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Robinson I (Destroyer No. 88)

(DD-88: displacement 1,220; length 314-4-; beam 30-6-; draft 8-6-; speed 35 knots; complement 140; armament 4 4-, 2 1-pounders, 12 21- torpedo tubes; cl. Wickes)

Isaiah Robinson, probably born in Philadelphia, Pa., was a member of the Philadelphia Ship Masters' Association and served as lieutenant in Hornet with Joshua Barney. He later commanded the 10-gun Continental sloop-of-war Sachem, fitted out by the Marine Committee shortly after Admiral Hopkins' Fleet sailed for New Providence in 1776, and captured a six-gun British letter of marque off the Virginia Capes. Appointed captain in the Continental Navy on 10 October 1776, he assumed command of the 14-gun brig Andrew Doria. One of the more important smaller vessels of the Continental Navy, the brig sailed under orders of the Secret Committee, dated 17 October 1776, for the Dutch island of St. Eustatius to take on a cargo of military stores. Upon the return voyage in late November, he captured the British 12-gun sloop-of-war Racehorse after a 2-hour engagement near Puerto Rico.

The following year, Captain Robinson cruised against enemy shipping off Cape May, but was finally blockaded in the Delaware River. During the defense of Philadelphia, and following the destruction of Fort Mifflin on 15 November 1777, he was forced to burn Andrew Doria to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. He commanded the 12-gun Pennsylvania privateer Pomona in 1779 and succeeded in taking several British privateers. The date of his death is unknown, but his will, dated 12 August 1777, was probated in the city of Philadelphia on 25 September 1781.


The first Robinson (Destroyer No. 88) was laid down 31 October 1917 by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif.; launched 28 March 1918; sponsored by Miss Evelyn Tingey Selfridge; and commissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard 19 October 1918, Comdr. George Wirth Simpson in command.

Robinson cleared San Francisco Bay 24 October 1918 for the east coast of the United States. Transiting the Panama Canal 3 November 1918, she set course by way of Guantanamo Bay for Norfolk where she arrived on 8 November.

On 10 January 1919 Robinson put to sea from Norfolk to conduct winter training out of Guantanamo Bay, which ended at New York Harbor 14 April 1919. She then prepared for lifeguard duty supporting the first transatlantic flight from America to Europe to be attempted by Navy Seaplane Division Number 1.

Robinson got underway from Norfolk on 30 April, arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 4 May 1919, and stood out toward the entrance of the harbor on the afternoon of 8 May. At 7:44 p.m., she sighted the first of the Navy seaplanes, the NC-3, approach the harbor on the first leg of the transatlantic flight. Two days later Robinson took station at sea to assist in guarding the flight of the two seaplanes to Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland, then returned to Halifax 11 May and got underway on the 14th to act as plane guard for seaplane NC-4 which had been delayed by repairs at Chatham, Mass., and passed overhead at 4:45 p.m., on 15 May, to join the other two seaplanes at Trepassey Bay.

After NC-4 faded from view, Robinson set course for station on the Azores route to be followed by the seaplanes from Trepassey Bay, 16 May 1919. These seaplanes would be guided on their 1,380-mile flight to the Azores, by Robinson and other destroyers who poured smoke from their funnels in daylight and fired starshells or turned on searchlights during the night. The first seaplane passed Robinson abeam an hour before midnight of 16 May 1919, and the two others also passed within the next 20 minutes.

The NC-4 covered the flight in 15 hours and 13 minutes setting down at Horta, the emergency stop in the Azores Islands. This seaplane had found its way above the dense fog which completely blinded the pilots of the others. An hour before the NC-4 landed, the NC-1 was forced to the water about 45 miles off Flores Island and the NC-3 had also descended about 35 miles from Fayal. The NC-1 sank in the heavy seas and Robinson joined in the search for the NC-3 which refused all assistance and finally taxied to Ponta Delgada under its own power.

Robinson anchored at Horta, Fayal Island, the afternoon of 19 May and stood out of the harbor the next morning to transport newspaper reports to Ponta Delgada where she arrived that afternoon. On 25 May 1919, she was en route to Station Number Seven (38- 10' North, 17- 40' East) to cover the fourth leg of the transoceanic flight of the lone NC-4. She sighted the seaplane at 1:30 on the afternoon of 26 May and the NC-4 faded from view on its way to a royal welcome by the Portuguese at Lisbon on 25 May and at Plymouth, England, on the 31st, terminating the historic 4,500-mile flight.

Robinson returned to Ponta Delgada on 28 May 1919 and put to sea on 2 June to arrive at Newport on the 8th. She underwent overhaul in the Norfolk Navy Yard and conducted operations in local areas of Newport until her arrival at New York on 30 September 1919. She joined five other destroyers off Sandy Hook on the afternoon of 1 October, then made rendezvous off Fire Island with the transport George Washington to act as honor escort for the King of Belgium. She cleared port on 6 October for operations off Key West and Pensacola, Fla., visiting Beaufort, S.C., on her return voyage to New York where she arrived 5 November 1919.

On 22 November 1919, Robinson stood out of New York Harbor, leading the second section of the honor detachment on the port quarter of HMS Renown, flying the standard of the Prince of Wales, in company with HMS Constance. She was relieved of her royal escort duty off Nantucket Shoals and returned to New York on 25 November. After a visit to Savannah, and voyage repairs in the Portsmouth Navy Yard, she cleared Boston Harbor on 14 January 1920 for fleet maneuvers off Guantanamo Bay and near the Panama Canal. She returned to New York on 1 May 1920 and entered the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 25 May 1920 for a year of inactivity. She shifted from the yard to Newport on 25 May 1921 for local operations until 10 October, then visited New York before her arrival at Charleston, S.C., on 19 November 1921. After several months in local waters off Charleston, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she decommissioned 3 August 1922.

Robinson remained inactive until 23 August 1940 when she recommissioned for transfer to the British Government under terms of the destroyers-in-exchange-for-bases agreement. The transfer was effected at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 26 November 1940 when Robinson was renamed HMS Newmarket and taken over by a care and maintenance party of the Royal Canadian Navy. She was commissioned in the British Navy by a Royal Navy crew on 5 December 1940, and struck from the U.S. Navy list 8 January 1941.

Newmarket departed Halifax on 15 January for the United Kingdom, calling at St. John's and arriving at Belfast on the 26th and at Plymouth, England, on the 30th.

After a short refit in the Humber, she began convoy escort work in the Western Approaches Command and on 2 June 1941, was unsuccessfully attacked by an aircraft in the northwestern approaches. Later that month she proceeded to Sheerness, and was in dockyard hands until November when she joined the 8th Escort Group, at Londonderry.

On 3 January 1942, Newmarket had to leave Convoy HX-166 because of boiler trouble, and proceeded to Lough Foyle. On the 30th she arrived at Liverpool, and was under refit until the end of March.

In April 1942, she escorted the Russian convoy PQ-14, but, a month later, was allocated for duty as an aircraft target ship in the Firth of Forth. She refitted at Leith between December 1942 and February 1943, and later in the year, refitted again at Rosyth, Scotland. In September 1943, Newmarket was reduced to care and maintenance status at Rosyth but resumed duty as an aircraft target ship from the spring of 1944, until after the end of the war in Europe. She was scrapped at Llanelly in September 1945.

14 October 2005

Published: Thu Feb 25 02:59:25 EST 2016