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Destroyer Escorts of World War Two: Warship's Data Special
By Thomas F. Walkowiak
Publisher: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company 1987 48 Pages
PDF 44 MB
The Nazi conquest of France left England completely isolated and its survival depended upon aid from overseas. Convoys protected by naval escorts, were the means of survival. Trawlers, yachts and other types of crafts were converted for escort service, and they did not prove to be effective. Meanwhile, German submarine assaults continued and by late 1940, twenty-six allied ships were being sunk for every U-boat destroyed. The U.S. Navy saw the shortage of adequate ocean escorts in the Royal Navy, and recognized the same emerging need for itself.
Just prior to our entry into World War II, the U.S. Congress established the Lend-Lease Act to bring American industrial strength to the aid of England. As part of the agreement the U.S. placed an order in early 1941 for fifty Destroyer Escorts, a specially designed ship that was third of the cost of fleet destroyers, would take much less time to construct and yet have the same escort and anti-submarine capabilities.
Five U.S. Navy Yards and twelve shipbuilding companies launched 563 DEs between 1942 and 1945, and the average construction time was eleven months. Seventy-eight of the ships were transferred to the Royal Navy, 12 went to Brazil and France and 94 were completed or converted to APDs (high speed transports for Pacific invasions).
The destroyer escorts proved to be extremely effective and highly adaptable for services far beyond their original purpose of anti-submarine warfare/escort duties. This ability and versatility was demonstrated by DEs in their efforts as partners with light carriers in anti-U-boat hunter/killer teams, participants in the Normandy and southern France invasions, accounting for the sinking of 28 Nazi submarines, downing of a number of German aircraft and rescuing of many merchant seamen and combatants at sea.
In the Pacific, DEs fought againt Japanese warships at Samar and Leyte Gulf. They served on the Okinawa radar picket line with 22 of the 50 participants being damaged by Kamikaze attacks. Thirty Japanese submarines were sunk, with six of them being destroyed within twelve days by the USS ENGLAND (DE-635). In addition, the DEs battled against midget submarines and human torpedoes, and helped save the lives of survivors of the USS INDIANAPOLIS.
Although most of them have been scrapped, sunk or used for targets, it is interesting to note that thirty-four escorts are still in active service in the navies of eleven foreign nations.. .more than four decades after they were constructed.
The Destroyer Escort Sailors Association (DESA) is particularly pleased and proud of this publication. The ship plans have been faithfully and accurately produced and the art renderings and photograph selections bring to life a unique ship that served its role magnificently. In addition to providing a full review of the classes and characteristics of destroyer escorts, the role and purpose of wartime camouflage on these vessels is covered for the first time in public print. Also of great use and interest is the inclusion of a list of all American destroyer escorts commissioned. We believe that this publication will be an important reference for historians and naval enthusiasts.