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Diary of Commander Joseph K. Taussig


Oct. 17


     Made usual visit to Admiralty House. Admiral Bayly was much interested in our recent rough weather experiences. Saw Hanrahan, Vernou, and Neal.1 Vernou told us about his ship getting torpedoed.2 It seems that they sighted the submarine on the surface about four miles away. It was apparently headed s.e. when it submerged. Vernou figured that the sub. would change course to the northward and laid his plans accordingly. His first intimation that he was within torpedo range of the submarine was the sighting of a torpedo which porpoised about 300 yards from the Cassin and which was coming apparently direct for the engine room. Vernon rang the emergency full speed ahead, put the rudder hard left. The torpedo porpoised just so it struck the Cassin abaft the propeller struts and above the water line. The explosion caused both depth charges to detonate. The stern was blown off but the engines could turn over. So the Cassin continued steaming in a circle as the rudder was gone. Why the submarine did not succeed in getting another torpedo into him is not known—unless perhaps he did not have any more.3 During the night the wind increased and the Cassin almost got ashore at Hook Point. The Tamarisk succeeded in getting her in tow and took her off the lee shore for an hour before tow lines parted. Several lines were carried away, but after daylight the sea moderated and there was no difficulty in getting her into Queenstown.

     I took a look at the Cassin but could not see the entire extent of the damage as she had not been placed in dry dock.

     This afternoon M.S. Davis4 and I landed at Mortontown and walked to Passage where we went on board the Maumee which ship was disbarging stores. Victor Tomb5 is in command but he was not on board. They have a full complement of regular officers and a complement of reserve officers in addition. I believe it is the intention to turn the ship over to the Reserve Officers after arrival in U.S.

     We looked at the “Cento” in dry dock at Passage. This is the steamer that was torpedoed off Kinsale on Sept. 11, while in a convoy. She had a good big hole in her but fortunately no bulkheads were ruptured so only her fire room was flooded.

     Returned to the Wadsworth for dinner and spent the evening on board reading and writing.

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. David C. Hanrahan, Lt. Cmdr. Walter N. Vernou, Lt. Cmdr. George F. Neal.

Footnote 3: According to U-61 war diary, Kaptänleutenant Victor Dieckmann remained in the vicinity to observe if Cassin sank or not. He was frustrated that whenever he raised his periscope to get a better look, the wounded ship seemed to move towards him. Another destroyer arrived (the Tamarisk) and he was forced to leave the scene. See: War Diary of U-61, 15 October 1917.

Footnote 4: Lt. Milton S. Davis.

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. William V. Tomb.