Pillsbury II DE-133

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This Month in Naval History
Pillsbury II DE-133

Pillsbury II

(DE-133: dp. 1,200,1. 306'0", b. 36'7", dr. 12'3"; s. 21 k. cpl. 216; a. 3 3", 8 40mm., 6 dcp., 2 dct., 1 dcp. (hh.), cl. EdsaR)

The second Pillsbury (DE-133) was laid down by the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 18 July 1942; launched 10 January 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Elsie G. Richardson and commissioned 7 June 1943, Lt. Comdr. W. Parker, USNR, in command.

Afhr shakedown Pillebury'~ first duty was as flagship for Escort Division 4 escorting convoys into Casablanca and Gibraltar. Pill~bury then reported to Task Group 21.12 consisting of CVE Guactalcanal and four DE's, on "hunterkiller" patrol to seek out and destroy enemy submarines operating along or near convoy routes from the United States to Europe.

On the night of 8 April 1944, planes from Guactalcanal (CVE-60) attacked a surfaced German U-boat. The U-boat immediately submerged for deep evasive tactics. Pill~bury and Flaherty (DE-135) raced to the scene and Pillebury made initial sound contact and attacked with hedge hogs. The depth charges forced the U-boat to the surface, but the German sailors were determined to fight to a finish with the torpedoes. Flaherty joined Pillsbury, and in a murderous crossfire made short work of U-616. Six officers, including the Captain, and fifty-seven of the crew were captured.

Afhr repair at Norfolk, the hunter-killers sailed from Norfolk in May with a special mission to "bring one back live."

On 4 June, about 100 miles off the Cape Verdes, sound contact was made on a U-boat trying to penetrah the destroyer screen for a shot at Guadalcanal. Two pilots sighhd the submarine running under the surface, and splashed the sea

with gunfire to noint out the contact to Pillsbury, Jenks (DE 665), and Chatelain (DE-149) rushing to the attack. The destroyers fired their depth charges and in 13 minutes forced the submarine to the surface. In a withering fire of small arms and light gunnery the German gun crews were swept from the decks. Pillsbury lowered a boarding party and, in a drama reminiscent of old Navy days, the boarding party rushed on board and took as prisoners the U-boat Captain, five officers, and fifty-three of her crew. A 2,500 mile haul to Bermuda was made, with U-505 trailing meekly on the end of a tow line. The captured submarine revealed some of the German Navy's most guarded secrets. For this demonstration of conspicuous gallantry and achievement, Pillsbury was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

On 24 April 1945 Pillsbury, as a member of Task Unit 22.7.1 operating in the North Atlantic, depth charged and sank U-546.

After hostilities with Germany ended, Pillshury and Pope (DE-134) escorted the first surrendered Nazi U-boat, U-858, from mid-Atlantic to Cape May, N.J., after placing a prize crew aboard.

In 1947, Pillsbury was placed out of commission, in reserve, in the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

In June 1954 the vessel was moved to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, fitted out with the latest equipment, redesignated a radar picket ship, DER-133, in August 1954 and recommissioned 15 March 1955. After refresher training and shakedown Pillsbury sailed for Newport, R.I. to assume her duties as a radar guardship acting as an element of the protective radar screens around the United States. During 1958 Pillsbury made seven picket patrols on the Atlantic Barrier five trips to Argentia, Newfoundland, and one trip to Summerside, Prince Edward Island. She decommissioned 20 June 1960; was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 1 July 1965; and was sold for scrapping to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md. in 1966.

Pillsbury received five battle stars for World War II service.

 

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