Keith DE-241

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This Month in Naval History
Keith DE-241

Keith

Ellis Judson Keith, Jr., was born at Houston, Tex., on 30 June 1919 and entered the Navy as a Seaman Second Class on 2 October 1941. He was assigned as a radioman and gunner on a patrol plane that flew on aerial bombardments and strafing attacks on enemy ships in the Aleutian islands. Killed in action during a mission over Kiska Harbor 11 June 1942, Seaman Keith was awarded the Air Medal posthumously for his courage and fortitude.

(DE-241; dp. 1,200; 1. 3061; b. 2617"; dr. 8'7", s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 8 40 mm., 10 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 3 21 tt.; cl. Edsall)

Keith (DE-241), laid down as Scott and renamed Keith 8 December 1942, was launched 21 December 1942 by Brown Ship Building Co., Houston, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. Ellis J. Keith, Sr., mother of Seaman Keith; and commissioned 19 July 1943 at Houston, Tex., Lt. D. Cochran in command.

After shakedown and training exercise out of Bermuda, Keith sailed from Norfolk 14 September 1943 on the first of three voyages escorting convoys from East Coast ports to Gibraltar.

After returning from convoy escort duty 22 February 1944, Keith underwent extensive refresher training and participated in antisubmarine warfare exercises before sailing on 15 March as part of escort carrier Tripoli's newly-formed hunter-killer group. With this group she patrolled the Atlantic from Brazil to Newfoundland in quest of enemy submarines.

In July she joined a similar group operating with escort carrier Core. On 30 August, Core's hunter-killer group contacted an enemy submarine. Keith, assisting in the search, made two hedgehog attacks with inconclusive results.

Keith continued to operate with the hunter-killer group patrolling the vast waters of the Atlantic, escorting convoys from "midocean point" to ports in Brazil, Bermuda, Newfoundland, Cuba, and the United States.

On 23 April 1945, the hunter-killer group, operating as a combined force against a large wolfpack of U-boats, spotted a partially submerged submarine but could not locate it after it dived. While searching the next day, Davis, a destroyer in company, was torpedoed and sunk.

Keith and task group ships headed to the position where Davis had gone down and launched a severe depth charge attack that lasted some 12 hours before U-546 was forced to surface. The destroyer escorts opened fire on the submarine; and Keith made two direct hits before the U-boat sank. After the engagement, Keith rescued four survivors from the submarine.

In mid-July, Keith departed Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for duty in the Pacific. Keith found herself in Pearl Harbor at the end of hostilities and got underway for Saipan for escort duty and mop-up operations. Shortly after arriving 31 August, she was assigned an air-sea rescue station between Iwo Jima and Japan. At the end of the year Keith sailed for China, arriving Shanghai on the last day of December. She remained there patrolling and escorting vessels until sailing for home on 10 April 1946 via Pearl Harbor and the Panama Canal arriving at Charleston, S.C., 15 May 1946. Keith was towed to Green Cove Springs, Fla., where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 20 September 1946. At present she is berthed at Orange, Tex.

Keith received one battle star for World War II service.



 

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