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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)

(Cassin Class, 1913)

USS Duncan arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland on the 15th of November, 1917.  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.  

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 8th of December, 1917, USS Duncan was part of a submarine  hunting flotilla in the Irish Sea. Commander Williams reported that three British dirigbles joined the force in the afternoon. One dirigible dropped a number of bombs at a point about 2 miles on the port bow of the convoy  

On the 7th of January, 1918, convoy OQ31 sailed from Milford Haven. The convoy was escorted by USS Duncan, Ammen, Trippe, Paulding, Jarvis, and the British Sloops HMS Zinnia and Tamarisk.

Commander Williams received a letter of commendation from the British Admiralty, for his handling of a convoy on January 22, 1918, under difficult circumstances.

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

On the 19th of February, 1918, USS Duncan,Ericsson, helped escort convoy HC53 to Liverpool

On the 17th of July, 1918, in position 50.55N, 10.43W, USS Duncan picked up 9 survivors from Norwegian Barque Miefield

On the  25th July 1918, USS Stockton, Balch, Duncan, Trippe, Sampson, escorted HMS Aquitania from Liverpool to 8.00W (owing to bad weather).  

On the 28th of July 1918, USS Duncan, HMS Camellia,escorted Collier Treleight from Rosslare to Berehaven.

On the 6th of October 1918, USS Shaw,Downes, Conyngham, Duncan, Kimberley, escorted HMS Aquitania from Westward to Southampton.  

On the 9th of October, 1918, USS Shaw was run down by HMS Aquitania, after the Shaw's rudder had jammed. USS Duncan picked up 84 of her crew, and stood by as the Shaw limped to Portland , England.

On the 12th of December Duncan joined the review of ships in Brest, France, by US President Woodrow Wilson.

On the 26th of December, 1918. The last of the United States destroyers departed Queenstown (Cobh), on route to the USA, via the Azores. They were the Beale, Stockton, Wilkes, Duncan, Rowan, Kimberley, Allen, Davis, Sampson and Duncan. The ships were accompanied by the US tug Genesee. The press reported that the harbour was full of the whistles of other ships as the destroyers, flying their pennants were overflown by US Flying boats as they disappeared into the morning fog.

The only United States Naval Ship remaining in harbour, by this date, was USS Melville, the destroyer tender, and Flagship of Admiral Sims.

Commanding Officer, Commander Roger.Williams , 1917, 1918,
Commanding Officer, Commander
M.E.Manly, 1918,

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

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Site created 24th September 2002