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DD-823 (Samuel B. Roberts II)

DD-823 (Samuel B. Roberts II) (DD-823: dp. 2,425; l. 390’6″; b. 40’10”; dr. 18’6″; s. 35 k.; cpl. 345; a. 6 5″, 12 40mm., 10 21″ tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Gearing)

The second Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823) was laid down on 27 June 1945 by the Consolidated Steel Corp. Orange, Texas; launched on 30 November 1945, sponsored by Mrs. Samuel B. Roberts, and commissioned on 22 December 1946, Comdr. C. T. Doss in command.

Following shakedown training off Guantanamo Bay in February 1947, Samuel B. Roberts joined the Atlantic Fleet. She participated in Atlantic Fleet maneuvers before proceeding to the Mediterranean in January 1948. Returning to the United States in June, she began another year of operations along the east coast of the United States. She then conducted her second tour of foreign duty, visiting northern Europe from May to September 1949. Roberts next participated in western Atlantic operations until March 1950 when she sailed back to the Mediterranean to join the 6th Fleet. She returned to the United States in October 1950. Following further operations in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean, she got underway for Scotland on 10 September 1952 to join NATO forces in Operation “Mainbrace,” before proceeding to the Mediterranean to join the 6th Fleet. Two months later, in November she returned for further duty off northern Europe, and finally sailed for the United States, arriving at Newport on 29 January 1953.

Samuel B. Roberts operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean from early 1953 until 3 August 1954, when she headed for the western Pacific, via the Panama Canal, to begin an around-the world cruise. She spent five months in the waters around Japan and the Philippines, then sailed across the Indian Ocean and through the Suez Canal, arriving home on 14 March 1955. The remainder of 1955 was spent in local operations with the exception of a hastily ordered voyage in July to a lifeguard station off Greenland during President Eisenhower’s flight to Geneva.

Western Atlantic operations in early 1956 gave way to foreign duty when Roberts again joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean on 27 September. On 25 October, Roberts weighed anchor for the Persian Gulf and duty with the Middle East Force. She transited the Suez Canal on the night of 27 and 28 October, the last warship to transit the canal southbound before it was closed during the invasion of Egypt. The ship was then on duty with the Middle East Force until sailing for home by way of Pakistan, India, East Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, and Brazil. Roberts arrived in Newport on 14 March 1957.

With the exception of a midshipmen’s cruise to Rio de Janeiro, Samuel B. Roberts remained near Newport until mid-September. She then participated in NATO exercises off northern Europe and returned to the United States on 22 October 1957.

In March 1958, after a three-month overhaul, the destroyer moved into the Caribbean for refresher training. In May, the exercises were interrupted. Roberts deployed hastily to Venezuela and prepared to evacuate United States nationals following the violence during Vice President Nixon’s visit to South America. By the 15th, however, the situation was under control. Roberts was relieved and returned to Newport. Two months later, she was ordered to Morehead City, N.C., to rendezvous with amphibious units carrying Marine reinforcements to the Mediterranean during the Lebanon crisis. By 25 July, the reinforcements were no longer needed. Roberts, with her squadron, Destroyer Squadron 10, escorted the amphibious units to Puerto Rico, whence the destroyers continued on to the Mediterranean.

Arriving on 10 August, Roberts cruised off the coast of Lebanon from 17 to 25 August and again from 2 to 20 September to furnish gunfire support to the troops on the beach if it proved necessary. On 17 September, she transited the Suez Canal, thence proceeded to the Persian Gulf, where she remained into October. On 19 October, she re transited the canal. On 4 November, she left Gibraltar behind, and, on 13 November, she returned to the United States.

Roberts operated continuously in the western Atlantic until 15 June 1959 when she sailed from Newport for the St. Lawrence River to participate in operation “Inland Seas,” the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. After official ceremonies attended by Queen Elizabeth and President Eisenhower, Roberts transited the seaway and crossed Lakes Ontario and Erie to arrive at Detroit, Mich., on 3 July. On 20 July, Roberts moved into Lake Michigan with the first destroyer division to traverse all five Great Lakes. On 27 July, Roberts headed for the Atlantic again and arrived at Newport on 12 September.

After further United States east coast activities, Roberts joined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean on 31 March 1960, remaining until 29 May. She then passed through the Suez Canal to join the Middle East Force. She was relieved of Middle East duties on 30 June and rejoined the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. On 15 October, Roberts returned to Newport.

Spending most of 1961 undergoing a FRAM (fleet rehabilitation and modernization) overhaul in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Roberts returned to Newport on 26 February 1962 and remained in the western Atlantic for the rest of 1962 and most of 1963. During April and June of the latter year, she operated off the northern New England coast in search of the missing submarine, Thresher (SSN-593).

In October 1963, Roberts resumed overseas operations; and, for the next two years, rotated between duty in the western Atlantic and tours with the 6th Fleet. In the fall of 1965, however, she headed south transited the Panama Canal, and moved into the western Pacific to join the 7th Fleet. She operated primarily in Vietnamese and Philippine waters until 19 February 1966, then steamed for home via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. Returning to Newport, R.I., on 8 April, she cruised in the Atlantic and Caribbean until deploying to the Mediterranean again on 8 December.

Samuel B. Roberts returned to Newport on 20 March. She remained in Atlantic and Caribbean waters from that time to 10 January 1968 when she sailed on another tour of Mediterranean duty, returning to Newport on 17 May. The remainder of the year was spent in Atlantic operations. She continued to operate in the Atlantic and Caribbean during 1969 until deploying to the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean on 22 November. She steamed in the Black Sea from 9 to 12 December and returned to Newport on 22 May 1970.

In August 1970, Samuel B. Roberts underwent Inspection and Survey, the inspection team determined that she was unfit for further Naval service. Accordingly, on 2 November, she was decommissioned, and her name was struck from the Navy list. She then joined the Inactive Fleet at Philadelphia Pa., where she remained until sunk as a target on 14 November 1971.

[source: DANFS]




Samuel B. Roberts, Built at Brownship
Meets Death of Hero in Philippines

Sometime later, when the reports of survivors can be studied, very likely all details can be printed about the heroic death of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts, which was built by men and women of Brownship and went down on October 25 in the great naval battle in the Philippines.

At this time, only the bare outlines of the story have been released by the Navy.

* * *

These outlines are sufficient in detail for us to know that the Roberts was as great a hero as could have been damaged by any man or woman who cut her plates, welded her seams or attended to her outfitting.

She died game, charging an overwhelmingly superior force of Japanese warships which had for the moment eluded the main forces of our fleet and was threatening the whole beachhead at Leyte.

* * *

Her heroism and that of other American-built ships with her delayed the Japanese stroke against Leyte until it could no longer be delivered.

She died in the tradition of the men of the Alamo.

Every man and woman who had a part in her building… every person from the yard from which she came… can take great pride in this ship, which was built so well that when the time came for her life to be spent, she was able to purchase with it a great share of the American victory in the naval battle of the Philippines.


The general outlines of the background of the story are as follows:

Since early October, powerful American naval forces had staged one attack after another all around the Philippines, robbing the Japs of planes and ships, weakening them, and leaving them in confusion as the whether, when and where an invasion force might strike.

* * *

On October 20, American amphibious forces landed on Leyte.

On October 23, American submarines which had been posted on the opposite side of the islands, sighted, reported and attacked Jap naval forces approaching both from north-west and southwest.

On October 24, American carrier-based planes located and attacked a large enemy task force in the Sulu Sea on the southwest and found and bombed another in the Sibuyan Sea to the northwest, leaving it in retreat. A third force was located moving down from the north.

* * *

On October 25, an American task force led by the elderly battleships Maryland, Tennessee, California and Pennsylvania met and routed the Jap fleet in the south. A force of faster battleships and carriers had rushed to the north, and its planes defeated the Japs moving down from that direction.

The middle Jap force, the one believed turned back in the Sibuyan Sea, has reformed, turned about, slipped through San Bernardino, between the two American fleets, and descended toward Leyte at dawn.

It was against this force that the Roberts expended its life.

* * *

As soon as he learned of the presence of his enemy force, Admiral Halsey, who was attacking the Jap ships to the north, sent part of his fleet back to engage it.

All it needed was time… and Naval Communique No. 554 tells how it got that time… as follows:


“What had caused Admiral Halsey to divert part of his force southward was the report that a group of our escort carriers operating in support of the landings at Leyte was being threatened by superior enemy forces.

“The anti-submarine patrol of this group of six escort carriers and seven destroyers and destroyer escorts had detected in Wednesday’s dawn an approaching Japanese force of four battleships, seven cruisers and nine destroyers.

“These were apparently the surviving elements of the enemy task force which had been attacked from the air in the Sibuyan Sea and forced to flee westward. During the night the group had traversed San Bernardino Strait.


“The escort carriers silhouetted against the dawn, came under heavy fire from the Japanese force, which, in the western gloom and with the Philippine hills providing further concealment, possessed every advantage of position and firing power.

“The carriers, converted (See HOW; Page 2)

How Destroyer Escort Roberts Met Death in Philippines Ship Was Lost Charging Jap Battleship Forces

(Continued from Page 1)

merchantmen, headed off eastward into the wind at the top of their limited speed, launching aircraft to attack the enemy.

“But the enemy’s superior speed and gun power swiftly told. The Japanese continued to close in, hauling around to the northward and forcing this carrier group to head southward, under continuous fire from the enemy’s 16-inch, 14-inch and 8-inch shells.


“Japanese marksmanship was poor and American seamanship excellent, however, and although frequently straddled, our ships were not heavily hit during the first part of the engagement.

“By 9 o’clock, though, despite a sustained air attack on the enemy and the best efforts of destroyer support with smoke screens and forays against the Japanese, the carriers began to take considerable punishment. One of them was sunk.


“Two destroyers and a destroyer escort which courageously charged the Japanese battleships went down under the enemy’s heavy shells.

(The destroyer escort obviously was the Samuel B. Roberts, the only ship of its type announced as lost in the action.)

“Nevertheless, the Japanese paid an exorbitant price for their success, such as it was. Two of their heavy cruisers were sunk, and one – perhaps two – of their destroyers went down under concentrated counter attack from surface and air.


“Still the enemy pressed his advantage, and by 9:20 the carrier group had been jockeyed into a situation with the Japanese, only 12,000 yards distant, and in a position for the kill.

“Then suddenly, the enemy ships hauled away, gradually widening the distance, and to the astonishment of the battered American forces, broke off the battle with a final and harmless spread of torpedoes before steaming away over the northern horizon at high speed, trailing from oil pierced spills as they fled.

“What happened can be reconstructed from events already reviewed. The Japanese admiral, with a costly victory in sight, received word of the destruction of the southern force in Surigao Strait and the utter rout of the northern force, with the destruction of its carriers. He had to get back through San Bernardino Strait or face annihilation.


“Further, though the Jap may not have known it, we had a battleship and cruiser force – a part of the 7th Fleet – in Leyte Gulf for the purpose of protecting the transports and landing craft from any enemy force attempting to destroy them. This was the force which so completely defeated the Japanese Southern Force before daylight in the southern part of Leyte Gulf, almost annihilating it – and which was still available – almost unscathed – to prevent the entrance of the central force.

“The vanguard of the returning Third Fleet units caught one straggling enemy destroyer before it reached the strait and sank it. Early next day, air groups from our carriers ranged over the Sibuyan Sea and continued attacks on the fugitives, probably sinking one heavy cruiser and a light cruiser.

“Back at the scene of the attack on the carriers, the Japanese continued to harass the American ships with land based planes, resulting in the sinking of a second of the CVEs, but the Second Battle of the Philippines was over and decisively won. The enemy fleet sustained losses and damage which materially weakened their over-all naval and air strength against the final dive of the United States forces against the Empire.


“We must not, however, allow ourselves to feel that this victory effectually prevented any reinforcement of Jap forces of Leyte and Samar, because he still can, by the very nature of the geography of the islands which afford protection and hiding places for short transportation runs, continue his reinforcements at a rapidly diminishing rate. He cannot, however, prevent our own reinforcements and supply of General MacArthur and his gallant troops.

“Our Naval and air forces will continue to insure the control of these sea approaches to the Philippines and effective supply and support of our troops.”

Robert W. Fickett, KIA

Bob Fickett

Bob Fickett

Producing this website has shed some light on inconsistencies in the names of those men on board. One such case is that of Robert Fickett, killed in action in the Battle off Samar. Bob Fickett’s name was mistakenly indicated as Pickett by one source.

Shipmate Don Young cleared up the confusion in a note to Dick Rohde in February 1999:


I received my newsletter today and when reading about the name Robert W. Fickett I knew I needed to write you right away. His name is Robert W. Fickett and he was from Brewer, Maine.

When I went back to Maine on leave I contacted his parents by phone and talked to them about Bob. He died on the raft that Cmdr. Copeland was on so I did not know all the details. I did inquire on our way back to the states and was told that he was wounded very bad and died either the first or second day.

While I was on leave Bob’s girl friend came to visit me for two days and stayed at my parents home. He and I were quite close on the ship and went on liberty a few times. I often wrote and received letters from his girl friend when I was on the USS Pine Island AV12. She sent me a picture of Bob which I saved and will attach a copy to this letter.

It was a nice newsletter and I will be attending the reunion in San Diego and hopefully with my wife and at least two of my sons.

Best wishes,