Overview: Chasers Built for France

The U.S. built a total of 100 WWI subchasers of the wooden, 110' type for the French navy. Of these, 98 completed the voyage overseas to become part of the French navy fleet during the war.

These chasers were initially assigned a typical U.S. hull number, which was changed to a French hull number for service in the French navy. These new hull numbers were of the series C 1, C 2, up to C 98

Several incidents took place during the voyage overseas of the French chasers:

SC 405 was damaged in transit, its rudder bent by grounding on rocks. The U.S. Navy ordered SC 177 to be substituted, and SC 177 was transferred to France and became French chaser C 84. SC 405 was re-numbered as SC 177, repaired, and commissioned in the U.S. Navy. This transaction is described in various documents in the subchaser files at the National Archives in Washington , D.C.

SC 319 was lost at sea on 18 January 1918 (or thereabouts).

SC 28 was also separated from the convoy, but eventually made it to the Azores under sail.

The book Maggie of the Suicide Fleet, by Prospero Buranelli, based on the log of Lt. Raymond D. Borden, on page 190 describes how two chasers (SC 319 and SC 28) were separated from the convoy during a storm at sea, and both presumed lost. 43 days later, SC 28 arrived in Horta, Azores, having rigged sails and navigated slowly to land. SC 319 was never heard from again.

This incident is also described in the French typescript, La traverse de l' Atlantique par les Chasseurs de Sous Marins construits en Amerique, on page 34, although this source (which is most likely the correct version) indicates that SC 28 was separated from the convoy on 15 January 1918 and arrived 33 days later, on 18 February.

An article titled "Chaser, Out at Sea 39 Days, Makes Port" published in The New York Times on 26 February, 1918 reports as follows:

Washington, February 26 [1918]. An American submarine chaser, which became separated from her convoy in a gale at sea in January, and which had been given up for lost, has turned up safely at an unnamed port, according to information received officially by the Navy Department today. The chaser was thirty-nine days at sea on short rations and had to navigate by compass.

[Quoting Secretary of the Navy Daniels, the article contiues:]

"In the story, which was one of the worst on record, the engines were disabled and the boat left adrift far out at sea. The crew managed to rig up a sail made from bed coverings, and were able to make two or three knots an hour before the wind. There were no navigating instruments, except a compass, aboard, and the crew had to estimate their positions. They sailed for thirty-nine days on short rations, and finally reached port."

SC 141 was struck by SC 174 off Philadelphia on or about 14 December 1917, and sank. This incident is described in the French typescript on page 31.

This left the French with 98 chasers for active duty out of the 100 that were manufactured for France.