Naval History and Heritage Command

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Fairfax (Destroyer No. 93)

1918-1941

 

Donald McNeil Fairfax, born on 10 March 1818 in Mt. Eagle, Va., entered the Navy as a midshipman on 12 August 1837. As executive officer in San Jacinto, on 8 November 1861 he boarded the British steamship Trent to remove Confederate commissioners after the ship had been stopped by his captain. His distinguished service in the Civil War included command of Cayuga, Nantucket, and Montauk. Rear Admiral Fairfax retired on 30 September 1881, and died at Hagerstown, Md., on 10 January 1894.

(Destroyer No. 93: displacement 1,247; length 314'5"; beam 31'8"; draft 9' (mean); speed 35 knots; complement 100; armament 4 4-inch, 2 3-inch, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Wickes)

The unnamed Destroyer No. 93 was laid down on 10 July 1917 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard; named Fairfax (Destroyer No. 93) on 14 July 1917 in General Order No. 311; launched on 15 December 1917; sponsored by Miss Elizabeth George, daughter of Capt. Harry George, Commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard; and commissioned on 6 April 1918, Lt. Cmdr. Stanford C. Hooper in command.

Fairfax arrived at Hampton Roads 6 June 1918 for convoy escort duty out of Newport News. She guarded convoys of troop transports to midocean meeting points with escorts who had come out of English and French ports to meet them. Fairfax also guarded convoys moving between coastal ports, and patrolled off the coast until 16 October, when she stood down Hampton Roads bound for Brest, France, escorting a troop convoy. On 18 October, she left her convoy to rescue 86 survivors of the American cargo ship Lucia, torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-155 (Korvettenkapitan Ferdinand Studt, commanding), and on 27 October, arrived at Brest for patrol and escort duty in European waters.

On 3 December 1918, Fairfax arrived in the Azores to meet and escort to Brest, the transport George Washington carrying President Woodrow Wilson to the Peace Conference. She sailed for home 21 December, reaching Norfolk 8 January 1919. Her post war operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean were broken in May 1919, when she sailed to the Azores to take up station as an observer of the historic first aerial crossing of the Atlantic made by Navy seaplanes. On 17 July 1920, the ship was reclassified from Destroyer No. 93 as DD-93. On 19 June 1922, she was decommissioned at Philadelphia, and placed in reserve.

Recommissioned 1 May 1930, Fairfax operated primarily on training cruises for members of the Naval Reserve during the following 2 years, based at Newport, R.I., and Camden, N.J. On 12 March 1932 she sailed from Hampton Roads for San Diego, Calif., arriving 26 March. On the west coast, too, her primary duty was training reservists, but she also took part in gunnery exercises and fleet problems off Mexico, Central America, and the Canal Zone.

Fairfax took part in the review taken by President Frtanklin D. Roosevelt off San Diego in March 1933, then sailed for the East coast, where she continued her reserve training duty. She also patrolled in Cuban waters, and in the summers of 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940 sailed out of Annapolis training midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy. Between October 1935 and March 1937, she served with the Special Service Squadron out of Balboa and Coco Solo, C.Z., operating primarily on the Atlantic side of the Canal Zone.

The destroyer joined in representing the United States Navy at the opening of the New York City World's Fair in April 1939, and after war broke out in Europe that September, operated on neutrality patrol along with her training duties. On 21 November 1940, she arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was decommissioned on 26 November, and transferred to Great Britain under the destroyers for-base agreement. Her name was stricken from the Navy Register on 8 January 1941.

The former Fairfax was commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Richmond on 5 December 1940. She arrived at Plymouth, England, 31 December 1940 to join the escorts sailing out of Liverpool in the Western Approaches Command. These ships guarded the movement of vital convoys through the most dangerous waters of their passage across the Atlantic. Between June and October 1941, she performed similar duty in the Newfoundland Force, and from February 1942 through March, made the dangerous run to Murmansk. Her base for Atlantic escort duty between December 1942 and August 1943 was Greenock, Scotland. Richmond served in the Royal Canadian Navy, based at St. John's, Newfoundland, until December 1943, when with newer escorts available, she was placed in reserve in the Tyne. On 16 July 1944 she was transferred to the Russian Navy, with whom she served as Jivoochyi.

Published: Fri Nov 20 13:23:56 EST 2015