Ships of the United States Navy in Cork Ireland during World War One
(For fleet list click here)

USS JACOB JONES DD61
(Tucker Class, 1915)







USS Jacob Jones arrived in Queenstown (now Cobh) in the south of Ireland, on the 17th of May, 1917. She was in company of Rowan, Tucker, Ericsson, Cassin and Winslow. 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. Jacob Jones commenced operations immediately.
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 6th of June, 1917, SS Manchester Miller was torpedoed and abandoned in position 52.30N, 15.00W. USS McDougal rescued the survivors. USS Jacob Jones, USS Cassin and HMS Camellia arrived to offer assistance. Camellia took the Manchester Miller in tow, escorted by McDougal. Jacob Jones and Cassin returned on patrol. The Manchester Miller sank after 12 miles, in position 52.46N, 13.43W.
On the 6th of June, 1917, in pos 52.05N, 12.19W, USS Jacob Jones sighted a submarine which submerged.
On the 7th of June, 1917, in position 52.35N, 12.11W, Jacob Jones spotted large oil slick. One hand launched depth charge was dropped on the spot, but no result seen.
On the 28th of June , 1917, in pos 7 miles off Old Head lighthouse Jacob Jones dropped depth charge on oil and bubbles. No result seen.
On the 8th of July, 1917, in pos 51.49N, 12.00W, the SS Valetta was torpedoed and sunk. USS Jacob Jones picked up the whole of the crew, 44 in number and landed the at Queenstown.
On July 15th, 1917, Jacob Jones went to the assistance of SS Abinsi, which was being chased by submarine. Jacob Jones caught up with steamer and went alongside her. The two vessels touched, ns some damage was done to the Jacob Jones, with one whaleboat destroyed.
On the 20th of July, 1917, in pos 51.01N, 11.21W, USS Jacob Jones sighted submarine which submerged. Jacob Jones dropped 2 depth charges. No result seen.
On the 21st of July, 1917, in pos 50.50N, 11.36W, USS Jacob Jones picked up 25 survivors of SS Dafila torpedoed by enemy submarine and landed them at Bantry. Whilst searching vicinity, Jacob Jones was attacked and missed by torpedo.
On July 28th 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.


On the 19th of August, 1917, USS Trippe, USS Rowan, USS Jacob Jones, USS Ericsson, USS Shaw, 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 6th of September, 1917, in pos 51.40N, 06.35W, USS Jacob Jones in company with USS Paulding sighted submarine which submerged immediately. Jacob Jones dropped depth charge, but no result seen.

On the 19th of October, 1917, HMS Orama was torpedoed and sunk, in pos 48.00N, 09.20W. USS Conyngham picked up 50 survivors and USS Jacob Jones picked up 305. Conyngham chased after submarine and dropped depth charge on her. Admiral Bayley, Commander in Chief, Coast of Ireland reported - The picking up of those survivors alongside a sinking ship at night was a fine feat of seamanship.
On the night of November 3rd 1917, USS Parker was part of the escort for convoy HS14. At 10.30 pm sighted suspicious object and headed for it at 22 knots, all guns manned. Parker maded challenge by blinker light, but received no reply. Parker fired one shot. Immediately other vessel turned on masthead recognition lights. This vessel turned out to be the Jacob Jones. The two vessels continued in company.
On the 6th of December, 1917, USS Jacob Jones was returning to Queenstown from convoy duties in Brest. The ship was off the Scilly Isles, in position 49.23N, 06.13W, when a single torpedo was seen speeding towards the starboard side of the ship. Lieutenant F.S.Kalk, officer of the watch turned the helm hard to port and increased speed, but to no avail and the torpedo struck the starboard oil tank and exploded. No SOS could be sent as the mainmast was collapsed by the explosion. Efforts were made to launch any available rafts and boats, and the splinter mats were cut off the bridge to aid men in the water. Two shots were fired by the number four gun to try to attract attention from any passing ships. Lieut Commander Bagley ordered abandon ship


The Jacob Jones sank by the stern in 8 minutes, and as it sank, the armed depth charges exploded, injuring and killing some of those in the water. Immediate efforts were made to get the men in the water onto rafts and to keep rafts and boats together.


15 minutes after the ship sank. The submarine surfaced, and was seen to rescue one man struggling in the water. It then submerged and was not seen again. Lieut Commander Bagley was picked up up from the water into the motor dory. This boat made for the Scilly Isles, to try to get help for the men on the rafts, who were now getting separated. When Lieut Commander Bagley reached the Scilly Isles, he was informed that most of the survivors had been picked up by HMS Camellia, and one small raft was rescued by the merchant vessel SS Catalina. HMS Insolent picked up the last of the survivors.


That so many men survived the frigid December waters, was down to the fact that the Commander of the the German submarine U-53, Hans Rose, had radioed the position of the sinking to Queenstown – a rare humane gesture in time of war.


Notes:
Commanding Officer, Lieut Commander D.W.Bagley , 1917,


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