Navy Ships Inspired by the Sammy B (DE 413) and her Crew
USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823)
The DD 823, the second Sammy B, was a Gearing Class destroyer. Link to DD 823’s history.
The third and current Sammy B, the FFG 58, was struck by an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf on 14 April 1988. Ten sailors were injured (source: Naval Historical Center). The FFG 58 was returned to the United States for repair. The FFG 58 currently is an active-duty ship in the US Navy. It bears a plaque with the names of the men who served on the Sammy B (DE 413), with the exception of survivor William H. Wilson.
The keel of this 4100 ton guided missile frigate was laid on 26 March 1982 at Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation’s Seattle Washington Division. CARR was launched on 26 February 1983. Mrs. Goldie Carr Bensilhe, Gunners Mate Third Class Paul Henry Carr’s widow, christened the ship. That same day was named “Paul Henry Carr Day” in his home state of Oklahoma.
The Carr is named in honor of Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Paul Henry Carr, USNR (1924-1944), the heroic gun captain of the after 5-inch mount of the destroyer escort USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413), who died during the Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944, and was awarded a posthumous Silver Star for his conspicuous and gallant display of “outstanding technical skill” and “courageous initiative.”
When SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413) engaged Japanese heavy cruisers attacking a force of escort carriers off Samar during the battle of Leyte Gulf, the fire of her after 5-inch guns inspired “every man on the ship.” As the destroyer escort maneuvered radically, and used minimal fire control equipment, Carr’s mount fired over 300 rounds of 5-inch ammunition, scoring, at close range, “a great many hits” on one of the enemy heavy cruisers, knocking out an 8-inch turret, demolishing her bridge and starting fires aft.
After the order to abandon ship had been given, a Petty Officer entered the mount and found Carr, literally torn open from neck to thigh, holding a 54-pound projectile, trying unassisted to load and ram the only shell available. Carr begged the man to help him get off the last round. The sailor, seeing that the gun had been destroyed and its breach rendered an unrecognizable mass of steel, took the projectile from the gunner’s hands. After helping one of the other wounded men to the main deck, the Petty Officer returned to find Carr again attempting, although horribly wounded, to place the projectile on the loading tray of the inoperative gun. Carr perished a few minutes later, after he was dragged from the mount. [source: USS Carr]
USS Copeland (FFG 25)
The USS Copeland was named after the Captain of the Sammy B (DE 413), Robert W. Copeland. Capt. Copeland was rescued after the Sammy B was sunk in the Battle off Samar, and would continue in the Navy until he retired as a Rear Admiral.
The USS Copeland was transferred to the Egyptian navy in September 1996. The then 14-year-old San Diego-based ship was renamed the Sharm El-Sheikh and is now manned by an all-Egyptian crew.
USS LEYTE GULF was commissioned in 1987 as the ninth TICONDEROGA Class AEGIS cruiser. LEYTE GULF served in the Arabian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, where she launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against Iraq, and served as local Anti-Air Warfare Commander for a four Aircraft Carrier Battle Force. In October 1992, LEYTE GULF provided support for Operation PROVIDE COMFORT in the Adriatic Sea, joining other multi-national forces in response to the conflict and suffering within the former Yugoslavia.
In July 1993, LEYTE GULF proceeded to the Caribbean Sea to provide support for the war on drugs. Dealing a severe blow to traffickers, LEYTE GULF coordinated several efforts that prevented over 100 million tons of cocaine from reaching the United States.
Following a Selected Restricted Availability, which was completed early and under budget, LEYTE GULF conducted a successful launch of the new BLOCK III Tomahawk missile in the Gulf of Mexico. The missiles traveled over 600 miles downrange, meeting 27 action points, arriving “on target” and “on time.”
In July 1994, LEYTE GULF deployed to the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and VIGILANT WARRIOR. During this critical time, she served as the principle “Ready Strike” platform for United States Naval Forces Central Command, and was seamlessly integrated into operations with two different Carrier Battle Groups.
In October 1994, LEYTE GULF made a high-speed, 3,600-mile transit to the Arabian Gulf (in just five days) as 80,000 Iraqi troops moved towards the Kuwaiti border in an act of aggression.
As the first principal warship on the scene, stationed 15 miles off the Iraqi coast, LEYTE GULF provided a significant, visible deterrent to any planned invasion. The ship was praised by the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations for her critical role in deterring another war in the region. In her role as Maritime Interception Operations Coordinator in the Northern Arabian Gulf, LEYTE GULF conducted over fifty boardings, resulting in the capture and diversion of five vessels, accounting for 90 percent of the diversions since the inception of operations in 1990. These efforts resulted in the capture of over 25,000 tons of contraband Iraqi oil.
Since her commissioning, LEYTE GULF has earned two Navy Unit Commendations, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, four consecutive Battle “E” Awards (a total of 23 mission area battle excellence awards), two Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbons, Kuwait Liberation Medal, two Southwest Asia Service Medals, National Defense Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF 22 – 26 October 1944
The USS LEYTE GULF commemorates the naval battle fought 23-26 October 1944 in the Philippines, virtually ending the Japanese Navy’s capacity to fight as an organized force.
The battle marked the end of centuries of naval warfare tradition, in that it was the last sea battle between forces employing battleships. It also marked the last time surface ships employed the classic maneuver of “crossing the T,” when the Japanese ships attempted to enter the Gulf through Surigao Strait early on 23 October.
The battle was showcased by three separate primary engagements, the Battle of Surigao Straits, the Battle of Samar Island, and the Battle of Cape Engano. Called the last of the great sea battles, the Battle of Leyte Gulf used every known weapon of naval warfare, with the exception of mines, and in sheer destruction, the battle has no rival in naval history.
Especially noteworthy of the battle was the battle off Samar, which lasted two hours and thirteen minutes, and was one of the most remarkable displays of absolute bravery in the U.S. Navy’s history. In this encounter, U.S. Naval Forces fought against overwhelming odds, from which survival was not expected. Through extraordinary courage and gallantry from air crews and ship’s crews, a small task force of destroyers, escorts, and torpedo bombers turned away the Imperial Japanese Center Battleship Force.
No previous U.S. Navy ship has borne this name, although three prior Navy ships have carried the name LEYTE to sea. [source: USS Leyte Gulf]