The USS McCalla (DD-253) served in the US Navy for two decades in the 20th century, and then with the Royal Navy of Great Britain. She was named for Rear Admiral Bowman H. McCalla, who served notable roles in the Spanish-American War and the Boxer Rebellion. McCalla was designed as a Clemson-class ship.
McCalla was laid down in Quincy, Massachusetts by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in September 1918, launched in March 1919, and commissioned in May with Lieutenant Commander G.B. Ashe in command. Carrying a crew of 114, McCalla was 314 feet, five inches long and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
McCalla remained active until November 1919, when she was placed into reserve at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and was then decommissioned in June 1922. McCalla wasn’t reactivated again until December 1939, after World War II began in Europe, but was decommissioned in preparation for transfer to the British with the Royal Navy. McCalla was commissioned as a ship of the Royal Navy in October 1940 at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and designated HMS Stanley.
The former McCalla departed Halifax in November and, as a member of the Fourth Town Flotilla, escorted 15 remaining vessels of a convoy attacked by a German battleship back to Nova Scotia. In December, repairs were completed and the former McCalla arrived at Plymouth, England in January 1941, and was assigned to the Western Approaches Command. The former McCalla was later assigned to the 40th Escort Group, and escorted a convoy with troops and equipment to Sierra Leone and the Middle East.
The former McCalla continued escort duty and, when an aircraft from auxiliary carrier Audacity sighted a submarine near convoy HG 76, aided four other escorts in sinking German submarine U-131 and rescuing 55 of its occupants. The convoy sank U-434 the next day and picked up 42 crew members. A couple of days later, the former McCalla was attacked by U-574, exploded, and sank. Just 25 crew members were saved, but Stork sank the submarine minutes later and picked up 16 members of its crew.
Asbestos Risk on the USS McCalla (DD-253)
Installing asbestos in the design of all vessels was mandated by law in the United States in the 1930s, after a deadly fire aboard a luxury liner killed 137 people. McCalla, like most Navy ships of the time, made use of asbestos extensively, particularly in engines and engine spaces, as well as to insulate compartments in all parts of the vessel.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-253.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd253txt.htm Retrieved 31 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS McCalla (DD-253).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/253.htm Retrieved 31 December 2010.