From 1940 into 1943 the German U-boat took a tragic
toll on Allied ships in the Atlantic and other oceans. Control of the maritime trade
routes fueled these battles. By mid-1943, Allied anti-submarine tactics and warfare
turned the tables on the U-boats.
The implementation of the "convoy" system at
the beginning of WW II proved to be an effective deterent to U-boat attacks. Convoy escort
was a defensive operation designed to ward off enemy submarine and aircraft attacks on
ships carrying men and equipment for the overseas war effort. Destroyer escorts were
classified as a major combat vessel and played a major role in these convoys.
In general, DEs were deployed in four types of
operations. The first consisted of escort divisions of six or more DEs each, escorting
merchant marine convoys, navy supply vessels, or troop transports.
The second grouping operated as part of
"hunter-killer" (HUK) teams in task forces, each consisting of a small aircraft
carrier (CVE) and five or six DEs that went to sea for the specific purpose of locating
and destroying submarines.
A third operation, more common in the Pacific than the
Atlantic, was antisubmarine and antiaircraft screening of capital ships as they bombarded
enemy shore installations prior to amphibious assaults
The fourth assignment developed in the Pacific in the
later stages of the war. The DEs manned "picket" stations on the outer perimeter
of fleet and landing operations to engage kamikazes and to warn inner perimeter vessels of
their approach. This was very hazardous duty and DEs suffered personnel and material
There were DEs that accomplished unbelievable attacks
and rescues and set records by their actions. The following reports of U-boat action are
only a few examples of the might of the DE in anti-submarine warfare.
USS England DE 635 | RO-501 | U-66 | U-233 | U-371 | U-490 | U-505
| U-515 | U-518 | U-546 | U-550 | U-853 | U-866 | U-869 | U-873 |
| U-879 |
| U-1062 |
Click on any photo for a larger view and
USS England DE 635
The record written by England is unsurpassed in the
annals of antisubmarine warfare. In the last two weeks of May, 1944, England destroyed six
Japanese submarines: I-16, RO-106, RO-104, RO-116, RO-108 and RO-105. She was award the
Presidential Unit Citation. Read
the full story.
Sinking of RO-501
Task Group 22.2 Sinks First Japanese Sub in the Atlantic
USS Francis M. Robinson DE-220, USS Haverfield DE-393,
USS Swenning DE-394, USS Willis DE-395, USS Jannsen DE-396
The destroyermen presumed they had polished off a U-boat. As indeed they
had - the U-1224. It was not until after the war that they learned this same U-boat was also the RO-501. There in the Atlantic Francis M. Robinson had sunk a Japanese submarine! Read the story of this historic event.
Sinking of U-66
USS Buckley DE-51
On 6 May 1944, USS Buckley DE 51, Task
Group 21.11, engaged U-66 in an Epic Battle that included hand-to-hand combat. Read the full story.
LCDR Brent Abel, USNR, received the Navy Cross for action as
Commanding Officer of USS Buckley DE 51
Sinking of U-233
USS Card (ACV 11), USS Thomas DE 102, USS
Bostwick DE 103,
USS Breeman DE 104, USS Baker DE 190 and USS Bronstein DE 189
5 July 1944,Task Group 22.10 was
patrolling 200 miles from the Sable Islands in the North Atlantic. 1907 that day was a
fateful moment for U-boat 233. USS Baker DE 190 gained sound contact at 2200 yards and
dropped her first depth charge pattern. Read the full story, Action Report and Recollections of Lieutenant Sheridan Bell,
Chaplain Corps, USNR
USS Pride DE 323 and USS Joseph E.
Campbell DE 70
Torpedo Damage to USS Menges DE 320
USS Menges reported a surface target astern 10,000 yards. She reversed
course and a few minutes later the contact was lost at 3,500 yards.
Menges went in for a sound search. Ten minutes later, Menges notified
convoy commodore by TBS light that she had been torpedoed. Her sister ships
sought revenge. Read the full story, View Photos, USS Pride Action Report and information from the Interrogation
of U-371 POWs.
Sinking of U-490
USS Croatan (CVE 25), USS Frost DE 144, USS
Huse DE 145, USS Inch DE 146,
USS Snowden DE 246 and USS Swasey DE 248
The duty radioman on USS Inch DE 146 picked up a German message being transmitted to her
home base. Moments late, USS Huse DE 145 intercepted a morse code transmission in
German. The stage was set. See Photos and Read the
Capture of U-505
USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60), USS Pillsbury
DE-133, USS Pope DE-134,
USS Flaherty DE-135, USS Chatelain DE-149, and USS Jenks DE-665
On 4 June 1944, a hunter-killer group of the United
States Navy captured the German submarine U-505. This event marked
the first time a U.S. Navy vessel had captured an enemy vessel at sea since the nineteenth
century. Read the
story, Citations and see photos.