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Tragedy at Sea – USS Ticonderoga

The night of 29th September 1918 the USS Ticonderoga, a cargo and animal transport,  was returning from Europe on her fourth convoy trip developed engine trouble and fell behind the convoy.  Early the next morning she sighted a German submarine (U-152) running on the surface.  As the ship’s gun crew prepared for action, her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander James J. Madison, attempted to ram the sub, unfortunately he narrowly missed.

The heavily armed cruiser submarine opened fire and hit Ticonderoga severely, setting the ship afire, killing a number of its crew, partially disabling its helm and knocking out her forward gun.  Unable to call for assistance as the radio had been disabled Captain Madison, wounded in the initial engagement,  had to continued the attack   knowing assistance would not be coming.  Regaining some control of the helm he turned the ship around and utilized the undamaged after six-inch gun to fire on the German submarine.   The sub briefly submerged and re-surfaced attacking the Ticonderoga and put her after gun out of commission while fiercely keeping a continuous pounding to the Ti from the sub’s two 5.9 inch deck guns.

As the Ti was unable to steer and no means of returning fire  U-152 maneuvered to take a position off Ti’s starboard beam and fired a torpedo that hit aft of the engine room.  On 30 September, 0750, the third name naval ship USS Ticonderoga slipped down into the sea.  Most of the lifeboats were holed and others were swamped upon launching, leaving only one life boat and a raft for survivors.  During this time of abandonment, under a white flag, the submarine maintained a continuing barrage of fire killing and wounding even more.