USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)

Samuel B. Roberts photographed while working up off Boston, Massachusetts, in June, 1944. US Navy photo, in the collections of the History & Heritage Command.

Laid Down

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort. Commissioned 28 April, 1944, Roberts was specialized as an anti-submarine escort, with an armament of depth charges and a Hedgehog mortar, supplemented by light AA guns, a triple torpedo tube, and a pair of 5" (127mm) guns. After working up in the Atlantic, Roberts headed for the Pacific, arriving in August, 1944. After further training and some convoy escort runs, Roberts was assigned to the escort carriers of Task Group 77.4.3, call sign, Taffy 3. A dedicated anti-submarine and ground attack group, Taffy 3 was deployed to protect the Leyte landings in October. When the Japanese counterattacked, Taffy 3 wasn't expecting to participate. However on the morning of 25 October, they suddenly found themselves face-to-face with the main Japanese force, consisting of four battleships, six heavy and two light cruisers, and eleven destroyers. Roberts charged the Japanese, with her skipper announcing "We're making a torpedo run. The outcome is doubtful, but we will do our duty." Designed for 24 knots, Roberts' crew overloaded her turbines and drove their ship up to nearly 29 knots. Roberts managed to get close enough so that the Japanese guns couldn't depress enough to hit her before firing her torpedoes, one of which took the stern off the heavy cruiser Chōkai. She then proceeded to fire everything she had at the Japanese ships from point-blank range for another hour, before she was finally stopped by three 14" (356mm) shells from the battleship Kongō. The remaining crew were ordered to abandon ship, and Roberts went down just after 10 am. Ninety of her crew went down with her, with the survivors floating in the water for two days before they were picked up.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Roberts and her crew received the Presidential Unit Citation for the action. Her captain received the Navy Cross, and Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Paul Carr posthumously received the Silver Star.