USS Savage (DE-386)

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USS Savage (DER-386)
Career (US)
Namesake: Walter Samuel Savage, Jr.
Builder: Brown Shipbuilding, Houston, Texas
Laid down: 30 April 1943
Launched: 15 July 1943
Commissioned: 29 October 1943
Decommissioned: 17 October 1969
Reclassified: DER-386, 28 October 1954
Struck: 1 June 1975
Fate: sunk as target off California on 25 October 1982
General characteristics
Class and type: Edsall-class destroyer escort
Displacement: 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)
Propulsion:FM diesel engines,
4 diesel-generators,
6,000 shp (4.5 MW),
2 screws
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)
Range: 9,100 nmi. at 12 knots
(17,000 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 8 officers, 201 enlisted

USS Savage (DE-386) was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the U.S. Navy during World War II.

She was laid down April 30, 1943 by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas; launched July 15, 1943; and commissioned on October 29, 1943 manned by a Coast Guard crew under the command of Lieutenant Commander Oscar C. Rohnke, USCG. On 18 November, 1943, she was underway for Bermuda, British West Indies, for her shakedown cruise.

Commencing Thanksgiving Day of 1943, the ship was subjected to a rigorous training schedule including gunnery practice, submarine warfare tactics, maneuvering, and the hundreds of other tasks demanded of a man-o-war.

On 23 December, 1943 she departed for the U. S. Navy Yard in Charleston, South Carolina for post-shakedown repairs.

World War II North Atlantic operations

On Christmas Day, the SAVAGE completed her training, and ship and crew reported to Norfolk, Virginia as members of the Atlantic Fleet.

In January 1944, the SAVAGE was assigned as one of six ships composing Escort Division 23 of Task Force 63. This task force was engaged in escorting convoys of 60 to 80 merchant ships from United States ports to the Mediterranean Theatre.

During the operations, lasting approximately seven weeks for each convoy, the SAVAGE and her sister ships safely escorted hundreds of ships loaded with vital war materials safely past the heavy enemy submarine and air concentrations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

On 1 April, 1944, Convoy UGS 36, whose escort included the SAVAGE, was attacked by thirty enemy aircraft north of Algiers, Africa. (See USS LST 173 site for a positioning of ships in Convoy UGS 36, and for more information about this attack). So intense was the gunfire of the escorting DE's and Destroyers, that the attack was repelled without a single allied ship lost. Her only casualty during the action was a member of the depth charge crew ( James W. Searcy, MoMM3c) who was struck in the ankle by shell fragments. He earned a Purple Heart for his injuries and this action earned the SAVAGE and her crew a WWII battle star.

During the latter half of 1944 and the first six months of 1945, the SAVAGE escorted high-speed troop convoys between New York and the British Isles to support the final assault on Germany.

During eighteen crossings of the Atlantic, (the other enemy being the weather), the SAVAGE and her sister ships safely brought through over 1,000 loaded troop and supply ships without a single loss.

Following the defeat of Germany, the SAVAGE sailed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (where she was fitted with more anti-aircraft guns). She then sailed, on 30 May, 1945 for an intensive period of operational and gunnery training in the Caribbean off Culebra Island, 20 miles east of the main island of Puerto Rico.

Transferred to the Pacific Theatre

After transiting the Panama Canal on 18 June, 1945, she proceeded from San Francisco to the Aleutians and arrived at Adak on 8 July, 1945. Ship and crew reported to the Commander of North Pacific Fleets for escort duty.

End-of-War Activity

After the hostilities in the Pacific ended, the SAVAGE escorted two convoys from Cold Harbor, Alaska to Russian waters where the American escort ships were dismissed. One convoy departed Cold Harbor on 23 July, 1945 and the other on 25 August, 1945. During the interim, the SAVAGE escorted oilers to refuel Task Force 92, which had been bombarding shore installations in the Kuril Islands of Russia; then occupied by Japanese forces.

On 27 September, 1945 the Savage departed Attu for Petropavlovsk, USSR, and arrived there on the morning of 2 October, 1945. She delivered supplies and mail to the Harry L. Corl (APD-108) and departed that evening for Attu.

At the end of hostilities with Japan, the SAVAGE was assigned liaison duty in the Far East. She shuttled between Okinawa, and Tsingtao, China from December 1945 until February 1946 when she sailed for Pearl Harbor.

In April 1946, she sailed for Green Cove Springs, Florida. She was decommissioned there on 13 June, 1946; with her CO Captain John M. Waters, USCG in attendance. Also decommissioned at this location on June 1946 were the other five Coast Guard manned ships comprising CortDiv23. The USS SELLSTROM (DE-255), USS RAMSDEN (DE-382), USS MILLS (DE-383), and the USS RICHEY (DE-385). With the exception of the USS RICHEY, all were recommissioned as Navy manned Destroyer Escort Radar Picket ships.

Conversion to Radar Picket Ship

After WWII most, if not all, early warning networks had been dismantled. At the height of the Cold War, paranoia ran deep within the halls of the United States military establishment.

By 1949, the USSR had developed the atomic bomb and the capacity to deliver it by air. The USA considered that it needed to protect itself from the Russians, formerly allies.

To this end, the US constructed early-warning stations. This system was called the Distant Early Warning system or the DEW Line, which was a state of the art product.

There were 22 stations and the line spanned approximately 3,693 miles. The DEW Line's radar stations could chart the path of the Russian air bombers toward the North American continent. It was hailed as "a bulwark" against the forces of communism. Radar Picket Escort Destroyers were employed to detect these aircraft moving toward North America on a Polar route.

The SAVAGE was redesignated a Radar Picket Escort Destroyer (DER-386) on 3 September, 1954 and recommissioned on 18 February, 1955 in Boston, Massachusetts; with Lt. Cmdr. R. E. Davis, USN as commanding officer. Distinguished guests included Walter S. Savage, Sr., father of Walter S. Savage, Jr., USNR, and Captain Oscar C. Rohnke, USCG.

In July 1955, she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet with her home port being Seattle, Washington. She arrived in Seattle on 6 August, 1955. She served in this capacity until December 1958, when her home port was changed to Pearl Harbor. She operated as a radar picket ship of the mid-Pacific barrier from 12 January, 1959 until March 1960.

She then served as a search and rescue navigation aid ship until May 1965.

Vietnam operations

On 17 May, 1965, SAVAGE sailed for South Vietnam where she spent more time on station in Operation Market Time than any other DER. She guarded against sea infiltration by North Vietnamese and assisted land forces by providing naval gunfire support. She had no periods out of Vietnam service until October when she made a five day visit to Hong Kong.

From October 1965 through December 1968, SAVAGE made five more tours off Vietnam on Operation Market Time, operating 50 - 100 yards offshore, searching junks and small fishing boats for Viet Cong/weapons, and infrequently providing naval gunfire support with her two 3 inch guns: 01 to 15 January and 12 June to 16 September, 1966. 24 August to 8 September, 1967. 16 September to 12 October and 02 to 18 December, 1968. During her 1967 and 1968 Market Time patrols, she also served as "mother ship" to 5 - 6 U.S. Navy PCF's (swift boats). All of Savage's officers (except for the Executive Officer and Commanding Officer) functioned as additional officers to the two crews per Swift Boat (daytime and nighttime) covering the Mekong River Delta and the Mekong River in the "brown water navy". She made Taiwan Strait patrols in June, September, and December 1967; and in July and October 1968.

On 1 February, 1969 she arrived back in Pearl Harbor and entered the naval shipyard for restricted availability and upkeep. On 7 July, 1969 she departed for San Francisco and deactivation at San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. On 17 October, 1969, she was decommissioned for the last time and joined the inactive reserve fleet.

Post-War Decommissioning

File:DE-386 AGM-88A hit NAN5-82.jpg
Explosion of an AGM-88A HARM missile on the Savage in 1982

She was stricken on 1 June, 1975 and disposed of as a target on 25 October, 1982. Her tonnage was 1,269. She was almost forty (40) years old when she was disposed of.


The USS SAVAGE earned one battle star in WWII (Convoy UGS 36, 1 April, 1944). She also earned the American Area Campaign Medal, Atlantic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, and the China Service Medal.

She earned six battle stars for her service in Vietnam.

In 1975, the type designation "DE" (for "Destroyer Escort") was discontinued by the U.S. Navy and replaced by "FF" (for "Frigate").

See also


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