Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Documentary Histories
WWI

War Diary of U.S.S. Conyngham

October 19/1917.                        [48° 00' North Latitude, 9° 20' West Longitude]

          At 5:50 p.m., while Conyngham was alongside starboard side of ORAMA passing her recognition signals,1 a torpedo crossing CLAN LINDSAY’S bow, struck H.M.S. ORAMA in port side, about No. 3 hold. A distant report was heard followed immediately by cloud of smoke arising from ORAMA forward of her bridge. ORAMA listed to port and began to sink by the bow. Conyngham sounded general by radio ordered convoy to disperse.2 Conyngham sounded general quarters and went full speed ahead and crossed ORAMA’S bow by going full left rudder, then proceeded to make circle between VA and VR columns?3 When circling a wake was sighted on starboard quarter. A periscope about one foot emerged visible for few seconds only was seen in this wake. A short time afterwards a periscope was sighted sharp on our starboard bow.4 This periscope submerged almost immediately, but wake was plainly visible. Conyngham then a few yards from the periscope headed for same and dropped depth charge over the wake. An explosion resulted. Large quantities of discolored water was seen to rise in the air and a number of crew and officers distinctly made out quantity of wreckage, one piece of which might have been the wireless mast of the submarine, when Conyngham circled near the spot of the explosion.5

          Conyngham radioed JACOB JONES to stand by ORAMA and PARKER and NICHOLSON to take charge and reassemble convoy, meanwhile numbers of crew and passengers of the ORAMA abandoned ship, and were picked up by Conyngham and JACOB JONES. Conyngham circled ORAMA until dark, then went alongside and took off all remaining on board. Conyngham sent life boat with captain of ORAMA for final inspection.

          Conyngham ordered AUBRIETTA and JENKINS to standby area of disaster and JACOB JONES, with 305 survivors to proceed to Queenstown.

          Conyngham with 168 survivors aboard proceeded to join and help reassemble convoy.

          At 7:20 p.m., McDOUGAL reported dropping depth charge on moving slick and at 7:30 the CLAN LINDSAY reported being torpedoed, evidently CLAN LINDSAY felt discharge of depth charge, but was unharmed. Later she canceled the S.O.S., report. All members of crew and passengers of ORAMA were rescued.

          Sea exceptionally smooth, weather conditions very good.

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: Conyngham, Folder 4. The place was taken from a report of the sinking of ORAMA.

Footnote 1: ORAMA was an armed merchant cruiser of almost 13,000 tons. It was one of the largest ships to be sunk. UBoat.net, Accessed on 12 October 1917, http://uboat.net/wwi/ships_hit/4568.html.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson of Conyngham commanded the escort force.

Footnote 3: For more on the arrangement of the convoy and the escort force, see: Johnson to William Sims, 22 October 1917.

Footnote 4: The periscope belonged to U-62 the submarine that sank ORAMA.

Footnote 5: U-62 was not sunk; it is not known if it was damaged in this encounter.

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