Navy ‘stuff’…

Went down a rat hole on something else and stumbled across an interesting oddity of the differences within a class of ships… particularly DEs in WWII…

The DE or Destroyer Escort. First designed in 1942, the USS Evarts, DE-5 was the least ship of the first class of DEs designed to escort convoys across the Atlantic.

Named for LTJG Milo Burnell Evarts, on the night of 11-12 October 1942, in the Battle of Cape Esperance, Lieutenant (junior grade) Evarts was killed in action when his ship Boise (CL-47) was damaged. Disregarding the danger of explosion from the fires which broke out in the gun turret of which he was in charge, Evarts stood to his station until killed. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his unyielding devotion to duty.

The smallest DE at only 290′, and slow by Destroyer standards, at only 21kts, they did have a good range of 4,150nm at 12kts (the average speed of a convoy), they also were diesel/electric powerplants, in that the diesel did not directly power the shafts, the electric motors did, in addition to furnishing power to run the ship. Lightly armed and armored, they were primarily designed for ASW against the U-boats, with hedgehogs, depth charges and starting with the next DE class, torpedoes. 97 were built, 35 of those went to England on Lend-Lease. USS Buckley, DE-51, was the second ‘class lead’ for the new DE class, commissioned in April 1943. At 306′ long, she was a better sea-keeper, a little faster at 24kts with turbo-electric drive, and the first DE to carry 21″ torpedoes. 154 were built, 43 were transferred to England, and another 43 were reconfigured (by adding an additional partial deck) as high speed transports (APDs).

The class was named in honor of Ordnanceman Third Class John D. Buckley, who was killed in action during the Japanese attack on Kaneohe Air Station.

The CANNON class was the third destroyer escort type to enter service. This was one of the smallest classes produced during the war with seventy-two CANNON class ships completed by 1945, including the USS SLATER. The CANNON class was very similar in design to the BUCKLEY class, the primary difference being a diesel-electric power plant instead of the BUCKLEY class’s turbo-electric design. The fuel efficient diesel electric plant greatly improved the range of the CANNON class, but at the cost of speed. Eight CANNON class destroyer escorts were given to the Brazilian Navy during World War II, while six more were given to the Free French Navy.

Except for the propulsion, the EDSALL class was nearly identical to the CANNON class in every respect. This fourth class of destroyer escort mounted a direct drive diesel configuration that proved to be extremely reliable. Eighty-five EDSALL class destroyer escorts were built during World War II. Thirty-seven of the EDSALL class ships have the distinction of being the only destroyer escort class manned by United States Coast Guard personnel during the war. Many of the EDSALL class ships were converted after World War II into long range radar picket ships. These ships, known as DERs, were some of the last destroyer escorts to be taken out of service in the late 1960s.

The fifth destroyer escort class, the RUDDEROW, represented a major departure from the original design. This was the first class to mount 5″/38 guns instead of the usual 3″/50. The RUDDEROW class also featured a completely redesigned, much lower superstructure than that found on the earlier destroyer escorts. Seventy-two RUDDEROW class destroyer escorts were built between 1944 and 1945. Most of these ships were converted into high speed transports known as APDs. Only twenty-one of the RUDDEROW class ended the war in their original configuration.

The final destroyer escort class produced during the war was named for the USS JOHN C. BUTLER. These ships were outwardly identical to the RUDDEROW class, but they mounted the steam driven turbine propulsion plant that was common to most ships in the United States Navy at that time. The BUTLER class represented the peak of destroyer escort design. They combined many of the characteristics of the earlier classes with the weapons and propulsion plants that the other classes lacked due to limited American industrial capacity when the destroyer escort project began. Eighty-three JOHN C. BUTLER class destroyer escorts were built during the war, and many of them remained active in the Navy long after the war ended.

Note that ALL these ships were Destroyer Escort ‘class’ ships, and all built within a 3 year period…

Unlike today when it takes 20 YEARS to go from design to actual production…


Navy ‘stuff’… — 15 Comments

  1. If we had to fight WWII today…Herr Hitler, pease refrain from deploying your U-Boats to the Atlantic Ocean for a period of 20 years. We are developing a totally awesome class of multirole warships that will like, totally make your U-Boats obsolete and things, as well as make the best espresso you’ve ever tasted, but we will need 10 years to get the design approved, and another 10 years to get the environmental impact stamens written. Thank you, the US Navy.

  2. Hey Old NFO;

    The Buckley class was mentioned in one of my favorite movies,”The Enemy Below”. with Robert Mitchum. The USS Whitehurst(DE-634) was used in the actual filming whereas the stock films of (DE-181 “USS Hayes”. I remember a comment that a seaman used, “We use three of these cans to go after a submarine…Three”. Just some worthless info for everyone, LOL

  3. Was this the USN answer to the British and Canadian corvette?

  4. NRW- Sigh… You’re right.

    Bob- True! 🙂

    Gerry- Not really, they were specifically designed for open ocean escort duty, e.g. slower, longer ranged to make it across the pond. More ASW capability with the depth charges, hedgehogs, and in the later version, torpedoes.

    • Was the Flower Class considered Corvettes? They were designed specifically for speed of production to protect the British convoy’s. Reading the novel The Cruel Sea, they were also terrible ships to serve on.

  5. Well, to be honest, the DDX is still somewhat experimental, and as far as I know, not fleet worthy yet.

    The Ford is… maybe acceptable, so still a true no-go on that.

    The LCSessessessses? A piece of paper from the county coroner saying you’re alive doesn’t make you alive. Same with the LCSessessessssssss… Just because a piece of paper was signed, doesn’t mean they are ‘acceptable.’ What can they do, besides burn money at a prodigious rate, almost as fast as promises are made and broken.


    DE’s. They served, they served well. Often pushed into roles of their bigger brothers. A class that could kick most frigates of today in the teeth (well, as long as they could avoid missile fire, but definitely outgun and outfight any aluminum or steel/aluminum wunderboat.)

    What’s next? Jeep carriers?

  6. Interesting stuff for a guy that still calls ’em “boats”.
    Saw an ad for the new Tom Hanks movie, “Greyhound”, supposedly “based on” truth.
    I HATE “Based on” movies.
    Just give us the history, plz.

  7. PM/GB- Looks interesting… but I agree with GB…

    Beans- Don’t get me started on Little Crappy Ships.

    • Jim/GB,
      Best info suggests the book is based on C S Forester’s novel, “The Good Shepherd”, which, for all its basis in historic reality, is wholly fictional.

  8. That made for a welcome diversion from contemplating the insidious ChiCom bioweapon and its potential spread to DFW.

    But back to boats. Remember HMS Sheffield in the Falklands war? I think it was hit by an Exocet (thx, France…) and crewwere lost because it started to melt. I doubt the DE’s in this post would have that problem.

    Not that I’m an expert!

  9. WSF- Sailors… LOL

    LSP- Well, part of the problem with HMS Sheffield was they still had the Exocet as a FRIENDLY missile from an exercise they had conducted just before going south. And no, the DE’s wouldn’t have.

  10. We had a DE as part of our forward-deployed destroyer squadron in the Mediterranean (early to mid 70s). But it wasn’t one of those smaller/slower ships; rather, it was a Knox-class from the late ’60s, later renamed to “frigates”.

  11. USS Atherton (DE-169) is still serving in the Indian Navy making her one of the oldest warships in the world. She was part of the group that sank U-853, the last U boat sank off the east coast, AFTER the German surrender.