USS McCook (DD-252 )/ HMCS St. Croix

USS McCook (DD-252)/ HMCS St. Croix was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Royal Canadian Navy in the Atlantic and sank U-90 and helped sink U-89 before being sunk herself by U-305.

USS McCook (DD-252) in European Waters in 1919
USS McCook (DD-252)
in European Waters in 1919

The McCook was named after Commander Roderick S. McCook, who took part in anti-slavery operations before the American Civil War, fought with the US Navy in the Civil War and commanded the West India and Asiatic stations after the war.

The McCook was laid down on 10 September 1918 at the Bethlehem Shipbuoidn Corp of Quincy, Mass, launched on 31 January 1919 and commissioned on 30 April 1919.

The McCook had a very short US career. She joined the Destroyer Force of the Atlantic Fleet after entering service, and operated along the east coast. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 30 June 1922 and wasn’t recommissioned again in the inter-war period.

She was recommissioned on 18 December 1939 as part of the US response to the outbreak of war in Europe. In 1940 she was chosen to be one of the fifty old destroyers transferred to Britain as part of the destroyers for bases deal. She reached Halifax on 20 September 1940 and was transferred to British control of 24 September. On the same day she was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy on 24 September 1940.

As HMCS St. Croix (I-81)

The newly renamed St. Croix departed for the United Kingdom on 30 November 1940, along with HMCS St. Clair (USS William DD-108) and HMCS Niagara (USS Thatcher, DD-162). However the St. Croix was damaged by fierce storms and forced to turn back to Halifax, while the other two continued on to Britain. At one point there was so much concern about her that search and rescue operations began.

It took several months for the damage to be repaired, and the St. Croix didn’t enter Canadian service until 14 March 1941, when she began to carry out escort and patrol duties in Canadian Waters.

In August 1941 the St. Croix joined the Newfoundland Escort Force, and was used to escort convoys between St. Johns and Reykjavik. By May 1942 this force had been renamed the Mid-Ocean Escort Force, and it now escorted convoys all the way to Londonderry. Her first task with the new force was to escort the east-bound convoy SC84, which departed from New York on 14 May.

On 24 July 1942 the St. Croix sank U-90 with depth charges, after the U-boat attacked Convoy ON-113. This was U-90’s first combat mission, and she was sunk before she achieved any clear successes (although two merchantmen had been sunk on 23 July).

HMCS St. Croix, 1941 HMCS St. Croix, 1941

The return convoy, ON 127, was less lucky – she was attacked by thirteen U-boats between 10-14 September and eleven merchantmen and one destroyer were sunk.

In February 1943 the St. Croix was taken from the trans-Atlantic route and allocated to the Gibraltar route, which was becoming even more important due to the start of Operation Torch. She was allocated to the Canadian Escort Group No.1 and attached to Western Approaches Command.

On 4 March 1943 the St. Croix helped sink U-87. At the time she was escorting Convoy KMS 10 from Londonderry to Gibralter and the convoy was about 200 miles off the Iberian coast when the St. Croix and HMCS Shediac sank the U-boat.

In July 1943 the St. Croix was allocated to the forces that were to operate against U-boats using French and Spanish coastal waters to get into the Atlantic. In August she returned to the UK from Halifax, where she had been undergoing some repairs, but on the way back across the Canadian Support Group 9 that she was part of was detached to support convoys that were under attack.

On 19 September the St. Croix entered the battle around Convoys ONS18 and ON2902, which were under attack by the Leuthen wolf pack. During the battle the convoys lost six merchantmen and three escorts, amongst them the St. Croix.

On 20 September the St. Croix was hit by an acoustic torpedo fired by U-305, and disabled. The corvette HMS Polyanthus was sunk when she came up to protect the Itchen’s rescue efforts. The St. Croix was hit by a second torpedo about an hour after the first and sank, but the delay gave most of her crew time to abandon ship.

Five officers and seventy six ratings were rescued from the 147 men of the St. Croix, but only one from the Polyanthus. Tragically the Itchen was then sunk on 22 September and only three men survived – two from the Itchen and one from St. Croix.

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

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

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

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

114

Launched

31 January 1919

Commissioned

30 April 1919

Sunk

20 September 1943

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 (20 November 2019), USS McCook (DD-252 )/ HMCS St. Croix , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_McCook_DD252_HMCS_St_Croix.html

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