USS Fanning arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland in June 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. The Fanning commenced operations almost 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:
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 15th of July, 1917, in position 52.53N, 12.58W, the Greek steamship, SS Charlaos Thicoupis was torpedoed and sunk. USS Fanning rescued 23 survivors and landed them at Bantry, in West Cork.
On the 21st of July, 1917, inpos50.30N, 12.00W, torpedo passed under USS Fanning. Ship increased speed to 22 knots turning to follow back wake. Circled area astern and on both quarters of SS Aurania, which she was escorting, seeing no sign of submarine. Weather was foggy and hazy.
On the 27th of July, 1917, inposition51.28N, 13.45W, SS Belle of England was sunk by enemy submarine. USS Fanning rescued 57 survivors from this ship.
On August, 2nd, 1917, in position 51.36N, 11.03W, USS Fanning sighted periscope. Fanning increased speed to 22 knots and put rudder hard over. Submarine submerged and was not seen again.
On the 25th of September, 1917, USS Fanning received a signal that 3 survivors from the schooner Mary Grace were on theConingbegLight Ship. She proceeded to rescue them and landed the survivors at Queenstown.
On the 18th of October, 1917, SS Madura was torpedoed and sunk inposition49.38N, 06.54W. USS Fanning picked up 30 survivors and landed them at Pembroke. Later that day USS Fanning sighted a submarine on the surface which submerged. Fanning dropped a depth charge but no results were visible.
On the 17th of November, 1917, 6 miles off the Daunt Rock Light vessel, USS Fanning and Nicholson attacked and damaged the German submarine u-58. The submarine was forced to the surface, and scuttled by ther crew. This was the first and only confirmed 'kill' of a German submarine by US Forces in WW1. For a full account press HERE
On November 21st , 1917. Convoy OQ21 left Rosslare. The convoy was escorted by USS Allen, Fanning, and Ammen, After about an hour, the lead ship SS Breynton was torpedoed. USS Fanning and Ammen were detailed to escort her back to Rosslare., and did so safely, with the aid of a rescue tug.
On December 8th, 1917, USS Fanning was part of the escort for troop convoy #12. At 11.50 am, she sighted a submarine conning tower. The Fanning made for the spot and circled, but nothing else was seen.
On February 3rd, 1918, USS Duncan, Drayton, Fanning, McDougal, and Paulding, escorted HMSArlanzaand 3 troopships from Liverpool to 50.00N, 14.00W.
On 26th,Feb, 1918, inpos24 miles from Ile de Vierge, SSEumaeuswas torpedoed. HMS Crocus took her in tow. USS Fanning standing by, Ship was fired at and eventually sank and Crocus landed survivors at Falmouth.
On the 9th of May,1918, inpos51.46N, 06.09W, Collier Baron Ailsa was torpedoed and sunk while under escort of USS Fanning. Fanning rescued 24 survivors and dropped 24 depth charges. No apparent result.
On the 14th of May, 1918, inpos51.32N, 08.23W, USS Fanning dropped depth charges on oil wake. No result observed.
On the 18th of May, 1918, inpos8 miles east of Old Head ofKinsale, USS Fanning and USSSterettsighted suspicious wake. They dropped depth charges, but no result seen.
On the 26th of May, 1918, inpos51.01N, 8.17W, USS Fanning dropped 20 depth charges in vicinity of submarine. No results observed.
On the 13th of December, 1918, Fanning took part in the review before President Woodrow Wilson on board the transport George Washington in Brest Harbor. The Fanning then remained at Brest until March of the following year.
Wrecks over 100 years old and archaeological objects found underwater are protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994. Significant wrecks less that 100 years old can be designated by Underwater Heritage Order (UHO) on account of their historical, archaeological or artistic importance as is the case with the wreck of the RMS Lusitania lost off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. UHOs can also be used to designate areas of seabed or land covered by water to more clearly define and protect wreck sites and archaeological objects . https://www.archaeology.ie/underwater-archaeology