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Destroyers For Naval Bases Agreement

While non-interventionists in Congress were looking for ways to prevent the FDR from involving the country in a war, a group of prominent Americans, including Time editor Henry Luce and columnist Joseph Alsop, were looking for a way to help the British president in one way or another. At a dinner at a New York country club in mid-July, the idea was widespread that the United States, instead of simply giving the destroyers to the Royal Navy, should try to exchange ships for access to British bases in the Western Hemisphere. Such an exchange would allow the FDR to have a politically attractive argument: it acted to strengthen american continental defence and thus help keep the country out of war. The agreement also granted rights to U.S. air and naval bases in: the United States accepted “generous action… for the improvement of the national security of the United States” and immediately transferred in return 50 Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson Destroyers of the U.S. Navy, “generally known as the type of 1200 tons” (also known as “Flush-Deckers,” or “Four-Piper” according to their four cheats). 43 ships were first delivered to the British Royal Navy and 7 to the Royal Canadian Navy. In the Commonwealth Navy, the ships were renamed cities and were therefore known as the “Town” class, although they originally belonged to three classes (Caldwell, Wickes and Clemson). Before the end of the war, nine others served in the Royal Canadian Navy. Five towns were occupied by Norwegian Navy crews and the survivors then returned to the Royal Navy.

HMS Campbeltown was dressed by sailors from the Royal Netherlands Navy before arriving at the Raid de Saint-Nazaire. Nine other destroyers were eventually transferred to the Soviet Navy. Six of the 50 destroyers were lost on submarines, and three others, including Campbeltown, were destroyed in other circumstances. On September 9, 1940, fifty destroyers were transferred to the United Kingdom by the United States Navy in exchange for British property rights. Destroyers became town-class and were named after British cities when there was a town of the same name in the United States, because the agreement contained rigid clauses on the name.

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