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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)

(O'Brien Class, 1914)

USS Ericsson on builders trials.
Photo from USNHC

USS Ericsson arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland, on the 17th of May, 1917. She was in company of Rowan, Tucker, Cassin, 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 Ericsson commenced operations immediately.

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 21st of May,1917, in pos 51.00N, 08.20W, USS Ericsson sighted a submarine which had sunk a sailing vessel and was shelling a second. The submarine torpedoed the latter as Ericsson approached. The US ship fired a torpedo which missed. Submarine was not seen again. Ericsson rescued crews of both vessels, 48 in all, and brought them to Queenstown. 

In the week of the 9th of June 1917, USS Conyngham, Benham, Ericsson and Cummings safely escorted HMS Olympic to Liverpool.  

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.

August 9th at noon, Ericsson dropped depth charge over suspicious oil slick. No apparent results. Effect of explosion was such that several ships reported they were struck by something.(Ericssons diary unreceived, Rowans---with this convoy also—unreceived 

On the 19th of August, 1917,  USS Trippe, USS Rowan, USS Jacob Jones, USS Ericsson,  USS Shaw, and

USS Wainwright, were escorting a US Army convoy to St Nazaire, France. At 1.15pm Jacob Jones reported “periscope sighted”. At 1.34pm Ericsson dropped a depth charge, there was nothing further seen. On the 20th of August. land was sighted near Belle Ile. At 8.17am one of the transports, the USS Finland opened fire with her stern gun. The Rowan and Trippe rushed to the spot and both dropped depth charges. The transports began firing in multiple directions as two French areoplanes flew over the convoy. USS Shaw was narrowly missed by firing and shrapnel landed within 200 yards of her.

On later examination it was felt that the ships had been firing at schools of porpoises. The incident became known as the ‘Battle of Belle Ile’ and was an example of how easily crews were fooled into thinking submarines were attacking a convoy

On the week of 28th of September, 1917, USS Ericsson and Shaw escorted SS New York from 48.40N,17.00W, to Liverpool and returned.  

On the week of the 28th of September, 1917, USS Ericsson and USS Jenkins, escorted the inbound SS Philadelphia 

On the 28th of September, 1917, the Q-Ship HMS Cullist sighted enemy submarine which shelled Cullist. The Q-ship replied with her guns and damaged the enemy, who although she could not submerge,. USS Cassin, USS Ericsson and HMS Tamarisk joined in the chase. Ericsson caught up with the submarine just as the sun set. She fired two shots at a range of 4000 yards, but the muzzle flashes blinded those on the bridge. Ericsson then set up for a ramming, but lost the enemy in the darkness.

On November 26th, 1917, USS Ericsson was flagboat of convoy OQ22. Near point of dispersal, SS Crenella was torpedoed. Eircsson continued on with convoy, while Cushing escorted the damaged Crenella to Queenstown.

On December 13th 1917, USS Ericsson was flagboat of escort to convoy HH33 to Brest. At 3.30pm USS Davis spotted submarine on surface and gave chase making smoke screen. Ericsson patrolled in front of convoy at 24 knots and dropped depth charge on moving oil slick. No result was seen.  

On 26th Mar, 1918, inpos 51.45N, 07.38W, USS Ericsson observed what appeared to be a moving wake. Dropped 11 depth charges. Evidently struck an old wreck, as timber and other articles came to the surface. 

on the 21st of May, 1918, off the Smalls, USS Ericsson observed oil slick and dropped 7 depth charges. No apparent result. 

In June 1918, USS Ericsson left Queenstown and was transferred to  Brest, in France. On the 13th of December, 1918, Ericsson formed part of the naval review for US President Woodrow Wilson, in Brest.

Commanding Officer, Lieut Commander C.T. Hutchins  Jr , 1917,
Commanding Officer, Commander M.R.Stewart, 1918,

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

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Site created 24th September 2002