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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 STERETT     DD27
(Roe Class, 1910)


USS Sterett in Cork Harbour

On the 9th of June, 1917, USS Sterett arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland. 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 Shaw commenced operations with the Queenstown Command on the 10th of July.

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 21st of June, 1917, the SS Lord Roberts was shelled and sunk by submarine in pos 53.30N, 15.58W. USS Sterett and HMS Snowdrop went to her assistance. 

 

On the 17th of July, 1917, in pos 5 miles south of Olde Head of Kinsale, USS Sterrett sighted periscope of submarine which submerged immediately. 


On the 20th of August, 1917, USS Sterett intercepted message from British sloop HMS Zinnia, stating that she had been in collision with USS Benham. Sterett made for the spot, and on arrival saw Benham well down by the stern. HMS Crocus also arrived to help. HMS Zinnia took Benham in tow, with HMS Crocus and USS Sterett standing by. They made Queenstown the next day.


On the 3rd of November, 1917, USS Sterett and Conyngham were part of a convoy escort in the Irish Sea. Conyngham gave orders to Sterett to communicate change in speed of Convoy to Port lead ship. As Sterett approached this ship SS Virginian. Depth charges were set to safe. Suddenly a red light appeared out of the darkness on the port quarter. Collision was inevitable. Sterett put helm hard over and blew three blasts on whistle. General alarm sounded and collision quarters. Sterett struck the approaching ship, HMS Camellia stern first.


Ships aimmediately separated. Damage sustained on Sterett - Frame 165 bent inwards, Thornycroft depth charge thrower sheared and shoved inboard, and plating damaged. Camellia had 20 feet of plating above the waterline crushed.


On the 13th of November, 1917, in position 51.54N, 07.47W, a torpedo was fired at USS Sterrett by unseen submarine, which missed. Two depth charges were dropped by Sterett, both of which failed to explode. Sterett developed machinery trouble, and headed back for Queenstown, abandoning the search.


On the 22nd of January, 1918, in position  50.19N, 07.02W, USS Sterett dropped depth charge on what appeared to be a moving wake. No result observed.  


On the 26th of January,1918, USS Strerett, and Jenkins, escorted USS Bridge from Queenstown to Westward. The next day, they, escorted SS St Louis from 48.20N, 15.00W, to Liverpool.  

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 May, 1918, in position 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.  


On the 27th of June, 1918, Hospital ship Landovery Castle was torpedoed and sunk in position 116 miles 247deg from Fastnet Rock. HMS Lysander picked up one boat containing 24 survivors. When last seen submarine was reportedly shelling the boats as they were trying to get away from the sinking ship. (this was later disproved) HMS Snowdrop, HMS Safeguard, and USS Cassin searched for survivors. USS Kimberley, USS Stockton and USS Sterrett joined Snowdrop in search at 7am on June 30th.  


On the 23rd of July, 1918, in position 50.41N, 08.36W, 15.40hrs. HMS Marmora was torpedoed. USS Stockton USS Downes, tugs Warrior and Cynic went to her assistance. Marmora eventually sank at 17.35hrs. Survivors were taken to Milford Haven by HMS P67. USS Sterett searched for raft supposed to contain one man.


On the 30th of July, 1918, USS Sterett was escorting SS Karina. Another merchantman was spotted and Sterett proceeded to investigate. Suddenly a shot was fired from the other ship which landed about 200 yards away from Sterett. Sterett turned on recognition lights and no other shots were fired. The merchant ship had mistaken the approaching destroyer for a u-boat


On the 04th of August, 1918, USS Sterett escorted store carrier Steersman from Queenstown to Falmouth.  

 
On the 29th of September, 1918, USS Sterett and Sampson escorted USS Glacier from Queenstown to 15.00W.  
 
On the 4th of October, 1918, SS Hirano Maru was proceeding in Convoy OE23. She was torpedoed and sunk in pos 51.12N, 07.01W. USS Sterrett picked up 29 survivors and landed them at Queenstown. Whilst assisting survivors Sterrett reported being missed by torpedo .  


USS Sterett left the Queenstown Command in December 1918, and returned to the USA, arriving on the 3rd of January, 1919.

Notes:
Commanding Officer, Lieut G.W.Simpson , 1917,
Commanding Officer, Commander M.E.Manly , 1918,
Commanding Officer, A.S .Farquhar, 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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