USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)

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USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)
USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) underway in October 1944 (NH 96011).jpg
Samuel B. Roberts at sea, c. October 1944
United States
NameUSS Samuel B. Roberts
NamesakeSamuel Booker Roberts, Jr.
BuilderBrown Shipbuilding, Houston, Texas
Laid down6 December 1943
Launched20 January 1944
Commissioned28 April 1944
Honors and
1 Battle Star; Presidential Unit Citation
  • Sunk during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944
  • Shipwreck found, 22 June 2022
General characteristics
Class and typeJohn C. Butler-class destroyer escort
Displacement1,350 long tons (1,370 t)
Length306 ft (93 m)
Beam36 ft 8 in (11.18 m)
Draft9 ft 5 in (2.87 m)
Installed power12,000 shp (8,900 kW)
  • Designed: 24 kn (28 mph; 44 km/h)
  • Achieved: 28.7 kn (33.0 mph; 53.2 km/h)
Range6,000 nmi (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) @ 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement14 officers, 201 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems
SF multi-purpose radar[1]

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort of the United States Navy that served in World War II , the first of three U.S. Navy ships to bear the name.

Samuel B. Roberts was named after Coxswain Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr., a Navy Cross recipient, who had been commended for voluntarily steering a Higgins boat towards enemy forces at Guadalcanal, in order to divert fire from evacuation efforts being undertaken by other friendly vessels. She was nicknamed the "Sammy B" or "Sam Buca" (after the popular Italian spirit), .

Samuel B. Roberts was sunk in the Battle off Samar, in which a small force of U.S. warships prevented a superior Imperial Japanese Navy force from attacking the amphibious invasion fleet off the Philippine island of Leyte. The ship was part of a relatively light flotilla of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers called "Taffy 3" which was inadvertently left to fend off a fleet of heavily armed Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers off the island of Samar during the Battle off Samar, one of the engagements making up the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944.[2]

Steaming through incoming shells, Samuel B. Roberts scored one torpedo hit and several shell hits on larger enemy warships before she was sunk. After the battle, Samuel B. Roberts received the appellation "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship."[2] As of June 2022, she is the deepest shipwreck discovered.[3] Her last known survivor died on 20 March 2022.[4][5]

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Launch of Samuel B. Roberts on 30 January 1944

Samuel B. Roberts was laid down on 6 December 1943, by the Brown Shipbuilding Company of Houston, Texas. She was launched on 20 January 1944, sponsored by the namesake's mother, Mrs. Anna Roberts. She was commissioned on 28 April 1944, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR

Service history[edit]

Samuel B. Roberts had a shakedown cruise off Bermuda from 21 May to 19 June 1944. After spending time at the Boston Navy Yard, Roberts departed for Norfolk, Virginia, on 7 July. Later that day, the ship presumably struck a whale, which bent her starboard propeller. Repairs were completed by 11 July. Roberts departed Norfolk on 22 July, going through the Panama Canal on 27 July. She joined the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on 10 August.

She conducted training exercises around the Hawaiian Islands then steamed out on 21 August with a convoy reaching Eniwetok Atoll on 30 August. On 2 September, Roberts returned to Pearl Harbor, with a convoy arriving on 10 September. Following further training, the destroyer escort got underway on 21 September, escorted a convoy to Eniwetok, and arrived on 30 September.

Roberts next proceeded to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands of the Southwest Pacific and then joined Task Unit 77.4.3, nicknamed "Taffy 3". From there she steamed to the Leyte Gulf area off the eastern Philippines. On arrival, she commenced operations with the Northern Air Support Group off the Island of Samar.

Battle off Samar[edit]

Shortly after dawn on 25 October, Samuel B. Roberts was protecting Taffy 3's escort carriers whose aircraft were supporting the Army assault. The warships were steaming off the eastern coast of Samar when the Japanese Center Force, a 23-ship task force under the command of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, appeared on the horizon and opened fire. At 07:35, Roberts turned and headed toward the heavy cruiser Chōkai.

The commanding officer, Copeland, announced "We're making a torpedo run. The outcome is doubtful, but we will do our duty." With smoke as cover, Roberts steamed to within 2.5 nmi (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) of Chōkai, coming under fire from the cruiser's forward 8 in (203 mm) guns.

Roberts had moved so close that the enemy guns could not depress enough to hit her and when in torpedo range, Roberts launched three Mark 15 torpedoes, with one blowing off Chōkai's stern. Roberts fought with the Japanese ships for a further hour, firing more than six hundred 5 in (127 mm) shells, and while maneuvering at very close range, hitting Chōkai's superstructure with her 40 mm and 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.[6][7]

At 08:51, the Japanese landed two hits, the second of which damaged the aft 5 in (127 mm) gun. This damaged gun suffered a breech explosion shortly thereafter which killed and wounded several crew members. With her remaining 5 in (127 mm) gun, Roberts set the bridge of the heavy cruiser Chikuma on fire and destroyed the Number Three gun turret. Roberts was then hit by three 14 in (356 mm) shells from the battleship Kongō, which tore a hole 40 ft (12 m) long and 10 ft (3 m) wide in the port side of her aft engine room.

At 09:35, the order was given to abandon ship. She sank 30 minutes later, with 90 of the crew dying. The 120 survivors of the crew clung to three life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued.

During the battle, Samuel B. Roberts, which was designed for 23–24 kn (43–44 km/h; 26–28 mph), managed 28.7 kn (53.2 km/h; 33.0 mph) by raising pressure to 660 pounds per square inch (4,600 kPa) and diverting all available steam to the ship's turbines.[8]

Samuel B. Roberts was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 27 November 1944.

The wreck was discovered around 22 June 2022, at a depth of 6,895 metres (22,621 ft), at that time the deepest wreck ever identified.[9]

Awards and honors[edit]

Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Paul Carr

Samuel B. Roberts was included in the Presidential Unit Citation given to Task Unit 77.4.3 "for extraordinary heroism in action." Samuel B. Roberts earned one battle star for her World War II service.

Gunner's Mate Third Class Paul H. Carr was in charge of the aft 5 in (127 mm) gun mount, which had fired nearly all of its 325 stored rounds in 35 minutes before a breech explosion. Carr was found dying at his station from a severe intestinal wound, begging for help to load the last round he was holding into the breech. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, and the guided-missile frigate Carr was later named after him.[10]

The frigate Copeland was named for the ship's commanding officer.


  • At the U.S. Naval Academy, in Alumni Hall, a concourse is dedicated to Lieutenant Lloyd Garnett and his shipmates on Samuel B. Roberts who earned their ship the reputation as the "destroyer escort that fought like a battleship" in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
  • Within Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery federal military cemetery in the city of San Diego, California, there is a large granite memorial dedicated in 1995 to Samuel B. Roberts, and to the two US destroyers also sunk in the action, Hoel and Johnston.


Three ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Samuel B. Roberts, in honor of Samuel B. Roberts.

Discovery of wreck[edit]

An exploration team led by Victor Vescovo and made up of personnel of Caladan Oceanic and EYOS Expeditions discovered the wreck of Samuel B. Roberts in June 2022.[11][12] The team found, identified, and surveyed the wreck during a series of six dives conducted from 17 to 24 June 2022.[12] The team determined that the wreck reached the seabed in one piece, although it hit the sea floor bow first and with enough force to cause some buckling, and observed that the ship's stern had separated from the rest of the hull by about 5 meters (16 ft).[12] The team reported that it had found evidence of damage to the ship inflicted by a Japanese battleship shell, including Samuel B. Roberts's fallen mast.[12]

The wreck of Samuel B. Roberts lies at a depth of 6,895 meters (22,621 ft; 4.284 mi), making it the deepest wreck ever identified.[11][12] It exceeds the previous record of 6,469 meters (21,224 ft; 4.020 mi), set in March 2021 when Vescovo's team found and identified the wreck of the destroyer USS Johnston, which was sunk in the same battle.[12]


  1. ^ FTP 217 1943.
  2. ^ a b Wukovits 2013, p. 6.
  3. ^ "USS Samuel B Roberts: World's deepest shipwreck discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  4. ^ "Last Known Survivor, Adred Lenoir, Has Passed". USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE 413) Survivors Association. 22 March 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  5. ^ "Adred Lenoir Obituary (2022) | Clanton, AL". Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  6. ^ Hornfischer 2004, p. 255.
  7. ^ Wukovits 2013, p. 148.
  8. ^ Hornfischer 2004, pp. 200–201, 255; Wukovits 2013, pp. 147–148.
  9. ^ Amos, Jonathan (24 June 2022). "USS Samuel B Roberts: World's deepest shipwreck discovered". Yahoo! News. BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  10. ^ Hornfischer 2004, p. 332.
  11. ^ a b Amos, Jonathan (24 June 2022). "USS Samuel B Roberts: World's deepest shipwreck discovered". Yahoo! News. BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Suleman, Adela (25 June 2022). "World's deepest shipwreck, the Sammy B, is discovered by explorers". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 June 2022.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

Further reading[edit]

  • Copeland, Robert W.; O'Neill, Jack E. (2007). The Spirit of the Sammy B (reprint ed.). Ocala, Florida: USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE 413) Survivors' Association. OCLC 219730560.
  • Cutler, Thomas (2001). The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 23–26 October 1944. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-243-9.
  • Doscher, J. Henry Jr. (1996). Little Wolf at Leyte: The Story of the Heroic USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) in the Battle of Leyte Gulf During World War II. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press. ISBN 1-57168-082-9. OCLC 34116713.
  • Drooker, Arthur (writer/producer) (2007). Dogfights: Death of the Japanese Navy (Television series). United States: The History Channel.
  • Morison, Samuel E. (1958). Leyte, June 1944 – January 1945. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. XII. Boston: Little & Brown. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  • "Leyte Gulf". Pacific: The Lost Evidence. Season 1. Episode 6. 16 December 2005. History Channel. based on Hornfischer's The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 11°40′N 126°20′E / 11.667°N 126.333°E / 11.667; 126.333