USS McCalla (DD-253 )/ HMS Stanley

USS McCalla (DD-253)/ HMS Stanley was a Clemson class destroyer that went to Britain in 1940 and served on escort duties in the Atlantic during 1941 before being sunk by U-574 on 19 December 1941.

The McCalla was named after Bowman H. McCalla, who served in the US Navy during the US Civil War, the Spanish American War and the Boxer Rebellion, retiring with the rank of rear admiral.

The McCalla was laid down by Bethlehem at Quincy, Mass, on 25 September 1918, launched on 18 February 1919 and commissioned on 19 May 1919.

On 16 June 1919 the McCalla departed for the Mediterranean with the Badger (DD-126), Ellis (DD-154) and Roper (DD-147). However she was only there for a  few month, as by 26 November 1919 she had returned to the Norfolk, where she entered the reserve. She was decommissioned on 30 June 1922.

USS McCalla (DD-253) in the 1920s USS McCalla (DD-253) in the 1920s

The McCalla wasn’t recommissioned until 18 December 1939, one of many older destroyers reactivated after the outbreak of war in Europe. However she was only in US service for a short time. 

As HMS Stanley

The McCalla was chosen as one of the destroyers that went to Britain under the destroyers for bases deal. She was transferred to the Royal Navy on 23 October 1940 at Halifax and became HMS Stanley.

The Stanley was allocated to the Fourth ‘Town’ Flotilla. She departed from Halifax on 1 November, and had reached St. John’s by the 5th, when the Admiral Scheer attacked a convoy heading for the United Kingdom, sinking six ships. The Stanley was sent to escort the survivors back to Nova Scotia. She met up with them sixty miles from the coast and escorted fifteen survivors to Trinity Harbour.

The Stanley then had to stop at St. Johns to have some problems with her machinery repaired, and didn’t depart until 13 December. She reached Belfast in late December and Devonport on 2 January 1941. Once she was at Devonport she was selected for conversion into a long range escort. This involved removing the two forward boilers and their funnel and using the space to extra fuel and accommodation. She also got a new bridge similar to the standard Royal Naval type. The conversion work lasted until August. In September she joined the Liverpool Sloop Division, and was allocated to Western Approaches Command. The Sloop Division was later renamed as the 40th Escort Group.

Her first operation with the new unit lasted from 1-7 October when she joined the escort for Convoy WS12. She then joined the escort for Convoy OS10, which was heading to Freetown, Sierra Leone. On 31 October and 1 November she helped drive off U-96, which attempted to attack the convoy.

In November she escorted convoy SL73 from Freetown to Gibraltar. She was then allocated to the escort of Convoy HG 76, as part of the 36 Escort Group. The convoy didn’t leave Gibraltar until 14 December. She had a powerful escort, including the escort carrier HMS Avenger. The resulting convoy battle proved the value of the escort carrier.

On 17 December an aircraft from the carrier spotted U-131. The Stanley and four other escorts attacked and forced her to the surface. The U-boat’s pressure hull was holed by gunfire and her crew forced to abandon ship. The Stanley helped rescued 55 survivors from the U-boat.

On 18 December U-434 was spotted on the surface. Once again the U-boat was forced to surface by depth charge attacks, and her crew abandoned ship and scuttled her. This time there were 42 survivors from the U-boat.  

On 19 December 1941 the Stanley, which was then posted to the rear of the convoy,reported detecting another U-boat. Half an hour later she was hit by a torpedo from U-574. The Stanley exploded and sank quickly, and only 25 of her crew were saved.

U-574 didn’t survive for much longer, as within fifteen minutes she had been sunk by the sloop HMS Stork. Sixteen survivors from the U-boat were rescued.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)


2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement



18 February 1919


19 May 1919

Sunk by U-574

19 December 1941

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 November 2019), USS McCalla (DD-253 )/ HMS Stanley ,

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