51.45N, 07.27W, SS Pinewood was sunk. USS Davis picked up 22 survivors and landed them at Queenstown.

On the 5th of May, 1918, in pos 7 miles E od Mew Island Light, USS Davis sighted suspicious object which disappeared. Found well defined wake and dropped 24 depth charges. Burning oil was observed on the surface.  

On the 11th of May, 1918, HMS Olympic, whilst under escort, rammed and destroyed enemy submarine U-103. USS Davis picked up 36 prisoners and disembarked them at Milford Haven.  

On the 12th of May, 1918, in pos 49.37N, 5.01W USS Davis and USS O'Brien sighted oil wake. The destroyers dropped 40 depth charges. More oil came to surface.  

On the 20th of May, in pos 48.25N. 7.50W, USS Davis and HMS Hardy sighted enemy submarine. 19 depth charges were dropped. No result seen.  

On the 20th of May, 1918, in pos 48.30N, 05.50W, USS Davis dropped 6 depth charges on suspicious wake. No apparent result  

On the 28th of May, 1918, in pos 51.10N, 06.40W, USS Davis dropped 8 depth charges on oil slick. No apparent result seen.

On the 11th of June, 1918, USS Davis, Allen,Trippe, Sampson, Caldwell and Wilkes escorted incoming convoy HS42. On the 13th, Davis sighted oil slick ahead of convoy and dropped 15 depth charges on same. No apparent result was seen.

On the 11th of July,1918, in position 20 miles NW by W of Coningbeg light vessel ,the schooner Katherine Ellen was fired at by enemy submarine. USS Davis picked up survivors and landed them at Dunmore East. Schooner was not sunk and was  towed into Milford Haven.  

On the week of the 17th of July, 1918,USS Davis, Cassin, Allen, and Conyngham escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Liverpool.  Davis also escorted RFA Industry from Queenstown to Kingstown. 

On the 28th of July,1918, in position 51.52N, 06.40W, USS Davis dropped three depth charges on oil slick.  No visible result was observed.

On the 8th of October 1918, convoy HH71 was escorted to Brest, France, by USS Stockton, Davis, Rowan, Wilkes, Ammen, HMS Camellia, HMS Heather, and HMS Sir Bevis.

In December 1918, Davis formed part of the review in Brest France, in front of President Woodrow Wilson.


Notes:






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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