Commander Walter N. Vernou, Commander, Destroyer Division Six, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
U. S. S. CASSIN,
21 September, 1917.
From: Commanding Officer.
To : Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Operating in European Waters.
Subject: TROOP CONVOY No. 7 – Report on.
1. CASSIN, DAVIS, JACOB JONES, WARRINGTON, TRIPPE and STERETT, sailed from Queenstown at 11:00 am, B.S.T., 16 September 1917, with orders to proceed to Latitude 47-30 North, Longitude 15-50 West, then head for Latitude 47-30 North, Longitude 30-00 West, until meeting convoy.1
2. Upon establishing communication with U. S. S. HUNTINGTON it was found that at 8:00 pm on 17 September, she was in Latitude 47-29 North, Longitude 17-17 West. This made it impracticable to join Convoy until daylight the following morning. The Convoy was picked up in 14-00 West.
3. It is suggested that in future the Convoys be directed to make some position in Longitude 17° 00' or 18° 00' West at daylight so that Destroyer Escort can pick them up during daylight hours somewhere between Longitudes 16° 00' and 18° 00' West during light hours. With the usual speed of the Troop Convoys, about thirteen or fourteen knots, this assures arrival off Belle Isle2 in the forenoon and the Convoy passes through the worst areas during dark hours.
4. Convoy No. 7 passed through the Longitudes suggested above as meeting points during dark hours, passed through the area a hundred and twenty miles to the Westward of the French Coast during daylight and arrived off Belle Isle and anchored to the Eastward of Belle Isle the night of 19 September. This procedure may be safe but it is not advisable, even with the destroyer escort patrolling.
5. There were no pilots to meet the Convoy on arrival off Belle Isle. At Midnight 18 September the CASSIN called the C.D.B.P.3 with call signs furnished but received no answer. The call was repeated every fifteen minutes during the night but was never answered. The message was finally sent through Loriant4 at 7:00 am the following morning, giving position “A” through which CASSIN would pass at 8:00 am, 19 September. No reply was received until about 11:45 am. The Convoy immediately headed for the position (B) designated.
6. The fact that we were not met was probably due to the fact that owing to thick weather no observations had been obtained for about thirty-six hours. When the weather cleared the Convoy was found to be fourteen miles South of the position given but this was discovered before position (B) was received and I gave my position, course and speed to the Corsair at about 1:00 pm on 19 September.5 The Convoy arrived at position (B) at 6:30 pm, 19 September and as no pilots were available anchored to Eastward of Belle Isle as stated above. The following morning pilots were obtained and the AFRODITE piloted Convoy into harbor.6
Source Note: DS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: Cassin, folder #9. There is an identification number in the top left-hand corner: “33-1-18.”
Footnote 1: For the details of these orders from VAdm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland, 15 September 1917, see, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: Cassin, Folder 9. In them, Vernou is designated senior officer of the convoy escort. According to these orders, Group 7 consisted of six ships escorted by the armed cruiser Huntington.
Footnote 2: Belle Île is the largest of the islands off the coast of Brittany, just north of St. Nazaire.
Footnote 3: Commandant de la Division des Patrouilles de Brest, Contre-amiral Antoine Alexandre Zepherin Schwerer.
Footnote 4: Lorient is north of Belle Île.
Footnote 5: Corsair was an U.S. Navy armed yacht serving with the patrol squadron in French waters. DANFS.
Footnote 6: Aphrodite, an armed yacht also serving as a patrol vessel on the French coast. Ibid.