USS Branch (DD-197)
|Builder:||Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company|
|Cost:||$1,143,689.68 (hull & machinery)|
|Laid down:||25 October 1918|
|Launched:||19 April 1919|
|Commissioned:||26 July 1920|
|Decommissioned:||8 October 1940|
|Struck:||8 January 1941|
|Acquired:||8 October 1940|
|Commissioned:||8 October 1940|
|Decommissioned:||11 April 1943|
|Identification:||Pennant number: H64|
|Fate:||Sunk in battle, 11 April 1943|
|Class and type:||Clemson-class destroyer|
|Length:||314 ft 4 in (95.81 m)|
|Beam:||31 ft 9 in (9.68 m)|
|Draft:||9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)|
|Speed:||35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph)|
|Range:||4,900 nmi (9,100 km; 5,600 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
|Complement:||122 officers and enlisted|
USS Branch (DD-197) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy that entered service in 1920. After a short active life, Branch was placed in reserve in 1922. The ship was activated again for World War II before being transferred to the Royal Navy in 1940. Renamed HMS Beverley, the destroyer served in the Battle of the Atlantic as a convoy escort and was torpedoed and sunk on 11 April 1943.
Construction and career
The second Navy ship was named for Secretary of the Navy John Branch (1782–1863), Branch was launched on 19 April 1919 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company; sponsored by Miss Laurie O'Brien Branch, grandniece of Secretary Branch. The destroyer was commissioned on 26 July 1920, Commander F. H. Roberts in command.
Branch was fitted out at Norfolk Navy Yard and in October cruised to Annapolis, Maryland for a test of her engineering performance. Before the end of 1920 she joined Destroyer Squadron 3, Atlantic Fleet. The next year she maneuvered with the Squadron and engaged in tactical exercises on the Atlantic coast, sometimes operating in reduced commission with half her usual complement of crew. After 6 January 1922 she operated in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina, and Hampton Roads. Arriving at Philadelphia Navy Yard in June, she was placed out of commission 11 August 1922. Branch remained inactive at Philadelphia until recommissioned 4 December 1939 for service with the Scouting Force. As flagship of Destroyer Division 68 she participated in the Neutrality Patrol. In the summer of 1940 she operated along the east coast and trained reserves. Early in October 1940 she departed Newport, Rhode Island for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where on 8 October 1940 Branch was decommissioned and transferred in the Destroyers for Bases Agreement to the British Navy and renamed HMS Beverley.
Beverley arrived at Belfast 24 October and was modified for trade convoy escort service by removal of three of the original 4"/50 caliber guns and three of the triple torpedo tube mounts to reduce topside weight for additional depth charge stowage and installation of hedgehog. In April 1942 she was an escort for Convoy PQ 14 en route to North Russia. En route the convoy was attacked by a superior force of enemy destroyers, which had approached unobserved during a snow storm and fired several torpedoes at a range of 9,000 yards (8,200 m). One merchant ship was sunk. The enemy returned four times and took part in short gunnery duels, but did not close the range below 8,000 yards (7,300 m).
On 4 February 1943, while escorting Atlantic Convoy SC-118 with Escort Group B-2, Beverley sighted the German submarine U-187 (later sunk by HMS Vimy) southeast of Cape Farewell, Greenland. She also took part in attacks on other U-boats the next day.
Beverley was assigned to Escort Group B-4 of the Mid-Ocean Escort Force for convoys ON-140, ON-161, ON-169, HX-229 and ON-176. On 9 April while escorting Convoy ON 176, she collided with the steamship Cairnvolona in bad weather and had her anti-submarine and degaussing gear put out of action. Two days later she was torpedoed by U-188 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Siegfried Lüdden at , and sank with the loss of 139 members of her crew, including her commanding officer.
- "Table 21 - Ships on Navy List June 30, 1919". Congressional Serial Set. U.S. Government Printing Office: 762. 1921.
- Lenton&Colledge (1968) pp.92-94
- Rohwer&Hummelchen (1992) pp.170,185,188,199,200&205
- Lenton, H.T. & Colledge J.J. (1968). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
- Rohwer, J. & Hummelchen, G. (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- "HMS Beverley: A "Town" Afloat 1940-43 & The Town Ashore by Geoffrey Blewitt. Alan Twiddle Publishing 1998 ISBN 1-902508-01-7.