Battle of Midway
Duty at Sea
Aboard Ship Photo's
Crews by Years Index
USS Lewis DE 535-USS Currier DE 700-USS EVANS DE 1023-USS
WISEMAN DE 667
USS WISEMAN DE 667- Early 1950's
The need for a Destroyer Escort class of ship came during WW2 to be used against
the German U-Boat threat in the Atlantic. When needed, the Destroyer Escort could
accomplish the mission of the larger Destroyer by attacking surface ships with guns
and torpedoes and serving as scout ships of the fleet. The Destroyer Escorts proved
this attack capability at the Battle of Samar.
A specially designed Destroyer was then built to protect transports in
convoys, these lighter Destroyers were designated DEs, developed for anti-submarine
patrols. The first DEs main battery were 3-3 inch/50 plus 2- 40 mm and 9-20 mm and depth
charges, no torpedo tubes. Next the DEs, had two 5 inch mounts and a set of three torpedo
tubes. There was little difference in their size and tonnage.
In 1975 all Destroyer Escorts then in commission were redesignated Frigates (FF) and
the type name "DE" was discontinued by the US Navy.
With the constant threat of the U-Boat to Allied shipping the Destroyer Escort became
a necessity. A Destroyer Escort could be built for about five million dollars compared to
ten million for a Destroyer. They would be smaller than a Destroyer and not have the
firepower, but they could accomplish many of the same task that the Destroyer was designed
to do for half the cost. The order for 1005 Destroyer Escorts were placed,but only 563
would be built. This was due to the success the Destroyer Escort had in stopping the
German U-Boat threat in the Atlantic. Some would be partially built and their construction
was halted, and they would never be commissioned. Some of the remaining
keels which had been laid were completed as other type ships such as APDs. The APD
was a Attack Personal Transport.
Of the 563 Destroyer Escorts built during and shortly after WW 2, 78
were for England, 6 for France, and 8 for Brazil. The US Coast Guard would have 30 Edsall
Class Destroyer Escorts under their command, they would be used mainly in the Atlantic.
The rest of the DE's would be delivered to the US Navy to be used in the Atlantic and
Pacific Wars. They would be used as convoy screens, anti-submarine warfare, shore
bombardment, picket duties, surface engagements, electric power supply, and troop
The first orders were only placed on November 1,1941 and the first keel laid at
the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The first Destroyer Escort that was
commissioned was the USS Brennan DE 13 on Jan 20, 1943, at Mare Island,
Vallejo, Calif. the DEs would supply the United States Navy with the economical destroyer
type ship which could be mass produced using less expensive material.
With the large amount of Destroyer Escorts to be ordered, there would not be
enough shipyards available to build these warships. Even at the existing yards there would
be a lack of space. To make up for this problem parts of the Destroyer Escort would be
constructed at welding and fabrication shops across the United States and then when that
piece or part of the ship was called for it would be sent, usually by rail to the shipyard
for assembly of the ship.
After the end of World War II, many of the Destroyer Escorts were decommissioned and
placed in moth balls. Some of these ships stayed in commission for several years. The
machinery of a DE compared to that of the DD made the DE more suitable for Naval reserve
duty. By 1950 the force of active DEs was reduced to 27 ships. During the Korean war the
number of DEs in commission was increased to 52. In 1960 only 3 Destroyer Escorts served
with fleet units. Another 28 DEs trained reservist. Mass scrapping of ships remaining in
reserve began five years later. The last World War 2-built DEs were stricken in 1973. The
Destroyer Escorts were known a heavy rollers, but also as good sea boats, at least in U.S.
service. The Destroyer Escort provided a valuable service for the United States of America
during World War ll.
No better example of this attack capability can be given than that of the Battle of Samar.
In 1975 all Destroyer Escorts then in commission were redesignated Frigates (FF) and the
type name DE was discontinued by the US Navy. There would be six classes of Destroyer
Destroyer Escorts lay silently(almost ghostly)in mothballs at the Pacific
Reserve Fleet in San Diego after World War 2. Some of these ships after being commissioned
were in the fleet for one or two years then decommissioned placed in mothballs and would
never see duty again.
The Evarts Class They would be the known as the short hull Destroyer Escorts. They
would be found to be unsatisfactory and this class of ship would be scrapped soon after WW
Ships General Info
Generally the Ships carried 12-15 Officers and 175-200 Crewmen. The
DEs top speed was 20 to 24 knots.
Generally cruised at 17 knots.
||Depth Charge Tracks
||Triple Torpedo Tube
WW 2 Destroyer Escorts Damaged or Lost
|Leopold DE 319
|Holder DE 401
||Heavy Damage to Hull
|Donnell DE 56
||Blew off Stern
|Fechteler DE 157
|Barr DE 576
|Rich DE 695
||KIA 27 Miss 62
|Fiske DE 143
|Sheldon DE 407
|Dennis DE 405
|Roberts DE 413
||Hit by Enemy 14''
|Eversole DE 404
|Liddle APD 60
||Heavy Damage to Bridge
||Plane crashed into Bridge
|Fogg DE 57
|Blessman APD 69
||Heavy Damage to Bridge
||Bomb hit Bridge Area
|Foreman DE 633
||Hole below waterline
|Witter DE 636
|Hopping APD 51
||Hole in Hull
|Whitehurst DE 634
||Heavy Bridge Damage
|Rall DE 304
|Bowers DE 637
||Heavy Bridge Damage
|Davis DE 136
|Oberrender DE 344
||Heavy Hull Damage
|England DE 635
||Heavy Bridge Damage
|Chase APD 54
||Heavy Hull Damage
|Bates APD 68
|Loy APD 56
|Gendreau DE 639
||Hole n Hull
|Underhill DE 682
|Solar DE 221
Seiverling DE 441
||Fire Rm Flooded
|Lewis DE 535
|Hanna DE 449
||Hull Damage & Fire Rm
Destroyer Escorts During WWII
USS Buckley DE 51
On 22 April 1944 she joined hunter-killer TG 21.11 for a sweep of the North Atlantic and
Mediterranean convoy routes. On the morning of 6 May aircraft from Block Island
(CVE-21) reported an enemy submarine near The Buckley. She steamed toward the
surfaced submarine evading her torpedoes and gunfire, and commenced firing. At 0328 The
Buckley rammed the German submarine U-66 and then backed off. Shortly
thereafter, the submarine struck The Buckley, opening a hole in the escort vessel's
starboard side. The U-66 drew astern of The Buckley and sank at 0341 in
17°17' N., 32°24' W. The Buckley picked up 36 German survivors and then retired
to New York where she underwent repairs until 14 June 1944.
On 18 May 1944, with two other destroyers, The ENGLAND cleared Port
Purvis on a hunt for Japanese submarines during a passage to Bougainville. During the next
8 days, she was to set an impressive record in antisubmarine warfare, never matched in
World War II by any other American ship, as she hunted down and sank I-16 on 19 May,
RO-106 on 22 May, RO-104 on 23 May, RO-116 on 24 May, and RO-108 on 26 May. In three of
these cases, the other destroyers were in on the beginning of the actions, but the kill in
every case was The ENGLAND's alone. Quickly replenishing depth charges at Manus, The
ENGLAND was back in action on 31 May to join with four other ships in sinking RO-105. This
superlative performance won for The ENGLAND a Presidential Unit Citation.
USS Mason DE 529
The USS MASON, the first Navy ship with a predominantly Negro crew,
departed Charleston 14 June escorting a convoy bound for Europe, The MASON would escort
convoys six times across the Atlantic.
On 4 June, about 100 miles off the Cape Verdes, sound contact was made on a U-boat
trying to penetrate the destroyer screen for a shot at Guadalcanal. Two pilots
sighted the submarine running under the surface, and splashed the sea with gunfire to
point out the contact to Pillsbury, Jenks (DE-665), and Chatelain (DE-149)
rushing to the attack. The destroyers fired their depth charges and in 13 minutes forced
the submarine to the surface. In a withering fire of small ar ms and light gunnery the
German gun crews were swept from the decks. Pillsbury lowered a boarding party and,
in a drama reminiscent of old Navy days, the boarding party rushed on board and took as
prisoners the U-boat Captain, five officers, and fifty-three of her crew. A 2,500 mile
haul to Bermuda was made, with U-505 trailing meekly on the end of a tow line. The
captured submarine revealed some of the German Navy's most guarded secrets. For this
demonstration of conspicuous gallantry and achievement, Pillsbury was awarded the
Presidential Unit Citation.
USS John C. Butler
Admiral Kurita's Center Force still transited San Bernardino Strait the night of 24-25
October and just after sunrise bore down on the relatively unprotected "Taffy
3," including JOHN C. BUTLER. The 2-hour battle off Samar which followed has taken a
rightful place among the most memorable actions in naval history. The slow escort carriers
launched all planes to attack the Japanese cruisers and battleships, and JOHN C. BUTLER
and her sisters laid heavy smoke to confuse enemy batteries. A rain squall provided cover
for a turn to the south, and just after 0730 the destroyers began their gallant torpedo
attacks against great odds. JOHNSTON (DD-557), HOEL (DD-533), HEERMAN (DD-532), and escort
SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE-413) made close-in attacks on cruisers and battleships, forcing them
to zigzag, while aircraft made continuous attacks. Soon after this first attack, JOHN C.
BUTLER turned from the carriers to launch her remaining torpedoes, then exchanged gunfire
with a heavy cruiser. The destroyer escort continued to fire and dodge heavy-caliber fire
until dangerously low on ammunition, then returned to the carrier formation to provide
USS Samuel B. Roberts DE 412
When the order was given to the large FLETCHER Class destroyers of Taffy III to
engage the Japanese, light-weight (BUTLER Class DE) ROBERTS joined fleet destroyers HOEL
and HEERMANN on their torpedo attack. She chose HIJMS CHOKAI as the target for her three
torpedoes and was credited with one hit. Later, she engaged the heavy cruiser HIJMS
CHIKUMA with 5-inch gun fire and knocked out her #3 8-inch turret. In the thick of battle
all morning long, ROBERTS was finally hit by several 8-inch shells after trying avoid
14-inch battleship shells from HIJMS KONGO. Eighty-nine men lost their lives on this, the
only DE of Taffy III to be lost during the Battle Off Samar. Admiral C. A. F. Sprague,
commander of Taffy 3, later described the next surprising development: "At 0925 my
mind was occupied with dodging torpedoes when near the bridge I heard one of the signalmen
yell, . . . dammit, boys, they're getting away! I could not believe my eyes,
but it looked as if the whole Japanese fleet was indeed retiring.... At best, I had
expected to be swimming by this time." The Japanese, damaged and fearing heavier air
attack, had indeed reversed course. Though the escort carriers lost two of their number
and three escorts, their valiant fight had stopped the Japanese from attacking the
transports in Leyte Gulf.
Life aboard a Destroyer Escort in a wild
Pacific storm known as a typhoon is an experience a young sailor would remember for a long
long time. Because the sailors were young, late teens and early twenties is probably why
they could endure the wild rolling and pitching, the constant sound of the bow smashing
into the huge waves.Then as the bow ducked under the wave, the stern would rise up out of
the water and the sound of the screws turning in air would be a very nerve racking,
especially at night when the crew was trying to sleep. That sound would last a short
while, and then the stern would drop back into the sea making a terrible sound. like a
heavy hammer hitting a large piece of steel and that sound would vibrate though the ship.
Everything that could move was lash
down or it would become a flying object. As the ship would roll a twenty gallon trash can
not tied down in the crews compartment might sail thirty feet till it hit the
opposite side of the ship. Noise of the ships screws turning, trash cans rolling, the
never ending sound of the ship battling the sea, and the pitching and rolling of the ship
did not make ideal sleeping conditions. This would go on hour after hour, day after day.
Then of coarse there was matter of the
crew being served three meals a day . A small thing such as a typhoon could
not eliminate the young sailors craving for food. If three meals were served the young men
would show up at the mess decks on time and ready to eat. It was truly amazing how they
could hold their tray full of food, a cup of coffee or milk, their eating utensils, while
sitting at a table holding a conversion and eating like it was just another meal. If it
became so rough that the cooks could not prepare the meals then cold cuts would be served
to make sandwiches. Those sandwiches would be devoured just as well as a regular meal. It
is hard to believe anyone over forty years old could exist under those conditions.
Gunners Mate and Boatswains Mate
The duties of a Gunners Mate was quite simple, keep the guns in good
operating condition, inspect them daily for anything you miss the day
before, lubricate, clean and have the ability to brake down any part and
repair or replace it in a hurry.
The 3 in.- 50s were simple and easy to operate but the 40s had more working
parts to contend with plus they were water cooled and always boiling over in the heat of
Gunners were in charge of the depth charges, ammo, ammo storage, and small arms.
Gunners also worked close with Fire Controlmen; they would help put the Gunners on target
in the automatic control.
At General Quarters (Battle Stations) Gunners topside had two General Quarter
stations, One was anti aircraft and surface engagement. The other one was Anti-submarine
Warfare (asw). On ASW some of the Gunners were on one forward 3 in- 50 and others the
after 40-mm. The rest of the Gunners were on depth charges and hedgehogs. The rated
Boatswains Mates were also in charge of one or two depth charges or hedgehogs. There were
not enough Gunners Mates to man all the stations, so a rated Boatswains Mate would be
assigned a station. Non rated deck hands would be assigned to a station as a helper.
In port Gunners Mates and Boatswains Mates would stand watch on the quarterdeck armed
with a 45 and a Non Rated deck hand as a messenger. Non Rated deck hands would also stand
bow and stern watches.
At sea a Gunners Mate stood watch in after steering. A Non Rated deck hand stood helm
watches, after lookout watch, port and starboard lookout on the wings of the bridge.
The Master At Arms was usually a Boatswains Mate 1/c or a Gunners Mate 1/c. The Master
At Arms was in charge of the all the crews compartment cleaning, keeping the heads clean,
and calling reveille in each of the crews quarters and turning on the lights. At night he
would switch off the lights and switch on the red night-lights. The Master at Arms was
usually in charge of the Mess Decks also. The Compartment Cleaners and Mess Deck Hands
were Non rated personnel from all the different divisions aboard ship.
The Boatswains Mates were in charge of the Maintenance and
painting of the exterior hull and most of the interior compartments. They were also in
charge of the Captains Gig. The Boatswains Mates generally were the Coxswain of the Gig.
Plot, give course, speed, and closest point of approach of any radar contact.
Whether on the sea, in the air or underwater (Radarman worked with the Sonarman
plotting submarine contacts). Communicate with all the other ships via voice radio.
During convoy duties it was the CIC (combat information center) job to
recommend course and speed changes whenever the ship changed positions in the
convoy. Radarmans duty to keep ship in right location such as the right distances from all
other ships. Every ship had a certain way to turn and etc. to get to its new
Radar was also used as a navigational aid since it's range was of great help
to the navigator in getting bearings and ranges to different land points at
night and when the land points might be over the horizon.
Radarman had to keep up to date all of the navigational charts as to where the
buoys and other land marks were. There are not many changes on the charts of
US waters ,but when in foreign water such as in Korean waters it is a different story.
All of the charts were of Japanese origin and nothing was up to date. That
is one of the reasons the Wiseman ran aground in Nov. '52 (uncharted waters).
When at sea Radarman usually stand a 4 hour watch with 8 off. Sometimes in tight
situations a Radarman would stand 12 on and 12 off, You would need maybe 2 men on radars 2
on plot (maybe 3 if you were working anti-submarine duty). Normally you
could get by with 4 on and 8 off.
The Repair Division made up of Pipefitters, Medalsmiths, Damage Controlman and
Machinery Repairman. At times the ship would not have all these ratings aboard ship at one
time. The Pipefitters ( Ship Fitters ) and Metalsmiths would do most of the Arc Welding,
Gas Welding, Cutting , and Brazing. The Machinery Repairman would do all of the lathe
work. Most of this work was done in the Machine Room located on the Main Deck about mid
ship. Damage Controlman did the woodwork, what little there was on a DE.
Most of the tools, lathes, and welders were located in the Machine Shop. The
Pipefitter Shop was located in the after part of the ship next to the steering room on the
2nd deck. The workbench with most of the tools a Pipefitter would use was
located there. Fitters were know to sack out on the bench on Sat. and Sun. mornings if
they did not want to be awaken by the Master At Arms. At sea this was not a good place
because of the noise of the shaft and the screws turning close by.
On some DEs. R Div. Personnel would serve as the engineer on the Captains
Gig. He could be Rated or Non Rated as long as he was qualified to serve as the engineer.
R Division Personnel had the Roving Patrol Watch aboard the Wiseman. This was probably
the best Watch aboard ship. The Watch would move all over the ship checking for flooding
and fires. He would take soundings of all below deck compartments. He would check the
shaft alleys for excessive leakage or flooding.
He would check the two fresh water tanks port and starboard, and
tries to keep equal amounts of water in each one for proper ballast. These tanks where
located aft of the after engineroom, below the crews quarters. He would also check the
chlorine residual of these tanks if they were being chlorinated. Bleach from the ships
laundry was used to place in the ships water tanks. Once in every four-hour watch he would
have to take the Watch Log to the Officer of the Deck for revue and signature.
When the ship went to General Quarters the R-Div personnel would
be assigned to one of the three repair parties. One forward, one mid ship, and one aft.
Each member of the repair party was assigned valves to close, watertight doors and hatches
to close. Any watertight door or hatch could not be opened without permission from the
Damage Control Officer or until General Quarters was secured. The Repair Party duties were
to fight fires, control flooding and to repair damage to the ship during combat.
Tin Can Sailor
God's own sailors, the real men of the blue water (deep ocean) navy,
i.e., Destroyer Sailors. Not to be confused with the wimps and civvies that sail in subs
Did You Know
On a Destroyer Escort, the space allowed in the crews compartment for each crewmen was
1/6th the space allowed for a prisoner in a US Federal Prison during WW2.