USS Buckley (DE-51)

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USS Buckley (DE-51)
Name: USS Buckley
Builder: Bethlehem Hingham Shipyard
Laid down: 29 June 1942
Launched: 9 January 1943
Commissioned: 30 April 1943
Decommissioned: 3 July 1946
  • DER-51, 26 April 1949
  • DE-51, 29 September 1954
Struck: 1 June 1968
Honors and
Navy Unit Commendation & 3 battle stars (World War II)
Fate: Sold for scrap, July 1969
General characteristics
Class and type: Buckley-class destroyer escort
  • 1,400 long tons (1,422 t) light
  • 1,673 long tons (1,700 t) standard
Length: 306 ft (93 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Draft: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
  • Turbo-electric drive, 12,000 shp (8.9 MW)
  • 2 shafts
Speed: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Complement: 186

USS Buckley (DE/DER-51), a Buckley-class destroyer escort of the United States Navy, was named in honor of Ordnanceman John D. Buckley (1920–1941), who was killed in action during the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian Islands.

Buckley was launched on 9 January 1943 by Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., Hingham, Massachusetts, sponsored by Mrs. James Buckley, mother of Aviation Ordnanceman Buckley; and commissioned on 30 April 1943 with Lieutenant Commander A. W. Slayden in command.

Service history[edit]

Between July 1943 and 22 April 1944, Buckley operated along the eastern seaboard as training ship for prospective officers and nucleus crews of other destroyer escorts.

On 22 April 1944, she joined hunter-killer Task Group 21.11 (TG 21.11) for a sweep of the North Atlantic and Mediterranean convoy routes. On the morning of 6 May, aircraft from the escort carrier Block Island (CVE-21) reported an enemy submarine near Buckley. She steamed toward the surfaced submarine, evading her torpedoes and gunfire, and commenced firing. At 0328 Buckley rammed the German submarine U-66 and then backed off. Shortly thereafter, the submarine struck Buckley, opening a hole in the escort vessel's starboard side. Hand-to-hand combat ensued between crew members of the two combatants on Buckley's foredeck, involving, among other weapons, coffee mugs and shell casings. The U-66 drew astern of Buckley and sank at 0341 in 17°17′N 32°24′W / 17.283°N 32.400°W / 17.283; -32.400 (German submarine U-66), after hand grenades were dropped down its hatch..

Buckley picked up 36 German survivors, transferred them to the Block Island and then retired to New York where she underwent repairs until 14 June 1944. For this most interesting action, regarded by several high naval officers as being the most "exciting" anti-submarine kill in the Battle of the Atlantic, Buckley personnel were authorized to wear a combat star in the European-African Theater ribbon. The then commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. Brent M. Abel, USNR, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded the Navy Cross for his part in its execution.

After completing refresher training at Casco Bay, Maine, in July 1944, Buckley escorted two convoys to North Africa (14 July–7 November 1944). She then operated on anti-submarine and convoy escort duty along the eastern seaboard and in the North Atlantic until June 1945. During this period Buckley and Reuben James (DE-153) sank the German submarine U-879 on 19 April 1945 in 42°19′N 61°45′W / 42.317°N 61.750°W / 42.317; -61.750 (German submarine U-879).

Buckley escorted one more convoy to Algeria during June–July 1945, and upon her return to the east coast, she commenced conversion to a picket ship. In October 1945, she participated in the Navy Day ceremonies at Jacksonville, Florida, and then on 31 October reported to the 16th Fleet at St. Johns River, Florida. Buckley was placed out of commission in reserve on 3 July 1946. On 26 April 1949 her classification was changed to DER-51, and on 29 September 1954, she was reclassified back to DE-51.

Buckley was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1968; she was sold for scrapping July 1969.


Buckley received the Navy Unit Commendation for sinking U-66 and three battle stars for her World War II service.


A 1/249 scale plastic model kit of the USS Buckley is available by Revell Models.

External links[edit]