Thatcher I

		(Destroyer No. 162: dp. 1,191; 1. 314'4~"; b. 30'111/4~"; dr. 9'2" (mean), s. 34.9 k.; cpl. 122; 
a. 4 4", 2 3",12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)

	The first Thatcher (Destroyer No. 162) was laid down on 8 June 1918 at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore 
River Plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., launched on 31 August 1918; sponsored by Miss Doris 
Bentley, the grandniece of Rear Admiral Thatcher, and commissioned on 14 January 1919, Lt. Comdr. Henry M. 
Kieffer in temporary command. On 25 January, Lt. Comdr. Francis W. Rockwell who later commanded the 16th 
Naval District in the Philippines at the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific assumed command.

	Following shakedown, Thatcher operated with the Atlantic Fleet into the autumn of 1919. During the 
transatlantic NC-boat flights in May 1919, the destroyer operated on picket station number 9 one of 21 stations 
strung out from Newfoundland to the Azores between her sister ships Walker (Destroyer No. 163) and Crosby 
(Destroyer No. 164). Underway at sea, she provided visual and radio bearings for the flying boats as they 
passed overhead on their way toward Lisbon, Portugal.

	Upon completion of this duty, the destroyer reclassified as DD-162 on 17 July 1920 resumed her 
routine training operations off the eastern seaboard before heading west in the autumn of 1921 to join the 
Pacific Fleet. She operated out of San Diego, conducting exercises and training cruises off the west coast until 
decommissioned at San Diego on 7 June 1922.

	Thatcher remained laid-up at San Diego through the summer of 1939. War broke out in Europe on 1 
September 1939, when German troops invaded Poland. Thatcher was recommissioned at San Diego on 18 
December 1939, Lt. Comdr. Henry E. Richter in command, and conducted shakedown and training evolutions off 
the west coast until transferred to the Atlantic the following spring. Transiting the Panama Canal on 1 April 1940, 
a month before the situation in Europe became critical when Germany began her blitzKrieg against France and 
the Low Countries, Thatcher subsequently conducted neutrality patrols and training cruises off the east coast 
and in the Gulf of Mexico through the summer of 1940.

	The European situation took a drastic turn with the fall of France in June 1940. British destroyer forces 
in the wake of the disastrous Norwegian campaign and the evacuation of Dunkirk found themselves thinly 
spread especially after Italy entered the war on Germany's side. Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to 
the United States for help.

	In response, Roosevelt issued an executive order authorizing the transfer of 50 "over age" destroyers 
to the British in return for 99-year leases on strategic base sites in the western hemisphere. Thatcher was 
accordingly withdrawn from the Atlantic Squadron and her operations with Destroyer Division 69 for transfer to 
the Royal Canadian Navy, which had been allocated six of the "50 ships that saved the world," as these 
vessels came to be known.

	As such, Thatcher and her five sisters arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 20 September the third 
group of the "flush deckers" transferred. Decommissioned on 24 September 1940, Thatcher was struck from 
the Navy list on 8 January 1941.

	Renamed HMCS Niagara (I.67), the destroyer departed Halifax on 30 November, proceeded eastward 
via St. John's, Newfoundland, and arrived in the British Isles on 11 December. Early in 1941, the destroyer was 
allocated to the 4th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command, and based at Greenock Scotland. 
Subsequently transferred to the Newfoundland escort force, Niagara operated on convoy escort duties into the 
summer of 1941. While she was operating with this force, she took part in the capture of a German U-boat, U-570

	A Lockheed "Hudson" bomber, flying from Kaldadharnes, 30 miles southeast of Reykjavik, Iceland, 
located U-570 running on the surface off the Icelandic coast on 27 August 1941. The "Hudson" attacked the 
U-boat with depth charges, damaging the enemy craft so severely that she could not submerge. Soon, some of 
the German crew appeared on deck displaying a large white cloth possibly a bed sheet indicating that they 
had surrendered. Patently unable to capture the submarine herself, the Hudson radioed for help

	Niagara sped to the scene and arrived at 0820 on 28 August. Rough weather initially hampered the 
operation but eventually, by 1800, Niagara had placed a prize crew aboard the submarine and had taken U-570 
in tow. During the operation, she also took the 43 man crew of the enemy craft on board. Towed to Thorlakshafn, 
Iceland, the U-boat eventually served in the Royal Navy as HMS Graph.

	In January 1942, Niagara escorted the tempest battered Danish merchantman Triton into Belfast, 
Northern Ireland, after the freighter had been severely mauled in a storm at sea. In March the destroyer rescued 
the survivors from the American merchantman SS Independence Hall, which had run aground off Sable Island, 
Nova Scotia, and had broken in half. The next month, she picked up two boatloads of survivors from the sunken 
steamer SS Rio Blanco, which had been torpedoed by U-160 on 1 April, 40 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

	The destroyer subsequently underwent boiler repair  at Pictou from May to August 1942 before 
resuming coastwise convoy operations between Halifax and New York and escort duty in the western Atlantic. 
Another refit at Pictou came in June and October 1943, before she continued her coastwise convoy escort 
missions through 1944.

	Niagara became a torpedo-firing ship first at Halifax and later at St. John, New Brunswick from the 
spring of 1945 until the end of World War II in mid august 1945, training torpedomen. Decommissioned on 15 
September 1945, Niagara wee turned over to the War Assets Corp. on 27 May 1946 and ultimately broken up for
 scrap soon thereafter.