USS Wenonah (SP-165) - World War I Service - Antisubmarine Warfare

Antisubmarine Warfare

On 26 March 1918, she attack by mistake the French submarine Watt. The French Commanding Officer Bourély was killed, there are 5 other men wounded which were taken over by the British Yacht Jeannette II, one of them died later.

Wenonah's logs reveal only a single variation to that routine—a run to Genoa and back in July 1918. During the Gibraltar-to-Genoa leg of that voyage, the armed yacht engaged in her only combat action of the war. At about 1924 on the evening of the 23d, one of the ships she was escorting, SS Messidor, was torpedoed. Wenonah dropped a single depth charge in the vicinity of the sinking ship then busied herself with rescue operations. She dropped rafts and buoys for the survivors of SS Messidor and returned to her station with the convoy.

Several hours later, just before 0100 on the 24th as she zigzagged on patrol astern of the convoy, Wenonah spied a flare ahead and learned that another unit of the convoy, SS Rutherglen, had also run afoul of an enemy torpedo and was settling slowly by the stern. She dropped a single depth charge near the sinking ship, but it failed to detonate. After her inauspicious antisubmarine maneuver, the yacht turned to rescue work and, by 0123, had taken 38 survivors on board.

After a lull during the daylight hours of the 24th, action resumed that evening. Just before 2100, she made another unsuccessful attack on a suspected submarine contact. Again, her British depth charge failed to function. Near chaos followed on the heels of that attack. Almost immediately every ship in the convoy began to steer various courses to avoid the unseen "enemy." For almost an hour, they cruised the area in a highly disorganized manner, firing guns and dropping depth charges at almost anything that suggested the presence of a U-boat.

Finally, at 2150, the convoy reformed and moved off in some semblance of order. Two alarms occurred that night; and, during the second, Wenonah fired a single 3-inch shell at what proved to be a porpoise. Save for another porpoise masquerading as a U-boat the following day, the excitement abated, and the convoy completed the voyage in a more routine fashion.

Read more about this topic:  USS Wenonah (SP-165), World War I Service

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