The first Jacob Jones (DD-61) was laid down 3 August 1914
by New York Shipbuilding Corp.. Camden, N.J.: launched 29 May
1916; sponsored by Mrs. Jerome Parker Crittendon,
great-granddaughter of Jacob Jones; and commissioned 10
February 1917, Lieutenant Cmdr. W. S. Pye in command. It was
destined to be the first American destroyer lost to enemy
After shakedown, Jacob Jones began training exercises off
the New England coast until entering the Philadelphia Navy
Yard for repairs. Upon the outbreak of war between the United
States and Germany 6 April 1917, Jacob Jones patrolled off the
Virginia coast before departing Boston for Europe 7 May.
Arriving Queenstown, Ireland, 17 May, she immediately began
patrol and convoy escort duty in waters of the United Kingdom.
On 8 July she picked up 44 survivors of the British steamship
Valetta, the victim of a German U-boat. Two weeks later, while
escorting British steamship Dafila, Jacob Jones sighted a
periscope; but the steamship was torpedoed before an attack on
the submarine could be launched. Once again a rescue ship,
Jacob Jones took on board 25 survivors of the stricken Dapfila.
Throughout the summer the destroyer escorted supply laden
convoys and continued rescue operations in submarine-infested
waters. On 19 October she picked up 305 survivors of torpedoed
British cruiser Orama. After special escort duty between
Ireland and France, she departed Brest, France, 6 December on
her return run to Queenstown. At 1621, as she steamed
independently in the vicinity of the Isles of Scilly, her
watch sighted a torpedo wake about a thousand yards distant.
Although the destroyer maneuvered to escape, the high-speed
torpedo struck her starboard side, rupturing her fuel oil
tank. The crew worked courageously to save the ship; but as
the stern sank, her depth charges exploded. Realizing the
situation hopeless, Comdr. Bagley reluctantly ordered the ship
abandoned. Eight minutes after being torpedoed, Jacob Jones
sank with 64 men still on board.
The 38 survivors huddled together on rafts and boats in
frigid Atlantic waters off the southwest coast of England. Two
of her crew were taken prisoner by attacking submarine U-53
commanded by Kapitan Hans Rose. In a humanitarian gesture rare
in modern war, Rose radioed the American base at Queenstown
the approximate location and drift of the survivors.
Throughout the night of 6 to 7 December British sloop-of-war
Camellia and British liner Catalina conducted rescue
operations. By 0830 the following morning HMS Insolent picked
up the last survivors of Jacob Jones.