Ships hit by U-boats

USS Reuben James (DD 245)

American Destroyer

NameUSS Reuben James (DD 245)
Type:Destroyer (Clemson)
Tonnage1,190 tons
Completed1919 - New York Shipbuilding Corp, Camden NJ 
OwnerUnited States Navy 
Date of attack31 Oct 1941Nationality:      American
FateSunk by U-552 (Erich Topp)
Position51° 59'N, 27° 05'W - Grid AK 9922
Complement160 officers and men (115 dead and 45 survivors).
RouteArgentia, Newfoundland (23 Oct) - Iceland 
History Completed in September 1920 as USS Reuben James (DD 245) and assigned to the Atlantic fleet. From 1921 to 1922 saw duty in the Mediterranean. After that, she was based at New York and patrolled the Nicaraguan coast to prevent the delivery of weapons to revolutionaries in early 1926. Decommissioned at Philadelphia in January 1931. In March 1932 reactivated and operated in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, patrolling Cuban waters during the Cuban revolution. In 1934, she was transferred to San Diego, California for maneuvers evaluating aircraft carriers. In January 1939 the destroyer returned to the Atlantic Fleet and joined the Neutrality Patrol in September, to guard the Atlantic and Caribbean approaches to the American coast.

In March 1941, USS Reuben James (DD 245) joined the convoy escort force that was established at Hvalfjordur, Iceland to escort British convoys from Canadian ports as far as Iceland, where the convoys were taken over by British escorts.

Notes on event

At 08.34 hours on 31 Oct 1941, U-552 fired a spread of two torpedoes at a destroyer and hit it with both torpedoes. The ship hit was USS Reuben James (DD 245) (LtCdr H.L. Edwards, USN) which was escorting convoy HX-156 in the US Escort Group 4.1.3 together with with USS Benson (DD 421), USS Hilary P. Jones (DD 427), USS Niblack (DD 424) and USS Tarbell (DD 142). The explosions broke the ship in two, the forward section sank immediately with all hands while the stern remained afloat for five minutes. When the stern sank the unsecured depth charges exploded killing some survivors in the water. USS Niblack (DD 424) picked up 36 men (one of them died of wounds on 2 November) and USS Hilary P. Jones (DD 427) picked up ten more, but all officers were lost.

USS Reuben James (DD 245) was the first warship of the US Navy lost in the Second World War (two months before Pearl Harbor).

On boardWe have details of 145 people who were on board

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Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

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