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USS Parker  (DD48)

Pre-war photo of USS Parker

Picture Source USNHHC

USS Parker arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland, in July 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.

In the week of the 21st of July, 1917, USS Shaw and USS Parker met and escorted SS Celtic safely to St Nazaire, and then to Queenstown.

On the 31st of July, 1917, USS Parker was on anti-submarine patrol, southwest of the Irish coast. At 7.10pm she sighted submarine. Parker went a t full speed towards the enmy but she submerged and area could not be pinpointed. At 8am on the 1st of August, Parker sighted periscope in position 51.30N, 11.00W. Turned and dropped depth charge. No result seen and Parker remained in vicinity for two hours.

On the 3rd of August, 1917, USS Parker received a fix of an enmy submarine in pos 52.30N, 15.10W, and went full speed in search. At 2.32pm she spoke to and met SS Newby Hall who had been torpedoed. At 4pm Parker turned over Newby Hall to USS Burrows, in order to continue search for submarine. At 7pm Parker sighted the enemy at a distance of 8,000 yards, who submerged. Upon reaching position oil slick was clearly defined. The outline of the submarine could be seen from the bridge and Parker let go two depth charges which exploded almost simultaneously – immediately followed by another explosion which threw up a white column of water. Air bubbles and small debris were seen. It was considered that the submarine was damaged, possibly seriously.  

On the 6th of August, 1917, in pos 49.12N, 18.18W, USS Parker sighted periscope of enemy submarine. One depth charge was dropped, but no result was seen.  

On the 17th of August, 1917, USS Parker, Sampson, and Nicholson were escorting  and inbound convoy. At 6pm Parker  sighted a submarine on the surface and steamed towards it. Submarine submerged and Parker rejoined convoy. At 8.30pm, one of the merchant ships, SS Ricardo A.Mestres opened fire on suspicious object. Nicholson steamed towards object and discovered it was a large fish.

On the 3rd of November, 1917, USS Parker was part of escort for inbound convoy HS14. She received wireless report of submarine in area, and spotted suspicious object in the distance. Parker headed for object, but did not seem to gain on it. Parker made challenge by blinker light, but no reply received. At 10.46pm parker fired one shot towards vessel. Immediately vessel turned on masthead recognition lights. It proved to be the USS Jacob Jones.

On the 6th of December, 1917, USS Parker was on route to meet troop convoy number 12. At 6.22am noticed two parallel wakes, one astern of the ship nd the other amidships. Turned hard right and circled area, but saw nothing further.  Lt Commander Powell was of the impression that these were definitely torpedoes.

On the 16th of December, 1917, USS Parker was on patrol south of Mine Head whe she was caught in a gale, that developed into hurricane force winds. It reached a stage where the ship could not make headway and was pounding too heavily. The decision was made to go beam-to on the sea, and it was reported that she rode comfortably. At 4pm the wind increased and the foremast carried away.  The engines were stopped to clear the wreckage. At 11pm the wind began to moderate and parker got underway towards Queenstown.

On the 6th of January, 1918, in position 50.30N, 07.08W, USS Parker Sighted periscope of submarine, dropped depth charge. No visible results.

On the 22nd  of January,1918, USS Balch, Davis,Wadsworth, O’Brien,  and Parker, escorted USS Bushnell, USS Genesee, and 6 submarines from 50.00N, 15.00W, to Queenstown.  

At 8am on the 7th of  February, 1918, USS Parker  sighted small boat full of men in position 53.32N, 05.27W. circled around boat several times then picked up boats crew who proved to be 12 survivors from SS Mexico City of Hong Kong, torpedoed and sunk at 7.15, evening of the 5th February in pos 55.10N,05.03W. Survivors were landed safely at Holyhead.

On the 26th of February, 1918, USS Parker assisted in the rescue of crew and passengers of the torpedoed hospital ship, Glenart Castle.

From July to November 1918 USS Parker was attached to the base at Plymouth, England, and operated with United States submarine chasers.


Commanding Officer, Lieut Commader Halsey.Powell, 1917

Commanding Officer, W.Brown, 1918

The British Admiralty issued a letter of commendation, expressing appreciation of the rescue work and conduct of the following men of USS Parker, in assisting the survivors of the torpedoed Glenart Castle, on the 26th of February, 1918. The men were - R.E.Hoffses, chief boatswains mate

J.H. Quinn, seaman

D.Goldman, machinist’s mate, second class

W.W.Matthews, ship’s cook

F.W.Beighley, yeoman third class

J.C.Cole, quartermaster

J.T. Newman, seaman

A letter of commendation to the men of USS Parker was also received from the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company (Ltd), for their rescue efforts on the sinking of the Glenart Castle.