Naval Battle of Casablanca: November 1942
1942: November 8-16: Naval Battle of Casablanca
On November 8, 1942, the Vichy French force, commanded by Rear Admiral Gervais de Lafonde made a valiant attempt to stop Task Force 34 troopship landings at Casablanca. U.S. Navy ships damaged by French ships and shore-batteries were USS Massachusetts (BB-59), USS Wichita (CA-45), USS Brooklyn (CL-40), along with some destroyers and a minesweeper. Amongst the French warship and merchant ships sunk were the destroyers Fougeux, Boulonnais, Brestois, Frondeur, Alcyon and the submarines Sidi-Ferruch, Oreade, Amphrite, and Psyche. Of note, the moored French battleship Jean Bart and light-cruiser Primaguet were damaged along with other destroyers.
The French strongly defended Casablanca, even repairing the guns of Jean Bart, eventually silenced by USS Ranger (CV-4) dive-bombers. The French surrendered on November 11, and, on that day, German U-boats arrived. Specifically U-173 and caused disturbances, torpedoing USS Hambleton (DD-445), USS Winooski (AO-38), and the troopship USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50). German U-boat, U-130, torpedoed the troopships USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42), USS Hugh L. Scott (AP-43), and USS Edward Rutledge (AP-52) on November 12. U.S. Navy destroyers would return the favor to U-173, sinking her on November 16. Evading the Allies, U-130 would later be sunk by USS Champlain (DD-601) on March 12, 1943.
Image: 19-LCM-North Africa-1: French Morocco (Casablanca area). U.S. Navy transport USS Edward Rutledge (AP-52) just as she was hit amidships by an enemy submarine torpedo. This remarkable photograph was taken by a naval officer from the deck of the transport USS Hugh L. Scott (AP-43), which had been torpedoed a few minutes earlier. Both were sunk along with a third transport, USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42) during the operation off Fedala, about 15 miles north of Casablanca. Photograph released December 3, 1942. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.