They then worked with the RN’s 5th Battle Squadron based at Rosyth to provide support for convoy protection forces. In 1918 they were deployed as a covering force for a Scandinavian convoy which the German battlecruiser force attempted to attack. The German’s withdrew when they learned that Allied capital ships were at sea and the US dreadnoughts were unable to intercept the Germans before they left the area. After the Armistice, the US ships would help escort the German High Seas Fleet to its internment at Scapa Flow.
The US Navy’s mining operations in the North Sea were its biggest operation of the war. Under Admiral Strauss, a large force of minelayers was deployed to Scapa Flow. From this base, they laid a barrier between the Orkneys and the Norwegian coast, allowing the Allies to complete the ‘boxing-in’ of the North Sea and the containment of the German navy. These operations were conducted in conjunction with escorting Royal Navy destroyers. The operations were undertaken in the face of often severe weather and the threat of U-Boat attacks.
As Scapa Flow had no dockyard facilities and Rosyth was often stretched to meet the maintenance demands of British vessels, US battleships were sent to the Tyne for work at the Smith’s Dock Company in North and South Shields. Operations in the North Sea took a toll on ships’ hulls and machinery and four of the vessels were refitted here at the end of the war.
The US dreadnoughts were formed into the 6th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet under Admiral Rodman. Operating from Scapa Flow they undertook training cruises with the Royal Navy until fully operational.
The US Army began to arrive as troops became available in sufficient quantity. Although the majority went directly to France, some did come to Britain. Amongst these were airmen undertaking training on British combat aircraft…
With US entry into war, Lord Mayor of Newcastle wrote to Walter Hamm, US Consul to the city: “Your country and ours are alike fighting to preserve their ideals of liberty and freedom, not so much for themselves as for the other peoples of the world.”