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Destroyer escort

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Destroyer escort

USS Evarts
USS Evarts (DE-5), an example of the Evarts subclass.
Class overview

Destroyer escort (DE) was the United States Navy mid-20th century classification for a 20-knot (23 mph) warship designed with endurance to escort mid-ocean convoys of merchant marine ships.[1] Kaibōkan were designed for a similar role in the Imperial Japanese Navy.[2] The Royal Navy and Commonwealth forces identified such warships as frigates, and that classification was widely accepted when the United States redesignated destroyer escorts as frigates (FF) in 1975. Destroyer escorts, frigates and kaibōkan were mass-produced for World War II as a less expensive anti-submarine warfare alternative to fleet destroyers.[3]

Post-war destroyer escorts and frigates were larger than those produced during wartime, with increased anti-aircraft capability, but remained smaller and slower than post-war destroyers.[4] As Cold War destroyer escorts became as large as wartime destroyers, the United States Navy converted some of their World War II destroyers to escort destroyers (DDE).[5]


  • General description 1
  • Origins 2
  • Battle off Samar 3
  • Post-World-War-II U.S. ship reclassification 4
  • Vietnam War 5
  • US Navy destroyer escort class overview 6
  • Captain class frigates of the Royal Navy 7
  • Free French 8
    • List of Free French Destroyer escorts 8.1
  • Mutual Defense Assistance Program - Post WWII 9
    • Republic of China Navy (Taiwan) 9.1
    • French Navy 9.2
    • Hellenic Navy 9.3
    • Italian Navy 9.4
    • Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force 9.5
    • Philippine Navy 9.6
    • Portuguese Navy 9.7
    • Republic of Korea Navy 9.8
    • Royal Navy 9.9
    • Royal Netherlands Navy 9.10
    • Royal Thai Navy 9.11
    • National Navy of Uruguay 9.12
  • Comparison with contemporary frigates 10
  • See also 11
  • External links 12
  • Notes and references 13
  • Further reading 14

General description

Full size destroyers must be able to steam as fast or faster than, the fast capital ships such as fleet carriers and cruisers. This typically requires a speed of 25-35 knots (dependent upon the era and navy). They must carry torpedoes and a smaller caliber of cannon to use against enemy ships, as well as anti-submarine detection equipment and weapons.

A destroyer escort needed only to be able to maneuver relative to a slow convoy (which in World War II would travel at 10 to 12 knots), and be able to defend against aircraft and detect, pursue and attack submarines. These lower requirements greatly reduce the size, cost, and crew required for the destroyer escort. Destroyer escorts were optimized for anti-submarine warfare, having a tighter turning radius and more specialized armament (such as the forward-firing "Hedgehog" weapon) than fleet destroyers. Their much slower speed was not a liability in this context, since sonar was useless at speeds over 20 knots. Destroyer escorts were also considerably more sea-kindly than corvettes.

As an alternative to steam turbine propulsion found in full size destroyers and larger warships, many US destroyer escorts of the World War II period had diesel-electric or turbo-electric drive, in which the engine rooms functioned as power stations supplying current to electric motors sited close to the propellers. Electric drive was selected because it does not need gearboxes (which were heavily in demand for the fast fleet destroyers) to adjust engine speed to the much lower optimum speed for the propellers. The current from the engine room can be used equally well for other purposes, and post-WWII many destroyer escorts were recycled as floating power stations for coastal cities in Latin America under programs funded by the World Bank.

Destroyer escorts were also useful for coastal anti-submarine and radar picket ship duty. During World War II, seven DEs were converted to radar picket destroyer escorts (DERs), supplementing radar picket destroyers. Although these were relegated to secondary roles after the war, in the mid-1950s twelve more DEs were converted to DERs, serving as such until 1960-1965. Their mission was to extend the Distant Early Warning line on both coasts, in conjunction with sixteen Guardian-class radar picket ships, which were converted Liberty ships.

In World War II, some 95 destroyer escorts were converted by the US to High-speed transports (APDs). This involved adding an extra deck which allowed space for about 10 officers and 150 men. Two large davits were also installed, one on either side of the ship from which landing craft (LCVP) could be launched. The modern Littoral Combat Ship also adds transport and boat launching capabilities to a ship smaller than a destroyer.


The Lend-lease Act was passed into law in the United States in March 1941 enabling the United Kingdom to procure merchant ships, warships, munitions and other materiel from the US, in order to help with the war effort. This enabled the UK to commission the US to design, build and supply an escort vessel that was suitable for anti-submarine warfare in deep open ocean situations, which they did in June 1941. Captain E.L. Cochrane of the American Bureau of Shipping came up with a design which was known as the British Destroyer Escort (BDE). The BDE designation was retained by the first six Destroyer Escorts transferred to the United Kingdom ( BDE 1, 2, 3, 4, 12 and 46); of the initial order of 50 these were the only ones the Royal Navy received, the rest being reclassified as Destroyer Escort (DE) on January 25, 1943 and taken over by the United States Navy.[6]

When the United States entered the war, and found they also required an anti-submarine warfare ship and that the destroyer escort fitted their needs perfectly, a system of rationing was put in place whereby out of every five destroyer escorts completed, four would be allocated to the U.S. Navy and one to the Royal Navy.

Battle off Samar

Although destroyer escorts lacked the arms, armor and speed to attack fast armored cruisers and battleships, they were effective in a defensive role. The battle off Samar was part of the battle of Leyte Gulf, 23–26 October 1944. While Admiral Halsey's main force of US carriers and battleships was pursuing the Japanese decoy carrier force, the task of guarding the landing ships and troops fell to escort carriers, destroyers and destroyer escorts. While the escort carriers launched their planes, the John C. Butler-class destroyer escort ship USS Samuel B. Roberts of task group Taffy 3 joined other outgunned destroyers in a counter-attack against Admiral Kurita's powerful force of Japanese cruisers and battleships, including the large battleship Yamato.

Samuel B. Roberts became known as "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship" as it inflicted damage from torpedoes and gunfire on much larger cruisers, and was an instrumental part of a small task force of light ships forcing a far superior enemy fleet to turn back.[7] With no armor, only two 5-inch guns and 3 Mark-15 torpedoes capable of punching a hole in enemy hulls, her crew lacked the weapons and training in tactics to compete with the much larger heavy cruiser Chokai. Samuel B. Roberts dodged shellfire to fire a salvo of 3 torpedoes which struck the cruiser. Roberts then turned her attention to the heavy cruiser Chikuma. The battle continued for an hour, and Roberts fired over 600 5-inch shells, and hit the upper works with 40 mm Bofors and 20 mm anti-aircraft guns at close range. Chikuma's bridge was set afire and the number 3 gun turret was disabled. The battleship Kongō scored two direct hits on Samuel B. Roberts, which soon sank with 89 of her crew.

Post-World-War-II U.S. ship reclassification

After World War II United States Navy destroyer escorts were referred to as ocean escorts, but retained the hull classification symbol DE. However other navies, most notably those of NATO countries and the USSR, followed different naming conventions for this type of ship which resulted in some confusion. In order to remedy this problem the 1975 ship reclassification reclassified ocean escorts (and by extension, destroyer escorts) as frigates (FF). This brought the USN's nomenclature more in line with NATO, and made it easier to compare ship types with the Soviet Union (see Cruiser Gap). As of 2006 there are no plans for future frigates for the US Navy. USS Zumwalt and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) are the main ship types planned in this area. One major problem with ship classification is whether to base it on a ship's role (such as escort or air defense), or on its size (such as displacement). One example of this ambiguity are the Ticonderoga class air defense ships, which are classified as cruisers even though they use the same hull as the Spruance-class destroyers.

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the Republic of Vietnam Navy received two Edsall-class destroyer escorts from the United States.

US Navy destroyer escort class overview

Class Name         Lead Ship           Commissioned   Ships Built
Evarts (GMT) class[8] USS Evarts (DE-5) 15 April 1943   72
Buckley (TE) class[9] USS Buckley (DE-51) 30 April 1943 102
Cannon (DET) class[10] USS Cannon (DE-99) 26 September 1943   72
Edsall (FMR) class[11] USS Edsall (DE-129) 10 April 1943   85
Rudderow (TEV) class[12] USS Rudderow (DE-224) 15 May 1944   22
John C. Butler (WGT) class[13] USS John C. Butler (DE-339)   31 March 1944   87
Dealey class[14] USS Dealey (DE-1006) 3 June 1954   13
Claud Jones class[15] USS Claud Jones (DE-1033) 10 February 1959     4
Bronstein class[16] USS Bronstein (DE-1037) 15 June 1963     2
Garcia class[17] USS Garcia (DE-1040) 21 December 1964     10
Brooke class[18] USS Brooke (DEG-1) 12 March 1966     6
Knox class[19] USS Knox (DE-1052) 12 April 1969     46

Captain class frigates of the Royal Navy

HMS Dacres, converted to act as a headquarters ship during Operation Neptune

The Captain class was a designation given to 78 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed in the United States, launched in 1942–1943 and delivered to the United Kingdom under the provisions of the Lend-Lease agreement (under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945),[20][21] they were drawn from two sub-classes of the destroyer escort (originally British destroyer escort) classification: 32 from the Evarts sub-class and 46 from the Buckley sub-class.[6][20] Upon reaching the UK the ships were substantially modified by the Royal Navy including removal of torpedo tubes, making them distinct from the US Navy destroyer escort ships.[22]

Captain-class frigates acted in the roles of convoy escorts, anti-submarine warfare vessels,[23] coastal forces control frigates and headquarters ships for the Normandy landings. During the course of World War II this class participated in the sinking of at least 34 German submarines and a number of other hostile craft with 15 of the 78 Captain-class frigates being either sunk or written-off as a constructive total loss.

In the post-war period, all of the surviving Captain-class frigates except one (HMS Hotham) were returned to the US Navy before the end of 1947 in order to reduce the amount payable under the provisions of the Lend-Lease agreement; the last Captain-class frigate was returned to United States custody in March 1956.[24][25]

Free French

Six Cannon class destroyer escorts were built for the Free French Navy. Although initially transferred under the Lend-lease Act these ships were permanently transferred under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.

List of Free French Destroyer escorts

Mutual Defense Assistance Program - Post WWII

Under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) the Destroyer Escorts leased to the Free French were permanently transferred to the French Navy. In addition the following navies also acquired Destroyer Escorts:

Republic of China Navy (Taiwan)

DE-47, DE-6

French Navy

DE-1007, DE-1008, DE-1009, DE-1010, DE-1011, DE-1012, DE-1013, DE-1016, DE-1017, DE-1018, DE1019

Hellenic Navy

DE-173, DE-766, DE-768, DE-193

Italian Navy

DE-1020, DE-1031

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force

DE-168, DE-169

Philippine Navy

DE-168, DE-169, DE-170, DE-770, DE-771, DE-251, DE-637

Portuguese Navy

DE-1032, DE-1039, DE-1042, DE-1046

Republic of Korea Navy

DE-770, DE-771

Royal Navy

DE-574[note 1][24]

Royal Netherlands Navy

USS Burrows (DE-105), USS Rinehart (DE-196), USS Gustafson (DE-182), USS O'Neill (DE-188), USS Eisner (DE-192), USS Stern (DE-187)

Royal Thai Navy


National Navy of Uruguay

DE-166, DE-189,

Comparison with contemporary frigates

The table below compares United States destroyer escorts with other destroyer escorts and frigates designed for similar missions.

Name Date Nation Displacement Speed Number Notes
River-class frigates 1942 UK 1,370 tons 20 knots 151 [26]
Type A kaibōkan 1943 Japan 870 tons 19 knots 18 [2]
FMR-class 1943 US 1,200 tons 21 knots 85 [11]
GMT-class 1943 US 1,140 tons 21 knots 72 [8]
TE-class 1943 US 1,400 tons 23 knots 102 [9]
DET-class 1943 US 1,240 tons 21 knots 72 [10]
Tacoma-class frigate 1943 US 1,430 tons 20 knots 96 [27]
Type B kaibōkan 1943 Japan 940 tons 19 knots 37 [2]
Loch-class frigates 1944 UK 1,435 tons 20 knots 30 [28]
WGT-class 1944 US 1,350 tons 24 knots 87 [13]
TEV-class 1944 US 1,450 tons 24 knots 22 [12]
Bay-class frigates 1945 UK 1,580 tons 20 knots 26 anti-aircraft[28]
Dealey-class 1954 US 1,450 tons 25 knots 13 [14]
Type E50 frigate 1955 France 1,290 tons 28 knots 4 fast[29]
Type 14 frigate 1955 UK 1,180 tons 24 knots 8 anti-submarine[30]
St. Laurent-class 1955 Canada 2,263 tons 28 knots 7 anti-submarine[31]
Type B 1956 Japan 1,070 tons 25 knots 2 diesel[32]
Type 12 frigate 1956 UK 2,150 tons 31 knots 6 anti-submarine[33]
Type E52 frigate 1956 France 1,295 tons 28 knots 14 fast[34]
Almirante Clemente-class light destroyer 1956 Venezuela 1,300 tons 32 knots 6 fast[35]
Type 61 frigate 1957 UK 2,170 tons 24 knots 4 aircraft direction[36]
Canopo-class frigate 1957 Italy 1,807 tons 26 knots 4 [37]
Type 41 frigate 1957 UK 2,300 tons 24 knots 4 anti-aircraft[38]
Azopardo-class frigate 1957 Argentina 1,160 tons 20 knots 2 [39]
Restigouche-class 1958 Canada 2,366 tons 28 knots 7 anti-submarine[40]
Claud Jones-class 1959 US 1,450 tons 22 knots 4 [15]
Type 12M frigate 1960 UK 2,380 tons 30 knots 12 anti-submarine[41]
Köln-class frigate 1961 Germany 2,100 tons 30 knots 6 fast[42]
River-class 1961 Australia 2,100 tons 30 knots 6 Originally designated as anti-submarine frigates, later redesignated as destroyer escorts.[43]
Isuzu-class 1961 Japan 1,490 tons 25 knots 4 [44]
Type 81 frigate 1961 UK 2,300 tons 28 knots 7 general purpose[45]
Bergamini-class frigate 1961 Italy 1,410 tons 26 knots 4 [46]
Commandant Rivière-class frigate 1962 France 1,750 tons 25 knots 13 dual purpose[34]
Mackenzie-class 1962 Canada 2,366 tons 28 knots 4 anti-submarine[40]
Hvidbjørnen-class frigate 1962 Denmark 1,345 tons 18 knots 4 fishery protection[47]
Type 12I frigate 1963 UK 2,450 tons 30 knots 26 general purpose[48]
Bronstein-class 1963 US 2,360 tons 26 knots 2 [16]
Garcia-class 1964 US 2,620 tons 27 knots 10 [17]
Oslo-class frigate 1966 Norway 1,450 tons 25 knots 5 [49]
Brooke-class 1966 US 2,640 tons 27 knots 6 guided missile[18]
Peder Skram-class frigate 1966 Denmark 2,030 tons 28 knots 2 fast[50]
Van Speijk-class frigate 1967 Netherlands 2,200 tons 28 knots 6 [51]
Alpino-class frigate 1968 Italy 2,000 tons 28 knots 2 [46]
Alvand-class frigate 1968 Iran 1,110 tons 40 knots 4 [52]
Knox-class 1969 US 3,011 tons 27 knots 46 [19]
Chikugo-class 1971 Japan 1,470 tons 25 knots 11 [44]

See also

External links

  • Destroyer Escort Sailors Association (DESA).
  • USS Slater, the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum.
  • [4] USS Stewart, dry berthed at Seawolf Park in Galveston, Texas
  • Free cardstock model plan of Butler class Destroyer Escort, to print off and assemble.
  • USS Slater Photos on board the Destroyer Escort USS Slater DE-766
  • USS Bangust WWII Photos of life on board the Destroyer Escort USS Bangust DE-739 in WWII
  • Destroyer Escort Bangust DE-739 Home Page
  • the Captain Class Frigates Association.
  • Escort
  • [5]
  • [6]
  • Why DE boats are death to subs August 1943 Popular Science article on destroyer escort with large illustration

Notes and references

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ DE-574 was originally provided to the United Kingdom under the Lend-Lease (Public Law 77-11) scheme, DE-574 was returned to the US custody under the provisions of the Lend-Lease scheme on the 25 April 1952 and simultaneously transferred back to the United Kingdom under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program.
Source notes
  1. ^ Blackman, pp.393&394
  2. ^ a b c Watts, pp.225-239
  3. ^ Potter & Nimitz, p.550
  4. ^ Cooney, pp.6&7
  5. ^ NAVPERS, pp.32&35
  6. ^ a b Franklin 1999, p. 7.
  7. ^ "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour" by James D. Hornfischer
  8. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.153-157
  9. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.157-163
  10. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.164-167
  11. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.167-170
  12. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.163&164
  13. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.170-175
  14. ^ a b Blackman, p.458
  15. ^ a b Blackman, p.457
  16. ^ a b Blackman, p.456
  17. ^ a b Blackman, p.455
  18. ^ a b Blackman, p.452
  19. ^ a b Blackman, p.453
  20. ^ a b Lenton 1998, pp. 198–199.
  21. ^ Morison 1956, p. 34.
  22. ^ Collingwood 1998, pp. 30–31.
  23. ^ Franklin 1999, p. x.
  24. ^ a b DANFS: Hotham.
  25. ^ Lenton 1974, p. 16.
  26. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.225
  27. ^ Silverstone, p.246
  28. ^ a b Lenton & Colledge, p.232
  29. ^ Blackman, p.114
  30. ^ Blackman, p.354
  31. ^ Blackman, p.44
  32. ^ Blackman, p.199
  33. ^ Blackman, p.353
  34. ^ a b Blackman, p.113
  35. ^ Blackman, p.624
  36. ^ Blackman, p.356
  37. ^ Blackman, p.183
  38. ^ Blackman, p.355
  39. ^ Blackman, p.8
  40. ^ a b Blackman, p.43
  41. ^ Blackman, p.351
  42. ^ Blackman, p.127
  43. ^ Blackman, p.21
  44. ^ a b Blackman, p.198
  45. ^ Blackman, p.350
  46. ^ a b Blackman, p.182
  47. ^ Blackman, p.79
  48. ^ Blackman, p.348
  49. ^ Blackman, p.240
  50. ^ Blackman, p.78
  51. ^ Blackman, p.229
  52. ^ Blackman, p.167
  • Blackman, Raymond V.B. (1970–71). Jane's Fighting Ships. Jane's Yearbooks. 
  • Collingwood, Donald (1998). The Captain class frigates in the second world war: an operational history of the American-built destroyer escorts serving under the White Ensign from 1943–46. Leo Cooper.  
  • Cooney, David M. (1980). Ships, Aircraft and Weapons of the United States Navy. United States Government Printing Office. 
  • Franklin, Bruce Hampton (1999). The Buckley-Class Destroyer Escorts. Chatham Publishing.  
  • Lenton, H T. (1998). British and Empire Warships of the Second World War. Greenhill Books/Naval Institute Press.  
  • Lenton, H.T. (1974). British Escort Ships. Macdonald and Jane's.  
  • NAVPERS (1955). Warship Identification Manual. United States Government Printing Office. 
  • Potter, E.B.; Nimitz, Chester W. (1960). Sea Power. Prentice-Hall. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 
  • Watts, Anthony J. (1966). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 
Online sources
  • Mooney, James L. "Hotham".  

Further reading

  • For an excellent book on the subject of a particular example of this type of ship in World War II, the USS Abercrombie (DE-343) see Little Ship, Big War: The Saga of DE-343 by Edward Peary Stafford. Naval Institute Press, 2000 ISBN 1-55750-890-9
  • For an excellent book on the subject of the Captains class frigate variant of the Destroyer Escort in World War II, see The Captain Class Frigates in the Second World War by Donald Collingwood. published by Leo Cooper (1998), ISBN 0-85052-615-9.
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