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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)

USS  PORTER   DD59
(Tucker  Class, 1916)


USS Porter in Queenstown
Picture source USNHHC

On the 4th of May, 1917, the first squadron of United States destroyers arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland. The group consisted of USS Wadsworth, Conyngham, Porter, McDougal, Davis, and Wainwright.  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 Porter  commenced operations the following 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 May 1917, in pos 52.09M, 23W, USS Porter proceeded to the assistance of SS Nyassa on fire. Picked her up and escorted her safely to Berehaven, arriving 9pm on the 11th. Fire afterwards extinguished and greater part of cargo saved.  

On the 19th of May, 1917, in position 12 miles east of the Fastnet.,  SS Celtic was missed by a torpedo when under escort of USS Porter.

On the 4th of July, 1917, USS Porter rescued the survivors of the Norwegian steamer Snetopped, in position 49.30N, 07.30W. Their ship had been boarded and sunk by submarine crew.

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.  

On the 22nd of August, 1917, USS Porter was on patrol, searching for the British Q-Ship Donlevon, which had been torpedoed the previous day. At 3.10am, sighted the stricken ship, under tow of the tug Flying Spray. They were then joined by British sloop HMS Camelia, and later by HMS Myosotis. The Donlavon was safely escorted to Castletownbere.

On the 15th of October, 1917, in pos 20 miles south of Mine Head, USS Cassin was torpedoed. HMS Tamarisk proceeded to her assistance and arrived about 9pm. Weather and sea bad and getting worse. At 2am, after failing to drift a line, Tamarisk lowered a boat with volunteer crew and got a line to Cassin. At 2.30am Tamarisk towed Casssin for an hour before tow parted. She again got Cassin in tow, but tow again parted. When daylight came, trawlers HMT Heron and HMT James Johnson took Cassin in tow until relieved by HMS Snowdrop who towed Cassin to Queenstown, escorted by USSCushing, USS Porter, HMS Jessamine and HMS Tamarisk.

Feb7 1918, USS Trippe, Davis, Porter, Cushing, escorted SS Leviathian from Liverpool to 17.00N.  

On the 26th of April, 1918, in pos 49.36N, 05.50W, USS Porter sunk drifting mine by rifle fire.  
 
On the 28th of April, 1918, in pos 49.12N, 05.50W USS Porter sighted periscope of enemy submarine taking position to attack convoy. Porter dropped 27 depth charges. No result could be seen owing to darkness, but small pieces of wood were found in the morning. Great credit was given to the Officer of the Watch of USS Porter Lieut Twining USN, for his prompt action and also to J.Mootish, Seaman for his keen quick look out. It was felt that these two saved the convoy  and probably sunk the submarine (Actually U-108, which was damaged in the attack) 

On the 29th of April, 1918, USS Porter dropped three depth charges on suspected periscope, no apparent result.  

 

On the 14th of May, 1918, in pos 51.59N, 05.30W, USS Porter observed suspicious oil wake. Porter dropped 20 depth charges, but no result seen.  

 

On the 31st of May, 1918, in pos 51.03, 9.09 USS Sterrett sighted periscope of submarine. Sterrett at the time was escorting oiler Astrakhan, with McCall. The Sterrett dropped depth charges. Oil and bubbles came to surface and Sterrett was able to trail submarine by these. Sterrett had no depth charges left. USS Porter, HMS Jessamine and 3 motor launches went to Sterretts assistance but Porter had to give up the search due to lack o fuel.At 4.35am on 1st June submarine came to surface and after engagement with Sterrett dived again. HMS JEssamine arrived at this point and dropped two depth charges with no apparent result. USS Wilkes, USS Ericsson, USS Shaw, and USS Terry joined up and continued the search, but nothing further was seen. 


From the 14th of June, 1918, USS Porter operated out of Brest, in France.


Notes:
Commanding Officer, Commander W.K.Wortman, 1917,
Commanding Officer, Commander W.H.Lee , 1918,






The US Naval History and Heritage Website has a comprehensive history of this ship, which can be found at
http://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs.html

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