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Documentary Histories

Action Involving Paulding

U. S. S. Paulding.


     On September 22nd 1917, about 5:50 p.m. the U.S.S. Paulding while patrolling with the destroyer escort of convoy O.Q. 8,1 11 miles South, (true) from DAUNT LIGHT SHIP, ran into a triangular shaped oil slick about one-half mile in length and 250 yards in width at the base of the triangle. At the windward or Southern end of the slick, oil bubbles were rising at intervals of a few seconds and these bubbles had a very slow movement to the southward. It could not be definitely determined whether the motion of the bubbles to windward was due to the actual movement of a submerged body from which the oil was coming or whether it was due to the oil rising and then being blown to leeward. The Paulding was run over the oil slick from leeward to windward to the apex of the triangle where the bubbles were rising in order to determine the location of the bubbles and their direction of motion relative to the main body of the slick. The oil in the oil slick near the bubbles was much thicker than the oil at any other part of the slick, and had a strong odor resembling that of fuel oil. The ship was run over the slick the second time and the starboard depth charge was dropped at the origin of the bubbles. The charge failed to explode and the ship was run over the slick the third time and the port depth charge dropped. This charge functioned properly and in exploding raised the surface of the water about three feet over an area of about 30 feet in diameter.

     A few minutes after the second depth charge was dropped by the Paulding, the U.S.S. SAMPSON of the destroyer escort, also dropped a depth charge near the origin of the oil slick.
The Paulding in company with the SAMPSON remained in the vicinity of the oil slick to observe developments until 7:30 p.m. During this time the bubbles continued to rise and the oil increased considerably in thickness and spread in area near where the depth charge was dropped. A spar about 4” in diameter and 10' in length was observed. At 7:30 the oil slick was left to resume station with the escort.

J.S. Barleon.3

Source Note: DS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Box 1282.

Footnote 1: According to Paulding’s war diary, the escort, in addition to Paulding, consisted of Conygham, Sampson, McDougal, Parker, and O’Brien. Paulding began patrolling the area southeast of Daunt Lightship while awaiting the exit of the convoy from Queenstown. DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Box 1282.

Footnote 2: No U-boat was sunk at this location on this date. In his report on the convoy operation, Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson, Commander, Conygham, and the senior officer of the escort group, wrote that the depth charging by Paulding and Sampson was “without apparent results.” War Diary, Conygham, 27 September 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 3: Lt. John S. Barleon, Commander, Paulding.

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