Destroyer Escort

Here’s a training film from World War II days as the DE program was ramping up. It’s apparently intended as an orientation for new sailors assigned to new construction.


The DE program was really almost wholly a result of Franklin Roosevelt. The Navy didn’t have a prewar plan for mobilization construction of the DE type, unlike many other combatants. It intended to use 173’ PCs and full size DD ships. Roosevelt helped the Navy change its mind. The DE program was hugely successful, with several hundred being commissioned between 1942 and the end of the war.

Further, the wartime DE program led to the further development of what we today call frigates. Quartermaster will tell us in the comments about his days aboard USS Courtney, a direct descendant from the wartime DE design.

With the exception of the extremely austere Claude Jones class, pretty much every post-war ocean escort class was quite successful. The various classes shared a few common traits. First, they were not intended to sail with the main striking force of the fleet, the carrier battle groups (though shortages of escorts meant they often did). They were balanced general combatants intended to escort amphibious shipping, replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. They emphasized anti-submarine warfare, but did not ignore anti-surface and anti-air warfare, if only for self defense.

They also tended to fill those seemingly endless extra missions that the Navy finds itself tasked with, but not requiring a more robust warship.

The last of the FFG-7 Oliver Hazzard Perry class frigates will be leaving the fleet shortly, to be replaced by the LCS, bringing to a close a 70 year history of ocean escorts in the US Navy.

2 thoughts on “Destroyer Escort”

  1. The Dealey Class DEs were good ships. They took a different sort of sailor, and many of the crew on Courtney had served on other Dealeys. The XO and the Department heads had all come from other Dealeys, as I recall. I hated Sylvania, a real pig by comparison to any Dealey class DE.

    Three Dealeys, Courtney and sister ships Lester and Hammerburg, were fitted with an experimental system, ITASS, and sent to the Med in 1970, IIRC. ITASS, a towable array of hydrophones, was a success leading to TASS. A follow-on system was featured in “Red Storm Rising” and was the backup to the SOSUS line after Ivan took Iceland.

    Do I get extra pay for this comment having mentioned your favorite Clancy novel?

    The Dealeys had a serious problem that shortened their lives, Weapon Alpha. The system had been removed when it became obsolete, but the structural design of the ship has depended on the weight of the system to keep the keel from buckling. CORTRON 8 has an INSURV inspection the summer of ’73 and it was found that the keel was buckling on all three ships right where the Weapon Alpha mount rested on the keel. As a result all three ships were ordered decommed and the only place the ship went after that inspection was NORVA. That was 3 boring months in Naples. Naples, Italy was a scummy place.

  2. I’m not sure how much of a success the Garcia and Brooke class ships were. They had automatic-compensating fuel tanks that were problematic in really heavy seas because the DFM mixed with seawater. And the p-fired boilers were problem-children.

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