Before officially entering the war, the United States offered their help in escorting British convoys across the Atlantic.
The U.S.S. Kearny was engaged in one of these many "Neutrality Patrols" when a wolfpack of German U-Boats attacked. Shortly after midnight
on Oct. 17, 1941, U-568 fired a spread of three torpedoes at the Kearny - two missed, but one struck the U.S. Destroyer on the starboard
side just below the waterline resulting in 11 deaths, and 22 injuries.
Six weeks before the torpedoing of the Kearny, the U.S.S. Greer had been attacked by U-652, but was able to escape unharmed. But on October 30,
less than two weeks after the Kearny "incident" (as Washington referred to it), the destroyer Reuben James was sunk. The Navy was given orders from Roosevelt to "shoot on sight" any hostile craft attacking American ships or any ships under American escort.
Congress also now allowed American merchant vessels to be armed and sail to any and all belligerent ports. The U.S. was now
unofficially at war.