|USS Kretchmer (DE-329)|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas|
|Laid down:||28 June 1943|
|Launched:||31 August 1943|
|Commissioned:||13 December 1943|
|Decommissioned:||1 October 1973|
|Reclassified:||DER-329, 21 October 1955|
|Struck:||30 September 1973|
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping 14 May 1974|
|Class & type:||Edsall-class destroyer escort|
1,253 tons standard|
1,590 tons full load
|Length:||306 feet (93.27 m)|
|Beam:||36.58 feet (11.15 m)|
|Draft:||10.42 full load feet (3.18 m)|
4 FM diesel engines, |
6,000 shp (4.5 MW),
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h)|
9,100 nmi. at 12 knots|
(17,000 km at 22 km/h)
|Complement:||8 officers, 201 enlisted|
USS Kretchmer (DE-329) was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She served in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and provided destroyer escort protection against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys.
She was named in honor of Ensign Raymond Joseph Kretchmer who was killed in action during the Battle of Savo Island. She was laid down 28 June 1943, by Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas; launched 31 August 1943; sponsored by Miss Betty Kretchmer, sister of Ensign Kretchmer; and commissioned 13 December 1943, with Lieutenant R. C. Wing, in command.
World War II North Atlantic operationsEdit
After a Bermuda shakedown Kretchmer departed Charleston, South Carolina, 15 February 1944, for operations in the Caribbean. Based at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, she escorted convoys to Cuba and Bermuda until sailing for Key West, Florida, 2 May. Assigned to an air wing training detachment, Kretchmer operated with torpedo bombers for 3 weeks, before departing Charleston 8 June escorting a convoy to Europe. Sailing via Curaçao, D.W.I., Kretchmer screened shipping bound for Naples, Italy, in preparation for the assaults on southern France. After returning to the United States 16 July, the escort ship made one more cruise to Naples during the summer.
Transfer to the Pacific FleetEdit
Between 20 September 1944 and 27 April 1945, Kretchmer sailed as escort to five convoys from New York to United Kingdom ports. After victory in Europe, she prepared for Pacific Fleet duty arriving Pearl Harbor 5 July. Clearing Pearl Harbor 1 August, Kretchmer was en route to the Philippines when hostilities stopped on 14 August.
Serving in the Far East until 1 April 1946, the destroyer escort engaged in occupation and repatriation operations, including the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war from Formosa during September 1945. Kretchmer also served on escort duty, mine patrol, and mail runs between Chinese ports. Departing Hong Kong 1 April 1946, she returned home by way of the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean, arriving Charleston, South Carolina, 29 May. Kretchmer decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Florida, 20 September 1946.
Conversion to picket shipEdit
After extensive conversion, Kretchmer recommissioned as DER-329 on 22 September 1956, Lt. Comdr. C. F. Fadeley in command. After shakedown in the Caribbean, the radar picket arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, 18 December to commence operations in the Northern Radar Barrier. Based at Newport, Rhode Island, from 1957 to 1962, she remained on picket duty, making regular patrols to provide early warning to the continental air defense systems. Kretchmer also made cruises to northern Europe in 1958, 1961, and 1962, and in August 1961 rescued six men from foundered Icelandic fishing vessel MV Sleipnir.
Cuban Missile Crisis activityEdit
In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kretchmer departed Newport 23 November 1962 for picket duty off the southern coast of the United States. While operating as plane guard and screen for USS Essex (CV-9) in Key West, Florida, waters, Kretchmer rescued two shrimp fishermen from disabled fishing vessel MV Ala, after they had been fired upon by Cuban MiG aircraft. On 21 February 1963, while Kretchmer was guarding Ala, a MiG-17 made four passes at the disabled fishing craft before turning tail ahead of U.S. Marine aircraft.
Kretchmer continued picket and training operations in the Atlantic until 21 May 1965, when she entered Boston Naval Shipyard for overhaul prior to deployment in the western Pacific. The ship departed Newport, Rhode Island, for Guam, arriving 2 August after a stopover at Pearl Harbor.
One month later, Kretchmer joined other vessels off the South Vietnam coast in Operation Market Time, keeping coastal traffic under surveillance to prevent the shipment of Communist arms and supply to South Vietnam by sea. Her motor whaleboat came under heavy small arms fire during a roundup operation in November. No American casualties resulted and Krctchmer's search party seized a large number of suspected guerrilla infiltrators.
By the end of a year of patrol, the ship had investigated some 17,000 contacts, and boarded over 1,000 small craft. On 10 December Kretchmer steamed into Apra Harbor, Guam, where she remained until her departure 22 February 1966 for a 7-month deployment with the 7th Fleet. She continued "Market Time" patrol off the northwest coast of Vietnam and provided gunfire support for the Marines and Army on shore. She left Subic Bay 29 September for her homeport, Guam, where she remained through part of October. Kretchmer then departed for further radar picket escort duties off Vietnam through 1966 into 1967. Her continued presence on the South China seacoasts delineated the commitment of the United States to the preservation of the independence of South Vietnam.
She was decommissioned 1 October 1973 and stricken 30 September 1973. She was sold for scrapping 14 May 1974.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
- Raymond Joseph Kretchmer, born 30 January 1917
- NavSource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive - USS Kretchmer (DE 329)
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