USS Wagner

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United States
Laid down: 8 November 1943
Launched: 27 December 1943
Commissioned: 22 November 1955
Decommissioned: March 1960
Struck: 1 November 1974
Fate: sunk as a target (location unknown)
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,350/1,745 tons
Length: 306 ft (93 m) (oa)
Beam: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
Draught: 13 ft 4 in (4.06 m) (max)
Propulsion: 2 boilers, 2 geared turbine engines, 12,000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 knots
Range: 6,000 nmi at 12 knots
Complement: 14 officers, 201 enlisted
Armament: 2 × 5"/38 guns, 4 (2×2) 40 mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns, 10 × 20 mm AA guns, 3 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 1 × Hedgehog, 8 × depth charge throwers, 2 × depth charge tracks

USS Wagner (DE-539) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket.

Wagner (DE-539) was laid down on 8 November 1943 at Boston, Massachusetts, by the Boston Navy Yard; launched on 27 December 1943 in a double ceremony with Vandivier;[1][2] and sponsored by Mrs. Alfred Thomas. The ship was named for Seaman second class William Daniel Wagner, a navy armed guard on SS Steel Navigator when the ship was sunk by German submarine U-610 on 19 October 1942.[3]

Dealing with excess military construction[edit]

Due to adjustments of wartime priorities and postwar cutbacks, construction of Wagner was suspended on 17 February 1947, while the ship was 61.5 percent complete. Towed to the Naval Industrial Reserve Shipyard, Boston, Massachusetts, the ship lay "mothballed" for the next seven years, until 1 July 1954.[3]

Conversion to radar picket ship[edit]

Chosen for completion as a radar picket escort ship, Wagner was towed to the Boston Naval Shipyard (the renamed Boston Navy Yard), where construction was resumed. Re-designated DER-539, Wagner was commissioned on 22 November 1955, Lt. Comdr. Edward A. Riley in command.[3]

She departed Boston on 4 January 1956 for the Caribbean and conducted shakedown out of Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Returning north, Wagner joined Escort Squadron 18 and operated out of Newport, Rhode Island. The ship conducted radar picket duty on the seaborne extension of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line—the Eastern Contiguous Radar Coverage System and the Atlantic Barrier—into late 1959. Primarily operating in the North Atlantic Ocean, Wagner interrupted these lonely vigils in the Atlantic Barrier patrol system with visits to U.S. East Coast ports and an occasional deployment to the warmer climes of the Caribbean for refresher training.[3]

Final deactivation[edit]

As more sophisticated systems diminished the need for these seaborne patrols, Wagner was placed "in commission, in reserve," on 31 March 1960 and arrived at Sabine Pass, Texas, on 1 April to commence lay-up preparations. Decommissioned in June 1960, Wagner lay in the Atlantic Fleet Reserve until struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1974. She was subsequently slated for use as a target.[3]

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.

  1. ^ Silverstone, Paul (2012). The Navy of World War II, 1922-1947. Routledge. p. 112. ISBN 9781135864729. (though DANFS states 1944)
  2. ^ "2 Destroyer Escorts Launched at Boston". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Lewiston, ME. AP. 28 December 1943.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Wagner". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command.

External links[edit]