A carrier task group is only as strong as its supporting destroyers. The following destroyers / destroyer escorts are mentioned in the history of CVE 21 or the history of CVE 106. The table indicates some of the characteristics of the destroyers / destroyer escorts mentioned on this website.
|DD||Bagley||2,325||341||39||6,500||251||4-5″; 4-50cal; Torpedos; Depth Charges|
|DE||Buckley||1,740||306||24||5,500||213||4-1″; 3-3″; Torpedos; Hedgehogs; Depth Charges|
|DE||Cannon||1,620||306||21||10,800||216||3-3″; 2-2″; 8-1″;Torpedos; Hedgehogs; Depth Charges|
|DE||Clemson||1,308||315||36||4,900||132||4-4″; 1-3″; Torpedos|
|DE||Edsall||1,590||306||21||10,800||186||3-3″; 2-2″; 8-1″; Torpedos; Hedgehogs; Depth Charges|
|DD||Fletcher||2,500||377||37||5,500||329||5-5″; 10-2″; 10-1″;Torpedos; K-guns; Depth Charges|
|DD||Gleaves||1,630||348||37||6,500||276||4-5″; Torpedos; Depth Charges|
|DE||Rudderow||1,740||306||24||5,500||213||2-5″; 4-2″; 10-1″; Torpedos; Hedgehogs; Depth Charges|
The destroyers are listed by hull number. The list does not include all of the destroyers that were associated with the two carriers.
DE 51 Buckley (CVE 21)
DE 51 Buckley, a Buckley class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 30 Apr 1943. Between Jul 1943 and 22 Apr 1944 Buckley operated along the eastern seaboard as training ship for prospective officers and nucleus crews of other destroyer escorts.
On 29 Apr 1944 she joined CVE 21 Block Island as part of a hunter-killer task group. On 6 May 1944 CVE 21 ordered DE 51 to intercept German U-boat U-66 which had been spotted by aircraft. DE 51 commenced an attack on the submarine and at 0328 hours Buckley rammed U-66 and after a fight that was often hand to hand sunk the submarine. USS Buckley Captain, LCDR Brent Maxwell Abel USNR received the Navy Cross for his actions in the encounter with U-66.
In Jul 1944, Buckley escorted two convoys to North Africa and then operated on anti-submarine and convoy escort duty along the eastern seaboard. Buckley and DE 153 Reuben James sank the German uboat U-548 on 19 Apr 1945. Buckley was placed in reserve 3 Jul 1946.
DE 102 Thomas (CVE 21)
DE 102 was the second USS Thomas, a Cannon class destroyer escort, she was commissioned on 21 Nov 1943. She sailed with CVE 21 USS Block Island on her third combat cruise departing 16 Feb 1944.
DE 102 Thomas was involved in the sinking of three German submarines: U-709, U-233 which was rammed after being forced to the surface by depth charges, and U-548. After being decommissioned in Mar 1946, Thomas was transferred to the Chinese Navy.
DE 103 Bostwick (CVE 21)
DE 103 USS Bostwick, a Cannon class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 1 Dec 1943. On 15 Feb 1944, Bostwick joined CVE 21 USS Block Island and designated Task Group 21.16 as a hunter-killer group in the U-boat-infested waters of the North Atlantic.
Late on 29 Feb 1944, Bronstein made a radar contact and along with Bostwick and Thomas surrounded the target, German submarine, U-709. The three destroyer escorts dropped depth charges on her estimated position. At 0324 hours, Thomas dropped a pattern of charges that produced a huge underwater explosion, the last sounds heard from U-709.
During late March, April, and early May she served as a convoy escort. On 25 Jun 1944, she joined USS Card on another hunter-killer patrol. Thomas rammed U-233 on 5 Jul 1944. On 29 Apr 1955, Bostwick, Thomas, and Coffman joined Natchez in dropping depth charges until a huge underwater explosion indicated the destruction of U-548. Bostwick was decommissioned on 30 Apr 1946.She was sold to nationalist China on 14 Dec 1948.
DE 104 Breeman (CVE 21)
DE 104 USS Breeman, a Cannon class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 12 Dec 1943. On 16 February, Breeman joined USS Block Island Task Group 21.16 On 19 Mar 1944, planes from CVE 21 Block Island sank U-1059, and Breeman assisted in the rescue of the U-boat’s survivors.
Breeman joined several other task groups doing Atlantic hunter-killer searches for the remainder of WWII. Breeman was decommissioned on 26 April 1946 and transferred to the Nationalist Chinese government based on Taiwan.
DE 183 Samuel S. Miles (CVE 106)
DE 183 USS Samuel S. Miles, a Cannon class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 4 Nov 1943. Serving as an escort ship in the Marshall Islands area, she protected fleet oilers during fast carrier air strikes against the Caroline Islands and the Hollandia, New Guinea, area in Apr 1944.
She escorted oilers during the capture of Saipan and Tinian, and splashed two Japanese planes on 18 Jun 1944. She also supported the Leyte and Luzon, Philippine Islands, campaigns in late 1944 and early 1945. Samuel S. Miles sank Japanese submarine I-177 near the Palau Islands on 3 Oct 1944. After guarding the invasion force at Iwo Jima in Feb 1945, she screened the bombardment group that pounded Okinawa, where she splashed one enemy plane on 27 Mar 1945. She sailed with CVE 106 USS Block Island to Okinawa in Apr 1945.
A kamikaze near-miss killed one of her crew members on 11 Apr 1945. She was decommissioned on 28 Mar 1946. DE 186 was transferred to France on 12 Aug 1950.
DE 189 Bronstein (CVE 21)
DE 189 USS Bronstein, a Cannon class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 13 Dec 1943. The destroyer escort was assigned to CVE 21 Block Island’s Task Group 21.16 along with DD 463 Corry, DE 102 Thomas, DE 104 Breeman , and DE 103 Bostwick. On 16 Feb 1944 the group left Norfolk. On the evening of 29 Apr, Thomas made a surface radar contact, and Bostwick was ordered to assist her in the search for the contact. CVE 21 Block Island had directed Bronstein to search for a second suspected U-boat when one of her star shells revealed U-709 on the surface preparing to attack Thomas and Bostwick. Bronstein opened fire, and her guns registered several hits. The submarine went deep to escape, and the three destroyer escorts attacked her with depth charges. Thomas finally sank U-709 early the next morning.
The second U-boat maneuvered to attack the Block Island, Bronstein immediately began dropping depth charges. A tremendous explosion indicated the end of the Uboat, later identified as U-603.
The Block Island group made radar contact four days later with U-801. The submarine surfaced on the evening of 16 Mar 1944 and was attacked by aircraft from CVE 21. The U-boat dived and managed to evade the hunters until the early hours of 17 Mar, when the German sub sent a radio message. Corry ran down the bearing of the transmission, and she and Bronstein methodically boxed in the U-boat, forcing her to surface. The crew abandoned and scuttled their boat.
Bronstein proceeded to Norfolk to join a hunter-killer group formed around CVE 11 USS Card. Designated task group TG 21.10, DE 190 Baker and Thomas sank U-233 on 5 Jul near Newfoundland. Bronstein was decommissioned on 17 Jun 1946 and sold to Uruguay.
DD 213 Barker (CVE 21)
DD 213 USS Barker, a Clemson class destroyer escort, was commissioned 27 Dec 1913. From 1913 to 1941 DD 213 served the U.S. Navy in several roles visiting ports around the world. On 7 Dec 1941, DD 213 Barker was at Tarakan, Borneo, and immediately commenced patrolling the surrounding area. She participated in the anti-aircraft actions off Bali (4 Feb 1942) and Banka Island (15 Feb 1942). Barker was damaged by near misses during this action. Between Oct 1942 and May 1943, Barker escorted convoys between San Francisco, CA and Pearl Harbor.
On 27 Jun, she joined the USS Core hunter killer task group 21.12. German submarine U-487 was sunk by aircraft from the Core on 13 Jul and Barker rescued 33 survivors. On 24 Aug Core’s aircraft found and sank U-534 and U-185. DD 213 Barker rescued 36 survivors of U-185.
On 15 Oct 1943 Barker joined CVE 21 Block Island task group 21.16 to provide convoy escort duty. She arrived at Philadelphia 4 Jun 1945, and was decommissioned 18 July.
DD 218 Parrott (CVE 21)
DD 218 Parrott, a Clemson class destroyer escort, was commissioned 11 May 1920. From 1920 to 1941 DD 218 served the U.S. Navy in several roles visiting ports around the world.
After dark, on 23 Jan 1942, Parrott, with John D. Ford, Pope and Paul Jones, entered Balikpapan Bay where, lying at anchor, were 16 Japanese transports and three 750-ton torpedo boats, guarded by a Japanese Destroyer Squadron. The Allied ships fired several patterns of torpedoes and saw four enemy transports and one torpedo boat sink as the Japanese destroyers searched in the strait for non-existent submarines.
She engaged the enemy in Sumatra and Bali.
On 21 May 1943, she sailed for New York and reported for transatlantic convoy duty. She completed one convoy passage before joining Paul Jones and Belknap in an offensive antisubmarine group with Croatan. She operated with this group until 15 Oct 1943 when she transferred to another antisubmarine group formed around CVE 21 USS Block Island.
Parrott participated in sinking U-220 on 28 Oct 1943 which was credited to the Block Island’s planes.
While getting underway for Norfolk on 2 May, Parrott was rammed by John Morton, and was so severely damaged she had to be beached by tugs. Later towed to Norfolk Naval Shipyard, she was decommissioned 14 June 1944.
DD 222 Bulmer (CVE 21)
DD 222 USS Bulmer, a Clemson class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 16 August 1920.When the United States entered WWII, Bulmer was still assigned to the Asiatic Fleet and stationed in the Philippines. DD 222 Bulmer took part in the Battle of Bali Sea on 4 Feb 1942. From Jun 1942-May 1943, she operated as an escort vessel for convoys sailing between Pearl Harbor and San Francisco.
Bulmer was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet in May and arrived at New York on 14 Jun. Her first Atlantic assignment was as a unit of Task Group 21.12 (TG 21.12) from 14 Jun-22 Sep. During this sweep of the North Atlantic, aircraft from Core sank U-487 on 13 Jul 1943.
DD 222 Bulmer joined task group 21.16 as part of the CVE 21 USS Block Island hunter-killer group. She then commenced convoy escort duty between northeastern Atlantic ports and North Africa until Jul 1944. Bulmer was decommissioned on 16 Aug 1946 and sold.
DD 230 Paul Jones (CVE 21)
DD 230 USS Paul Jones, a Clemson class destroyer, was commissioned 19 Apr 1921. Until the outbreak of WWII she served in the Asiatic Fleet. She received the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor 8 December 1941, at Tarakan, Borneo, and immediately prepared for action. She took part in Pacific operations in Java, Bali, and Timor before being assigned escort duty between California and Pearl Harbor which continued until the end of March 1943.
Sailing in company with DD 218 Parrott and DD 213 Barker, DD 230 Paul Jones departed San Francisco 30 March, transited the Panama Canal and reported to New York where she commenced convoy escort duty 28 May 1943 between North African ports and the U.S.
On 5 Oct 1943 the destroyers DD 230 Paul Jones, DD 218 Parrott, DD 213 Barker, and DD 222 Bulmer escorted CVE 21 USS Block Island as they left Hampton Roads, VA as Task Group 21.16 . This was CVE 21’s first combat cruise. DD 230 also participated in the second cruise, 15 Dec 1943. Convoy assignments and training operations continued until the end of WWII. She was decommissioned 5 Nov 1945.
DE 326 Thomas J. Gary (CVE 106)
DE 326 USS Thomas J. Gary, an Edsall-class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 27 Nov 1943. She escorted a number of transatlantic convoys until May 1945. She completed her last Atlantic convoy upon her arrival at New York on 7 May 1945. On 1 Aug 1945, she departed Oahu with Escort Division 57 and steamed for Guam where she again got underway, this time with Carrier Division 27. As the force steamed toward the Philippines, word of Japan’s surrender reached the ship. Following her arrival at San Pedro Bay on 17 August, Thomas J. Gary remained in port until the 29th when she departed Leyte to screen the aircraft carriers of Task Group (TG) 77.1 during their passage to Korea. CVE 106 Block Island with CVE 29 Santee and four destroyers sailed for Leyte Gulf on 13 Aug 1945.
En route, the task group was diverted to Formosa. DE 326 Thomas J. Gary was designated to assist in the liberation of Allied prisoners of war who had been held on that island. On 3 Sep, she embarked 19 marines from Block Island charged with arranging the details of the evacuation of the POWs. Her division commander was also responsible for making the preliminary arrangements for the occupation of Formosa.
Before dawn of 5 Sep off the coast of Formosa, DE 326 Thomas J. Gary and DE 329 Kretchmer were detached from the escort carrier task group. Resistance from die-hard Japanese was still a distinct possibility.
As the two ships approached the waters most apt to be mined, the American sailors maintained a state of readiness to repel possible attack. Four Combat Air Patrol planes provided cover, and two anti-mine sweep planes from the carriers relayed word of the sightings of possible mines as the destroyer escorts picked their way through the hazardous approaches to Kiirun. The ships maintained a condition of modified general quarters and stationed armed guards on shore. A detail headed by Thomas J. Gary’s communications officer took over the local Japanese radio station to insure reliable communications between the task group and Japanese authorities in Kiirun. At 1630 hours, a train arrived bearing Allied prisoners of war who were quickly transferred to the waiting destroyer escorts.
DE 326 rendezvoused with the CVE 106 and CVE 29 carriers and transferred the newly freed POWs to the larger ships.
She was decommissioned on 7 Mar 1947 and placed in reserve. On 24 Jul 1956, she was converted to radar picket escort ship; and, on 1 Nov 1956, she was designated DER-326. She served the U.S. Navy until 1973 when she was transferred to Tunisia. She sustained a major fire in Apr 1992 and is no longer operational.
DE 327 Brister (CVE 106)
DE 327 USS Brister, an Edsall class destroyer, was commissioned 30 Nov 1943. Between Jun 1944 and Jun 1945, Brister made seven Atlantic escort crossings to Italy and England. On 8 Jun 1945 she departed New York City for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor, HI after a stop in San Diego. She was active in Far East patrol and escort operations until April 1946. USS Brister assisted CVE 106 in the evacuation of POWs from Formosa. She was stricken from US Navy records 23 Sep 1968.
DE 328 Finch (CVE 106)
DE 328 USS Finch, an Edsall class destroyer, was commissioned 13 Dec 1943. From Aug 1943 through Mar 1947 Finch participated in various Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific operations. She was part of group of several ships including CVE 106 USS Block Island, who evacuated POWs from camps on the island of Formosa. She was decommissioned 6 Mar 1947.
In the movie Tora Tora Tora the USS Finch played the part of the USS Ward.
DE 329 Kretchmer (CVE 106)
DE 329 USS Kretchmer, an Edsall-class destroyer escort, was commissioned 13 Dec 1943. She escorted Atlantic convoys during the summer of 1944 through Apr 1945. After victory in Europe, she was assigned Pacific Fleet duty. Clearing Pearl Harbor 1 Aug 1945, Kretchmer was en route to the Philippines when hostilities stopped on 14 Aug.
After arriving she was assigned to a task group that included CVE 106 Block Island and was sent to Formosa. DE 329 along with DE 326 Thomas J. Gary was designated to assist in the liberation of Allied prisoners of war who had been held on that island. Before dawn of 5 Sep off the coast of Formosa, DE 326 and DE 329 were detached from the escort carrier task group. Resistance from die-hard Japanese was still a distinct possibility as they approached the island.
The destroyer escorts picked their way through mines that guarded the approaches to Kiirun. Allied prisoners of war were quickly transferred from the terrible conditions of Japanese POW camps to the waiting destroyer escorts. The destroyers rendezvoused with the CVE 106 and CVE 29 carriers and transferred the newly freed POWs to the larger ships.
Serving in the Far East until 1 April 1946, the destroyer escort engaged in occupation and repatriation operations. Kretchmer was decommissioned 20 Sep 1946. After extensive conversion, DE 329 Kretchmer was recommissioned as DER-329 on 22 Sep 1956.
In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kretchmer departed Newport 23 Nov 1962 for picket duty off the southern coast of the United States. She operated as plane guard and screen for CV 9 USS Essex .
Kretchmer joined other vessels off the South Vietnam coast in Operation Market Time, keeping coastal traffic under surveillance to prevent the shipment of Communist arms and supply to South Vietnam by sea. By the end of a year of patrol, the ship had investigated some 17,000 contacts, and boarded over 1,000 small craft.
She was decommissioned 1 Oct 1973.
DD 388 Helm (CVE 106)
DD 388 USS Helm, a Bagley class destroyer, was commissioned on 16 Oct 1937. At 0755 hours on the morning of December 7, 1941, DD 388 Helm had just turned into West Loch in Pearl Harbor when Japanese planes attacked the naval base. She was the only ship under way at the time of the attack. DE 388 brought down at least one of the attackers while she was strafed and slightly damaged by two bombs. She remained active in the South Pacific before joining Admiral Turner’s fleet as they struck Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The destroyer screened the transports as troops disembarked, shooting down several attacking aircraft during the first two days.
For the next few weeks Helm remained in the dangerous waters near Guadalcanal, escorting transports and patrolling. She arrived 7 Jun to join the invasion of the Marianas. The great American and Japanese fleets approached each other on 19 Jun for the biggest carrier engagement of the war. As four large air raids hit the American fleet formation, fighter cover from Helm’s task group and surface fire from the ships annihilated the Japanese planes. They succeeded in sinking two Japanese carriers while inflicting such staggering losses on the enemy that the battle was dubbed the “Marianas Turkey Shoot”.
Following the decisive Battle of the Philippine Sea, Helm and the fast carriers turned their attention to neutralizing the enemy bases on the Bonin and Volcano Islands and supporting the invasion of Guam. The mobile carrier groups, screened by destroyers and cruisers, also began attacks on the Palau Islands on 25 Jul 1944. With occasional respite at Eniwetok or Ulithi, the carriers attacked Iwo Jima and other islands in the western Pacific until well into September.
Strikes were launched against Okinawa on 10 Oct after which the carriers turned to their real objective, the airfields and military installations on Formosa. In a devastating 3-day attack carrier planes did much to destroy that island as a supporting base for the Japanese in the battle of the Philippines and other invasions to come. DD 388 Helm brought down one enemy bomber with her 5-inch guns and assisted in shooting down several more.
By 24 Oct it was clear that the assault on Leyte had called forth one final effort on the part of the Japanese to destroy the American fleet. Its three major fleet units moved toward the Philippines. The Northern Group was to lure the American carriers northward away from Leyte, before the others converged on the assault area in Leyte Gulf for a two-pronged death blow. In for the historic Battle of Leyte Gulf, Helm with Rear Admiral Davison’s Task Group 38.4 turned her attention toward Admiral Kurita’s Center Force. Planes from the carriers struck the Japanese ships near mid-day in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, sinking giant battleship Musashi and damaging other heavy ships.
Admiral Halsey took the carrier groups north to engage the powerful fleet of Admiral Ozawa. Screened by Helm and other surface units, the carriers made air contact on 25 Oct and, in a series of devastating strikes, sank four Japanese carriers and a destroyer. The great sea battle was thus ended, with the invasion of Leyte secured and the Japanese fleet no longer an effective fighting unit. On 28 Oct Helm and companion destroyer Gridley made a contact around noon with a submarine and dropped depth charges sinking I-46.
Departing Ulithi on 5 Nov 1944, DD 388 Helm steamed from Ulithi for Manus as the ship began preparations for the next important amphibious operation in the Philippine campaign, the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon.
As the ships entered the Sulu Sea, the Japanese struck with suicide planes on 4 Jan 1945 and sank escort carrier Ommaney Bay. Gunfire from Helm and the other screening ships took a heavy toll of the attackers. The carrier groups were hit repeatedly by desperate air attacks, with Helm and the other destroyers accounting for many suicide and torpedo planes. When escort carrier Bismarck Sea was sunk in a massive suicide attack, Helm rescued survivors.
The veteran destroyer continued screening operations off Iwo Jima until she headed for Okinawa to provide close air support. CVE 106 Block Island was escorted by DE 183 Samuel S. Miles and DD 388 Helm to provide for for pre-invasion strikes. During her stay off Okinawa the destroyer shot down many suicide planes which menaced the carriers during fanatical, last-ditch efforts by the Japanese to repel the invasion. DD 388 Helm steamed to Leyte on 19 Jun with Okinawa secured.
Following the Okinawa operation Helm served as an escort and patrol ship out of Ulithi and Leyte and eventually Japan. She earned 11 Battle Stars for her service and was decommissioned on 26 Jun 1946.
DD 463 Corry (CVE 21)
DD 463 USS Corry, a Gleaves-class destroyer, was commissioned 18 Dec 1941. On 16 Feb 1944, Corry sailed for hunter-killer operations in the Atlantic with CVE 21 Block Island’s Task Group 21.16 On 16 Mar joined with Bronstein in attacking German submarine U-801. Corry’s depth charge attack caused the submarine to surface and then DD 463 sank her with gunfire, picking up 47 survivors. On 19 Mar 1944, Corry rescued eight survivors of U-1059, which was sunk southwest of the Cape Verde Islands by aircraft from CVE 21 Block Island.
Corry cleared Norfolk on 20 Apr 1944 for Great Britain, and the staging of the Normandy invasion. Getting underway from Plymouth, England, she was the lead destroyer of the Normandy Invasion task force, escorting ships and transports across the English Channel. Upon arriving off the coast of Normandy, France, she headed for Îles Saint-Marcouf. On D-Day morning 6 Jun 1944 her station was to provide fire support for the front lines at Utah Beach. DD463 fired several hundred rounds of 5-inch ammunition at numerous Nazi targets. As H-Hour, 0630 hours, neared, the plane assigned to lay smoke for Corry to conceal her from enemy fire suddenly got shot down, leaving Corry fully exposed. During a duel with a shore battery, Corry suffered direct heavy-caliber artillery hits in her engineering spaces amidships. Still under heavy fire, DD 463 Corry began sinking rapidly with her keel broken and a foot-wide crack across her main deck amidships. After the order to abandon ship, crew members fought to survive in bone-chilling 54-degree water for more than two hours as they awaited rescue under constant enemy fire. One crew member raised the American flag up Corry’s main mast, which remained above the surface of the shallow 30-foot deep water when the ship settled on the bottom. DD463 survivors were rescued by Fitch, Hobson, Butler, and PT-199. Of her crew, 24 were killed and 60 were wounded.
DE 575 Ahrens (CVE 21)
DE 575 USS Ahrens, a Buckley-class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 12 Feb 1944. Following shakedown training in Bermuda and Maine, she joined Task Group 21.11 a hunter/killer group — built around the escort carrier CVE-21 USS Block Island on 22 Feb 1944 at Norfolk, VA. On 29 May, German submarine U-549 torpedoed and sank Block Island and severely damaged DE 576 Barr. Ahrens rescued 673 officers and men in a period of 40 minutes. While carrying out rescue operations, the ship assisted the destroyer escort DE-686 Eugene E. Elmore in locating the submarine. Eugene E. Elmore made two hedgehog attacks which sank U-549.
On 23 Jul, Ahrens assumed duty as an escort for transatlantic convoys. On 13 Oct 1944 after a merchant ship collided with a gasoline tanker, starting large fires on both ships, Ahrens rescued survivors and then assisted DE 703 Holton in putting out the fires.
On 15 Dec 1944, Ahrens sailed with TG 27.7 to join the 7th Fleet in the Pacific. She sailed to Leyte, Philippines, arriving there on 9 Feb and was attached to TG 75.2 . Ahrens escorted merchant and naval convoys until 25 Aug 1945. In late Aug 1945, Ahrens was detached from the Philippine Sea duties and began supporting occupation forces operating in China and Korea.
An interesting note on the Ahrens history is that Edward E. Lull replaced H. Mullins, Jr. as Commander Escort Division Sixty. Ahrens was the Flagship of Division 60. Commander Mullins had been aboard CVE 21 Block Island and actually brought his Flag aboard the Ahrens when he was fished out of the water with the other Block Island survivors on 29 May 1944. This action indicates that an officer that was rescued from that sinking actually later became the Commander of the very ship that saved his life. Ahrens was decommissioned on 24 Jun 1946, and her name was struck from the Navy List on 1 April 1965.
DE 576 Barr (CVE 21)
DE 576 USS Barr was commissioned on 16 Feb 1944. Following shakedown and additional training off Bermuda and Maine, the Barr reported to Norfolk for antisubmarine duty in the Atlantic off the Cape Verde Islands. She operated as part of a hunter-killer task group built around CVE 21 USS Block Island and composed of DE 575 USS Ahrens, DE 686 USS Eugene E. Elmore, and DE 51 USS Buckley. The group left Norfolk 29 Apr 1944 and conducted submarine searches for the next several weeks. On 6 May, Buckley rammed and sank an enemy submarine U-66, verifying that the waters of the South Atlantic did hide enemy submarines.
On 29 May, while closing in on a reported submarine, Block Island suffered two torpedo hits. Barr pursued the submarine, later identified as U-549, until around 2030 hours when a third torpedo struck the Barr. The explosion wrecked the ship aft of the No. 2 engine room, killing four of her crew, injuring 14, and leaving 12 missing. Throughout the night, Barr stayed dead in the water while DE 578 Robert I. Paine patrolled around her. DE 686 Eugene E. Elmore took Barr’s injured and about half of her crew on board, hooked up a towline to the damaged escort and began the journey to Casablanca. DE 397 Wilhoite relieved Eugene E. Elmore; and the Dutch tug, Antic took over and finally towed Barr into port six days later.
Barr stayed in drydock at Casablanca until 2 Jul while the wreckage of her damaged stern was burned off, spaces cleared of oil and debris, and stern plates welded on for the trip home. On 3 Jul, ATF 66 Cherokee began the long voyage to Boston with Barr in tow arriving on 25 Jul.
The Barr spent the next three months in drydock being refurbished and converted to a high speed transport. Redesignated APD 39, Barr sailed for Norfolk on 3 Nov for boat training, and departed that port on the 15 Nov as escort for AGC 14 Teton. She sailed westward and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 9 Dec.
On 10 Jan 1945, Barr set sail for Ulithi, the main staging area for the invasion of Iwo Jima. Barr arrived off the southern end of the island on 16 Feb and she embarked her underwater demolition team, successfully completed the first mission by placing a navigational light on the hazardous Higashi Rocks despite coming under heavy enemy fire. Barr, however, solved the problem, silencing that gunfire with some of her own.
On 18 Feb, Barr received orders to land her UDT on the Higashi Rocks again to reposition the light before retiring for the night. As she and APD-48 Blessman pulled away from the island, a Japanese bomber flew over Barr, crashed Blessman, and caused many casualties. On D day, 19 Feb, Barr and her UDT frogmen, assisted in guiding marines to the landing beaches.
On the 21st, she stood out of Ulithi as part of the Gun Fire and Covering Force under Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo. The warships arrived off Okinawa on 25 Mar and during the next four days, Barr put UDT 13 ashore on Keise Shima, a group of small sand and coral islands between Kerama Retto and Okinawa, to gather information and blast passages through the reef for the LST’s.
The Japanese maintained an almost constant aerial onslaught in the early days of the invasion. Barr did not close Okinawa on D day, 1 April, but remained in the transport area as a part of the antisubmarine screen. She transferred UDT 13 to APA 54 Wayne 7 Apr and continued screening until 9 April.
Barr got underway again on 23 Apr to escort a convoy of LSTs and LSMs back to Okinawa. Along with hundreds of other Allied ships, including the new CVE 106 Block Island she operated off Okinawa during May 1945. She provided anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defense until 27 May, when she headed for Saipan as a convoy escort. The fast transport resumed screening duties at Okinawa after her return late in June.
After Japan capitulated on 15 Aug, Barr rendezvoused with HMS King George V and HMS Gambia east of Tokyo, embarked Royal Marines from the two British warships and landed them at Yokosuka. After this mission, she proceeded to the north end of the bay to evacuate 1,135 Allied prisoners of war from central Honshu. On 12 Oct, she was ordered to Nagasaki for duty with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. She served there as a base of operations and as a barracks ship until 1 Dec when she began the voyage to the United States.
She was placed out of commission and in reserve on 12 Jul 1946. Barr remained in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until 1 Jun 1960 when she was struck from the Navy list. Barr received three battle stars for her World War II service..
DE 578 USS Robert I. Paine
DE 578 USS Robert I. Paine, a Buckley-class destroyer escort, was commissioned on 26 Feb 1944. Robert I. Paine completed shakedown and training in Apr 1944. She departed Brooklyn the same day to screen the carriers CV 4 Ranger and CVE 11 Card as they transported Army aircraft and Allied personnel to Casablanca.
Detached on the 10 May 1944, she joined a hunter-killer group centered on the escort carrier CVE 21 Block Island. On the 29th, CVE 21 Block Island was sunk and DE 576 Barr was struck in the stern of torpedoes from U-549. The remaining escorts commenced rescue and search operations, with Robert I. Paine taking on 279 survivors from CVE 21, then moving in to cover the crippled DE. On 4 Jun, Robert I. Paine steamed for Gibraltar, and rendezvoused with GUF-11.
In February 1945, she shifted to escort work off the southern New England coast and in early March she headed east to join the 12th Fleet for patrol work under the Royal Navy’s Western Approaches Command. For the remainder of the European War Robert I. Paine guarded convoys on the first or last section of the transatlantic convoy lanes. She was decommissioned on 21 Nov 1945 and struck from the Navy List on 1 Jun 1968.
DD 666 Black (CVE 21)
DD 666 USS Black, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was commissioned 21 May 1943. After several east coast shakedown cruises she sailed for Norfolk, VA for refresher training. On 10 Oct 1943 she collided with the escort carrier CVE 21 USS Block Island and was forced to enter the Navy Yard for repairs. Black proceeded to the Pacific where she was assigned screening duty off Tarawa. She saw her first combat during the invasion of the Marshall Islands, followed by New Guinea, Saipan, and Guam. DD 666 saw action at Leyte and Ulithi where Black participated in the Okinawa operation. She served in the Far Fast on occupation duty until 10 Nov 1945. DD 666 Black was placed out of commission in on 5 Aug 1946.
DD 666 Black was recommissioned on 18 Jul 1951 and reported to the Atlantic Fleet. DD 666 departed Norfolk, Va. for Korea where she continued operations until 4 Jun 1953. Black continued to serve the U.S. Navy until Sep 1969 when she was decommissioned. Black received six battle stars for her World War II service and two battle stars for service off Korea.
DE 686 Eugene E. Elmore (CVE 21)
DE 686 USS Eugene E. Elmore, a Rudderow-class destroyer escort, was commissioned 4 Feb 1944. On 22 Apr 1944 at Norfolk, VA, Eugene E. Elmore joined the antisubmarine group formed around CVE 21 USS Block Island, and sailed for Casablanca to provide cover for convoys moving across the mid-Atlantic. During the return passage, on 29 May 1944, Block Island was torpedoed, as was the escort DE 576 USS Barr. DE 575 USS Ahrens began rescuing Block Island survivors when she made a submarine contact and directed Eugene E. Elmore to the target, German submarine U-549. DE 686 Eugene E. Elmore sank the German submarine and then stood by DE 576 Barr throughout the night. The DE 686 took off her wounded and many of her crew members. She took Barr in tow for Casablanca, and was relieved of her tow one day before reaching port 2 Jun 1944.
Eugene E. Elmore returned to New York City 13 Jun 1944, and during the next 4½ months made two voyages escorting convoys to the Mediterranean Sea. On 3 Nov 1944 she got underway from New York for the South Pacific, arriving at Hollandia 11 Dec to join the 7th Fleet. She joined the escort of a convoy bound with reinforcements and supplies for newly invaded Lingayen Gulf. After arriving on 12 Jan 1945, she joined the ships providing antiaircraft fire to protect the assault shipping for 2 days, then sailed to San Pedro Bay to prepare for the landings at Subic Bay 29 Jan 1945.
DE 686 continued to operate out of San Pedro Bay, supporting the continuing battles of the Philippines by escorting convoys from Biak, the Palaus, Ulithi, and New Guinea. Between 13 Jul 1945 and 22 Aug 1945, she twice escorted convoys from the Philippines to Okinawa, and on 3 Sep arrived off Okinawa once more for occupation duty. In Oct 1945 she escorted transports carrying men to Jinsen, Korea, and on 15 Oct, sailed from Okinawa for San Diego, arriving 5 Nov. There she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 31 May 1946. DE 686 USS Eugene E. Elmore received four battle stars for World War II service.
DD 748 Harry E. Hubbard (CVE 106)
DD 748 USS Harry E. Hubbard, a Sumner-class destroyer, was commissioned on 22 Jul 1944. On 17 Apr 1945 DD 748 Harry E. Hubbard sailed from Hawaii for Ulithi in the Carolinas with CVE 106 USS Block Island. She arrived off Okinawa on 8 May 1945 to serve as a picket destroyer. For nearly two months Hubbard fought off the Japanese planes, shooting down four suicide kamikazes planes. Hubbard remained off Okinawa until 24 Jul 1945 then escorted occupation troops to Jinsen, Korea, and carried the Commander of Destroyer Squadron 64 (DesRon 64) to Chinkai, Korea, to oversee the demilitarization of the former Japanese naval base there. She was decommissioned on 15 Jan 1947.
Following the invasion of South Korea, Harry E. Hubbard was recommissioned on 27 Oct 1950. Besides helping guard the fast carrier task force making repeated airstrikes against the enemy, she frequently joined in gunstrike missions to bombard coastal rail and communication centers and performed as sea-going artillery to support the advance of land troops. Between 1954 and 1966 Harry E. Hubbard served on nine Far East tours with the 7th Fleet. During the Gulf of Tonkin Incident of August 1964, Harry E. Hubbard was nearby in the South China Sea screening Ticonderoga. The carrier task group struck to destroy North Vietnamese torpedo boats and their supporting facilities. In Oct 1965, she departed for the coast of South Vietnam in company with Valley Forge to provided gunfire support for two Marine amphibious landings. In the following months, she acted as escort to Kitty Hawk and Hancock during their strike operations in the South China Sea.
She was decommissioned Oct 1969.
CDR Roy L. Swift with Robert J Cressman(1986, Winter). The Tale of Two Block Islands., The Hook, 22-39
Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, www.history.navy.mil/danfs/index.html
Naval Historical Foundation Photographic Service. Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC.
Gudmundur Helgason, The Uboat.net, www.UBoat.net
USS Block Island Association. CHIPS newsletters, vol. 1-23