USS Conner (DD-72)

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USS Conner (DD-72).jpg
USS Conner (DD-72)
United States
Name: Conner
Namesake: Commodore David Conner
Builder: William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Launched: 21 August 1917
Commissioned: 12 January 1918
Decommissioned: 23 October 1940
Identification: DD-72
Fate: Transferred to Britain, 23 October 1940
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Leeds
Acquired: 23 October 1940
Fate: Placed in reserve at Grangemouth in the Firth of Forth, April 1945.
General characteristics
Class and type: Caldwell-class destroyer
  • 1,020 tons (standard)
  • 1,125 tons (normal)
Length: 315 ft 6 in (96.16 m)
Beam: 31 ft 4 in (9.55 m)
Draft: 8 ft 1 in (2.46 m)
  • White-Forster boilers
  • Parsons turbines
  • three shafts
  • 18,500 hp (13,800 kW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 100 officers and enlisted

USS Conner (DD-72), a Caldwell-class destroyer, served in the United States Navy, and later in the Royal Navy as HMS Leeds.


The first US Navy ship named for Commodore David Conner (1792–1856), Conner was launched 21 August 1917 by William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, Philadelphia, sponsored by Miss E. Diederich, and commissioned 12 January 1918, Commander A. G. Howe in command.

Service history[edit]

United States Navy[edit]

Conner put to sea from New York 12 May 1918 to escort a convoy to the Azores and Brest, France. From Brest, she operated with U.S. Naval Forces, France, escorting convoys inbound to British and French ports, and outbound for Bermuda. Frequently sent to aid ships which had reported sighting submarines, she rescued survivors from the sea twice in July 1918. At the end of the war, she had duty on regular mail and passenger runs between Brest and Plymouth, England, and on 8 May 1919, she put out from Plymouth escorting the ships carrying President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Brest for the Peace Conference.

Returning to the United States, Conner joined in fleet maneuvers in Narragansett Bay in the summer of 1919, and entered Philadelphia Navy Yard 4 October. Later she lay at Norfolk, Virginia in reserve until May 1921, when she participated in large-scale fleet exercises with a reduced complement. She remained at Newport, Rhode Island, for operations with submarines. Between 13 October 1921 and 29 March 1922, she lay at Charleston, South Carolina, returning then to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned 21 June 1922.

Royal Navy[edit]

In July 1940, the US Navy ordered Conner to be rearmed as an escort vessel, with two sets of torpedo-tubes and the aft 5-inch gun to be replaced by 3-inch/50 caliber anti-aircraft guns. This process was interrupted by the decision to transfer 50 old destroyers, including Conner, to Great Britain in exchange for bases.[1][2] Conner was recommissioned 23 August 1940 and fitted out at Philadelphia. Designated for inclusion in the destroyers for land bases exchange with Great Britain, she sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was decommissioned 23 October 1940 and transferred to Britain and commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Leeds the same day, Lieutenant Commander W. M. I. Astwood, RN, in command.

HMS Leeds

Leeds cleared Halifax 1 November 1940 for Belfast, Northern Ireland, arriving on 10 November. Under the Rosyth Command, she escorted convoys in the North Sea between the Thames and the Firth of Forth, successfully weathering many air attacks. On 20 April 1942, she went to the aid of Cotswold, towing her into Harwich. She drove German E-boats away from her convoy on the night of 24–25 February 1944. Leeds was placed in reserve at Grangemouth in the Firth of Forth in April 1945.


  1. ^ Friedman 1982, pp. 54, 56
  2. ^ English 1988, p. 9
  • Friedman, Norman (1982). U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-733-X. 
  • Hague, Arnold (1988). The Towns: A history of the fifty destroyers transferred from the United States to Great Britain in 1940. Kendal, UK: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-48-7.