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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)

(Sampson Class, 1916)

USS Shaw (Flying the flag of  British Vice Admiral Lewis Bayley)

USS Shaw reached Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, on the 5th of 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.  Shaw soon 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.

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 24th of July, outward convoy OQ2, and inward convoy Columbella, HS6, were escorted by USS Wadsworth, Jacob Jones, Shaw, Ericsson, Burrows, Paulding , Sterret, Porter.

On July 28th 1917,USS Shaw,  USS Trippe,USS Wadsworth, USS McDougal, USS Porter, USS Wainwright, USS Jacob Jones, and USS Ericsson, formed an escort for an incoming convoy of 19 ships.  On July 29th 1917,at 10.55pm, USS Wadsworth dropped a depth charge on a suspected submarine wake. 5 minutes later the nearby USS Trippe collided with an underwater object, no serious damage was done and nothing further was seen.

On the 19th of August, 1917,  USS Shaw, USS Trippe, USS Rowan, USS Jacob Jones, USS Ericsson,  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 8th of September 1917, an Outbound convoy left Queenstown Harbour. Escorts were -
USS Cushing, Ericsson, Shaw,Porter Burrows Wilkes Patterson Ammen. Convoy proceeded, unitl SS Parana suffered engine trouble and had to be left behind. At 9.30am on the 9th of September, convoy received SOS from SS Parana, as she was being attacked by submarine. USS Wilkes went to her aid. When she arrived, the submarine had submerged. The slightly damaged Parma was escorted by WIlkes to rejoin the convoy. Convoy dispersed on September 10th.

When convoy was dispersed, escort met with Dakar Convoy HH5 on the 11th of September. Escort consisted of USS Cushing, Ericsson, Shaw,Porter Burrows Wilkes Patterson  and Ammen. The east coast portion of the convoy was turned over to HMS Hind, with Ammen and Burrows assisting. The rest of the convoy dispersed at the Smalls, with the escort returning to Queenstown.

Week of 28 Sep 1917. Ericsson and Shaw escorted SS New York from 48.40N,17.00W, to Liverpool and returned.

On the 29th of September, 1917, Convoy OQ10 was escorted to pos 52.10N, 15.20W. The escort consisted of USS Wadsworth, Walke,Shaw,Allen, Cummings,Tucker.

On the 1st of October, 1917, incoming convoy HS10 was met in pos 47.30N, 13.43W. Escort consisted of  USS Wasworth, Allen,Walke,Shaw,Allen, Cummings,Tucker. HMS P51 and P62 joined convoy from Milford Haven, as well as USS Trippe.

On the 8th of October,1917, USS Shaw, USS Trippe, USS Wadsworth, USS Cummings,  USS Walke,  and HMS Crocus, joined outward convoy from Queenstown to westward.  On 11th of October these ships met inward convoy and escorted until Queenstown.

On the 20th of Februry 1918, USS Shaw and USS Benham,  escorted HMS Mantua from Liverpool westward to 48.00N,  15.00W. They returned with SS New York, from 48.00N, 15.00W, to Liverpool.

30th March 1918, USS Shaw Balch Beale Terry, escorted SS Mauretania from 50.27N, 15.00W to Liverpool.

4th May, 1918, USS Shaw, Trippe, Wainwright, Cushing, escorted HMS Mauretania from 15.00W to Liverpool.

On the 07th  of May 1918. USS Shaw was escorting convoy OE 14 from Liverpool.  The Shaw spotted disturbed water off port bow, 8 miles from Skerries.  Dropped three depth charges with no visible result.

On the 15th of May 1918, USS Patterson and USS Shaw escorted SS Wm O’Brien from Queenstown to 11.00W

On the 22nd of May, 1918, USS Shaw escorted SS Glengariff from Queenstown to Fishguard.

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.

USS Balch with Shaw, Terry and Paulding left Queenstown 5am 9th June, 1918,  to rendezvous with HMS Mauretania. Contact made 10th June. At 3.20pm Shaw had to leave convoy due to leaking condenser and made for Berehaven. 11 June joined by USS Ericsson. Escorted to Bar Light Vessel. USS Ericsson refuelled USS Terry.

On the 17th of June,1918, in pos 54.33N, 05.10W, USS Shaw dropped 15 depth charges on oil slick. No visible result.

At 5.50am, on  June 19th 1918, USS Shaw received message from HMS Kestrel that she had dropped 5 depth charges on  oil slick. Shaw headed for spot. At 6.35am sighted small oil patch 5 miles to westward of Kestrel and dropped 15 depth charges.POS 54.30n, 05.15w. No result apparent.

On 1 July 1918, she received an SOS from the torpedoed American transport, USS Covington, and rushed to her aid. On arrival, she found that Covington's survivors bad been removed and the ship had been taken undertow. But, the crippled transport sank later in the day. On 25 September, a ship in Shaw's convoy was attacked by a submarine but not damaged.

On the 21st of August 1918 USS Aylwyn,Shaw, and Beale escorted HMS Aquitania from 15.00W to Liverpool. 

On the 3rd of September 1918, USS Rowan, Conyngham, Shaw, escorted HMS Olympic from Portsmouth to 15.00W.

On the 7th of September 1918, USS Stockton, Shaw, Conyngham, Rowan, escorted US Battleship Utah from 17.00W to Berehaven.

On the 13th of September 1918, in pos 50.43N, 11.20W, USS Shaw and USS Conyngham attacked enemy submarine. Spreading oil wakes were seen after the attack.

On the 6th of October ,1918, USS Shaw,Downes, Conyngham, Duncan, Kimberley, were ordered to escort HMS Aquitania from Westward to Southampton. On the 9th of  October , While escorting Aquitania, Shaw's rudder jammed just as she was completing the right leg of a zigzag, leaving her headed directly towards the transport. A moment later, Aquitania struck Shaw, cutting off 90 feet of the destroyer's bow, mangling her bridge and setting her on fire. Shaw's crew heroically brought her damage under control.

Her executive officer, Lieutanant Parrott, though injured himself, insisted on helping to remove his wounded comrades, but himself died of his wounds, along with another 11 crew.

A skeleton crew of 21 men took the wreck 40 miles into port under her own power.Shaw remained under repair at Portsmouth, England, until 29 May 1919

Commanding Officer, Lieut Commander M.S.Davis , 1917,
Commanding Officer, Commander D.C.Hanrahan, 1918,
Commanding Officer, Commander
W.F.Halsey, Jr , 1918,
Commanding Officer, Commander  William Glassford , 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