Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Beale I (Destroyer No. 40)

(Destroyer No. 40: dp. 742 (n.); l. 293'10"; b. 26'1½" (wl.); dr. 8'4"(mean); s. 29.65 k. (tl.); cpl. 88; a. 5 3", 6 18" tt.; cl. Paulding)

Edward Fitzgerald Beale, born in Washington, D.C., on 4 February 1822, was appointed to the Naval School at Philadelphia on 14 December 1836, and received his warrant as a passed midshipman on 1 July 1842. In July 1846, while he was serving in the frigate Congress in California waters, war between the United States and Mexico erupted. Beale went ashore at recently captured San Diego as part of a small force sent to guide Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny's 1st Dragoons to that port. The two forces succeeded in the rendezvous; but, on the return trip, fought sharp battles on 7 and 8 December and ended up surrounded by a larger Mexican force. Beale and Kit Carson volunteered to slip through the Mexican lines to summon help from the San Diego garrison. Beale reached San Diego 27 hours later, and Carson came in the following morning. A relief column of 200 men went out, rescued Kearny's force, and escorted it back to San Diego.

In February 1847, Beale, in company with Kit Carson and a small troop, set out overland across the North American continent and delivered his despatches to Washington in June of that year. In 1848 and 1849, he made six journeys between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Promoted to master on 1 August 1849 and to lieutenant on 28 February 1850, Beale resigned on 5 March 1852 to accept an appointment as superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada. In the ensuing years, he conducted a number of surveys of railroad and wagon routes in the far west. He became Surveyor General of California in 1861 and at the end of the Civil War, retired to his ranch near the present day site of Bakersfield, Calif. In 1876, President Grant appointed him minister to the Austro Hungarian Empire; and, after holding that office for about a year, Beale returned to retirement. Edward Beale died in Washington on 22 April 1893.


The first Beale (Destroyer No. 40) was laid down on 8 May 1911 at Philadelphia by William Cramp & Sons; launched on 30 April 1912; sponsored by Mrs. Emily Beale McLean, the daughter of Lt. Beale; and commissioned on 30 August 1912, Lt.(jg.) Charles T. Blackburn in command.

The destroyer became a unit of the 5th Group, Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet and conducted operations along the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies, including a month's duty in Mexican waters, from 22 April to 27 May 1914, during the American occupation of Veracruz after the Tampico incident, until placed in reserve on 13 December 1915. On 5 January 1916, she was brought back to active duty with an under-strength crew and began neutrality patrol duty in a reduced commission status. On 22 March 1917, two weeks and a day before the United States entered World War I, the warship was returned to full commission and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Force.

Beale continued patrolling American waters until sailing for Europe on 9 January 1918. Delayed by an extended stop in the Azores, she reached St. Nazaire, France, on 3 February and continued on to her permanent duty station, Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. The destroyer arrived there on 5 February and began her first patrol five days later. On 27 February, while escorting SS Kenmore to Liverpool, she sighted an object low in the water which she thought to be a submarine. As Beale charged to attack, the object submerged. The destroyer dropped a depth charge at the point at which the object disappeared, and soon oil rose to the surface. Beale probably at least damaged a submarine; but, to what extent, no one knows. Her only other scrape with a U-boat came on 19 May when Patterson (Destroyer No. 36) reported attacking a submarine. Beale joined in the search conducted by Patterson, Allen (Destroyer No. 66), Burrows (Destroyer No. 29), two British destroyers, and two airships. Once again a large amount of oil appeared on the surface suggesting damage to a U-boat.

The destroyer continued convoy escort and antisubmarine patrol missions out of Queenstown through the end of World War I and returned to the United States in December of 1918 for duty along the Atlantic coast. She was decommissioned on 25 October 1919 and placed in reserve at Philadelphia. Reactivated in 1924, she was transferred to the Coast Guard on 28 April 1924 and spent six years and six months on the so called "Rum Patrol" trying to prevent smugglers from bringing alcoholic beverages into the United States. Beale was returned to the Navy on 18 October 1930 and was laid up again at Philadelphia with the Reserve Fleet. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 5 July 1934, and she was sold on 22 August 1934 for scrapping.

Raymond A. Mann

21 February 2006

Published: Tue Feb 23 10:14:24 EST 2016