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History of Destroyer Escorts

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EARLY ALLIED ESCORT VESSELS

America's sudden entry into World War II in December 1941 caught the Navy's anti-submarine forces unprepared. Although the need for a mass-produced anti-submarine warship had been recognized well before the war, construction priorities were given to larger warships and smaller landing craft. Thus, the United States Navy began the war with ships that were more or less inadequate to the technological demands of World War II combat. Read more...

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DEVELOPMENT OF DESTROYER ESCORTS

The production of destroyer escorts was first seriously considered by the United States Navy in the spring of 1939. Even then, it was suspected that, in the event of war, there would be a need for a mass produced destroyer type capable of transoceanic convoy and anti-submarine warfare. Read more...

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CLASSES OF DESTROYER ESCORTS

The 563 destroyer escorts built during World War II were divided into six classes. Four of the six classes mounted 3"/50 guns, while the last two classes mounted the larger 5"/38 gun. The various destroyer escort classes also mounted different types of propulsion, depending primarily upon what type of engine was available due to the high demands of new construction. Read more...

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MODIFICATIONS OF DESTROYER ESCORTS

Destroyer escorts proved to be highly versatile ships, capable of accomplishing a wide variety of missions. This versatility, combined with the abundance of available destroyer escorts due to the vast expansion of American shipbuilding during the war, meant that many destroyer escorts were converted both during and after World War II into two new types of ships: high speed transports (APDs) and radar picket ships (DERs). Although originally designed only as convoy escorts, the modified destroyer escorts soon proved themselves more than capable of filling their new roles. Read More...

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DESTROYER ESCORTS IN THE ATLANTIC

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of World War II. It began immediately upon the British declaration of war against Germany in September 1939 and ended with Germany's surrender to the Allies in May 1945. During those six years, thousands of ships were sunk and tens of thousands of men were killed in the Atlantic Ocean. The battle pitted Allied merchant and supply ships, along with their escorts, against German submarines, aircraft, and surface raiders. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the Battle of the Atlantic, "everything elsewhere on land, sea and air, depended ultimately on the outcome of this battle." The outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic depended on the destroyer escort. Read More...

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DESTROYER ESCORTS IN THE PACIFIC

Destroyer escorts played an equally vital, if less well known, role in the Pacific Theater. The ships escorted American supply convoys over vast distances between Pacific islands. Destroyer escorts conducted anti-submarine sweeps, including one of the most important of the war carried out by the USS ENGLAND DE635. The ships provided defense for fleets of US warships. Destroyer escorts that had been converted to high speed transports carried out shore bombardments and amphibious assaults. Destroyer escorts also served as radar picket ships during the Okinawa campaign, which was the costliest battle of the Pacific war. Read more...

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SURVIVING DESTROYER ESCORTS

Excluding the SLATER, there are currently nine destroyer escorts believed to exist around the world. Two of these ships are preserved as museums, the rest are still in some form of service in foreign fleets. Of the following ships, only the USS SLATER DE766 is preserved and maintained in its World War II configuration. Read more...

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