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Duncan I (Destroyer No. 46)

1913–1921

Silas Duncan -- born in Rockaway Township, N.J., in 1788 -- was appointed a midshipman on 15 November 1809. While third lieutenant of corvette Saratoga during the Battle of Lake Champlain on 11 September 1814, he was sent in a gig to order the gunboats to retire. He succeeded in delivering the orders despite concentrated enemy fire which severely wounded him and caused the loss of his right arm. Congress thanked him for his gallant conduct.

From 1818 to 1824, Cmdr. Duncan saw active service on board ship-of-the-line Independence, brigantine Hornet, frigates Guerriere and Cyane, and schooner Ferret. He married Martha Dandridge Aylett, Patrick Henry’s granddaughter, on 3 February 1831. Later that year, while commanding the sloop Lexington, Duncan, now Master Commandant, proceeded with the ship to São Paulo, Brazil, to reinforce the Brazil Squadron in the interest of protecting American commerce in the South Atlantic, in response to Argentine proclamations regarding fishing and sealing in those waters.

In July, under orders from Luis Vernet (appointed Military and Civil Commander in the Falkland Islands [Islas Malvinas] by the Argentine government), his deputy Matthew Brisbane seized the American vessels Superior, Breakwater, and Harriet, charging them with sealing in the Falkland Islands in contravention of Vernet's regulations. Breakwater escaped and Superior was allowed to continue sealing on Vernet's terms. Vernet returned in Harriet to Buenos Aires to arrange for a trial. After this seizure of American vessels, sloop Lexington sailed for Port Louis [Puerto Soledad], East Falkland, to put an end to what was regarded by the U.S. as a "nest of pirates".

On 31 December 1831, Lexington came to anchor off Port Louis, Brisbane and six others were arrested on charges of piracy, the guns of the settlement were spiked and the powder magazine was blown. Duncan also offered passage to any from the settlement that wished to leave, and the majority of the population took the opportunity to leave the islands. Lexington arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 3 February 1832, where those given passage were released. Brisbane and six others, however, remained as prisoners until 16 April, when they were transferred to the sloop-of-war Warren. They were later released on the orders of Como. John Rodgers after the intervention of the British Chargé d’affaires Sir Woodbine Parish in Buenos Aires.

The incident caused a rupture in the relationship between Argentina and then United States for many years after Argentina expelled the American representative during the diplomatic row that followed. Although Lexington’s log only reported destruction of arms and a powder store, the remaining settlers later testified that there was great deal of damage to private property. Lexington stood poised to return to the Falklands after a second issue between the Argentines and an American vessel, this time it was the sealer The Sun. That expedition, however, never took place as Britain reasserted sovereignty over the Falklands in 1832.

Duncan returned to the United States and died on 14 September 1834 at White Sulphur Springs, Va. (later W. Va.).

I

(Destroyer No. 46: displacement 1,014; length 305'3"; beam 31'1"; draft 9'3"; speed 29 knots; complement 97; armament 4 4-inch, 8 18-inch torpedo tubes; class Cassin)

The first Duncan (Destroyer No. 46) was laid down on 17 June 1912 at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 5 April 1913; sponsored by Miss Dorothy Clark, daughter of Silas Duncan Clark, whose great-grandfather was a cousin of Comdr. Silas Duncan; and commissioned at the Boston (Mass.) Navy Yard, on 30 August 1913, Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Courtney in command.


Duncan making 15 knots while running trials, 5 July 1913. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 54579)
Caption: Duncan making 15 knots while running trials, 5 July 1913. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 54579)


Duncan, prior to installation of armament, making 16.5 knots while running trials, 5 July 1913. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 54578)
Caption: Duncan, prior to installation of armament, making 16.5 knots while running trials, 5 July 1913. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 54578)

Duncan was initially assigned to the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, and cruised along the east coast and in the Caribbean for training, target practice, and exercises until 24 October 1914, when she was placed out of commission at the Boston Navy Yard.

Duncan was re-commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 22 January 1916, Lt. (j.g.) Urey W. Conway in command. She resumed operations underway on 17 March, when she cleared the Boston and steamed to Hampton Roads, Va., via Provincetown, Mass. (17–21 March). She reached her destination on 23 March. Over the next month the destroyer operated from Hampton Roads, conducting trials and training in the waters off the Virginia capes and in the Chesapeake Bay. She also spent ten days at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va., undergoing maintenance (1–10 April).

Duncan was assigned to the 8th Division, Destroyer Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, on 24 April 1916. She cleared Hampton Roads the following day, bound for Rosebank, N.Y. Arriving that same day, she remained there until 23 May, when she departed for Newport, R.I. The destroyer steamed via Gardiner’s Bay and arrived that same day. After two days in port at Newport, she cleared on 25 May and steamed along the coast of New England between Bar Harbor, Maine, and Boston, Mass., making port visits along the coast through 27 June, when she arrived at the Boston Navy Yard. During this time, on 19 June, Duncan was transferred from the 8th Division to the 6th Division, Destroyer Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet.

Duncan remained at Boston until 8 August 1916, when she got underway and resumed her cruising along the New England coast. Clearing Newport on 30 August, Duncan steamed southward and passed between the Virginia capes into the lower Chesapeake Bay, mooring at Hampton Roads on the 31st. The next day she shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard, before going to sea and conducting training on the Southern Drill Grounds on 5 September. Returning to Hampton Roads on 7 September, she departed again on 13 September. After initially operating in the Southern Drill Grounds on the 13th, she steamed to Boston where she arrived the next day. Following a week at the Boston Navy Yard (14–21 September), she conducted a series of trials out of Boston through 19 October. With a visit to Newport (20–23 October), the destroyer then returned to the Boston Navy Yard on the 23rd and remained there into 1917.

Getting underway in the New Year on 8 January 1917, Duncan put to sea clearing Boston and steaming for the Greater Antilles and the Atlantic Fleet’s annual winter target practices and tactical exercises. She arrived at Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, on the 15th. Going to sea on 18 January, she steamed to Hispaniola and made port visits to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic [D.R.] (22 January) and Port-au-Prince, Haiti (25–26 January), before moving on to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where she arrived on the 27th. Staying at Guantánamo Bay for just over a week, she departed on 5 February and shifted to the anchorage at Guacanayabo Bay, Cuba on 6 February. This was done as the fleet concentrated in response to Germany’s resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February. This move heightened tensions between the countries and increased the likelihood of war. The destroyer remained at Guacanayabo until 6 March, when she went to sea bound for a return to the Boston Navy Yard. Arriving on 10 March, she remained there until 7 April. In the meantime, the U.S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917 and entered the World War. Duncan sortied from Boston on 7 April, but returned to port that same day. Two days later, she cleared the navy yard and steamed for Norfolk, where she arrived on 11 April. Her homeport was reassigned to Norfolk on 12 April, and she operated from there through the end of April. Ordered to Philadelphia, Pa., she arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, on 1 May. The destroyer remained there into July, undergoing overhaul and preparations for distant service.

Duncan cleared the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 24 July 1917, and steamed into the Chesapeake Bay, arriving at the fleet anchorage in the York River at Yorktown, Va. (Base No. 2) the following day. On 27 July, she stood out from Yorktown, bound for St. George [Staten Island], N.Y. Arriving on the 28th, she remained just a short time before getting underway again in order to make a return to the lower Chesapeake, arriving at Norfolk on 30 July. She operated in these waters over the next two weeks, standing out through the capes bound for the anchorage in the Long Island Sound at Port Jefferson, N.Y. (Base No. 10) on 13 August. Arriving on 19 August, she was again underway the following day bound for Newport. Steaming through Long Island and Block Island sounds, she entered Narragansett Bay and moored at Newport later on the 20th.

She remained until the 29th, when she got underway for a return to Port Jefferson via Boston (30–31 August 1917). She arrived on the 31st, then shifted to the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 1 September. She remained there undergoing overhaul until 7 September, when she went to sea. Duncan escorted a convoy to an eastern rendezvous (8–30 September), where an escort out of the British Isles met the inbound ships. Returning to the Norfolk Navy Yard, she later shifted to Lynnhaven Roads, Va. then back to Norfolk, before finally clearing the lower Chesapeake on 22 October and arriving the following day at the New York Navy Yard, where she docked until 31 October.

Upon clearing the yard, the destroyer shifted to Tompkinsville [Staten Island], N.Y. (Base No. 21), to rendezvous with the outbound convoy for which she would serve as an escort. Departing that same day, Duncan, in company with Downes (Destroyer No. 45) and Balch (Destroyer No. 50), escorted a convoy to Brest, France (Base No. 7), then arrived at Queenstown [Cobh], Ireland (Base No. 6), on 15 November 1917. The following day, the destroyer received orders transferring her to U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters. Based from Queenstown, she was under Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, RN, Commander-in-Chief, Coast of Ireland, and was to serve as a convoy escort and conduct anti-submarine patrols in the Western Approaches.

Her first escort mission was to escort Bridge (Supply Ship No. 1) in company with Walke (Destroyer No. 34) and Perkins (Destroyer No. 26) through the “war zone,” then to return to Base No. 6. The destroyer accomplished the mission and returned to base without incident. After her return, Duncan was placed out of service for overhaul alongside the destroyer tender Dixie. She was also considered for transfer to Brest to serve under Rear Adm. Henry Wilson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, France, but that did not take place.

Though she initially had mechanical issues, Duncan was underway on 3 December 1917, sortieing from Queenstown with Balch, Winslow (Destroyer No. 53), Burrows (Destroyer No. 29), Trippe (Destroyer No. 33), and Sterett (Destroyer No. 27) to escort an outbound convoy of six vessels and to rendezvous with an inbound convoy from the French West African port of Dakar. Having detached from the outbound convoy at 8:00 a.m. on 5 December, Duncan conducted her monthly target practice while steaming to intercept the inbound Convoy HD 13. This latter rendezvous was conducted at 8:00 a.m. on the 6th. The destroyers escorted the convoy in toward the Bristol Channel. En route, Trippe dropped a depth charge with negative results. The escorts detached from convoy and stood back into Queenstown on the 9th.

Duncan was again underway on 13 December 1917 in company with Balch, Conyngham (Destroyer No. 58), Winslow, Trippe, and Jarvis (Destroyer No. 38) to rendezvous with the inbound Troop Convoy No. 13 consisting of the transports George Washington (Id. No. 3018) and Huron (Id. No. 1408). The escort affected linkup with the inbound ships on 15 December and despite a heavy gale, brought them in to the French coast. Duncan and Winslow escorted Huron in to St. Nazaire (Base No. 8), while the other destroyers stood in to Brest with George Washington. All reached their respective destinations on 19 December. Duncan departed with Winslow on 20 December and both stood in to Queenstown the next day. The destroyer spent the next five days cleaning her boilers.


Duncan operating in the war zone, 1917. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 95198)
Caption: Duncan operating in the war zone, 1917. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 95198)

Duncan, having spent the Christmas holidays in port, got underway again on 27 December 1917. Patrolling between the Head of Kinsale and Mine Head, she was ordered to escort the British tug Racia into Holyhead, Wales, which she did the next day. Afterward, she was ordered to search for a reported U-boat off Holyhead. Unable to make contact, she then received orders to rendezvous with the collier Rollilio and escort her in to Queenstown on the 29th.Those orders were subsequently changed, and she received instructions to join the British Azalea-class sloop HMS Zinnia on 30 December. She met the Royal Navy vessel and the convoy she was escorting, the next day. Duncan was then ordered to escort the tanker Triniculo in to Devonport, England, with Winslow on the 31st. Both destroyers arrived at Devonport on 1 January 1918. With their escort mission complete, after refueling, both departed on 2 January and stood in to Queenstown later that evening.

Duncan, as Senior Officer Present (S.O.), sortied from Queenstown on 7 January 1918, in company with Paulding (Destroyer No. 22), Ammen (Destroyer No. 35), Trippe, Jarvis, HMS Zinnia, and the Q-ship HMS Tamarisk, to escort a convoy outbound from Milford Haven, Wales. Having met the assembled convoy, all departed Milford Haven on 8 January. The convoy dispersed at 8:00 p.m. on 9 January, and the destroyers steamed for Queenstown, while Zinnia and Tamarisk set a course for Berehaven [Castletownbere], Ireland, to refuel with coal. Duncan and her consorts reached Queenstown at 8:00 a.m. on the 10th.

Having refueled and re-provisioned, Duncan was underway in company with Trippe and Jarvis on 13 January 1918, ordered to hunt for U-boats between Kinsale and the Smalls. Having patrolled their sector with negative contact, the destroyers stood back in to Queenstown in the later afternoon on the 14th. Two days later, she again sortied as S.O. of Escort, this time for Convoy HH 37. The escort consisted of Duncan, Jarvis, and Trippe and the Royal Navy sloops Zinnia, Bluebell, and Aubretia. The escorts rendezvoused with the convoy at 5:45 p.m. on the 17th. The escorts conveyed the inbound convoy until relieved by Royal Navy destroyers on the 19th. With the convoy’s dispersal, Duncan and HMS Bluebell escorted the tanker Wico in to Plymouth, England on the 20th. Both escorts got underway the next day and made their return to Queenstown. Once in port, Duncan’s crew engaged in cleaning her boilers.

Duncan returned to sea on 26 January 1918, again as S.O. of the Escort. This time she was accompanied by Paulding, Drayton (Destroyer No. 23), and the sloops Zinnia, Bluebell, and Aubretia to escort Convoy HH 39. Embarked on board Duncan for temporary duty was Lt. Cmdr. William F. Halsey Jr. The escorts intercepted the inbound convoy on 27 January amidst heavy weather. As the weather improved, the convoy proceeded through the 28th, in to Brest on the 29th. Duncan and Drayton moored at Brest while the other escorts returned to Queenstown. Both destroyers cleared the French port the next morning and made their return to Queenstown at 10:00 p.m. that same day.


Destroyers moored at Brest, France, circa 1918. Right-hand ship is probably Ammen (Destroyer No. 35), second from left is Duncan. (Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph NH 100434)
Caption: Destroyers moored at Brest, France, circa 1918. Right-hand ship is probably Ammen (Destroyer No. 35), second from left is Duncan. (Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph NH 100434)

Duncan, again as escort commander, sortied from Queenstown in company with McDougal (Destroyer No. 54), Paulding, and Fanning (Destroyer No. 37), on 2 February 1918, with orders to proceed to Liverpool, England, to meet and escort to sea four British troops ships and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Arlanza. The rendezvous was affected on 3 February, but the transports did not do well in maintaining formation. This prompted the dispatch of Drayton to reinforce the escorts. Despite these issues, the transports reached their release point without incident on 5 February, and the escorts steamed back in to Queenstown late that same day. The destroyer stayed at Base No. 6 until the 10th.

The next day, 11 February 1918, she was underway at 7:00 a.m. as S.O. of Escort to intercept and escort Troop Convoy No. 19 in to France. The balance of the escort force comprised Rowan (Destroyer No. 64), Conyngham, O’Brien (Destroyer No. 51), Winslow, and Cummings (Destroyer No. 44). Rowan developed turbine trouble on 12 February, and was ordered to return to port. Ericsson (Destroyer No. 56) was dispatched as her replacement. That same day the convoy’s destination was also changed from St. Nazaire to Brest. The escorts rendezvoused with the convoy during the morning of 13 February, at this time they were also joined by Ericsson. Duncan’s escorts relieved the ocean escort Frederick (Armored Cruiser No. 8) and assumed the mission of bringing the transports Aeolus (Id. No. 3004), Calamares (Id. No. 3662), and Wilhelmina (Id. No. 2168) in to the French coast. While Ericsson reported sighting a U-boat periscope and conning tower and searched for the submarine on the 14th, there was no confirmed contact and the convoy continued its transit, shepherding the convoy in to Brest, before returning to Queenstown on the 16th.

Duncan departed Queenstown in company with Ericsson on 19 February 1918 to reinforce Convoy HG 53. Ericsson, however, stopped to make repairs and Duncan proceeded alone. While en route, she received a wireless message from HMS Auricula, that the convoy had been attacked at 6:00 p.m. Duncan made contact with the convoy on 20 February and she assumed her escort position accordingly. Later that day, the convoy dispersed and Duncan escorted ten vessels in to Liverpool by herself, arriving on the 21st.

The next day, she entered the Cammell Laird & Co. Yard and docked for overhaul. With her yard work completed, she undocked on 5 March 1918 and refueled. She departed on the 6th, as S.O. of Escort in company with Davis (Destroyer No. 65), Rowan, Cummings, Ammen, and Trippe. The convoy consisted of HMS Alsatian, HMS Virginian, five troopships and the merchantman St. Paul. Cummings soon dropped out to make repairs to her main throttle valve and was ordered to Queenstown directly. The escort parted company with the convoy on 8 March and Duncan and Rowan set an intercept course to meet Bridge and convey her in to Queenstown. They made contact at 11:30 a.m. on the 9th and despite heavy seas, stood in to Queenstown the next day. On 13 March, she received orders to escort the oiler Petrobus, having met the ship that same day, she escorted her to the release point and parted company the next day. En route back to Queenstown, she fired her Thornycroft depth charge throwers and then sighted O’Brien escorting the oiler Potomac. Falling in with the two ships, all steamed in to Queenstown at 9:00 p.m. on 14 March.

Again serving as Escort Commander, Duncan got underway from Queenstown on 18 March 1918. The other escorts included Allen (Destroyer No. 66), Trippe, and Sterett and the Royal Navy sloops HMS Jessamine, Crocus, Rhododendron, and Viola. The next day the escorts met the 24 ships of Convoy HH 45 under Rear Adm. Evelyn R. LeMarchant, RN. While en route on 20 March, HMS Viola dropped three depth charges on what she believed to be a U-boat. The incident proved to be a false contact. Continuing to the release point, the convoy dispersed and Duncan continued in to Brest on the 21st, before departing that same day for Queenstown and arriving at her destination the following day at 10:00 a.m. On 25 March, she sortied from Queenstown with five other destroyers to hunt for U-boats in the Irish Sea. Though she dropped a depth charge on the 26th, the destroyer returned to Base No. 6 on 28 March having made no contact with the enemy.

Resuming her duties as escort commander, Duncan departed Queenstown on 31 March 1918 in the lead of Rowan, Winslow, Parker (Destroyer No. 48), Conyngham, Caldwell (Destroyer No. 69), Sampson (Destroyer No. 63), and Porter (Destroyer No. 59) to meet and escort the inbound Troop Convoy No. 25. While en route outbound that first day, Sampson dropped six depth charges, with no result. Proceeding to the rendezvous, the escorts met the inbound convoy and began to escort them in to Brest. On 4 April, the transport Martha Washington (Id. No. 3019) made the “submarine sighted” signals and fired her gun. Four destroyers deployed accordingly. Duncan dropped seven depth charges, Sampson dropped ten, Winslow drooped three, and Conyngham one. Despite the deploying of 21 depth charges, there was no sign of damage to an enemy submarine. The convoy continued on and arrived at the mouth of the Gironde River without loss at 4:00 p.m. Having completed her escort mission, Duncan proceeded that same day to Queenstown that where she arrived at 6:00 p.m. on the 5th. With their return the crew cleaned the ship’s boilers through the 10th.

Duncan got underway on 11 April 1918, to escort the merchantman Zero westward, the latter developed engine troubles and the destroyer was dispatched to hunt for U-boats off the Irish coast. Though she encountered numerous friendly vessels, she had negative contact with any German U-boats and returned to Queenstown on 15 April.

She remained in port until sortieing as S.O. with Ericsson, Cummings, Sterett, Patterson (Destroyer No. 36), Porter, Paulding, and HMS Tamarisk on 17 April 1918 to escort Convoy HH 49. Having made contact on the 18th, the escorts assumed their respective positions. As some of the convoy dropped, Duncan dispatched destroyers to shepherd them in to port. At 7:45 p.m. British destroyers from Devonport arrived and the convoy dispersed. The American destroyers, however, continued in escort of five vessels in toward Brest where they arrived at 10:00 a.m. on the 20th. Departing later that day, all five returned to Queenstown on the 21st.

The destroyer was again underway on 24 April 1918, heading Conyngham, Ericsson, Davis, Cummings, Porter, Paulding, Sterett, Burrows, and Patterson in escort of Troop Convoy 29. The escort made contact, on 26 April, with the inbound convoy consisting of the transports Mount Vernon (Id. No. 4508), Pocahontas (Id. No. 2267), Czar (Id. No. 2315), Czaritza (Id. No. 2335), Madawaska (Id. No. 3011), Maui (Id. No. 1514), Calamares, and the store ship El Oriente (Id. No. 4504). That same day they were joined by Monaghan (Destroyer No. 32) and Roe (Destroyer No. 24) based at Brest. The convoy dispersed on the 27th at 3:00 p.m. Mount Vernon, Czar, Czaritza, and Pocahontas steamed to Brest under the escort of Duncan and five other destroyers, while the other ships continued in to St. Nazaire. Afterward, Duncan made her return to Queenstown, where she remained through month’s end.

Duncan departed Queenstown at 9:00 a.m. on 1 May 1918, as S.O. of Escort leading Ericsson, Burrows, Sterett, Porter, Paulding, Patterson, and Jenkins (Destroyer No. 42) in order to escort Convoy HH 51. In rough seas they met the convoy of 27 merchantmen on the 2nd, and relieved the ocean escort HMS Wyncote. The British destroyers HMS Loyal, Midge, and Unity fell in with the convoy on 3 May. Later that day, Porter dropped four depth charges on an oil slick with negative results. Three additional British destroyers based at Devonport joined the convoy at 6:15 p.m. and then the convoy separated. Duncan continued in to Brest with the majority of the American escorts, arriving on 4 May. Though they were delayed in entering the harbor, the convoy did so and then Duncan and the other destroyers departed for Queenstown, where they arrived in the morning on 5 May.

She was again underway on 6 May 1918, to locate the oiler Astrakhan and escort her in to Base No. 6. She located the tanker on 7 May and brought her in toward the Irish coast. En route the following day, she encountered the U.S. boat AL-10 (Submarine No. 50) running awash, they exchanged signals and each continued on their respective course. While underway, she received orders to proceed to Liverpool to take charge of the escort of an outbound convoy. She arrived at Liverpool on the 9th. The convoy consisted of three ships and Cummings and McCall (Destroyer No. 28) joined as additional escorts. With the dispersal of the convoy on 10 May, she proceeded to Berehaven where she arrived on the 11th and met up with Astrakhan and escorted her to Queenstown. While in port, the ship’s crew cleaned the boilers and overhauled her machinery until 16 May. The destroyer was underway again on 17 May, dispatched with Ammen, Terry (Destroyer No. 25), and Jenkins to search for German U-boats in the Irish Sea. Having patrolled in Area 3 without enemy contact, she returned to Queenstown on the 18th.

Duncan sortied at 8:30 a.m. on 19 May 1918, along with Wilkes (Escort Commander), Rowan, Winslow, Conyngham, Tucker (Destroyer No. 57), Benham (Destroyer No. 49), Sampson, Porter, Ammen, Terry, and Jenkins, to meet Troop Convoy No. 35. The destroyers met the convoy on the 21st, and relieving the ocean escort Frederick, assumed their respective escort positions. The convoy arrived without loss at Brest on 23 May. Duncan stood at the French port until the 26th when she got underway for another escort mission. The escort consisting of Duncan, Rowan, Tucker, Winslow, Cummings, Benham, Sampson, Porter, Ammen, and Jenkins cleared the port at 4:30 p.m. At 5:00 the convoy consisting of Mount Vernon; Agamemnon (Id. No. 3004); Hancock (Transport) [Convoy Commander]; Wilhelmina; Lenape (Id. No. 2700) and the Italian ships Caserta; Duc D'Aosta, and Dante Alighieri, did likewise. The escorts conveyed these outbound ships to the release point on the 28th. Afterward, they maneuvered to intercept the inbound Troop Convoy No. 37, which they met at 5:10 p.m.

The eastbound convoy consisted of Madawaska, Pocahontas, President Grant (Id. No. 3014), Calamares, Zeelandia (Id. No. 2507), the Italian transports Duc D'Abruzzi and Re D'Italia, and the stores ships Bridge and El Occidente (Id. No. 3307). While the convoy was underway in to port, an oil slick was detected and a number of destroyers dropped depth charges with negative results. The convoy dispersed on 30 May 1918, near the French coast with some ships entering the harbor at St. Nazaire, while Duncan escorted the others in to Brest. Departing that same day, she returned to Queenstown on the 31st. Duncan’s crew spent the next two days overhauling her machinery.

The destroyer was underway again on 3 June 1918, escorting the merchant ship Woodville with a cargo of 3,000 tons of whale oil from Queenstown to Liverpool along with the British trawlers Sarba and Carieda. After parting with Woodville at the mouth of the Mersey River, Duncan was ordered to join Benham on the Irish Sea patrol. While on patrol duty, she intercepted Convoy HG 79 and escorted it through the patrol zone on 5 June.  Later in the day, she was ordered to rendezvous with Balch and Benham. Moving to that engagement, she instead met with HMS Larne and Benham before midnight. She continued on patrol into the next day, during which she encountered Beale (Destroyer No. 40) off Bar Light. Completing her patrol, she steamed in to Liverpool and moored with Benham on the 7th.

The next day she was again underway, clearing the Mersey to join O’Brien, Benham, Cummings, Ammen, and Beale in escorting the 15-ship convoy, OE 16. During 9 June 1918, Duncan and Beale detached from the convoy and made their return to Queenstown on the 10th. She cleaned her boilers (11–14 June) before moving on to the ranges in the lower harbor on 15 June. Duncan then cleared the harbor in company with Kimberly (Destroyer No. 80) to escort the oiler San Silvestre. Having parted with the oiler the next day, Duncan steamed for a return to Base No. 6, reaching on the 17th. Later that same day, after refueling, Duncan stood out from Queenstown in company with Kimberly and Rowan for Liverpool.

Arriving on 18 June 1918, the three destroyers later got underway with Stockton (Destroyer No. 73) to escort RMS Mauretania. The following day, she developed mechanical problems and was ordered to return to Queenstown which she did at 11:00 p.m., securing to Dixie. By the 20th, the repairs to her circulating pump were completed and she got underway at 8:00 a.m. and proceeded into the Irish Sea for patrol duty. She joined Shaw (Destroyer No. 68), Downes (Destroyer No. 45), and Beale. While the others proceeded to Liverpool, Duncan patrolled in the vicinity of Tuskar. The next day, she encountered the steamers Ryburn and Palmella and escorted them through the patrol area before releasing them to the Royal Navy-class destroyer HMS Stag (D.78). She continued her patrolling on the 22nd and joined Shaw before returning to Queenstown on 23 June. After overhauling her machinery, Duncan was again underway at 10:00 p.m. on 24 June with Kimberly (S.O.), Stockton, Terry, Sterett, and Paulding to escort Convoy HC 6. The escorts were joined the following day by Conyngham and by Downes, at 4:30 a.m. on the 26th. Two hours later the escorts met the 10-ship convoy, escorted by HMS Roxburgh, and took up positions to bring them to their destinations. After completing the mission, Duncan returned to Queenstown on the 28th, and shifted to a position adjacent to Dixie to overhaul her machinery on 29 June. With her overhaul completed, she sortied with Paulding to conduct the anti-submarine patrol between Mine Head and the Smalls. In advance of her departure, Duncan’s sailing instructions included intelligence on the operational dispositions of British and U.S. submarines underway. Having made no enemy contact, Duncan and Paulding returned to Queenstown at 8:00 a.m. on 2 July.

Duncan stood in port for only a short time and then got underway again at 4:00 p.m. on 3 July 1918. HMS Camellia (S.O.); HMS Zinnia, HMS Flying Fox; Balch, and Paulding constituted the other escorts dispatched to meet Convoy HE 14. The escorts made contact with the inbound 13-ship convoy on 4 July. Proceeding on the 5th, the convoy was joined by five Royal Navy destroyers based on Devonport. With their arrival, eight ships of the convoy parted with the destroyers for the English Channel. Duncan continued with the convoy in to Liverpool on 7 July. Quickly refueling from the oiler Ottawa, Duncan joined Camellia, Balch, Paulding, and Flying Fox. To escort the outbound 11-ship Convoy OL 22. A day out, on 8 July, Duncan was scouting seven miles ahead of the convoy when she came across a seemingly fresh wake, prompting her to drop eleven depth charges with no apparent success. The following day, the weather worsened, but the convoy proceeded unabated. At 1:30 p.m., Duncan parted from the convoy and set a course for Queenstown, reaching the following day, 10 July. The ship cleaned her boilers and made modifications (11–15 July) in port.

Getting underway on the 16th after some initial mechanical difficulties, the destroyer escorted Bushnell (Submarine Tender No. 2) in to Berehaven. On 17 July 1918, Duncan cleared the harbor with Balch to join Stockton, Sampson, and Trippe to escort RMS Olympic home. At 11:00 a.m., Duncan sighted an open boat containing nine survivors of the Norwegian bark Miefield sunk the previous day by scuttling charges set by a boarding party from U-55 (Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Werner commanding). Sampson picked up the remaining members of the bark’s crew. Proceeding to her meeting with Olympic, Duncan made contact at 7:20 a.m. on 18 July and joined her on her inbound passage. The destroyer continued with her through most of the 19th, then parting from the liner, returned to Queenstown in the afternoon on the 20th and refueled.

Duncan cleared Queenstown on 22 July 1918 at 4:00 p.m., with Stockton (S.O.), Sampson, Balch, and Trippe to hunt for U-boats in the Irish Sea en route to Liverpool. While underway, she made contact with AL-2 (Submarine No. 41). On the 23rd, having responded to the sinking of Marmora, torpedoed by UB-64 (Kapitänleutnant Otto von Schrader), she found no survivors, then proceeded in to Liverpool with Stockton and Sampson, reaching the next day. On 25 July, Duncan cleared Liverpool with Stockton (S.O.), Caldwell, and Sampson to escort the outbound Cunard liner RMS Aquitania.

Departing from the Liverpool Bar at 1:30 p.m., the escorts parted with the liner at 12:45 a.m. on the 26th and made their return to Queenstown. Stockton ran aground on the south side of the harbor. The next day, the destroyer sortied with Kimberly (S.O.), Davis, Stockton, and Caldwell, to hunt for U-boats. Davis and Duncan parted from the others ten miles from Conigbeg and patrolled between Mine Head and Tuskar. The others proceeded into the Irish Sea. On the 28th, she proceeded to Rosslare, Ireland, and joined the steamer Treleigh to escort her toward Berehaven, until she was relieved by Camellia off Daunt Rock on 29 July. From the release point she steamed back in to Queenstown and refueled in preparation for another escort mission.

She departed the next day in company with HMS Snowdrop, HMS Sir Bevis, HMS Bluebell, Shaw, Caldwell, and Balch to meet and escort Convoy HL 48. The escorts made contact with the convoy at 7:40 a.m. on 31 July 1918 and took the stations after relieving the ocean escort HMS Carrigan Head. Afterward the convoy was joined by Paulding and McCall (Destroyer No. 28) who then detached with the oiler Crenella for Queenstown. While a portion of the convoy detached and proceeded into the English Channel escorted by destroyers from Devonport on 1 August, Duncan continued to escort the balance of the convoy toward France. She detached the following day and returned to Queenstown in company with Shaw.

After conducting overhaul through 5 August 1918, Duncan was underway again on the 6th. Clearing with Rowan (S.O.), Shaw, McCall, Paulding, Sir Bevis, Camellia, and Bluebell to meet and escort Convoy HH 63. Meeting the 27-ship convoy during the morning of 7 August, the escorts took up their stations with Rowan dropping a depth charge on a suspected target with no result. While a portion of the convoy detached and steamed for Liverpool on 8 August, Duncan proceeded with ten ships and five of the escorts toward Brest. Upon reaching Brest on the 9th, the convoy dispersed and Duncan returned to Queenstown with McCall, arriving later that same day.

The next day, 10 August 1918, Duncan departed Queenstown at 8:00 p.m. bound for Liverpool and a routine refit at Cammell Laird. At 2:56 a.m. on the 11th, she collided in the fog with the Cunard liner Saxonia. Having struck the latter on her starboard bow, Duncan sustained bow damage, crushing in as far as frame 13. The destroyer proceeded unassisted to Liverpool, that same day. On 12 August, she got underway and entered the basin at Cammell Laird. In addition to the repairs that had to be made post-collision, Duncan was also in the yard to have a director firing system and anti-submarine warfare equipment installed. The estimated time in the yard was to be about one month.

A Board of Investigation was stood up pursuant to the collision and the rendered opinion stated that the board “attaches no responsibility to any persons and recommends that no further action be taken.” Despite the recommendation of this Board of Investigation, the ship’s commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Matthias E. Manly was replaced by Lt. Calvin H. Cobb on 20 August 1918. Interestingly, a year later, on 11 August 1919, the Legal Section, at U.S. Naval Headquarters at Grosvenor, London, England, rendered an opinion “contrary to that arrived at by the Board of Investigation and approved by the Force Commander.” In this latter instance, the opinion stated by Lt. (j.g.) Russell A. Mackey, USNRF, was that Duncan was “negligent and that its negligence was a direct cause of the collision.”

With her yard work completed, Duncan undocked on 1 October 1918, but still required two days of additional repairs. Having received orders from HMS Patrol, she cleared Liverpool later on 4 October to conduct anti-submarine patrol with Hunting Flotillas, Irish Sea. She then proceeded toward Queenstown and moored in the harbor on the 5th. The next day, after refueling, she was underway in company with Shaw, Kimberly, Conyngham, and Downes to meet and escort Aquitania in to Southampton, England.

Contact was made with the convoy at 9:15 a.m. on 8 October 1918. Proceeding with the convoy on the 9th, Shaw jammed her rudder and collided with Aquitania, sheering off the former’s bow. Duncan took off 84 of her crew, 12 of them wounded, and stood by while Shaw's remaining men took their ship into Portland, England, under her own power. Afterward, Duncan proceeded to Queenstown with Kimberly, reaching on 11 October.

She cleared again on 14 October and steamed to Berehaven. Upon her arrival, she was ordered to join Stevens (Destroyer No. 86) and Utah (Battleship No. 31) to meet Convoy HX 51. The following day the three made contact with the ten-ship convoy escorted by HMS Achilles. The battleships parted company and the destroyers continued their escort, having been joined by Flying Fox and Sterett during the night. The escorts conveyed the convoy to Queen’s Channel outside Liverpool then proceeded in to the harbor on 17 October. The next morning Duncan was again underway in company with Stevens, Downes, Conyngham, Sterett, Terry, and Flying Fox to escort Convoy OLX 50 consisting of 11 ships. While Flying Fox and Terry had departed to engage a U-boat, which Flying Fox reported as sunk, the convoy proceeded. On 20 October, the escorts parted company and Duncan proceeded to Berehaven to await further orders. She cleared on 22 October in company with Stevens, Downes, Conyngham, and Terry to meet and escort Olympic in to Southampton. Upon meeting the liner on the 23rd, the escorts took up their respective positions and began to shepherd her toward Southampton. Duncan and Conyngham were detached on the 24th and both returned to Queenstown that same day.

After several days in port, Duncan cleared Queenstown on 28 October 1918, and proceeded to the mouth of the Shannon River, to stand upriver as far as Foynes, Ireland. She received countermanding orders and returned to Queenstown, that same day. She sortied again on 31 October in company with Stevens, Downes, and Rowan to escort the troop transport Leviathan (Id. No. 1326) in toward Liverpool. After meeting the transport on 2 November, Duncan took up her escort position and conveyed her to the release point on the 3rd, after which, she made her return to Queenstown, where she moored alongside Rowan at 7:35 p.m. The destroyer remained in port through 11 November, the day of the Armistice which ended hostilities.

Despite the war’s end, Duncan was underway on 12 November 1918, in company with Stevens, Downes, and Balch to conduct long-range gunnery practice off the Daunt Rock Lightship. Having completed their firings, the destroyers stood back in to Queenstown on the 14th. On 15 November, she cleared with Stevens bound for Belfast, Ireland [Northern Ireland]. Arriving the next day, the destroyers transferred influenza patients to the Union Hospital in Belfast. Departing Belfast on 20 November, the destroyers steamed to Holyhead, reaching the same day. Remaining there for two days, she cleared on 24 November, and made her return to Queenstown that same day.

The next day, she was underway in company with Downes, Sterett, and Terry, bound for Berehaven, reaching that same evening. The following day, the destroyers got underway escorting Utah and Oklahoma (Battleship No. 37) to the Scilly Islands. They conveyed the battleships to the release point on 27 November 1918, and returned to Queenstown later that day. Duncan cleared Queenstown on 5 December and proceeded to Brest with Kimberly, Rowan, Sampson, and Wilkes. They arrived that same day and stood at Brest until 13 December, when they joined in escorting George Washington, bearing President Woodrow Wilson, in to the harbor. Duncan returned to Base No. 6, the following day and remained there making her preparations to return to the United States.

Duncan cleared Queenstown on Boxing Day, 26 December 1918, bound westward for home. Steaming via the Azores, she arrived at Ponta Delgada on 30 December and departed for Bermuda, the next day. She, however, was forced to return to the Portuguese archipelago on 1 January 1919. Then after two days, she made her second departure from the islands, raising Bermuda a week later, on the 10th; before departing the next day for the last leg of her transit. Duncan reached the Norfolk Navy Yard on 12 January, and docked to undergo post-deployment overhaul, repairs, and refit.

Duncan undocked upon the completion of her yard work and stood out from Norfolk on 15 February 1919, steaming southward to meet the fleet for the annual winter exercises and training. She arrived at Guantánamo Bay on 22 February and returned to sea two days later to participate in training. The destroyer returned to Guantanamo on 15 March, before departing again for exercises on the 17th. She next made landfall calling at Bridgetown, Barbados, in the British West Indies (22–25 March), before returning to Guantanamo on 29 March. Between 1–3 April, she shuttled between Guantánamo Bay and Guacanayabo Bay. Duncan stood out from Guantánamo Bay on 9 April, and steamed directly to New York. Steaming up the Hudson on 14 April, she stood at the North River anchorage until the 28th. Getting underway on that day, she raised the Norfolk Navy Yard the next day and docked for urgent repairs to her boilers.

Duncan was placed in ordinary at Norfolk on 31 May 1919; then into reduced commission on 1 January 1920. Later that year, on 17 July 1920 she was reclassified from Destroyer No. 46 to DD-46; on 1 August 1920, she was placed in reserve and then designated to operate with 50 percent of her complement on 1 January 1921. Duncan was finally decommissioned on 9 August 1921. The minesweeper Owl (AM-2) departed Norfolk with Duncan in tow on 22 July 1924 bound from Norfolk to the Philadelphia (Pa.) Navy Yard.

Stricken from the Navy list on 8 March 1935, she was sold that same day to Michael Flynn Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y., and scrapped during the year in accordance with the terms of the London Naval Treaty for the Reduction of Naval Armament.

Commanding Officers Dates of Command
Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Courtney 30 August 1913–24 October 1914
Lt. (j.g.) Urey W. Conway 22 January 1916–26 January 1916
Lt. Randall Jacobs 26 January 1916–17 June 1916
Lt. Cmdr. Roger Williams 17 June 1916–15 May 1918
Lt. Cmdr. Matthias E. Manly 15 May 1918–20 August 1918
Lt. Calvin H. Cobb 20 August 1918–27 January 1919
Lt. Haiden T. Dickinson 27 January 1919–31 January 1919
Lt. Cmdr. Edmund W. Strother 31 January 1919–31 May 1919
Lt. Cmdr. Robert H. Grayson 31 May 1919–21 July 1919
Ens. Francis E. Matthews 21 July 1919–7 August 1919
Lt. Walter M. A. Wynne 7 August 1919–6 November 1919
Lt. John T. Metcalf 6 November 1919–30 April 1921
Ens. Turner W. Battle 30 April 1921–28 May 1921
Lt. John A. Riley 28 May 1921–9 August 1921


Christopher B. Havern Sr.; Commanding Officers List researched and compiled by Kathryn Sullivan
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10 September 2018

Published: Mon Sep 10 11:31:55 EDT 2018