USS Pillsbury (DE-133)
|Namesake:||John E. Pillsbury|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas|
|Laid down:||18 July 1942|
|Launched:||10 January 1943|
|Reclassified:||DER 133, August 1954|
|Struck:||1 July 1965|
|5 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation|
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping, 1966|
|Class and type:||Edsall-class destroyer escort|
|Length:||306 feet (93.27 m)|
|Beam:||36.58 feet (11.15 m)|
|Draft:||10.42 full load feet (3.18 m)|
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h)|
|Complement:||8 officers, 201 enlisted|
USS Pillsbury (DE-133) was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She served in the Atlantic Ocean and provided destroyer escort protection against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys. She returned at war's end with five battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation.
She was named after Rear Admiral John E. Pillsbury, known as having been one of the world’s foremost geographers and as an authority of the Gulf Stream. Actively identified with the National Geographic Society for many years, he was president of the society at the time of his death, 30 December 1919.
Pillsbury (DE–133) was laid down by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Texas, 18 July 1942; launched 10 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Elsie G. Richardson; and commissioned 7 June 1943, Lt. Comdr. W. Parker, USNR, in command. Parker would later be succeeded by Francis L. Dale (later owner of the Cincinnati Reds, and a member of Richard M. Nixon's campaign staff.)
World War II North Atlantic operations
After shakedown Pillsbury’s first duty was as flagship for Escort Division 4, escorting convoys into Casablanca and Gibraltar. Pillsbury then reported to Task Group 21.12, consisting of USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60) and four destroyer escorts, on hunter killer patrol to seek out and destroy enemy submarines operating along or near convoy routes from the United States to Europe.
Sinking the German Submarine U-515
On the night of 8 April 1944, planes from Guadalcanal attacked a surfaced German U-boat. The U-boat immediately submerged for deep evasive tactics. Pillsbury and USS Flaherty (DE-135) raced to the scene and Pillsbury made initial sound contact and attacked with hedgehogs. The depth charges forced the U-boat to the surface, but the German sailors were determined to fight to a finish with their torpedoes. Flaherty joined Pillsbury, and in a murderous crossfire made short work of U-515. Six officers, including the Captain, and fifty-seven of the crew were captured.
After repair at Norfolk, Virginia, the hunter-killers sailed from Norfolk in May with a special mission to “bring one back live.”
Capturing the German Submarine U-505
On 4 June 1944, about 100 miles off the Cape Verde islands, sound contact was made on a U-boat trying to penetrate the destroyer screen for a shot at the Guadalcanal. Two pilots sighted the submarine running under the surface, and splashed the sea with gunfire to point out the contact to Pillsbury, USS Jenks (DE-665), and USS Chatelain (DE-149) rushing to the attack. Their depth charges blasted a hole in the outer hull of the submarine and her captain, believing his boat was doomed, surfaced and ordered the crew to abandon ship, which they did while leaving her engines running. Pillsbury lowered a boarding party, led by Lt. Albert David. The party boarded the still-circling U-505, climbed its conning tower and stormed down the hatches, fully expecting to meet stiff resistance. Finding the boat deserted, the boarders set about collecting two Enigma coding machines, code books, charts and papers, tearing out delayed-action demolition charges, closing valves, and plugging leaks. For this demonstration of conspicuous gallantry and achievement, Pillsbury was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Lt. David was awarded the Medal of Honor and two other members of the boarding party were awarded the Navy Cross. The U-boat's captain, five officers, and fifty-three of her crew were rescued, taken prisoner, then held incommunicado to keep the boat's capture secret. U-505 was towed 2,500 miles to Bermuda and revealed some of the German Navy’s most guarded secrets. The U-505 is now permanently displayed at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Sinking of German Submarine U-546
On 24 April 1945 Pillsbury, as a member of Task Unit 22.7.1 operating in the North Atlantic, depth charged and sank U-546.
Escorting a German Submarine to Cape May
In 1947, Pillsbury was placed out of commission, in reserve, in the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Redesignated Radar Picket Ship DER-133
In June 1954 the vessel was moved to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, fitted out with the latest equipment, redesignated a radar picket ship, DER–133, in August 1954 and recommissioned 15 March 1955. After refresher training and shakedown Pillsbury sailed for Newport, Rhode Island, to assume her duties as a radar guardship acting as an element of the protective radar screens around the United States. During 1957-1960 Pillsbury made seven picket patrols on the Atlantic Barrier, five trips to Argentia, Newfoundland,a European visit to Portsmouth, England and Le Havre, France, one trip to Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and one trip, in 1958, to Gibraltar. She decommissioned 20 June 1960; was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 1 July 1965; and was sold for scrapping to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Maryland, in 1966.
Pillsbury received five battle stars for World War II service in addition to the Presidential Unit Citation.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- "Francis L. Dale, 72, Ex-Publisher And Representative to U.N., Dies" New York Times, 1 December 1993
- "Awards and Citations for the Capture of U-505, June 4, 1944". USS Guadalcanal Task Group 22.3 Association. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- Capture of U-505 on 4 June 1944, Naval Historical Center