USS Waterman (DE-740)

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Career (USA)
Name: USS Waterman
Namesake: Andrew Kenneth Waterman
Builder: Western Pipe and Steel Company, Los Angeles, California
Laid down: 24 February 1943
Launched: 20 June 1943
Commissioned: 30 November 1943
Decommissioned: 31 May 1946
Struck: 18 April 1952
Honors and
awards:
8 battle stars (World War II)
Fate: Transferred to Peru, 21 February 1952
Career (Peru) Peruvian Naval Ensign
Name: BAP Aguirre (D-2)
Acquired: 21 February 1952
Reclassified: DE-2, 1959
DE-62, 1960
Fate: Sunk as target ship, 1974
General characteristics
Class & type: Cannon-class destroyer escort
Displacement: 1,240 long tons (1,260 t) standard
1,620 long tons (1,646 t) full
Length: 306 ft (93 m) o/a
300 ft (91 m) w/l
Beam: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
Draft: 11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)
Propulsion: 4 × GM Mod. 16-278A diesel engines with electric drive, 6,000 shp (4,474 kW), 2 screws
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range: 10,800 nmi (20,000 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 15 officers and 201 enlisted
Armament: • 3 × single Mk.22 3"/50 caliber guns
• 1 × twin 40 mm Mk.1 AA gun
• 8 × 20 mm Mk.4 AA guns
• 3 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
• 1 × Hedgehog Mk.10 anti-submarine mortar (144 rounds)
• 8 × Mk.6 depth charge projectors
• 2 × Mk.9 depth charge tracks

USS Waterman (DE-740) was a Cannon-class destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. She served in the Pacific Ocean and provided escort service against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys. She returned home after the war with eight battle stars, far more than the average for destroyer escorts.

She was named after Andrew Kenneth Waterman, who was awarded a Navy Cross posthumously in 1941 for his action against Japanese ships and aircraft. The ship was laid down on 24 February 1943 at San Pedro, California, by the Western Pipe and Steel Company; launched on 20 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. June M. Waterman, the widow of Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Waterman; and commissioned on 30 November 1943, Lt. Comdr. W. B. Hinds, USNR, in command.

World War II Pacific Theatre operations[edit]

After shakedown out of San Diego, California, and post-shakedown availability at her builder's yard, Waterman departed San Pedro, California, on 12 February 1944 and proceeded independently to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived six days later. Once in Hawaiian waters, the new escort vessel underwent further training in anti-submarine warfare and gunnery.

Waterman departed Pearl Harbor on 6 March and screened the escort carrier Nassau (CVE-16) as she ferried replacement aircraft, passengers, and cargo to Kwajalein, Majuro, Tarawa, and Makin in the Marshalls and Gilberts. The destroyer escort returned to Pearl Harbor on 24 March.

Continuing in her role as an escort vessel, Waterman sailed from Hawaiian waters on 9 April, bound again for the Marshalls in company with Bowers (DE-637) and escorting Convoy 4152-A which was made up of merchant tankers. Waterman arrived at Majuro one week later and then performed local escort missions out of that base through May.

On 1 June, Waterman joined Task Group (TG) 50.17, a fleet service group made up of vital support ships — particularly fleet oilers, tugs, ammunition ships, supply ships, and the like — that allowed the fast carrier task forces to remain at sea for prolonged periods of time. Those ships provided the carriers and their escorts with the vital necessities of life — food, fuel, ammunition, mail, etc. — anything the fleet needed to keep up the pressure on the Japanese.

Supporting operations in the Marianas[edit]

Waterman's first assignment in that role was operating in support of the Marianas operation. She departed Majuro on 6 June and protected the task group for a fortnight before completing her mission at Eniwetok on the 20th. She then steamed to the Marianas and picked up an oiler at Saipan — while fighting was still in progress ashore — and screened her back to the Marshalls.

Underway again from Eniwetok on 26 July, Waterman rendezvoused with the fleet service group east of the Marianas and protected the oilers as they refueled the ships supporting the landings on Guam.

Supporting Philippine Island operations[edit]

After returning to the Marshalls, the destroyer escort sailed from Eniwetok on 26 August, bound for the Admiralties, and arrived at Manus five days later. Soon thereafter, she returned to the open sea with a Service Force unit, TU 30.8.7, supporting the invasion of the Western Carolines. During that time, the destroyer escort operated west of the Philippine Islands, supporting carrier strikes. Waterman — operating out of Manus through September — weighed anchor on 4 October and stood out to sea, escorting the fleet service group to points east of the Philippines, where they replenished carriers launching air strikes smashing Japanese positions on the island of Leyte.

After escorting Service Force units which were supporting the Leyte landings, Waterman operated between 2 November and 23 December with TG 30.8 — the task group servicing carrier forces operating east of the Philippine Islands; planes from those fast carriers largely neutralized Japanese air and sea power in the Philippines and Formosa.

Caught in a typhoon[edit]

While operating with TG 30.8, Waterman encountered the worst weather of her career — the infamous Typhoon Cobra of 18 December 1944. For approximately 36 hours, the fierce storm battered Admiral Halsey's fleet — large and small ships alike. Winds of 120 knots (220 km/h; 140 mph) threw almost solid clouds of spume and spray and whipped up waves of about 80 feet in height, making life aboard Waterman decidedly "uncomfortable." Upon occasion, the ship rolled as much as 65 degrees. As her commanding officer recounted: "This day was a never to be forgotten one and was indelibly impressed in the minds of the crew."

Before the typhoon had spent itself, three ships — all lightly loaded destroyers, low on fuel — had been sunk and others damaged. On 23 December, two days before Christmas, Waterman steamed back to Ulithi "somewhat battered but in much better condition than a majority of the larger ships."

One week later, the destroyer escort was at sea again, bound for Guam. From 4 January 1945 to 3 March, Waterman saw continuous service screening the fleet service group. She spent much of January supporting the occupation of Luzon from the fueling areas east of the Philippines and, in February, escorted the vital auxiliaries to a rendezvous with the fleet that soon commenced the pre-invasion bombardment of Iwo Jima.

Waterman comes to the aid of USS Patuxent[edit]

While thus engaged, Waterman distinguished herself. On 17 February, an internal explosion ripped through the forward section of the oiler Patuxent (AO-44), leaving gaping holes in her bow and fires that raged over the forward part of the ship, endangering part of the cargo of volatile aviation gas. Waterman promptly left her screening station and was the first of two escorts to come alongside and lend a hand. She closed the endangered ship from one side while Dewey (DD-349) approached her from the other. The destroyer escort's repair parties, operating under extremely hazardous conditions, streamed thousands of gallons of water on Patuxent's blaze and finally extinguished it. For his part in directing the destroyer escort's effort, Lt. Comdr. J. H. Stahle, USNR, the ship's commanding officer, received the Bronze Star Medal.

After upkeep and logistics back at Ulithi, Waterman departed the Carolines on 22 March for a fueling area east of Okinawa. During the first two weeks of April, Waterman escorted Attu (CVE-102) as she ferried replacement planes to the fast carrier task forces on two round trips between Okinawa and Guam.

For the remainder of the war in the Pacific, Waterman screened Fleet Service Force units steaming a few hundred miles off the Japanese homeland while the fleet's carriers, battleships, and cruisers carried out devastating attacks on the enemy's very doorstep.

Hauling down her battle flag[edit]

On 21 August, less than a week after Japan capitulated, Waterman was assigned to TG 35.80, a special support group set up to enter Tokyo Bay as part of the initial occupation force. With their "battle colors" flying, she and Kyne (DE-744) — the first destroyer escorts to reach Sagami Wan — entered that body of water just southwest of the erstwhile enemy's capital city of Tokyo on 28 August and dropped anchor less than a mile off shore from the town of Katase. On 31 August, she moved into Tokyo Bay proper and, two days later, hauled down her "battle flag" as surrender terms were signed on board the battleship USS Missouri.

Rescuing American POWs[edit]

On 4 September, Waterman was assigned to TG 30.6, whose duty it was to evacuate Allied prisoners of war (POW's) from nearby prison camps. That afternoon, the destroyer escort entered the harbor at Yokohama and transported POW's to nearby hospital ships, receiving ships, and Kizarazu airfield. Waterman continued that work of mercy until 10 September, when she departed the Tokyo area with TU 30.6.3—four LSM's and sister ship Weaver (DE-741) — bound for Shiogama, on the eastern coast of Honshū, through which port the POW's from the Sendai camp were being evacuated.

The following morning, Waterman entered Shiogama harbor and joined other units of TG 30.6 who were already in the process of evacuating the Allied POW's there. On 14 September, the destroyer escort sailed for Kamaishi, arriving there the following morning for further evacuation of POW's.

Upon completion of that operation, TG 30.6 returned to Tokyo Bay where it was dissolved; Waterman was assigned to escort duties with TG 16.5 (of Service Squadron 6) for duty. In that role, the destroyer escort remained moored in Yokosuka harbor from 19 to 29 September.

On the afternoon of 29 September, Waterman received homeward-bound orders after 20 months of duty in the Pacific war zone; and she stood out of Tokyo Bay on 2 October.

Return to Stateside[edit]

After steaming via Pearl Harbor, she arrived at San Pedro, California, on 20 October and remained there until 6 November, when she got underway for the Panama Canal Zone and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Arriving there on 22 November, the ship remained at Philadelphia until 10 December, undergoing availability. Soon thereafter, Waterman shifted to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where she was laid-up in reserve at the Atlantic Reserve Fleet berthing area on 31 May 1946.

Post-War decommissioning[edit]

Waterman never again saw active service under the Stars and Stripes. She was transferred to the government of Peru on 21 February 1952 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Pact (MDAP) and was struck from the Navy List on 18 April of that same year.

Arriving in Peruvian waters on 24 May 1952, Waterman was renamed Aguirre and classified as a destroyer, D-2. Reclassified a destroyer escort, DE-2 in 1959 and DE-62 in 1960, Aguirre served the Peruvian Navy until she was disposed of in 1974 by being used as a target during an Exocet missile test.

Awards[edit]

Waterman received eight battle stars for her World War II service.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Photo gallery of USS Waterman (DE-740) at NavSource Naval History