The USS McCook (DD-252) served in the US Navy for a little over two decades, and then served in the Canadian Navy, in the early 20th century. She was named for Commander Roderick S. McCook, who served during the Civil War. McCook was constructed as a Clemson-class vessel.
McCook was laid down in Quincy, Massachusetts by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in September 1918, launched in January 1919, and commissioned in April with Lieutenant Commander G.B. Ashe in command. Carrying a crew of 114, McCook was 314 feet, five inches long, had a top speed of 35 knots, and was armed with four 4-inch rapid-fire guns, one three-inch anti-aircraft gun, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
McCook was initially deployed with Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet until being decommissioned in June 1922 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. When re-commissioned in December 1930, McCook was placed on the list of ships to be exchanged based on the Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United States and Great Britain. She was decommissioned at Halifax, Nova Scotia and transferred to Great Britain in September 1940, but put under the control of the Canadian Navy as HMCS St. Croix.
The former McCook was damaged by a hurricane, and repairs were completed in March 1941, when she was assigned to escort and patrol duties off the Canadian east coast. In August, the former McCook joined the Newfoundland Escort Force, later known as the Mid-Ocean Escort Force, and encountered and sank German submarine U-90 in July 1942 while escorting convoy ON 113. The former McCook and the convoy were attacked by 13 U-boats later on. Several ships were lost that September, but in March 1943, the former McCook and HMCS Shediac sunk U-87 off of Europe.
The former McCook began patrols with an offensive striking group and first aided convoy ONS 18 and then ON 202 in attempting to sink U-boats. Several escorts and merchantmen were lost, while three U-boats were sunk by the convoy. The former McCook was sunk after struck three times by a U-boat, and 81 survivors were rescued by Itchen, which was torpedoed on the following day resulting in the rescue of only one man from the former McCook.
Asbestos Risk on the USS McCook (DD-252)
Using asbestos-containing materials in the construction of naval vessels was mandated by law in the US in the 1930s, after a fire at sea on a cruise ship resulted in enormous loss of life. McCook, like most Navy ships at the time, deployed asbestos-containing materials extensively around boilers and engine rooms, as well as for insulation all over the ship. Asbestos has long been known for its insulation properties, but it has also been proven to be the main cause of life-threatening conditions such as pleural plaques and pleural mesothelioma.
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Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-252.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd252txt.htm Retrieved 31 December 2010.
NavSource Naval History, USS McCook (DD-252).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/252.htm Retrieved 31 December 2010.