USS McCook (DD-252)

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History
United States
Name: USS McCook
Namesake: Roderick S. McCook
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy
Laid down: 10 September 1918
Launched: 31 January 1919
Commissioned: 30 April 1919
Decommissioned: 24 September 1940
Struck: 8 January 1941
Identification: DD-252
Fate: Transferred to the United Kingdom then Canada, 24 September 1940
Canada
Name: HMCS St. Croix
Namesake: St. Croix River
Acquired: 24 September 1940
Identification: I81
Honours and
awards:
Atlantic 1940-43
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk by U-305, 20 September 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: Clemson-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,190 tons (1,209 t)
Length: 314 ft 5 in (95.83 m)
Beam: 31 ft 8 in (9.65 m)
Draft: 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Propulsion:
  • 26,500 shp (19,800 kW)
  • Geared turbines
  • 2 screws
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: 120 officers and enlisted
Armament:

The first USS McCook (DD-252) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy. Entering service in 1919, the ship had a brief active life before being placed in the reserve fleet. Reactivated for World War II, the ship was transferred to the Royal Navy and then to the Royal Canadian Navy and renamed HMCS St. Croix. Assigned as a convoy escort in the Battle of the Atlantic, St. Croix was torpedoed and sunk on 20 September 1943.

Design and description[edit]

The Clemson class were the second class of "liberty destroyers" designed and built for the United States Navy. After the entry of the US into World War I, the United States Navy required lots of escort ships quickly. One of the classes given the moniker "flush deck destroyers", they were basically a repeat Wickes class with increased fuel storage for greater range. They also had increased anti-submarine warfare armament in response to criticisms of the Wickes class. The destroyer measured 310 feet 0 inches (94.5 m) long at the waterline and 314 feet 0 inches (95.7 m) overall with a beam of 30 feet 10 inches (9.4 m) and a draft of 9 feet 10 inches (3.0 m). The vessel had a standard displacement of 1,090 long tons (1,110 t) and were 1,310 long tons (1,330 t) at full load.[1][2]

The destroyers was powered by steam provided by four White-Forster boilers to a pair of Westinghouse geared turbines. They drove two screws and was rated at 27,000 horsepower (20,000 kW). The vessel had a maximum speed in excess of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). They had storage for 400 long tons (410 t) of fuel oil, with a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph).[1]

Their improved armament reflected designs by British and German navies.[3] The Clemson class was initially armed with four 4"/50 caliber guns; one situated on the forecastle, two on the superstructure deck amidships and one on the quarterdeck. The quarterdeck gun was later moved to the aft deck superstructure to make room for depth charge roller tracks. The 4"/50 guns had limited elevation and could not fire at aircraft. A 3"/23 caliber gun was installed for anti-aircraft warfare defense, along with two .50 caliber machine guns.[1] The mainmast was shortened to improve the field of fire for the 3-inch gun.[3] Mk 6 and Mk 9 depth charges were equipped in US service and were deployed via the aforementioned roller tracks or "K" or "Y" guns. The destroyers also mounted twelve torpedo tubes in four triple mounts capable of firing 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes. The tube mounts were sited amidships between the superstructures. The destroyers carried no spare torpedoes.[1]

Construction and career[edit]

United States Navy service[edit]

The destroyer was laid down on 10 September 1918 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding at their yard in Quincy, Massachusetts with the yard number 332.[4][5] Named for Roderick S. McCook, the ship was launched on 31 January 1919, sponsored by Mrs. Henry C. Dinger. McCook was commissioned on 30 April 1919, Lieutenant Commander G. B. Ashe in command.[4]

Following a period performing shakedown training, McCook was assigned to Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet. She operated along the east coast of the United States until decommissioning at Philadelphia on 30 June 1922. McCook remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until recommissioned on 18 December 1939. The next year McCook was designated for exchange under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement with the United Kingdom.[4]

Transfer to the UK[edit]

Crew manning a 4-inch gun off Halifax in March 1941

By 1940, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth nations were fighting the Axis powers alone after the fall of France. The convoy route between North America and the United Kingdom was under attack by German U-boats and required protection, but the British lacked adequate ships to defend the shipping lanes. That year, the US offered 50 "flush deck destroyers" to the UK in exchanged for leases to British bases around the world. In September, the deal was sealed and 50 vessels of the Clemson and Wickes classes were transferred to the UK. Renamed the Town class by the British, their new names were chosen from towns with names common to both nations.[6]

After entering British service, the destroyers were modified with British radar, asdic and depth charge throwers. Two of the torpedo tube mounts were removed to make space for an Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, the aft 4-inch gun was replaced by a British 12-pounder gun and Type 273 radar was installed. Two boilers were removed and fuel storage was increased to improve range. The destroyer's final layout was three 20 mm Oerlikon cannon, one 3-inch gun, two .50 caliber machine guns, depth charge roller racks, one 21-inch torpedo tube mount sited on the deck centreline and the bridge area was revamped to make room for the new electronic equipment.[6]

Steaming to Halifax, Nova Scotia, McCook arrived on 20 September 1940. Decommissioned on 24 September by the United States Navy, the destroyer was transferred to the United Kingdom on the same date, but due to manpower shortages in the Royal Navy, she was retransferred immediately to the Royal Canadian Navy and commissioned as HMCS St. Croix (I81).[4] Following the Canadian practice of naming destroyers after Canadian rivers (but with deference to the U.S. origin), St. Croix was named after the St. Croix River forming the border between Maine and New Brunswick.[7]

Royal Canadian Navy service[edit]

Storm damage to HMCS St. Croix

The destroyer sailed for the United Kingdom on 30 November via St. John's, Newfoundland but encountered a hurricane en route and was forced to return to Canada. St. Croix arrived at Halifax on 18 December and underwent repairs which kept the destroyer inactive until March 1941.[8] On 14 March 1941 St. Croix assumed local escort and patrol duties in Canadian waters. At the end of August she joined the Newfoundland Escort Force and plied between St. John's and Reykjavík, Iceland.[4] St. Croix underwent a six-month refit at Saint John, New Brunswick, returning to service in May 1942.[8] By May 1942 the Newfoundland Escort Force had been renamed the Mid-Ocean Escort Force and its range extended to Londonderry Port.[4]

St. Croix sank the German submarine U-90 on 24 July 1942, which, with other U-boats, had attacked her convoy (ON 113) on 23 July, sinking two merchant vessels and damaging a third. On the return voyage, Convoy ON 127 was attacked by 13 U-boats. Between 10 September and 14 September eleven merchant ships and one destroyer were lost.

En route from Londonderry Port to Gibraltar on 4 March 1943 with convoy KMS 10, she assisted the corvette HMCS Shediac in the sinking of U-87 some 200 miles (320 km) off the Iberian coast.

With the addition of air escort to convoy defense in 1943, U-boat tolls in the North Atlantic diminished and many of the boats were withdrawn during the summer. In the fall, however, Germany began a new U-boat offensive. On 16 September, St. Croix, then on her first patrol with an offensive striking group in the Bay of Biscay, went to the aid of convoy ONS 18, followed by ON 202, both heavily beset by a wolfpack. The defense of these convoys resulted in a long-running battle with losses to both sides. The convoys lost three escorts and six merchantmen, with two escorts damaged. The wolfpack lost three U-boats.

St. Croix was the first escort to be sunk, taking three hits from U-305 in the stern on 20 September. HMS Polyanthus was sunk by U-952 as she came up to screen HMS Itchen's rescue operations. Itchen, forced to retire that evening, returned the next morning and picked up 81 survivors from St. Croix and one from Polyanthus. The following day, 22 September, Itchen herself was torpedoed. Three men were rescued, two from Itchen, one from St. Croix.

Trans-Atlantic convoys escorted[edit]

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
HX 129 27–28 May 1941[9] Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 33 1–3 June 1941[10] Newfoundland to Iceland
HX 133 17–20 June 1941[9] Newfoundland to Iceland
HX 135 26–29 June 1941[9] Newfoundland to Iceland
HX 138 11–15 July 1941[9] Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 41 28 Aug-5 Sept 1941[10] Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 42 12-17 Sept 1941[10] Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 17 19-21 Sept 1941[11] Iceland to Newfoundland
ON 19 28 Sept-4 Oct 1941[11] Iceland shuttle
SC 50 19-26 Oct 1941[10] Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 32 6-14 Nov 1941[11] Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 189 MOEF group C1 14 May 1942[9] Newfoundland
SC 84 MOEF group C2 17–21 May 1942[10] Newfoundland to Iceland
SC 89 MOEF group C2 28 June-10 July 1942[10] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 113 MOEF group C2 18–26 July 1942[11] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 96 MOEF group C4 15-26 Aug 1942[10] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
Convoy ON 127 MOEF group C4 5-14 Sept 1942[11] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 101 MOEF group C4 23 Sept-3 Oct 1942[10] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 137 MOEF group C4 12-19 Oct 1942[11] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 222 MOEF group C1 11-22 Jan 1943[9] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
KMS 10 MOEF group C1 28 Feb-8 March 1943[9] Firth of Clyde to Mediterranean Sea
MKS 9 MOEF group C1 8–18 March 1943[9] Mediterranean Sea to Firth of Clyde
ONS 2 MOEF group C1 5–14 April 1943[11] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
SC 127 MOEF group C1 20 April-2 May 1943[10] Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 184 MOEF group C1 16–25 May 1943[11] Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 250 Support Group 9 5-11 Aug 1943[9]
HX 256 Support Group 9 19 Sept 1943[9]
Convoys ONS 18/ON 202 Support Group 9 19-20 Sept 1943[11] Hit by torpedoes from U-305 and sunk.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Adcock 2003, p. 21.
  2. ^ Lardas 2018, pp. 11–12.
  3. ^ a b Lardas 2018, p. 16.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.
  5. ^ Miramar Ship Index.
  6. ^ a b Adcock 2003, p. 35.
  7. ^ Milner 1985, p. 23.
  8. ^ a b Macpherson & Barrie 2002, p. 57.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "HX convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i "SC convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i "ON convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 19 June 2011.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bercuson, David J. (with H. Holger) (1997). Deadly Seas: The Story of the St.Croix, the U305 and the Battle of the Atlantic. Random House of Canada, Toronto. ISBN 978-0679309277.

External links[edit]