USS Williams (DE-372)
|Namesake:||George Washington Williams|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corporation|
|Laid down:||5 June 1944|
|Launched:||22 August 1944|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. E. Willoughby Middleton|
|Commissioned:||11 November 1944|
|Decommissioned:||4 June 1946|
|Struck:||1 July 1967|
|Fate:||sunk as target off California 29 June 1968|
|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)|
|Propulsion:||2 boilers, 2 geared turbine engines, 12,000 shp (8,900 kW); 2 propellers|
|Speed:||24 knots (44 km/h)|
|Range:||6,000 nmi (11,000 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
|Complement:||14 officers, 201 enlisted|
USS Williams (DE-372) 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.
She was named in honor of Rear Admiral George Washington Williams, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his World War I efforts. The ship's keel was laid down on 5 June 1944 at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corp. The destroyer escort was launched on 22 August 1944, sponsored by Mrs. E. Willoughby Middleton, the first cousin of Rear Admiral Williams. Williams was commissioned on 11 November 1944, Lt. Comdr. L. F. Loutrel in command.
Following shakedown out of Great Sound, Bermuda, Williams underwent post-shakedown availability at Boston, Massachusetts, before shifting to New London, Connecticut, on 11 January 1945. Departing on the 19th, she moved to Newport, Rhode Island, to rendezvous with USS Riverside, and got underway on the 30th for Panama. Williams escorted the attack transport to Balboa, in the Panama Canal Zone, and subsequently sailed for the U.S. West Coast in company with USS Sims, arriving at San Diego, California, on 7 February.
Williams soon steamed independently to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 16 February. Following a period of training and minor repairs, the destroyer escort pushed on for the New Hebrides before escorting a group of LCI's from Espiritu Santo to Lunga Point from 25 to 27 March. Returning via Tulagi to Espiritu Santo on the 30th, Williams shifted to Noumea soon thereafter, to rendezvous with USS Vulcan and escort the repair ship to Ulithi where they arrived on 15 April.
After shifting to Manus Island, in the Admiralties, upon the conclusion of this escort mission, Williams convoyed USS Long Island to Guam which she reached on 25 April, before escorting USS Copahee to Eniwetok, and eventually returning to Manus on 6 May.
Four days later, the busy escort vessel departed the Admiralties with USS Presley, Ross, and Howorth, bound for the Philippines escorting Transport Division 11. While en route on the afternoon of 15 May, ships in the group sighted a derelict mine and sank it with gunfire. The escorts delivered their charges at Leyte on 16 May, and Williams subsequently sailed for Hollandia and Manus, arriving at the latter on 30 May.
Her respite in the Admiralties ended on 4 June when she got underway again and joined sister ship Presley in escorting a task unit bound for Tinian with ground forces of the Army Air Force 20th Bomber Command embarked. Completing this mission on the 7th, Williams operated between Manus and the Marshalls into the latter part of June when she escorted USS Lander to Eniwetok.
Williams operated out of Manus through the end of the war with Japan in mid-August 1945. During this time, she carried out drills, training exercises, and harbor entrance patrols before spending the first weeks of September in operations with the Ulithi unit of the Western Carolines Patrol and Escort Group.
After a brief visit to Yap and a stint towing a derelict ammunition barge, Williams was transferred to the Marianas patrol on 20 September. She escorted USS Bougainville to Okinawa between 24 and 27 September before getting underway on the latter date to return to Guam.
Caught in a deadly typhoon
On the return passage, on the night of 29 September, Williams found herself trapped in the path of a severe tropical hurricane. A huge breaking wave pounded into the starboard (right side) side of the ship and rolled Williams over 93 degrees on left side. One man was swept overboard and out of sight in the stormy sea. This was the only casualty aboard Williams during its entire service. Severe structural damage occurred topside, and minor flooding occurred below decks. Transformer on the floor in bottom of ship in electrical room was stuck to the ceiling when the ship returned upright. Took water in smokestack while it was rolled over and put the fires out in the boilers and water had to be pumped out before they could light them again. for power. Motor whaleboat was completely crushed and disappeared. It never came back up with the ship. The ship looked like a skinny horse because the hull of the ship was crushed inward because of the force of the water. The cross arm on the mast had one side broken off. The cross arm, a 4-inch pipe about 12 feet long, made a pendulum and broke all radio and radar cables that were attached to the mast. Every time the shipped rolled, the pendulum banged on the ship. However, round-the-clock work by damage control parties soon restored the ship to fighting efficiency, and she resumed her passage. Before she reached Guam, she spotted a floating mine and destroyed it with gunfire.
Williams underwent permanent repairs at Guam before she sailed via Pearl Harbor for the west coast of the United States. Decommissioned at San Diego, California, on 4 June 1946, Williams was inactivated and placed in reserve on 7 October of the same year. She never saw further service and was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1967. Stripped to a hulk, the former destroyer escort was towed to sea from San Diego and sunk as a target by shellfire and missiles launched from both ships and planes on 29 June 1968.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- (This is a true description of the typhoon incident from V. E. Haley who was on the ship at the time—updated 1-01-2015)[unreliable source?]