Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Henry B. Price, Senior Officer Present, Queenstown Ireland, to Destroyer Flotilla, Queenstown

U. S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

DESTROYER FLOTILLAS

U. S. S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP        (F-15)

BASE SIX      

17 October 1918.

From  :   Senior U. S. Naval Officer Present.

To    :   Destroyer Flotillas, Queenstown.

SUBJECT:  Development of Depth Charge Crews and Equipment.

Enclosure:     (1)  Depth Charge Barrage Patterns, (Blue Print).1

     1.   It is necessary that all Commanding Officers give particular attention to the development and use of the depth charge projectors and the depth charge equipment to the maximum of its capabilities. The present idea of releasing a single string of depth charges together with one or two salvos from Y-gun or throwers is not sufficient. It is necessary in attacking a submarine to lay the longest and widest barrage that can be laid with the number of depth charges and the installation installed, in order to cover the greatest possible area and to reduce the probability of the escape of the submarine to the minimum.2 This question involves not only the perfection of the apparatus on board each destroyer to the greatest extent compatible with the design and deck space available, but it also means the consistent and thorough drilling of the depth charge officers and crews. Ingenuity will have to be used in adapting loading installations to the different types of destroyers to be found at this Base.

     2.   Enclosure (1) indicates what is possible on board a destroyer carrying 50 depth charges and with an equipment of the usual racks together with two Y-guns or one Y-gun and two throwers. Many suggestions in regard to the improvement of the loading facilities have been received. This installation should be as light as possible and so arranged as not to interfere with the handling of the after gun. There are plans of the different types of loading apparatus on board the MELVILLE and they are available for the inspection of Commanding Officers or other officers on board destroyers.

     3.   In attempting to plan an installation for a destroyer, a careful sketch should be made to scale of the deck space available and in the available space there should be laid down, to scale the apparatus it is proposed to instal.

     4.  It is to be noted that the Y-gun can use a two pound impulse charge which throws the charge 98 yards. Impulse charges now on hand are loaded with but one pound sphero hexagonal powder. Commanding Officers can draw any number of impulse charges they desire, break them down, and reload them so that they contain two pounds of powder. It is necessary in placing two pounds of powder in impulse cases, to use only the sphero hexagonal powder and the wadding placed in on top has to be cut down to a certain extent. Preparations are being made to do all reloading of charges with different weights of powder on shore.

     5.   While waiting for a new or proposed installation, Commanding Officers should do everything in their power to develop the rapidity of firing of depth charges with their present installation. The MELVILLE, DIXIE, or Cammell-Laird’s3 will make such improvements as may be necessary and as time and opportunity permit.

H. B. PRICE.

Source Note: DfT, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 339. There is a note at the top of the first page: “L.N.M/For Capts/Approval.” This is followed by Price’s initials, which presumably means he approved this draft. Price, who commanded the destroyer tender DIXIE, was the senior officer at Queenstown while Capt. Joel R. Poinsett Pringle was on leave. The document identifier is obscured and only partially readable: “-61.”

Footnote 1: The enclosure is not with the draft and has not been found.

Footnote 2: In a General Report of this date it was noted that “An installation has been made on 750 ton destroyers which will permit of laying of a depth charge barrage 233 yards wide and 110 yards long firing a salvo of five charges every ten seconds.” See: William S. Sims to Josephus Daniels, 17 October 1918.

Footnote 3: Cammell Laird’s was a British shipyard where the American destroyers at Queenstown were sent for major overhauls.

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