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Wadsworth

 

Alexander Scammel Wadsworth was born in 1790 at Portland, Maine. He was appointed a midshipman on 2 April 1804 and was promoted to lieutenant on 21 April 1810. Lt. Wadsworth was the first lieutenant on board Constitution during that famous frigate's successful engagement with Guerriere in the War of 1812. For this action, he received a silver medal and was included in the vote of thanks received by the commanding officer, Isaac Hull, and his officers. Wadsworth later served as first lieutenant of the corvette Adams during that ship's cruise in 1814 when she captured 10 prizes.

 

Promoted to master-commandant on 27 April 1816 for his services during the war, Wadsworth commanded the brig Prometheus in the Mediterranean Squadron after the Algerian War in 1816 and 1817 and later commanded the sloop John Adams. Under Wadsworth, John Adams conducted cruises in the West Indies in 1818 and 1819, and 1821 and 1822 for the suppression of piracy. Promoted to captain on 3 March 1825, he commanded frigate Constellation in the Mediterranean Squadron from 1829 to 1832. Wadsworth was commodore commanding the Pacific Squadron from 1834 to 1836, a member of the Board of Navy Commissioners from 1837 to 1840, and Inspector of Ordnance from 1841 to 1850. Commodore Wadsworth died at Washington, D.C., on 5 April 1851.

 

I

 

(Destroyer No. 60: dp. 1,060 (n.); l. 315'3"; b. 29'11" (wl.); dr. 10'¼"; s. 30.67 k. (tl.); cpl. 99; a. 4 4", 8 21" tt.; cl. Tucker)

 

The first Wadsworth (Destroyer No. 60) was laid down on 23 February 1914 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; launched on 29 April 1915; sponsored by Miss Juanita Doane Wells; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 23 July 1915, Lt. Comdr. Joseph K. Taussig in command.

 

After trials and torpedo firing drills out of Newport, R.I., the destroyer took up duty off the New England coast line in October. Her duty included patrols to insure America's neutrality vis-a-vis the year-old European war. On 7 January 1916, she departed Province-town, Mass., to join in the annual Fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean. After a stop at Norfolk, she reached the West Indies at Culebra Island on 15 January and began a three-month round of war games, drills, and exercises. During her stay in the Caribbean, she visited Guan-tanamo Bay, Guacanayabo Bay, Manzanillo, and Santiago—all in Cuba. On 10 April, she left Guantanamo Bay to steam north, stopped at New York for a five-week stay, and returned to Newport on 21 May. Wads-worth resumed operations along the New England coast, and the succeeding year passed in much the same way as its predecessor—summer operations along the northeastern coast followed by Fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean.

 

At the completion of her second round of winter Fleet maneuvers in the spring of 1917, Wadsworth returned north as far as Hampton Roads. As America's entry into World War I approached, she and her sister destroyers began patrolling the Norfolk-Yorktown area to protect the naval bases and ships there against potential incursions by German submarines. Then, on 6 April 1917, while the warship rode at anchor with the rest of the Fleet at Yorktown, Va., the United States opted for the Allies in World War I. Wadsworth moved to New York almost immediately to prepare for the voyage to Europe and war service. On 24 April, she departed New York as the flagship of the first six-ship destroyer division dispatched to Great Britain. She led Porter (Destroyer No. 59), Davis (Destroyer No. 65), Conyngham (Destroyer No. 58), McDougal (Destroyer No. 54), and Wainwright (Destroyer No. 62) into Queenstown, Ireland, on 4 May and began patrolling the southern approaches to the Irish Sea the next day.

 

Wadsworth's first summer overseas proved to be the most eventful period of her wartime service. She sighted her first U-boat on 18 May, less than two weeks after she began patrols out of Queenstown. Though the destroyer sped to the attack, her adversary submerged and escaped. Three days later, Wadsworth picked up some survivors from HMS Paxton which had been torpedoed and sunk the preceding day. On 7 June, the destroyer caught a glimpse of another enemy submarine just before it submerged and escaped. Between 24 and 27 June, Wadsworth served as part of the escort for the first American troop convoy to reach Europe. Though she scored no definitely provable successes against German submarines, the destroyer made depth charge attacks on four separate occasions in July and a gunfire attack in one other instance. The first two depth-charge attacks—on the 10th and llth—obtained no results whatsoever, and the gun attack—on the 20th —netted her the same. However, after sighting a double periscope the following day, she made a depth-charge attack. During that attack, one of the explosions seemed much stronger than those from the other charges she dropped. Moreover, a patch of reddish-brown material rose to the surface. Perhaps the destroyer had damaged a submarine, but no conclusive evidence was found to prove this possibility.

 

Wadsworth made her fourth depth charge attack on a U-boat on 29 July. At about 1725 that afternoon, she dropped several charges in what appeared to be the wake of a submarine proceeding submerged. The conjecture that a U-boat was damaged was supported by the appearance of a large amount of heavy oil on the surface following the attack. Just before 2300 that night, the warship attacked another supposed submarine wake. It was too dark to evaluate the results; but, not long thereafter, Trippe (Destroyer No. 33) struck a submerged metallic object which caused her to list 10 degrees temporarily. Later, Wads-worth's wireless operator intercepted messages sent by a German submarine over a period of about half an hour. While none of this evidence can be construed as definitive, it does suggest that she may have damaged a submarine. Early in August, the destroyer concluded her summer of peak activity by escorting the first United States merchant convoy on the last leg of its voyage to Europe. During the mission, on the 16th, the destroyer dropped a barrage on what was thought to be a submarine.

 

For the remainder of the war, her encounters with the enemy were infrequent. In fact, her next submarine contact did not occur until 17 December and, like those before, resulted in no definite damage to the enemy. Although the opening months of 1918 brought no new U-boat contacts, Wadsworth worked hard escorting convoys and patrolling British waters.

 

Early in March, she received a change in assignment. On the 4th, she arrived in Brest, France, whence she operated for the remainder of the war. During that assignment, she recorded only two scrapes with German submarines: the first on 1 June and the second on 25 October. In each case, she dropped depth charges, but could produce no solid proof of damage to the enemy. The war ended on 11 November 1918 when Germany accepted Allied armistice terms.

 

Almost two months later, on 31 December, Wads-worth stood out of Brest to return to the United States and reached Boston on 9 January 1919. Following an extended overhaul, she put to sea on 1 May to serve as one of the picket ships stationed at intervals across the ocean for the transatlantic flight of four Navy-Curtiss flying boats, one of which, NC-4, successfully completed the feat. The destroyer returned home and operated on the east coast through the summer of 1919. On 29 August, Wadsworth was placed in reduced commission at Philadelphia where she remained almost two years. On 9 May 1921, the destroyer returned to active service along the east coast. Just over a year later, on 3 June 1922, Wadsworth was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The ship remained in reserve there until 7 January 1936 when her name was struck from the Navy list. She was sold for scrapping on 30 June 1936 and was broken up the following August.