USS Cole (DD-155/ AG-116)

USS Cole (DD-155) was a Wickes class destroyer that served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean theatres during the Second World War, supporting Operation Torch and the invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy.

The Cole was named after Major Edward Ball Cole, who was mortally wounded on 10 June 1918 during the battle of Belleau Wood.

The Cole was launched at Cramps on 11 January 1919 and commissioned on 19 June 1919. Eleven days later she left New York to join the U.S. flotilla operating in Turkish waters. She spent the next year operating in the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. She returned to New York on 4 June 1920 and spent the next two years taking part in normal peacetime fleet operations off the East Coast. She was decommissioned for the first time on 10 July 1922.

USS Cole (DD-155) approaching Safi, 8 November 1942
USS Cole (DD-155)
approaching Safi,
8 November 1942

The Cole was recommissioned on 1 May 1930 and joined the Scouting Fleet, then based in the Atlantic. She took part in the same peacetime routine as in the 1920s, operating along the east coast and in the Caribbean. In April 1933 she helped in the hunt for survivors from the airship USS Akron (ZRS-4), lost on 4 April. She also spent two periods in the rotating reserve - 22 October 1932-24 March 1933 and 3 February-14 August 1934. On 15 August 1934 she resumed active service, and was once again allocated to the Scouting Force, which was now based in the Pacific. She took part in operations in the Caribbean before reaching San Diego on 9 November 1934. She spent the next year and a half in the Pacific, before returning to New York in May 1936 to serve as a Naval Reserve training ship. She was decommissioned for the second time on 7 January 1937.

Anyone who served on her between 29 July-12 September, 29 September-14 October or 1 November-7 December 1941 qualified for the American Defence Service Medal.

The Cole was recommissioned on 16 October 1939 and joined the neutrality patrol in the Atlantic. In December 1939 she helped track the German liner Columbus as she attempted to return to German waters from Mexico. As the American involvement in the battle of the Atlantic increased she was used to escort convoys between Newfoundland and Iceland, making five trips between 10 June 1941, when America was officially neutral and 28 January 1942, by which time she was officially in the war.

Between 14 March and 28 September 1942 the Cole performed anti-submarine duties along the US East Coast, which had suddenly become a major war zone. She also made one run to the Virgin Islands during this period.

The Cole then joined the massive fleet that crossed the Atlantic as part of Operation Torch. On 8 November 1942 she landed 175 men from the 47th Infantry at Safi, Morocco, in one of the more daring exploits of the day. She had her mast removed to help with the attack, as did the Bernadou (DD-153), the other ship involved in the attack (presumably to change her appearance). She received a Presidential Unit Citation for her role in this attack.

On 12 November the transport Titania (AK-55) was attacked by U-130 while being escorted by the Cole. On 14 November she rescued the crew and passengers from the Electra (AK-21) after she was torpedoed while carrying wounded soldiers to Fedhala.

Between 18 December 1942 and 15 February 1943 the Cole returned to convoy escort duty along the American east coast. In March 1943 she crossed the Atlantic to March, and then moved back into the Mediterranean, reaching Mers-el-Kebir on 23 May 1943.

The Cole remained in the Mediterranean until late December. During this period she took part in the invasion of Sicily (10 July 1943), operating alongside a British submarine (HMS Shakespeare)  in a beach identification group. She also supported the invasion of Salerno on the mainland of Italy on 9 September 1943, guarding the transport ships.

The Cole returned to the US in late December, and after an overhaul resumed her convoy escort duties, operating along the east coast and into the Caribbean. In March 1944 she made one final voyage to the Mediterranean, visiting Casablanca.

On 3 December 1944 the Cole became a plane guard, operating with new aircraft carriers working up around Quonset Point, Rhode Island. She was reclassified as AG-116 on 30 June 1945, and finished her plane guard duties on 31 August 1945.

The Cole was decommissioned on 1 November 1945 and sold on 6 October 1947.

The Cole earned three battle stars during the Second World War, for Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landings.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)


3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement



11 January 1919


19 June 1919


1 November 1945


6 October 1947

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 (15 January 2018), USS Cole (DD-155/ AG-116) ,

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