Tuesday, January 29, 2008
USS Newell (DE-322, later DER-322)
Figure 1: USS Newell (DE-322) at anchor in New York Harbor, 2 June 1944, while painted in a modified version of Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. Photographed by the New York Navy Yard. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Newell at anchor in New York Harbor, 2 June 1944, while painted in a modified version of Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. Photographed by the New York Navy Yard. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Newell at anchor in New York Harbor, 2 June 1944, while painted in a modified version of Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. Photographed by the New York Navy Yard. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Sinking of USS Lansdale (DD-426), 20 April 1944, off North Africa. The bodies of two men killed in the sinking of Lansdale are brought ashore at a North African port from a U.S. Coast Guard manned destroyer escort which conducted rescue operations. The DE is either USS Menges (DE-320) or USS Newell (DE-322). Coourtesy of Mr. James Russell. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Newell (DE-322) at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, California, awaiting conversion to a radar picket ship (DER), 20 August 1956. She is wearing U.S. Coast Guard markings, used during her service as USCGC Newell (WDE-422) in 1951-1954. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Named after Lieutenant Commander Byron Newell who died on board the USS Hornet (CV-8) during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the USS Newell (DE-322) was a 1,200-ton Edsall class destroyer escort. She was 306 feet long, had a beam of approximately 36 feet, a top speed of 21 knots and a crew of 186 officers and men. The Newell had three 3-inch guns, two 40 mm. guns, eight 20 mm. guns, depth charges, and three 21-inch torpedo tubes. She was built at the Consolidated Steel Company in Orange, Texas, and was commissioned on 30 October 1943. The Captain of the Newell (Lt. Commander Russell J. Roberts), as well as the rest of the crew, were all members of the United States Coast Guard.
After a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, the Newell was briefly used for training before being assigned as a convoy escort to North Africa in December 1943. On 20 April 1944, during her second trans-Atlantic voyage, the Newell was part of a convoy that was steaming off the coast of Algeria. At approximately 2100 that evening, five German aircraft attacked the convoy with torpedoes. Although the escorts in the convoy shot down one of the German aircraft, the USS Lansdale (DD-426) was hit by torpedo and blown in two, with both parts of the ship sinking rapidly. The Newell and the USS Menges (DE-320) assisted in picking up 119 survivors from the ship. Many members of the Newell’s crew went over the side to bring on board survivors too weak to swim to the ship. The freighter Paul Hamilton also was sunk in the attack and three other merchant ships were damaged. The Newell and three other destroyer escorts brought the damaged merchant ships and rescued seamen to Algiers. The escorts then left Algiers and rejoined the convoy, which was headed for Bizerte in Tunisia. After spending 10 days in Bizerte, the convoy started its journey back to the United States. On the second night of the voyage, German U-boats attacked the convoy. The Menges was torpedoed and severely damaged. The Menges was towed back to Bizerte and had to have a new stern welded on to her. During the next night, the USS Fechteler (DE-157) was hit by a torpedo amidships and sank and the French escort ship Senegalais also was sunk. But the convoy escorts did manage to sink one of the attacking U-boats, U-371.
The convoy eventually made it back to the United States and the Newell went on to make four more round trips to Africa, two to Bizerte and two more to Oran, Algeria. In February 1945, the Newell ceased convoy escort duties and was used as a training ship until the end of the war. She was decommissioned in Charleston, South Carolina, on 20 November 1945 and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Things stayed that way until 20 July 1951, when the ship was commissioned in the US Coast Guard as the USCGC Newell (WDE-422). After being converted into a search and rescue Coast Guard cutter, the Newell was sent to patrol the Northern Pacific. She was decommissioned from the Coast Guard at the end of March 1954 and was given back to the Navy, but this time was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
The Newell then was converted into a radar picket escort ship and was re-designated DER-322. She re-commissioned at Long Beach, California, on 20 August 1957 and steamed to her new homeport in Pearl Harbor. She was assigned to the “Pacific Barrier,” which was part of America’s sea-born radar defenses against a surprise air attack. The Newell remained with the Pacific Barrier patrols until its disestablishment in May 1965.
After that, the Newell was sent to Vietnam. She arrived in May 1965 and was immediately assigned to the “Market Time” patrols that were designed to eliminate North Vietnamese and Viet Cong sea-born infiltration into South Vietnam. The Newell’s first Southeast Asian cruise ended in January 1966. Her second lasted from June 1966 to January 1967 and her third cruise went from July 1967 to February 1968. While on patrol off Vietnam, the Newell detected 6,905 wooden hulls, inspected 2,472, and boarded 631. She detected 384 steel-hulled ships, inspected 67, and boarded six. When needed, her guns were used to shell shore targets as well.
After patrolling the waters off the coast of Hawaii for a few months, the Newell was decommissioned for the last time and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in September 1968. But even after being decommissioned, the Newell still had a small role to play in historical events, even though this new “role” would be in a movie. In 1969 the Newell was used as a prop for the motion picture “Tora, Tora, Tora,” playing the role of a US battleship during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The Newell was eventually sold for scrapping in December 1971.
The Newell had a very long and active career, served in both the US Navy and the US Coast Guard, fought in two wars, and was even used in a movie. These certainly were substantial accomplishments for such a small warship.
Posted by Remo at 9:00 AM