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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)

(Tucker Class, 1916)

USS Wadsworth

On the 24th of  April,1917. USS Wadsworth , left New York as the flagship of the first six-ship destroyer division dispatched to Europe. She led Porter, Davis, Conyngham, McDougal, and Wainwright into Queenstown, Ireland, on the 4th of May and began patrolling the southern approaches to the Irish Sea the next day.  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.

On the 18th of May, 1917, Wadsworth sighted an enemy submarine. The sub submerged before Wadsworth could attack.

On the 21st of May, 1917, Wadsworth rescued survivors of HMS Paxton, which had been torpedoed the previous day.

On the 7th of  June, 1917, Wadsworth sighted an enemy submarine.  Again, the sub submerged before Wadsworth could attack, and escaped.

Between 24 and 27 June, Wadsworth served as part of the escort for the first American troop convoy to reach Europe.

On the 10th and 11th of July, 1917, Wadsworth dropped depth charges on suspicious oil patches, but no conclusive results were seen.

On the 20th of July 1917, Wadsworth attacked enemy submarine with gunfire. No definite results were seen. The next day a periscope was sighted and Wadsworth attacked with two depth charges. A patch of red-coloured discolouration after the second explosion suggested that some damage had been done to the u-boat.

On the 28th of July, 1917, USS Trippe, USS Wadsworth, USS McDougal, USS Porter, USS Wainwright, USS Jacob Jones, USS Shaw, 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.

Early in August, the destroyer concluded her summer of peak activity by escorting the first United States merchant convoy on the last leg of its voyage to Europe. During the mission, on the 16th, the destroyer dropped a barrage on what was thought to be a submarine.

On the 8th of October,1917, USS Trippe, USS Wadsworth, USS Cummings, USS Shaw, 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.

In March, 1918, USS Wadsworth  left the Queenstown Command and joined the escorts working out of Brest, France. She left France  for the USA,on the 31st of December 1918.

Commanding Officer, Commander J.K.Taussig, 1917,

Commanding Officer, Lieut Commander I.F. Dortch,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