USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)

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

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)
USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) off Boston, Massachusetts (USA), circa in June 1944 (NH 90603).jpg
Samuel B. Roberts at sea.
United States
Name: USS Samuel B. Roberts
Namesake: Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr.
Builder: Brown Shipbuilding, Houston, Texas
Laid down: 6 December 1943
Launched: 20 January 1944
Commissioned: 28 April 1944
Honors and
1 Battle Star; Presidential Unit Citation
Fate: Sunk during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944
General characteristics
Class and type: John C. Butler-class destroyer escort
Displacement: 1,350 long tons (1,370 t)
Length: 306 ft (93 m)
Beam: 36 ft 8 in (11.18 m)
Draft: 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m)
Installed power: 12,000 shp (8,900 kW)
  • Designed: 24 kn (28 mph; 44 km/h)
  • Achieved: 28.7 kn (33.0 mph; 53.2 km/h)
Range: 6,000 nmi (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) @ 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 14 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 during 1944.

Samuel B. Roberts was named for Coxswain Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr., a Navy Cross recipient, who had been commended for voluntarily steering a Higgins boat towards enemy forces, in order to divert fire from evacuation efforts being undertaken by other friendly vessels. Samuel B. Roberts was laid down on 6 December 1943, at the Brown Shipbuilding Company of Houston, Texas. She was launched on 20 January 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Roberts, and was commissioned on 28 April 1944, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR.

The Roberts was sunk in the Battle off Samar, in which a relatively small force of U.S. warships prevented a vastly superior Japanese force from attacking the amphibious invasion fleet off the large Philippine island of Leyte. The ship was part of a relatively light flotilla of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers, called "Taffy 3", that was inadvertently left alone to fend off a fleet of heavily armed Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers off the Island of Samar, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944. Steaming aggressively through a gauntlet of incoming shells, Samuel B. Roberts scored one torpedo hit and numerous gunfire hits as she slugged it out with larger enemy warships before finally being sunk. After the battle, Samuel B. Roberts received the appellation "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship."[2]

She was the first of three U.S. Navy ships to bear Roberts's name.

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 July 11. 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.

Samuel B. Roberts conducted training exercises around the Hawaiian Islands, and then steamed out on 21 August with a convoy that reached Eniwetok Atoll on 30 August. On 2 September, Roberts steamed back to Pearl Harbor, arriving there with a convoy 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, and upon arrival, she commenced operations with the Northern Air Support Group off the Island of Samar.

The Battle off Samar[edit]

Shortly after dawn on 25 October, Samuel B. Roberts was protecting Taffy 3's small escort carriers. These were serving as bases for small bombers and fighters that were supporting the Army assault. These 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—suddenly appeared on the horizon and opened fire. At 07:35, Roberts turned and headed toward the battle. She charged 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 the shells simply passed overhead. Many hit the carrier Gambier Bay. Once within torpedo range, she launched her three Mark 15 torpedoes. One blew off Chōkai's stern. The American sailors cheered, "That a way, Whitey, we hit 'em," as if it were a ballgame, as shells were still incoming. Roberts then 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, mauling Chōkai's superstructure with her 40 mm and 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.[3][4] 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, before being hit by three 14 in (356 mm) shells from the battleship Kongō. The shells tore a hole 40 ft (12 m) long and 10 ft (3 m) wide in the port side of her aft engine room.

Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Paul Carr

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. He had scored a great many hits on the heavy cruiser Chokai, also sunk that day. He was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, and a guided missile frigate was later named for him.[5] The guided missile frigates Samuel B. Roberts and Copeland were also named for the ship and its captain. At 09:35, the order was given to abandon ship. She sank 30 minutes later, with 90 of her sailors.

The 120 survivors of the crew clung to three life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued.

During the battle, Samuel B. Roberts—designed for 23–24 kn (43–44 km/h; 26–28 mph)—reached 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 twin turbines.[6]

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


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.


  • 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, Hoel and Johnston.


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


  1. ^ FTP 217 1943.
  2. ^ Wukovits 2013, p. 6.
  3. ^ Hornfischer 2004, p. 255.
  4. ^ Wukovits 2013, p. 148.
  5. ^ Hornfischer 2004, p. 332.
  6. ^ Hornfischer 2004, pp. 200–201, 255; Wukovits 2013, pp. 147–148.


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

  • Hornfischer, James D. (February 2004). The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour. Bantam. ISBN 978-0-553-80257-3. OCLC 260087152. OL 23271877M.
  • Nasuti, Guy J.; Cressman, Robert J. (17 June 2019). "Samuel B. Roberts I (DE-413)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  • Wukovits, John (2013). For Crew and Country: The Inspirational True Story of Bravery and Sacrifice Aboard the USS Samuel B. Roberts. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312681890.
  • U.S. Radar – Operational Characteristics of Radar Classified by Tactical Application (FTP 217) (Report). Radar Research and Development Sub-Committee of the Joint Committee on New Weapons and Equipment, Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. War Department. 1 August 1943. Retrieved 7 November 2020 – via Naval History and Heritage Command.

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. 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]