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USS Drayton (DD23)

(Paulding Class, 1910)

USS Drayton in Brest, France.

USS Drayton arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland, on the 1st of June 1917. She was accompanied by USS Paulding, Patterson, Jenkins, Trippe, Warrington, and Walke.    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 Drayton commenced operations within a 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 June, 1917, in pos 51.28N, 14.56W, the Q-Ship HMS Zylpha was torpedoed by enemy submarine,which was not seen again. Ship was totally disabled. USS Warrington proceeded to her assistance and stood by until 2pm, the 13th, when she had to return for fuel. Whilst waiting for arrival of USS Drayton and two tugs. Zylpha made one and a half knots under sail. She was picked up by HMS Daffodil ato noon on the 14th and taken in tow, escorted by USS Conyngham, USS Drayton, and HMS Zinnia. The tugs arrived on the 15th, but the Zylpha sank at 11.20pm on the 15th in pos 9 miles ENE of the Great Skelligs.

Drayton, had been escorting SS Haverford (Specially valuable ship). HMS Narwhal was sent to relieve Drayton, on escort.  

On the 20th of June,1917, in position 52.20N, 13.35W, SS Bengore Head was shelled and sunk by submarine at 3pm. Entire crew of 32 was picked up by USS Drayton, and landed at Berehaven.

On the 12th of July, 1917, at 5pm, USS Drayton picked up SS Phidias and SS Patani in pos 50.00N, 15.56W. The SS Navarino joined them at 5.30pm. Later sighted two more steamers who also joined the convoy at 7.30pm. At 11pm Conyngham and McDougal joined. Later again USS Patterson who was escorting SS Kansas City joined the other ships. At this point there was a convoy of 6 merchant ships escorted by four US destroyers. Admiral Bayley Commander in Chief, Coast of Ireland, praised the innovative skills of the destroyers in forming up this ‘ad-hoc’ convoy.

On the 9th of September, 1917, in position 49.53N, 07.05W, USS Drayton sighted submarine and fired three shots. Submarine submerged, and was not seen again.

On the 16th of December 1917, in position 50.2N, 04.35W SS Foylemore was sunk. Forty survivors were picked up and landed in Falmouth, by US Ships Drayton and Benham.

On the 3rd of February ,1918  USS Duncan, Drayton, Fanning, McDougal, and Paulding, escorted HMS  Arlanza  and 3 troopships from Liverpool to 50.00N, 14.00W.

USS Drayton was transferred to Brest, France, in February 1918. She served there until December 1918, until recalled to the USA.


Commanding Officer, Lieut D.L.Howard, 1917,