USS Leopold (DE-319)
USS Leopold (DE-319) launching at Orange, Texas on 12 June 1943
|Namesake:||Robert Lawrence Leopold|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas|
|Laid down:||24 March 1943|
|Launched:||12 June 1943|
|Sponsored by:||Ms. Helen S. Leopold|
|Commissioned:||18 October 1943|
|Fate:||Sunk by enemy action on 10 March 1944|
|Class and type:||Edsall-class destroyer escort|
|Length:||306 ft (93 m)|
|Beam:||36.58 ft (11.15 m)|
|Draft:||10.42 ft (3.18 m) full load|
|Installed power:||6,000 shp (4,500 kW)|
|Speed:||21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)|
|Range:||9,700 nmi (11,200 mi; 18,000 km) at 12 kn (14 mph; 22 km/h)|
|Complement:||8 officers, 201 enlisted|
The USS Leopold (DE-319) was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named for Ensign Robert Lawrence Leopold (who served aboard the battleship Arizona and was killed during the Attack on Pearl Harbor), she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.
Leopold was laid down on 24 March 1943 by the Consolidated Steel Corporation of Orange, Texas; launched on 12 June 1943; sponsored by Ms. Helen S. Leopold, sister of Ensign Leopold; and commissioned on 18 October 1943, Lieutenant Commander Kenneth C. Phillips, USCG, in command.
After structural firing tests at Galveston, Texas she departed for New Orleans. On 7 November, she proceeded to Great Sound, Bermuda where shakedown exercises were begun. On 9 December, she left for Charleston, South Carolina and 11 days of post-shakedown availability.
After four days of training exercises for officers and her nucleus crew for new destroyer escorts in the Chesapeake Bay area, Leopold stood out of Thimble Shoal Channel on 24 December 1943 as part of Task Force 61 (TF 61), escorting convoy UGS-68 to the Mediterranean. On the 30th, Leopold was directed to go to the rear of the convoy and search for a seaman reported lost overboard from one of the convoy ships. It was very dark and fairly rough, so, unless the seaman had on a life jacket with a light, the chances of finding him were slight. After 45 minutes, she discontinued the search. The convoy reached the Straits of Gibraltar on 10 January and was turned over to British escorts. Leopold moored at Casablanca on the 11th. On the 13th, she commenced patrolling as anti-submarine screen across the Atlantic side of the Straits of Gibraltar, TF 61 forming a line to prevent U-boats from entering the Mediterranean. On the 15th, she moored at Gibraltar, and on the 16th proceeded out of the inner harbor to close up the stragglers on west-bound convoy GUS-27. On 1 February, a northwesterly gale caused the convoy to scatter and much time was consumed rounding up stragglers. Leopold arrived at New York on the 4th for 10 days availability at the Navy Yard. From 14–27 February, Leopold — with other escorts of Escort Division 22 (CortDiv 22) — underwent training exercises at Casco Bay, Maine.
Departing New York on 1 March on her second voyage, Leopold took her screening station — as part of CortDiv 22 — with the 27-ship convoy CU-16 bound for the British Isles. On the 8th, she reported an HF/DF intercept which indicated an enemy submarine on the route of the convoy. The route was consequently altered. On 9 March, while south of Iceland, she reported a radar contact at 19:50 at 8,000 yd (7,300 m), which placed it 7 mi (11 km) south of the convoy at . Assisted by the destroyer escort Joyce, Leopold was ordered to intercept. General Quarters was sounded and orders were issued to "fire on sight." A flare was released and gun crew strained to sight the submarine in the lighted area. The U-boat was almost submerged when spotted and the gun crews had to work blind. Leopold was struck by an acoustic torpedo fired from the German submarine U-255. Badly damaged, she was abandoned.
Joyce rescued 28 survivors at the close of the action; 171 others were lost through explosion on board or drowning after abandoning. Leopold remained afloat until early the next morning, then sank just south of Iceland.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- "Leopold". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
- "USS Leopold (DE-319)". Destroyer Escort Photo Archive. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
- "USS Leopold (DE-319)". U. S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 23 March 2007.[dead link]