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Action of 17 November 1917
Part of World War I
First Battle of the Atlantic
Fanning in Coast Guard service
Date November 17, 1917
Location North Atlantic Ocean
Result United States victory
US Naval Jack 48 stars.svg United States Navy German Empire German Navy
Lieutenant Commander Frank Berrien
Lieutenant Arthur S. Carpender
Kapitänleutnant Gustav Amberger
2 destroyers 1 submarine
Casualties and losses
none unknown human casualties,
39 captured,
1 submarine sunk

The Action of 17 November 1917 was a naval battle of the First World War. The action was fought between a German U-boat and two United States Navy destroyers in the North Atlantic Ocean.



Based out of Queenstown, Ireland, USS Fanning and her sister destroyer USS Nicholson patrolled the eastern waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Their mission was to escort convoys and rescue survivors of sunken merchant ships as well as to seek out and destroy German U-boats. While escorting the eight vessel convoy OQ-20 eastbound, the two destroyers made contact with an enemy submarine


With Arthur S. Carpender commanding, at 4:15 on November 17, 1917, Coxswain Daniel David Loomis of the Fanning sighted U-58, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav Amberger, when the U-boat had semi-surfaced to extend her periscope. The German submarine lined up for a shot at the British merchant steamer SS Welshman. Almost immediately Officer of the Deck Lieutenant William O. Henry ordered the destroyer to make circles and engage.

Fanning fired a depth charge, scoring a hit which shook up the U-boat well. Then USS Nicholson joined in the fighting, commanded by Frank Berrien, and dropped another depth charge herself. After a few more well placed charges, the submarine surfaced and her crew came pouring out on deck, hands raised in the air. The depth charges had hit near the submarines diving planes, making the ship unmanueverable.

The German commander ordered the ballast tanks blown and the submarine went up. Charges also knocked out the main generator aboard the Fanning. If U-58 had surfaced in a battle ready position, Fanning would have surely been attacked and possibly sunk. The German submariners surrendered and Fanning maneuvered to take prisoners.

That ended the action with a U.S. victory.

World War I era U-boat


The Fanning and Nicholson's sinking of U-58 was one of only a few engagements of the Great War in which U.S. Navy warships sank an enemy submarine. Also the first time U.S. ships sank a submarine in combat. Lieutenant William O. Henry and Coxswain Daniel Lommis both received a Navy Cross for their actions during their encounter with U-58.

Fanning and Nicholson continued the war escorting and patrolling the North Atlantic, making several more inconclusive contacts with German submarines. Thirty-eight of the 40 crew members of the U-58 survived to become prisoners of war in the United States.[1]

Nicholson during trials in 1915

See also


  1. ^ U-58


External links



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