USS Williams (DE-372)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Williams.
Career (US)
Namesake: George Washington Williams
Builder: Consolidated Steel Corporation
Laid down: 5 June 1944
Launched: 22 August 1944
Sponsored by: Mrs. E. Willoughby Middleton
Commissioned: 11 November 1944
Decommissioned: 4 June 1946
Struck: 1 July 1967
Fate: sunk as target off California 29 June 1968
General characteristics
Class & type: John C. Butler-class destroyer escort
Displacement: 1,350 tons
Length: 306 ft (93 m)
Beam: 36 ft 8 in (11 m)
Draft: 9 ft 5 in (3 m)
Propulsion: 2 boilers, 2 geared turbine engines, 12,000 shp; 2 propellers
Speed: 24 knots (44 km/h)
Range: 6,000 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 12 kt
Complement: 14 officers, 201 enlisted
Armament: 2 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 guns (2×1)
4 × 40 mm AA guns (2×2)
10 × 20 mm AA guns (10×1)
3 × 21 in. torpedo tubes (1×3)
8 × depth charge projectors
1 × depth charge projector (hedgehog)
2 × depth charge tracks

USS Williams (DE-372) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket.

She was named in honor of Rear Admiral George Washington Williams, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his World War I efforts. She was laid down on 5 June 1944 at Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corp.; launched on 22 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. E. Willoughby Middleton, the first cousin of Rear Admiral Williams; and commissioned on 11 November 1944, Lt. Comdr. L. F. Loutrel in command.

World War II Pacific Theatre operations[edit]

Following shakedown out of Great Sound, Bermuda, Williams underwent post-shakedown availability at Boston, Massachusetts, before shifting to New London, Connecticut, on 11 January 1945. Departing on the 19th, she moved to Newport, Rhode Island, to rendezvous with USS Riverside, and got underway on the 30th for Panama. Williams escorted the attack transport to Balboa, in the Panama Canal Zone, and subsequently sailed for the U.S. West Coast in company with USS Sims, arriving at San Diego, California, on 7 February.

Williams soon steamed independently to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 16 February. Following a period of training and minor repairs, the destroyer escort pushed on for the New Hebrides before escorting a group of LCI's from Espiritu Santo to Lunga Point from 25 to 27 March. Returning via Tulagi to Espiritu Santo on the 30th, Williams shifted to Noumea soon thereafter, to rendezvous with USS Vulcan and escort the repair ship to Ulithi where they arrived on 15 April.

After shifting to Manus Island, in the Admiralties, upon the conclusion of this escort mission, Williams convoyed USS Long Island to Guam which she reached on 25 April, before escorting USS Copahee to Eniwetok, and eventually returning to Manus on 6 May.

Four days later, the busy escort vessel departed the Admiralties with USS Presley, Ross, and Howorth, bound for the Philippines escorting Transport Division 11. While en route on the afternoon of 15 May, ships in the group sighted a derelict mine and sank it with gunfire. The escorts delivered their charges at Leyte on 16 May, and Williams subsequently sailed for Hollandia and Manus, arriving at the latter on 30 May.

Her respite in the Admiralties ended on 4 June when she got underway again and joined sister ship Presley in escorting a task unit bound for Tinian with ground forces of the Army Air Force 20th Bomber Command embarked. Completing this mission on the 7th, Williams operated between Manus and the Marshalls into the latter part of June when she escorted USS Lander to Eniwetok.

End-of-war activity[edit]

Williams operated out of Manus through the end of the war with Japan in mid-August 1945. During this time, she carried out drills, training exercises, and harbor entrance patrols before spending the first weeks of September in operations with the Ulithi unit of the Western Carolines Patrol and Escort Group.

After a brief visit to Yap and a stint towing a derelict ammunition barge, Williams was transferred to the Marianas patrol on 20 September. She escorted USS Bougainville to Okinawa between 24 and 27 September before getting underway on the latter date to return to Guam.

Caught in a deadly typhoon[edit]

On the return passage, on the night of 29 September, Williams found herself trapped in the path of a severe tropical hurricane. A huge breaking wave pounded into the starboard side of the ship and nearly rolled Williams over. One man was swept overboard and out of sight in the stormy sea. Severe structural damage occurred topside, and minor flooding occurred below decks. However, round-the-clock work by damage control parties soon restored the ship to fighting efficiency, and she resumed her passage. Before she reached Guam, she spotted a floating mine and destroyed it with gunfire.

Post-war decommissioning[edit]

Williams underwent permanent repairs at Guam before she sailed via Pearl Harbor for the west coast of the United States. Decommissioned at San Diego, California, on 4 June 1946, Williams was inactivated and placed in reserve on 7 October of the same year. She never saw further service and was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1967. Stripped to a hulk, the former destroyer escort was towed to sea from San Diego and sunk as a target by shellfire and missiles launched from both ships and planes on 29 June 1968.

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