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USS DECKER DE 47

Photos and history submitted by Joe Alexander, SoM1/c, Plankowner

USS Decker was an EVARTS Class DE, also known as a GMT (General Motors Tandem Diesel) or short hull Destroyer Escort. 

Decker was 289' 5" in length, with a 35' 1" beam.  Its shaft horsepower was 6,000 and its twin screws could produce a top speed of 21.5 knots.  It had a 1,436 ton displacement.  With 198 tons of diesel fuel, it had a War Endurance of 4,150 miles at 12 knots.  The ship's complement consisted of 15 officers and 183 men.

This ship was built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, launched July 24, 1942, and commissioned on May 3, 1943.  The ship was named after Lt.(jg) Ernest Elden Decker who was killed in action in the Solomon Islands in September 1942, when his ship, the USS GREGORY, APD-3, was sunk in an engagement with Japanese surface ships.

After a one month shakedown cruise off Bermuda, DECKER'S first assignment was to escort two oilers from Newport, RI to Galveston, TX in July 1943.  Thereafter she began regular convoy runs from off Norfolk, VA, across the Atlantic, to, and eventually into, the Mediterranean, laying-over at ports in Casablanca, French Morocco; Bizerte, Tunisia; Oran, Algeria; and Palermo, Sicily.  Always in company with other US Navy escort vessels, she made eighteen crossings escorting slow freighters formed into large convoys.  This took place from August 1943 to mid-1945.  These crossings took about 21 days in summer and 28 days in winter.  The time difference was due to the high seas normally encountered during winter crossings.  Upon each return to the US she would have an availability in one of several Navy yards along the east coast for repairs and improvements.  These layovers were for short periods before embarking on the next crossing.

Convoy duty was exhausting work for the ship's crew.  Men stood four-on and eight-off watches, dogging the watch between the 1600 to 2000 hour watches, and laying-to ship's work during the day when they were not on watch.  With frequent calls to battle stations sounded, there was little time for a normal, uninterrupted sleep.  The heavy seas of wintertime crossings also contributed to the exhaustion and caused occasional injuries.  There was boredom, and tension, and the ever present threat of sudden death.  There were the thrills of watching a brave ship successfully endure mountainous seas; the fun of running up the flooding weather deck between rolls and hanging on when caught in the sea coming up over the rail.  There was the developing faith in the ship's seaworthiness, as it brought its crew safely home time after time.

Strong bonds of close friendships and respect inevitably developed between shipmates so dependent upon each others skills, dedication and bravery for their survival.  The men learned to appreciate the creature comforts the ship provided.  They knew that as long as they had their ship they had warm food, fresh water, a comfortable place to sleep, showers, clean clothes and a place for social life and recreation.  It was not a four star hotel, but it was home.  Living so closely confined, these healthy young men shared the greatest adventure of their lives.  They lived together in harmony and in surprising happiness, all things considered.  There was little, if any, conflict between them.  At night, lights were never shown topside and some of the few sounds heard were from the wind and the ocean, the pinging of the anti-submarine equipment, the quiet voices of the lookouts and other watchstanders, the whine from the diesel engines' exhaust, the occasional orders and inquiries of the officer of the deck and the responses from the crew.

Each convoy crept interminably across the sea day after day.  The only noticeable changes for long periods were simply the weather, and the skies, and even they remained fairly constant.  Maintaining position in the escort screen was an ever present challenge for the officer of the deck.  Zigzagging together was the normal procedure for the escorts and occasionally the entire convoy would change course at once, by prearranged signal.  Sonar endlessly searched for enemy submarines.  When detected, general quarters was sounded and the submarine was immediately attacked in an effort to keep them from harming the merchant vessels.

On May 11, 1944, DECKER, on station escorting a large, slow convoy in the Mediterranean Sea, participated in one of the largest attacks by enemy aircraft made on a convoy.  For its actions it was awarded a battle star.  It was credited with two planes shot down.  The enemy appeared surprised by the concentrated firepower directed at them and their inability to achieve a surprise attack upon the convoy.  The attack was by torpedo bombers, JU88s.  Seven well placed torpedoes were dropped at DECKER.  Quickly spotted, they became near misses through prompt evasive action.  The captain, officers and entire crew were commended for their work and the splendid teamwork achieved between the various departments.

Following the German surrender, DECKER operated out of Miami, FL.  In August 1945, she was leased to the Republic of China.  Chinese officers came aboard and a training program began.  The US Navy crew of DECKER became the instructors.  She was decommissioned from the US Navy on October 22, 1945.  Early in 1946, DECKER, renamed ROS TAIPING, sailed to China.  This gallant ship was commissioned in the Republic of China's navy in February 1948.  In November 1954, Chinese Communist gunboats sank the TAIPING off the Tachen Islands.

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Early 1940's On The Atlantic

Official USN Photo

Unknown Date - Prob early 1940's

Unknown Date and Location

Captain - Lt. CMDR Hiram S. Cody, Jr.

Joe Alexander SoM1c

Plankowner

On The Bow

Hayden Wilson and "K" Division

"Waiting to Refuel"

Looking Aft During Heavy Seas

Heavy Seas

Heavy Seas

Heavy Seas, Water Over The Bow


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