Ships hit by U-boats

USS Donnell (DE 56)

American Destroyer escort

Photo from Bureau of Ships Collection in NARA #19-N-55732

NameUSS Donnell (DE 56)
Type:Destroyer escort (Buckley)
Tonnage1,400 tons
Completed1943 - Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyards Inc, Hingham MA 
OwnerUnited States Navy 
Date of attack3 May 1944Nationality:      American
FateA total loss by U-473 (Heinz Sternberg)
Position47° 48'N, 19° 55'W - Grid BE 5182
Complement231 officers and men (29 dead and 202 survivors).
RouteNew York (24 Apr) - Londonderry 
History Completed in June 1943 
Notes on event

On 3 May 1944 USS Donnell (DE 56) (LtCdr G.M. Street, USNR) was escorting convoy CU-22 on her fifth transatlantic voyage, when she made a sound contact and sighted a periscope 450 miles southwest of Cape Clear, Ireland. She prepared for a depth charge attack but at 12.00 hours was hit aft by a Gnat fired from the stern torpedo tube of U-473, causing her own depth charges to explode and blowing off the stern. 29 men were killed and 28 wounded. The disabled vessel was taken in tow by the destroyer escorts USS Reeves (DE 156) (LtCdr J.J. Durney, USNR) and USS Hopping (DE 155) (LtCdr L.F. Lautrel, USNR) until being relieved by the tug HMS Samsonia (W 23) which towed her to Dunnstaffnage Bay, Scotland, arriving on 12 May. All wounded men, three passengers and surplus crew members were transferred to the accompanying destroyer escorts on 6 May, leaving only a skeleton crew of 12 officers and 87 ratings aboard. As all propellers and rudders had been blown away a jib sail made from awnings was rigged to stabilize the crippled vessel during towing.

USS Donnell after being torpedoed as seen from USS Reeves. Photo courtesy of Alison Strehlow

The damage proved to be too extensive for economical repairs, so the destroyer escort was comissioned in July 1944 as accommodation ship USS Donnell (IX 182) at Lisahally, Northern Ireland. In August 1944 towed via Plymouth to Cherbourg where she supplied electric power to shore installations. In February 1945 she returned to England to serve as barracks ship at Portland and Plymouth until towed back to the USA, arriving in Philadelphia on 18 July to be decommissioned on 23 October. She was stricken on 16 November and sold for scrap on 29 April 1946.

More infoMore on this vessel 
On boardWe have details of 220 people who were on board

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats