History of the U.S.S. CHAFFEE (DE 230)

Original copy from CMDR. A.C. Jones USNR given to Robert H. Christ SM 2/c to be distributed to all shipmates and any other interested parties.

Exactly one year after the presumptive date of Ensign David E. Chaffee's death as a result of enemy action in the Coral Sea, the destroyer escort, U.S.S. CHAFFEE (DE 230), was commissioned at the Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina. Commissioning ceremonies were held 9 May 1944 with Captain Guy E. Baker USN, placing the ship in commission and Lieutenant Commander A. C. Jones, DE?V(G), USNR, assuming command.

After joining the United States Navy's anti-submarine fleet, the U.S.S Chaffee along with the U.S.S. HODGES (DE 231), U.S.S. RUDDEROW (DE 224), U.S.S. DAY (DE 225), U.S.S. HOLT (DE 706), U.S.S. JOBB (DE 707) were to comprise Escort Division 74 with Commander Charles F. Hooper, USNR as escort commander. Extensive preparations were made in Charleston from 9 May to 31 May to ready the ship and her crew for a shakedown cruise to Bermuda. During this period the Chaffee underwent a series of pre?shakedown trails to test her structural and mechanical fitness for sea, including careful compensations and calibrations of her compasses and sensitive detection gear, an introduction to the mysteries of deparming and degaussing, full power runs at sea, and last, but by no means the least, the test firing of her main anti?aircraft batteries. At the end of this three week period the Chaffee, fully provisioned and carrying wartime ammunition in her magazines, was ready for sea.

The USS Chaffee set her first war cruising watch 31 May as she cleared the anti?submarine nets at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor and headed due east for the island of Bermuda. As the Chaffee headed out of the harbor and was going under the bridge all of the personnel on the deck watched a photographer hanging from a boatswain chair taking pictures of the ship as she headed out to sea. Favored with good weather and calm seas the Chaffee made an uneventful crossing, entering Great Sound, Bermuda on 2 June 1944. The shakedown training schedule included, anti?submarine exercise, torpedo problems, day and night firing both ashore and afloat, and the indoctrination of ship's company to the various organizational functions and problems of each department aboard ship. As happened with many ship's firing at a plane pulling a sleeve the Chaffee was no different as one of our gunners took heart and found the range of the plane was more to his liking than the sleeve. The message that came from the plane, over the radio as he dropped the sleeve and hit the throttle is still unprintable today. Formal closing of the shakedown program was highlighted by a material and personnel inspection conducted by Captain D.L. Madeira, USN, 29 June 1944.

Prior to leaving Bermuda we had to pick up a German torpedo and it was lashed down on the deck for delivery to the states. Taking her departure from Bermuda 29 June the Chaffee assumed the first of her many escort duties by screening the USS COWANESQUE (AO 79) bound for Norfolk, Virginia. After plowing through dirty weather and rough seas off Cape Hatteras the Chaffee arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on 1 July where she was detached from the USS COWANESQUE. The Chaffee proceeded independently to the USS NAVY Mine Warfare Training Station at the Solomons, Maryland where she delivered one of her most unusual cargoes - a captured German acoustic torpedo. During this trip up the bay the captain let one of the ship's crew come to the bridge so that he could see his home as we passed an island in the bay. Her mission completed the Chaffee departed for Charleston, South Carolina, arriving at the southern port on the morning of 5 July. Upon arrival the Chaffee embarked on a post?shakedown program of repairs and calibrations which kept her busily engaged until 14 July.

The 15th of July found the Chaffee enroute to New London, Connecticut in accordance with operation orders of COTOLANT. Arriving at New London on the early evening 17 July, the Chaffee learned she was to supplement a submarine training program under operational plans of ComSubLant. The Chaffee's new assignment was to act as a target ship for submarines conducting undersea calibrations involving torpedo problems, in other words we were to be a target ship. The program, already underway, was to furnish firing practice for new submarine crews and to provide refresher training for veteran combat crews stationed at New London. The exercises furnished the Chaffee's anti?submarine and combat information attack teams with valuable information and data on the underseas warfare.

On the afternoon 28 July, an incident occurred which may have reached disastrous proportions if the Chaffee had not quickly rendered her assistance. The USS SC 642, operating as a screen for several submarines engaged in making firing runs on the Chaffee, rammed the submerged periscope of the USS MARLIN (SS 202). The SC 642 suffered severe underwater damage to her hull from the collision, and was signaling frantically for assistance. The Chaffee, after ascertaining the USS Marlin's ability to surface, proceeded at full speed to assist the stricken SC 642. Coming abeam of the disabled SC the Chaffee made fast to the starboard side and quickly put four submersible pumps and two handy billies to work, checking the SC's grave loss of freeboard. In this manner the crippled vessel was towed into port by the Chaffee and maneuvered alongside State Pier, New London for repairs.

Completing her New London assignment the Chaffee was detached by ComSubLant 31 July, and ordered to proceed independently for Hampton Roads, Virginia. Upon arrival at Norfolk the Chaffee took part in a series of anti-submarine exercises which lasted throughout August. The Chaffee was assigned to a berth at the newly?constructed Convoy Escort Piers near N.O.B. Norfolk. At her new berth the Chaffee learned she was to serve as a training ship for pre-commisioning DE crews, operating under under orders of CotLant. During the month of August and the early part of September, the Chaffee contributed invaluable training to the visiting officers and enlisted personnel scheduled for DE service in the United States Navy. The Chaffee operated with the starboard or port watch on each day as the other side had liberty. It was during one of these days as the training crew was leaving the ship that we received orders to proceed at full speed in the company of two destroyers to act as a screen for the USS MISSOURI (BB 63). The destroyers were going at a speed they had no trouble with as we shaked, rattled and rolled to keep up with them. The Missouri engaged in fueling exercises which lasted two days and then everyone headed, at top speed for Norfolk, needless to say they all left us in a cloud and we were the last to enter port. As we docked the other half of the crew were waiting to board, and after three days in whites they were not so white and the first time some of them had beards. The next day the Chaffee started with new crews in the training program. Instructions programs, headed by members of ship's company, were quickly organized aboard the Chaffee to assist the quest officers and their crews in obtaining firsthand knowledge of the practical problems encountered aboard a warship. Drills and instructions underway added materially to their understanding of the various procedures necessary for the safe and competent operations of a vessel and it's intricate mechanical functions in time of war. On 29 August the Chaffee took temporary leave of her school ship assignment to act, in company with the USS HOLT (DE 706) as an escort for the USS WAKE ISLAND (CVE 65) bound for Narragansett Bay. Upon being detached by the Wake Island at the entrance of the swept channel to Narragansett Bay, the Chaffee and Holt rendezvoused with the USS MISSION BAY (CVE 59) escorting her on the return run to Norfolk, whereupon they were detached. The Chaffee returned to Convoy Escort Piers and resumed her school ship schedule. On the morning 15 September 1944, warnings of an approaching hurricane disrupted the Chaffee's training routine and forced her to put to sea. Lashed by one of the East Coast's gales, the Chaffee headed north skirting the edge of the storm to take refuge in a sheltered area near the mouth of the Rappahannock River until the storm blew itself out. On the way to this area it was one of the few time you could look up and see the waves breaking over the top funnel of the ship. No personnel casualties nor material damage were suffered during the hurricane, and the Chaffee returned to port 15 September.

Closing her school ship duties 18 September, the Chaffee was granted a stay of availability at Boston in the Navy Yard Annex, to which point she departed, in company with the USS Day (DE 225), on 19 September. The Chaffee's brief stay of upkeep availability ended in Boston 26 September, and she was ordered by ComFastSeaFron to proceed to New York. Passage through the picturesque Cape Cod Canal and the skyscraper-edged East River highlighted the inland voyage of the Chaffee to New York City. Early on the afternoon 27 September the Chaffee moored at Pier 8, Thompkinville, New York. At midnight 28 September the Chaffee threaded her way through New York's ship?congested harbor to join a M/V convoy bound for Hampton Roads, Virginia. The sixteen ship convoy was escorted by the USS Chaffee and the USS DAY (DE 225) to Norfolk without incident, arriving at that port 30 September. On the following day, 1 October 1944, the Chaffee in company with the ships of CordDiv74 departed from Norfolk as part of a screen for a great M/V convoy headed for Mediterranean ports. CortDiv74's screening duties were abruptly terminated on the next day when CinCLant detached the entire division and ordered it to proceed to New York for availability in preparation for an assignment to "distant shores". The division proceeded to New York at full speed, berthing at the US Naval Supply Depot, Bayonne, New Jersey 3 October. The Chaffee remained in New York waters until 14 October. Early evening 14 October found the Chaffee and the ships of CortDiv74 enroute to the Canal Zone as the screen for two AKAs and one AO. The Chaffee's first extended voyage was a pleasant one abetted by flawless weather. On 21 October the Chaffee arrived at the Atlantic approach to the Panama Canal berthing at the port of Christobal. Supplies were taken on board and the crew availed themselves of the stay to explore the historic city at the crossroads of the world. Passage through the great Canal 23 October proved to be a source of mechanical and scenic wonder for those aboard the destroyer escort. At Balboa the Chaffee moored at Pier 1, N.O.B. where she continued her preparations and minor repairs for an extended period at sea. The USS Chaffee's tour of Pacific duty began on 25 October when she rendezvoused with ships of CortDiv74 in the gulf of Panama preparatory to getting underway for their first fueling stopover - the lonely rocks of the Pacific, Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Group was reached 28 October where the ships of CortDiv74 refueled. Within a matter of hours the Chaffee was underway for the second stopover of her interesting Pacific itinerary, the island of Borabora in the lovely Societies. Refueling was completed in Fanui Bay, Borabora 7 November 1944, and the Chaffee headed west on the long, final leg of her voyage to Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea. The monotony of the long three week cruise was broken by gunnery exercises and the practice of various steaming formations by the ships of CortDiv74. During this period of time we had some contacts that sonar thought were submarines but these turned out to either be false reading as nothing developed. After a long night at the sonar station, the following morning at breakfast one of the sonar men said he had enough and was going home. Since he did have a habit of kidding, no one paid him much attention, topside after breakfast he took off his clothes and to everyone's surprise he jumped overboard and started to swim home. After a while the sailor was brought back on board, put in sickbay where he stayed for a few days. When he finally came out of it he wanted to know what he was doing in sickbay and he never remembered anything that happened. On 21 November the division of destroyer escorts filed into the great ship?filled natural harbor formed by the waters of Humbolt Bay. Here in the Southwest Pacific's great rearguard supply base, Hollandia, the Chaffee served in various capacities until 10 December 1944. Flotillas of LST's undergoing specialized training preparatory to the opening of new Philippine beachheads, were screened by the Chaffee off the shores of New Guinea. Time was found for extensive anti?craft gunnery practice and the preparation of torpedo attack maneuvers by the crew of the Chaffee during the stay at Humbolt Bay. On 10 December the Chaffee was ordered to proceed to Aitape, Dutch New Guinea where she was to assume an A/S and radar warning patrol at the harbor entrance. The patrol was maintained daily during the hours of darkness until 16 December when the Chaffee was relieved of her patrol duties and ordered to Hollandia. On the following day the Chaffee received orders for which the crew had long-awaited - a convoy run into enemy-visited waters. Sheparding her charges into orderly formation the Chaffee assumed her escort duties over a convoy consisting of seven LSMs bound for San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands. The convoy experienced no trouble during the trip to Leyte, despite the fact that it was within easy range of land based enemy aircraft on the island of Mindanao. The Chaffee was detached from LSM Group 19 in San Pedro Bay on 22 December. Within a few hours the Chaffee departed from Leyte as part of a screen for a M/V convoy enroute south to Hollandia. An air alert was in progress at Leyte as the convoy steamed from the bay, but the air attack failed to materialize. Two days out of Leyte, the Chaffee was detached from the convoy and ordered independently for Hollandia. An interesting sidelight of the return run to Humbolt Bay was the destruction of two drifting Japanese mines by rifle fire. The beginning of the New Year found the Chaffee at anchor at Humbolt Bay, New Guinea. The lull in the Chaffee's activities ended abruptly on the morning 8 January 1945. Signs of the intensification of the war against Japan were confirmed by the formation of heavily laden convoys in the waters off New Guinea. Prior to sailing supplies had to be loaded. The Chaffee was to join one of these great convoys, Assault and Resupply Echelon G?6 of the San Fabrin Attack Force in support of scheduled landings in Lingayen Gulf, that the Chaffee put to sea. Little did the crew realize what was in store for them. Two days out of Hollandia the Chaffee was temporarily detached from her screening duties with the San Fabian Attack Force and ordered by OTC to proceed at full speed for Mios Woendi to debark two hospital cases. Successfully transferring the patients the Chaffee rejoined the convoy on January 11. On the morning 15 January the Chaffee left her screening station to destroy an enemy mine with rifle fire. No further incidents occurred on the first leg of the run which ended in San Pedro Bay, Leyte on 15 January. Echelon G?6 was modified at Leyte by addition of fourteen ships, and the morning of 16 January the convoy reformed for the dangerous run to Luzon via Suriago Straits and the South China Sea. On the night 18 January in the Mindanao sea a bogie passed over the blacked?out convoy but did not make an attack. A condition of alertness, Condition I Easy, supplemented by dawn and dusk, general quarters was maintained throughout the final stages of the convoy run. Numerous unidentified aircraft were reported at many points along the convoy track, but the convoy arrived unmolested at Lingayen Gulf 21 January S Day plus 12. After being detached from Echelon G-6, the Chaffee was assigned to an A/S barrier patrol between Cape Verde and Point Lulu in Lingayen Gulf.

On the night 23 January, while the Chaffee was conducting her patrol, the harbor was alerted for a possible air-raid. At 2013, two unidentified aircraft were reported closing the anchorage area by the radar control unit. Carrying prearranged instructions the Chaffee closed the anchorage area to take advantage of the smoke screen being laid in the ship filled harbor. The enemy raid materialized and one of the enemy aircraft was seen plunging into the water north of the Chaffee. The second plane was tracked away from the harbor by the radar control unit and after it had disappeared at long range the "all clear" was sounded. During the early part of the raid, the Chaffee had three bogies on her radar screen at one time, although a third plane was not reported by any other ship. Since the all clear came over the loud speakers some of the areas started to secure from battlestations. The captain knew of the third bogie and ordered all hands to stay at battlestations. At this time the moon came out and the Chaffee was between the moon and the enemy aircraft. Radar suddenly picked up the bogie, on the starboard beam, range four miles, closing. The captain had ordered a slow turn to the right at this time, and immediately put over full rudder to head for the target. The few seconds warning from radar gave the ship enough time to turn, which probably saved the ship. The turn interrupted the firing run of a Japanese "Betty", and forced the plane to alter course, when the Betty was again in firing position she dropped her torpedo which struck the starboard bow, passing completely through the ship without exploding. The Jap, in adjusting his firing position, had arrived at a point so close to the Chaffee that the torpedo did not have a chance to arm. The dropping of the torpedo was so close to the ship that water came over the bridge when it hit the water. The forward five inch gun was not allowed to fire on the target since the path of its shell would have caused it to land in the harbor among the anchored ships. Despite the limited visibility and the suddenness of the attack, two 20mm guns and the forward 40mm were brought to bear on the 240 knot target. Wing hits were observed, but the plane was not sufficiently damaged to impede its flight. The port 20mm and the after 40mm had the best shots and hits were seen but again not enough to damage its flight to its base, presumably on the island of Formosa. The Chaffee stayed out on patrol and the next morning we could see all of the heavy weather jackets floating out of the hole. All during the night she was a bit heavy in the bow and hard to keep on course with the amount of water she had taken. The next morning the damages could be assessed and we found that she was three feet low in the bow. The commander of the force in the harbor came out to see what was going on as this was an unusual incident. After everyone had a look at the damage we anchored in the bay to make temporary repairs. Out of the bad some good always comes, from where you least expect it. The next day we sent two officers over to the battleship USS Pennsylvania for spare parts and they were greeted like royalty. Not knowing what was going on made them ask some questions and they found out, the personnel on board thought that the Chaffee on purpose, got between them and the Jap Betty and took the torpedo so that they would not be hit. Needless to say the officers did not open up and they ended up with all the parts and ice cream they could carry. Ice cream to us was important as we were the only ship in the division that had to crank it by hand and we very seldom had any. Repairs of a temporary nature were started on the damaged compartment by the repair crew of the USS CABLE (ARS 19) in Lingayen Gulf and were completed 2 February 1945. The anchorage area was subjected to several attacking raids by enemy aircraft during the Chaffee's stay in Lingayen Gulf but none of these occasions was the Chaffee a target for the enemy. The Chaffee returned to her A/S barrier patrol duties until relieved 8 February to take part in the screen of a M/V convoy bound for Leyte. Upon arrival in Leyte the Chaffee requested and was granted drydock availability to effect permanent repairs to her hull caused by the freakish incident in Lingayen Gulf. The next morning the officers were looking for the boat and could not understand how it had broken away. At the termination of drydock repairs the Chaffee was extended further availability alongside the USS MEDUSA (AR 1) until 25 February. The month of March brought a series of unsung landing operations by the Navy and Army in the Philippines. In bypassing Mindanao several behind?the?scenes campaigns opened a concentrated mopping?up drive by the combined forces of the Army and Navy. In this theater of the Philippine campaign the Chaffee centered most of her activities during the months of March, April, May and June. Beginning 10 March the Chaffee escorted a slow?tow convoy to Zamboanga acting as the OTC. Arriving in Zamboanga on the 14th of March, the Chaffee detached her convoy and assumed an A/S barrier patrol at the entrance to Basilan Straights. On 16 March the Chaffee escorted a group of landing craft across the Sulu Sea to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, arriving in Hondo Bay 17 March. Units of the 41st Division, US Army, were embarked on landing craft to support the Zamboanga operations on Minima. These units were safely escorted to Zamboanga beachhead 19 March. Early evening 20 March found the Chaffee enroute to Leyte as a screen for another landing craft convoy, arriving in San Pedro Bay two days later. Upkeep repairs occupied the Chaffee until 28 March when she formed part of a screen for a M/V convoy headed for Zamboanga. An enemy aircraft, tentatively identified as Japanese "Nick", enlivened the return trip, but disappeared without making an attack on the convoy which proceeded without further incident to Zamboanga. Upon arrival at Zamboanga the Chaffee assumed a dusk to dawn A/S patrol at the eastern entrance to Basilan Straights. On 5 April the Chaffee was detached from patrol duty and escorted an AOG to Puerto Princesa, arriving in Hondo Bay 6 April. Proceeding independently the Chaffee returned to Leyte 10 April, and spent a few days in upkeep and repair work. On April 19, the Chaffee began her most gruelling job of escort duties. Acting as OTC for a slow-tow convoy the Chaffee arrived at Parang, Mindanao on F-Day plus11 and was assigned A/S patrol duties. On 24 April found the Chaffee back at Zamboanga to escort more ships into Parang. Back at Parang 26 April, the Chaffee resumed patrol duties until 29 April when she departed for Morotai, Dutch East Indies as escort for a group of LSTs. Alert lookout and radar operations spotted three drifting mines during this trip, and all were destroyed by gunfire. After being detached at Morotai on 2 May, the Chaffee returned to Polloc Harbor. Pursuant to orders of ComPhibGroup8, the Chaffee departed from Parang to join a resupply echelon which was scheduled to make the first water-borne landing in Davac Gulf on 9 May. Upon arrival at Taloma Bay in Davao Gulf the Chaffee screened the unloading operations at the newly established beachhead, while fire?support was furnished by a nearby destroyer. At the completion of the unloading operations the Chaffee proceeded as part of a screen for the landing craft to a rendezvous point in Moro Gulf where the Chaffee was detached to join a convoy headed for Morotai, arriving at that port 11 May. Sailing independently, the Chaffee reported again to Zamboanga, where she escorted more shipping into Parang. Leaving Parang on 15 May, the Chaffee made a round trip to Puerto Princesa, arriving back on the 19th. Leaving immediately, the Chaffee then escorted two round trips to Davao, returning from the second trip 29 May. From Parang the next round trip was Macajalar Bay, Mindanao and after arriving there the second time 11 June, the Chaffee proceeding to San Pedro Bay for much needed rest and repairs. During the period above, from 13 April to 11 June, the Chaffee had been underway almost continually, escorting some 20 small convoys, and had become well acquainted with the southern Philippine ports.

On 17 June, the Chaffee departed from Leyte and proceeded independently for Mortai in accordance with orders of CTG 76.6, arriving in that port 19 June. The harbor at Mortai indicated large scale preparations for new landings in the Dutch East Indies. On 23 June, the Chaffee screened a full?dress invasion rehearsal which was under the command of Rear Admiral A. G. Noble. USN. The Chaffee in addition to her screening duties, left the large convoy early to be the first ship into the landing area and act as guide for the landing forces in the early morning rehearsal. On 28 June, the Chaffee departed from Mortai as part of the screen for reinforcement elements bound for Balikoapan, Borneo in the Netherland Indies. These supporting elements were to reinforce the initial landings 1 July, 1945. This large task organization reached its destination on the 3rd of July, F-Day Plus 2. Enemy aircraft were reported in Macassar Straights on two occasions, but the convoy proceeded to disembark its troops without incident. The Chaffee assumed a patrol station on the seaward side of the transport area. On 10 July, the Chaffee returned to Morotai where she reported to ComPhilSeaFron for duty via dispatch. The Chaffee returned to Leyte on 17 July where she replenished her fuel and supplies before departing for Casiguran Bay, Luzon, where she escorted a one ship convoy back to Leyte. On 30 July, the Chaffee was ordered to proceed independently for Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, arriving there on the morning 3 August, 1945. From Hollandia the Chaffee escorted two troop laden transports back to Leyte, detaching one of the APs at that port. The remaining AP the Chaffee escorted to Manila, arriving on 10 August. The Chaffee's return to Leyte was highlighted by the collapse of the Japanese war machine and the cease of hostilities throughout the world. In accordance with orders of ComPhilSeaFron, the Chaffee departed for Subic Bay on 22 August. At Subic Bay the Chaffee joined four other ships of the division to work with the submarine base there. After two weeks of patrol outside the harbor, plus escorting several submarines and a captured Japanese lugger, the Chaffee left Subic Bay for San Frenando, Luzon arriving on 10 September. From San Fernando, the Chaffee escorted a troopship, the AP 147, to Hagughi on the west coast of Okinawa. Returning from Okinawa, the Chaffee escorted an AK and AO to Leyte, arriving on 18 September. During the second part of September and all of October, the Chaffee spent most of the time at anchor, spending only one week at sea on patrol. On 22 October, Lt. Comdr. Ralph M. Thompson, Executive Officer, relieved Comdr. A. C. Jones as Commanding Officer. On 4 November, the Chaffee departed from Leyte to again join the division at Subic Bay. Early on the morning of the fifth, during a local thundershower with visibility zero, the Chaffee ran aground in San Bernardino Straights off Port Gubat, Luzon. After three days on the reef, the Chaffee was pulled clear and towed to Caluzs Roadstead where she went into drydock, ARD 20. The keel had been buckled throwing the main motor out of line in #1 Engine Room. During five weeks in drydock, the starboard propeller was removed entirely. The port tail shaft and screw replaced, and strengthening beams welded to the keel. On 19 December, the Chaffee went out on a trial run, which was satisfactory, having made good 18 knots on one screw. After anxiously waiting for news as to the ships disposition, with personnel getting dangerously low because of demobilization, the Chaffee put her bow to the east 10 January 1946 heading for Pearl Harbor, via Eniwetok, for further orders. Arriving in Pearl Harbor the Chaffee was moored for one week and the crew was given a long overdue liberty. The Chaffee then put to sea headed for San Francisco and arrived at that port 9 February 1946. The ship was going to be scraped due to her condition and all hands laid to removing her, gear. The second week in port it was decided to have a ships party, the first good one in almost two years. The ship was finally decommissioned 15 April, 1946 and the crew was transferred to Treasure Island for further orders. She was sold 29 June 1948.

A copy of this document was given to
Robert H. Christ SM 2/c, 7 June 1987 by Hugh Frith

From:  Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume II, 1963

Born in Hartland Township, Ohio, 5 May 1915, Davis Elliott Chaffee enlisted in the Navy 4 January 1941. He was appointed Ensign 6 September 1941, and naval aviator 1 October 1941. While serving with Bomber Squadron 5 based on Yorktown (CV-5), he was killed in action during the Battle of the Coral Sea 8 May 1942. He was posthumously awarded a Navy Cross for his courage in participating in an attack in which an enemy carrier was sunk.

(DE 230: dp 1,450; l. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 9'8"; s. 24 k; cpl. 186 a. 2 5", 3 21"tt, 8dcp., 1 dcp.(hh.), 2 dct.; cl. Rudderow)

Chaffee (DE 230) was launched 27 November 1943 by Charleston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. L. C. Chaffee; and commissioned 9 May 1944, Lieutenant Commander A. C. Jones, USNR, in command.

After operating on the east coast as a target ship in submarine training, and as a training ship for prospective escort vessel crews, Chaffee cleared Bayonne, N.J., 14 October 1944. She arrived Hollandia 21 November for operations in the New Guinea area screening LSTs, in gunnery and antitorpedo exercises, and on patrol at the entrance to Aitape.

Chaffee began her role in the liberation of the Philippines when she sailed from Hollandia 17 December 1944 to escort landing craft to Leyte. She cleared Hollandia again 8 January 1945 with reinforcements for the recently landed San Fabian Attack Force at Lingayen, where she arrived 21 January. Assigned to patrol in Lingayen Gulf, Chaffee underwent a unique experience 23 January, when a Japanese aerial torpedo passed through her bow without exploding, or causing any injuries to her crew. By 2 February, temporary repairs had been completed, and Chaffee returned to patrol duties. She continued to escort convoys in the Philippines, as well as conduct patrols, in support of the Mindanao operation until 29 April, when she cleared Parang for Morotai. She returned to the southern Philippines for escort duty 2 May. A week later, she guarded the landing of reinforcements at Davao.

Chaffee arrived at Morotai from the Philippines 19 June 1945 to train for the Borneo operation, and cleared 28 June to escort reinforcements which landed at Balikpapan 3 July. For the remainder of the war, Chaffee escorted convoys between Morotai and Hollandia and the Philippines. She aided in the establishment of the base in Subic Bay, conducted local patrols and escort missions, and escorted a troop ship to Okinawa in September, then returned to Philippine operation until 10 January 1946, when she cleared Subic Bay for home. She arrived at San Francisco 5 February, where she was decommissioned 15 April 1946. She was sold 29 June 1948.

Chaffee received two battle stars for World War II service.


Mon, 16 Feb 2004

I received the following information about what happened to our ship after decommissing. Wonder if you could add to the end of the ship's history.
Thank you Bob Christ

Thanks for your query concerning the former USS CHAFFEE (DE-230).
Yes, the CHAFFEE was transferred to the California Maritime Academy, as were some of its sister ships transferred to other maritime academies across the country right after the end of World War II.
Unfortunately, the ship did not have the capabilities to carry an entire class of Merchant Marine midshipmen on a training cruise, nor was the vessel suitable for training officers for the commercial maritime industry. And also because of the wear and tear of a war-time environment, the hull would have only been used as a stationery platform.
Thus, after stripping some engineering equipment off the ship for use in training our students, the hulk was sold and towed away for scrap. The proceeds from the sale of the old Destroyer Escort were used to purchase and build a metal "Butler" building to house a machine shop (with some of the machinery from the ship).
This metal ("Butler") building is still in use at the Academy, now as the auto shop for the cadets.
I hope this helps provide the final page of history on USS CHAFFEE (DE-230).
Thanks for your query.
Doug Peterson
Historical Archivist
California Maritime Academy
200 Maritime Academy Drive
Vallejo CA 94590-8181

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