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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Warrington

 

Lewis Warrington—born on 3 November 1782 at Williamsburg, Va.—attended the College of William and Mary briefly before accepting an appointment as a midshipman in the Navy on 6 January 1800. His first duty, in the frigate Chesapeake, took him to the West Indies where his ship cruised with a squadron during the last year of the Quasi-War with France. His ship appears to have engaged in one action near the end of the cruise. On New Year's Day 1801, she took the French privateer La Jeune Creole.

 

Following the cessation of hostilities with France, Midshipman Warrington remained in the Navy. His ship spent most of 1801 in ordinary at Norfolk. The following year, Warrington was transferred to the frigate President for service in the Mediterranean against the Barbary pirates. Over the next five years, he remained with the Mediterranean Squadron, serving successively in President, Vixen, and Enterprise. Promoted to lieutenant in 1805, he returned home in 1807 to assume command of a gunboat at Norfolk, Va. In 1809, Lt. Warrington voyaged to Europe in Siren as a dispatch courier. He next served a tour of duty in Essex.

 

When the war with England began in June of 1812, Warrington was in Congress serving as the frigate's first lieutenant while she patrolled the North Atlantic. During his tour of duty in that warship, she made two successful war cruises, capturing nine prizes off the east coast of the United States during the first and four off the Atlantic seaboard of South America during the second.

 

Promoted to master commandant in July 1813, he took command of the sloop-of-war Peacock later in the year. On 12 March 1814, he put to sea with his new command bound for the naval station at St. Mary's, Ga. After delivering supplies to that installation, he encountered the British brig Epervier off Cape Canaveral, Fla. Peacock emerged victorious from a brisk 45-minute exchange with that opponent, inflicting 10 times her own losses on the enemy. For his role in the victory, Warrington received the thanks of Congress in the form of a gold medal, and of the state of Virginia in the form of a gold-hilted sword.

 

Warrington took his prize into Savannah, Ga., and then embarked upon his second cruise on 4 June. On that voyage—which took him to the Grand Banks, the Irish coast, the Shetland Islands, and the Faroe Islands —he took 14 prizes.

 

After returning via the West Indies to New York, Warrington took Peacock on her third and final war cruise. His sloop-of-war stood out of New York with Hornet and Tom Bowline on 23 January 1815, sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, and entered the Indian Ocean. Unaware that peace had been concluded in December 1814 at Ghent, Belgium, Warrington led his little force on another successful foray against British commerce. After taking three prizes in the Indian Ocean, he entered the East Indies in search of more game. On 30 June, he encountered the East India Company cruiser Nautilus in the Sunda Strait and attacked her. After a sharp action which cost the British ship 15 men including her first lieutenant, she surrendered to Warrington and his force. At this point, Warrington learned of the peace, and he therefore released the prize and started for home. Peacock arrived back in New York on 30 October 1815.

 

In 1816, he commanded Macedonian briefly for a voyage to Cartagena, Spain, to convey there Christopher Hughes, the representative of the United States at negotiations over the release of some Americans imprisoned by Spanish authorities. In 1819 and 1820, Capt. Warrington commanded Java, followed by Guerriere in 1820 and 1821. Each ship was assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron during his tenure as her commanding officer. Capt. Warrington returned home and received orders to duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard. In February 1825, he relieved Porter as commander of the West Indian Squadron during the latter stages of the piracy suppression campaign and thereafter bore the title, commodore.

 

In 1826, Warrington returned home and served ashore for the remainder of his career. After four years in Washington—1826 to 1830—as one of three commissioners on the Navy Board, a body charged with the administration of naval materiel, Warrington returned to Norfolk for a decade as commandant of the navy yard. In 1840, he was reassigned to Washington for another two years as commissioner on the Navy Board. After the 1842 reorganization of the Navy Department, Warrington became Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks.

 

On 28 February 1844, he took over temporarily the duties of the Secretary of the Navy after Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer died as a result of wounds received when the large cannon "Peacemaker" exploded during a firing demonstration on board Princeton at Washington. Near the end of March, Warrington relinquished those duties to the new secretary, John W. Mason, and resumed his former assignment. In 1846, he became Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, which office he held until his death on 12 October 1851.

 

I

 

(Destroyer No. 30: dp. 742 (n.) ; l. 293'10"; b. 26'1½" (wl.); dr. 9'5" (aft) (f.); s. 30 k. (tl.); cpl. 89; a. 5 3", 6 18" tt., 3 .30-cal. mg.; cl. Roe)

 

The first Warrington (Destroyer No. 30) was laid down on 21 June 1909 at Philadelphia by the William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co.; launched on 18 June 1910; sponsored by Mrs. Richard Hatton; and commissioned on 20 March 1911, Lt. Walter M. Hunt in command.

 

After fitting out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Warrington moved on 5 August to the Torpedo Station at Newport, R.I., where she loaded torpedoes in preparation for training with the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet. During most of the fall and early winter, the warship conducted battle drills and practice torpedo firings with the submarines and destroyers of the torpedo fleet. She also joined the cruisers and battleships of the Atlantic Fleet for training in broader combat maneuvers. Those training evolutions took her as far north as Cape Cod, Mass., and as far south as Cuba.

 

On 27 December 1911, the destroyer departed Charleston, S.C., in company with the ships of Destroyer Divisions 8 and 9, bound for Hampton Roads. At about 1240 the following morning, the two divisions of destroyers reached the vicinity of the Virginia capes. Suddenly, an unidentified schooner knifed her way through the darkness and mist, struck Warrington aft, and sliced off about 30 feet of her stern. The collision deprived her of all propulsion and forced her to anchor at sea some 17 miles off Cape Hatteras. Sterett (Destroyer No. 27) responded to her distress call first; but, soon, Walke (Destroyer No. 34) and Perkins (Destroyer No. 26) joined the vigil. The three ships struggled through the morning and forenoon watches to pass a towline to their stricken sister, but it was not until the revenue cutter Conondaga arrived at 1300 that the latter ship succeeded in taking Warrington in tow. The revenue cutter towed her into the Norfolk Navy Yard where she was placed in reserve while undergoing repairs which were not completed until 2 December 1912.

 

Upon her return to active service, Warrington resumed operations with the torpedo forces assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, by then designated the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla. For a little over four years, she plied the eastern coastal waters of the United States, participating in various gunnery drills and torpedo-firing practices with the torpedo flotilla as well as in fleet maneuvers and battle problems with the assembled Atlantic Fleet. During part of that interlude, the destroyer was based at Newport and worked out of Boston during the remainder.

 

When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, Warrington began patrols off Newport to protect the harbor from German submarines. After six weeks of such duty and preparations for service overseas, she stood out of Boston on 21 May, bound for Europe. After a stop at Newfoundland en route, she arrived at Queenstown, on the southern coast of Ireland, on 1 June. There, she began six months of service patrolling the southern approaches to British ports on the Irish Sea and escorting convoys on the final leg of their voyage across the Atlantic to the British Isles. The destroyer operated out of Queenstown until late November 1917 when she was ordered to France.

 

She reached Brest, her new base of operations, on 29 November and resumed a grueling schedule of patrols and escort missions. Records indicate that she experienced only one apparent brush with a U-boat. On the morning of 31 May 1918, while escorting a convoy along the French coast, she received a distress call from the Navy transport President Lincoln which, earlier that morning, had been torpedoed by U-90 well out to sea. The destroyer parted company with her coastal convoy immediately and raced to rescue the sinking ship's crew. She did not reach the area of the sinking until late that night but succeeded in rescuing 443 survivors just after 2300. Smith (Destroyer No. 17) took on all but one of the remaining 688 survivors of President Lincoln. That single exception, Lt. Isaacs, had the dubious honor of being rescued by U-90. On 1 June, during the voyage back to Brest, Warrington and Smith depth-charged the U-90. Lt. Isaacs, the captured naval officer who later escaped from a German prison camp, reported that the charges shook the submarine severely. However, no evidence of any success appeared on the surface; and the two destroyers, conscious of the importance of landing their human cargo, abandoned the attack and continued on to Brest. They entered that port the following day, disembarked the President Lincoln survivors, and resumed their patrol and escort missions.

 

Through the end of the war, Warrington operated out of Brest, patrolling against enemy submarines. However, the threat posed by the U-boats diminished considerably after the failure of Germany's last offensive in July and an Allied offensive had made their bases on the Belgian coast untenable. Late in October, Germany discontinued unrestricted submarine warfare and, early in November, sued for peace.

 

The armistice was concluded on 11 November 1918, but Warrington continued to serve in European waters until the spring of 1919. On 22 March, she stood out of Brest in the screen of a convoy of subchasers and tugs. After visiting the Azores and delivering her charges safely at Bermuda, the warship headed for Philadelphia. She reached the Delaware capes early in May and remained in the navy yard at League Island until decommissioned on 31 January 1920. Warrington lay at Philadelphia in reserve until 1935. On 20 March 1935, her name was struck from the Navy list. She was sold to M. Black & Co., Norfolk, Va., on 28 June 1935 for scrapping in accordance with the terms of the London Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armaments.