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USS Sampson  (DD63)
(Sampson Class, 1916)

USS Sampson with Haulbowline Island in background

USS Sampson reached Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, on the 25th of May 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. On the 29th of May, she commenced operations .

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 18th of June, 1917, in position 52.20N, 17.30W, the SS Elele was torpedoed and sunk. USS Nicholson and USS Sampson raced to her assistance. While on route, Sampson reported SS Palma attacked by submarine. Both ships proceeded to Palma. At 10pm Sampson rescued 18 survivors from SS English Monarch. At 11pm rescued the Captain and others from SS Elele, which had sunk. Remainder of survivors from Elele were picked up by SS Vonganella. At 10pm, The Nicholson picked up Captain and 31 survivors from SS Thistledhu, torpedoed and sunk at 6.15am in position 52.18N, 15.12W.  The survivors were all landed at Queenstown.

In the week of the 21st of July, 1917, USS Cushing, USS Sampson, USS Ammen, and USS Jarvis met and escorted three Russian Troopships safely to Brest, in France.  

On the 24th of July, 1917, in pos 51.13N, 11.58W, USS Sampson found the Swedish barque Bellville abandoned and undamaged. The crew were afterwards picked up by Sampson and put back on board their own ship. Bellville was escorted until dark and eventually towed to Queenstown by the tug Flying Foam.

On the 17th of August, 1917, USS Sampson was on anti-submarine patrol 20 miles south of Galley Head, when a submarine was spotted 12 miles distant. Sampson sped to the spot, but the submarine had disappeared. There was no track of oil in the rough seas, and after a fruitless search, Sampson continued on patrol.

On the 4th of November, 1917, USS Cushing, Wilkes, Davis and Sampson, met and escorted USS Huntington and USS St Louis to Devonport. USS Balch and Downes joined the escort later. These ships were carrying the Commission from the United States, to the Allied Conference at Paris.

On leaving the convoy at Devonport, the following signal was received from USS Huntington - Admiral Benson thanks you for services and congratulates you and your force for the splendid manner in which your duty was performed.

On the 18th of November, 1917, USS Cushing, Sampson, and Davis, were escorting incoming convoy HS16. At noon Cushing reported submarine sighted to starboard. Convoy altered course to left, and destroyer screen circled area, but nothing was found.

On the 17th of December,1917, USS Sampson was caught in a winter gale in the Irish sea. Just after midnight, heavy seas washed a depth charge over from her stern. At 06.20hrs her motor sailor was carried away, also two port davits, the port door to her after deck house. A stancion in aft quarters was also broken.

On the 20th of December, 1917, USS Wadsworth, Sampson and Tucker were part of a convoy escort. Wadsworth sighted a submarine and laid a smoke screen. The convoy altered to port and Tucker dropped a depth charge. Sampson rushed to the scene and also dropped a charge. The area was searched, but no results were visible. The ships then resumed station with the convoy.

On the 23rd of January, 1918, USS Davis, and Sampson, escorted HMS Thetis from Belfast to Chatham  

Between the 9th and 11th of February, 1918, Convoy HE5 was escorted safely to Devonport by USS Allen, Wainwright, Sampson, Sterett, and the British sloop HMS Crocus.

On the 31st of March, 1918, in pos 51.24N, 09.10W, USS Sampson and Stockton were on patrol. Sampson sighted periscope of a submarine. The Stockton dropped six depth charges, but no results were visible.

On the 11th of June, 1918, convoy HS42 was safely escorted to Avonmouth and east coast ports. The destroyer screen consisted of USS Allen,Caldwell,Sampson,Wilkes, and Trippe

On the 16th of July, 1918, in position 50.17N, 10.45W, the Norwegian barque Miefield was sunk by submarine. USS Sampson picked up 7 survivors.  

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

On the  31st of July 1918, USS Sampson escorted oiler Limol from Berehaven to Queenstown.  

On the 03rd of August 1918, USS Stockton, Downes, Sampson, Cassin, and Ammen, escorted HMS Mauretania from 15.00W, to Liverpool.  

On the 17th of August, 1918, in pos 51.06N, 07.50W, HMS P66, USS Stevens, and USS Sampson, dropped depth charges on injured submarine. Large quantities of oil came to the surface together with air bubbles. Enemy claimed to be destroyed.

On August the  27th , 1918, USS Balch, and Sampson escorted SS F.H.Buck from Berehaven to 15.00W

On the 7th of ,September 1918, USS Alwyn, Cassin, Sampson, and Trippe, escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Southampton.  

On the 25th of September, 1918, USS Sterett, and Sampson escorted USS Glacier from Queenstown to 15.00W  

USS Sampson formed part of the escort of President Woodrow Wilson on his entry into Brest Harbour, on the 12th of December 1918

On the 26th of December, 1918. The last of the United States destroyers departed Queenstown (Cobh), on route to the USA, via the Azores. The flotilla included USS Beale, Stockton, Wilkes, Duncan, Rowan, Kimberley, Allen, Davis, Sampson and Duncan. They were accompanied by the US tug Genesee.