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USS Fanning in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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USS Fanning



17th November 1917 USS Fanning  

USS Fanning

Name: USS Fanning Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company, Newport News, Virginia Laid down: 29 April 1911 Launched: 11 January 1912 Commissioned: 21 June 1912 Decommissioned: 24 November 1919 Fate: Transferred to the United States Coast Guard, 7 June 1924 The first USS Fanning (DD-37) was a modified Paulding-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War I and later in the United States Coast Guard, designated as CG-11. She was named for Nathaniel Fanning.

Fanning was launched on 11 January 1912 by Newport News Shipbuilding Company, Newport News, Virginia; sponsored by Mrs. Kenneth McAlpine; and commissioned on 21 June 1912, Lieutenant W. N. Jeffers in command. She was classified DD-37 on 17 July 1920.

In the years that preceded World War I, Fanning took part in the training schedule of the Atlantic Fleet, sailing to the Caribbean for winter maneuvers, and exercising off the coast of New England in the summers. Based at Norfolk, Virginia during the major portion of each year, she joined in gunnery practice in this area. ,p> As war raged in Europe, Fanning intensified her preparations for any eventuality. When two German auxiliary cruisers visited Norfolk in September 1916, Fanning acted as part of their escort while they sailed in United States territorial waters. On 8 October, Fanning put out of Newport, Rhode Island, to search for the crews of ships sunk not far from Nantucket Light Ship by the German submarine U-58. The destroyer recovered six survivors and landed them at Newport, Rhode Island the next day. The presence of U-58 led to the speculation that a secret German submarine base might exist in the Long Island Sound—Block Island Sound area; Fanning searched from 12 October to 14 October for evidence of such a base but found nothing, and returned to her regular operating schedule.

During the latter half of October 1916, Fanning and the fuel ship Jason conducted experiments to develop methods of oiling at sea, a technique which has since given the United States Navy unbounded mobility and sea-keeping qualities. Torpedo and gunnery practices, and fleet maneuvers during the next eight months sharpened Fanning's war-readiness, so that she was able to sail for distant service when called on in June 1917.

World War I

Main article: Action of 17 November 1917

Based at Queenstown, Ireland, Fanning and her sister destroyers patrolled the eastern Atlantic, escorting convoys and rescuing survivors of sunken merchantmen. At 1615 on 17 November 1917, Coxswain Daniel David Loomis sighted the periscope of U-58, and the Officer of the Deck Lieutenant Walter Owen Henry ordered the destroyer to attack. Fanning's first depth charge pattern scored, and as destroyer Nicholson joined the action, the submarine broke surface, her crew pouring out on deck, hands raised in surrender. The depth charge had hit near the submarines diving planes, forcing the submarine to surface, and also knocked out the main generator aboard Fanning. Fanning maneuvered to pick up the prisoners as the damaged submarine sank, the first of two U-boats to fall victim to US Navy destroyers in World War I. Coxswain Daniel David Loomis and Lieutenant Walter Owen Henry both received the Navy Cross for this action.

Fanning continued escort and patrol duty for the duration of the war. Though she made numerous submarine contacts, all of her attacks were inconclusive. On many occasions, she went to the aid of torpedoed ships, rescuing survivors and carrying them into port. On 8 October 1918, she picked up a total of 103 survivors, 25 from a merchantman and 78 from the Dupetit-Thouars.

Fanning passed in review before President Woodrow Wilson on board the transport George Washington in Brest Harbor on 13 December, then remained at Brest until March of the following year. After a quick voyage to Plymouth, England, Fanning departed Brest for the States, by way of Lisbon, Portugal, and Ponta Delgada, Azores, in company with several other destroyers, and escorting a large group of submarine chasers. Fanning was placed out of commission at Philadelphia on 24 November 1919.

Inter-war period

On 7 June 1924, Fanning was transferred to the Coast Guard with whom she served until 24 November 1930. She was sold for scrap on 2 May 1934.

John Doran


17th November 1917 Naval Action - 17th November 1917  The Action of 17 November 1917 was a naval battle of the First World War. The action was fought between a German U-boat and two United States Navy destroyers in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Action

Based in Queenstown, Ireland, USS Fanning and her sister destroyer USS Nicholson patrolled the eastern waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Their mission was to escort convoys and rescue survivors of sunken merchant ships as well as to seek out and destroy German U-boats. While escorting the eight vessel convoy OQ-20 eastbound, the two destroyers made contact with an enemy submarine. With Arthur S. Carpender commanding, at 0350 on 17 November 1917, Coxswain Daniel David Loomis of the Fanning sighted U-58, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav Amberger. The U-boat had surfaced to extend her periscope. The German submarine lined up for a shot at the British merchant steamer SS Welshman and almost immediately Officer of the Deck Lieutenant William O. Henry ordered the destroyer to make circles and engage. At 0400 Fanning dropped three depth charges, scoring a hit which badly shook up the U-boat. Then USS Nicholson joined in the fighting, commanded by Frank Berrien, and dropped another depth charge herself. U-58 surfaced again and the Americans spotted her conning tower with officers on deck and a crew manning the deck gun. Fanning engaged with her stern gun and fired three shots then Nicholson began firing with her bow gun and at least one shot struck the U-boat. The Germans fired back but none of the rounds met their target. By 0430 the Germans sailors surrendered and came out on deck with hands raised in the air. American fire had hit the submarine near its diving planes making the ship unmanueverable. Kapitänleutnant Amberger ordered the ballast tanks blown and the submarine surfaced. Charges also knocked out the main generator aboard the Fanning. If U-58 had surfaced in a battle ready position, Fanning would have surely been attacked and possibly sunk. The German submariners surrendered and Fanning maneuvered to take prisoners. That ended the action with an American victory. The Fanning and Nicholson's sinking of U-58 was one of only a few engagements of World War I in which U.S. Navy warships sank an enemy submarine. Also the first time U.S. ships sank a submarine in combat. Lieutenant William O. Henry and Coxswain Daniel Lommis both received a Navy Cross for their actions during their encounter with U-58. Fanning and Nicholson continued the war escorting and patrolling the North Atlantic, making several more inconclusive contacts with German submarines. Thirty-eight of the 40 crew members of the U-58 survived to become prisoners of war in the United States.

John Doran


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