|Name USS Gustafson|
Commissioned 1 November 1943
Struck 20 December 1950
Launched 3 October 1943
|Laid down 5 July 1943|
Decommissioned 26 June 1946
Construction started 5 July 1943
|Namesake Arthur Leonard Gustafson|
Builders Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newark
USS Gustafson (DE-182) was a Cannon-class destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. She served in the Atlantic Ocean and provided escort service against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys.
- Lt. Arthur Gustafson
- World War II Atlantic Ocean operations
- Ship collision
- Sinking of U Boat U 857
- Transfer to the U.S. West Coast
- Post War inactivation and decommissioning
She was launched on 3 October 1943 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newark, New Jersey; sponsored by Mrs. Eva Smythe Stevens, widow of Lt. Gustafson ; and commissioned on 1 November 1943, Comdr. Herman Rich in command.
Lt. Arthur Gustafson
Arthur Leonard Gustafson was born on 13 June 1913 in Watertown, South Dakota. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1932, serving in the battleships Idaho (BB-42) and Colorado (BB-45) before reporting to the destroyer Peary (DD-226) on 4 September 1939. He perished in action against the enemy when Peary was sunk by Japanese bombers off Port Darwin, Australia, on 19 February 1942.
World War II Atlantic Ocean operations
Following shakedown training, Gustafson escorted coastal convoys in waters ranging from New York to Galveston, Texas. On 20 February 1944 she departed New York in the screen of two escort carriers for duty with Admiral Jonas H. Ingrain's U.S. 4th Fleet based at Recife, Brazil. This fleet kept down the German U-boat and raider menace in waters running south from Trinidad to the tip of South America, and across to the coast of Africa. On 14 April 1943, the destroyer escort put to sea in company with escort carrier Solomons (CVE-67) to sweep the Atlantic Narrows. On the 23rd, Gustafson made an unsuccessful hedgehog attack on a target that was probably German submarine U-196. Due south of St. Helena Island, on 15 June 1943, aircraft launched by Solomons sank the German submarine U-860.
Gustafson continued anti-submarine patrol and convoy escort in the South Atlantic. Operating out of Recife and Bahia, Brazil, she helped cover coastal waters from the border of French Guiana down to Rio de Janeiro and across the Atlantic narrows more than halfway to the coast of Africa.
On 22 November 1944, while escorting Navy transport General M. C. Meigs (AP-116) to a mid-way rendezvous in the Atlantic Narrows, she closed alongside cruiser Omaha (CL-4) to pass orders and the two ships collided. Both ships suffered damage but were able to complete the mid-ocean rendezvous escort mission. After temporary repairs at Bahia, Brazil, Gustafson proceeded north to the New York Navy Yard, arriving on 21 December 1944. During a swift overhaul she received additional armament and a new Combat Information Center.
Sinking of U-Boat U-857
Gustafson departed New York on 22 January 1945 for anti-submarine warfare refresher training out of Key West, Florida. From there she proceeded in the escort of a slow convoy to Trinidad and ports of South America. She returned north in March and was stationed at Casco Bay as German submarine U-857 apparently moved into the Gulf of Maine. A torpedo attack that damaged the tanker SS Atlantic States just north of Cape Cod on 5 April 1945 alerted the U.S. Navy that a U-boat was operating in American waters (the attack was later attributed to the U-857). Units of Escort Division 30, under the command of Commander Ralph R. Curry, USCG, had been undergoing refresher training at Casco Bay when Allied warships were ordered to form a "hunter-killer" group to search for the U-boat that made the attack on the tanker.
The hunter-killer group consisted of the U.S. Coast Guard-manned frigate USS Knoxville, from which Curry flew his pennant, along with another Coast Guard-manned frigate, Eugene, and two destroyer escorts, Gustafson and Micka (DE-176). The Gustafson located a sonar contact in the waters northeast of Cape Cod in the early morning of 7 April, and she attacked the target with hedgehogs, but these failed to produce an explosion. She then attacked again, and this time at least one charge was heard to explode on contact with a submerged object. Gustafson then launched four more hedgehog attacks without achieving any further explosions. Once daylight arrived, Gustafson's crew sighted a large oil slick.
After the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy reviewed captured German records and compared them with the reports of attacks conducted by Allied warships on possible German submarine contacts. The U-857 was reported missing by the German U-boat Command in April in the area of the attack by Gustafson. The U.S. Navy then gave credit for the sinking of U-857 to Gustafson. This sinking credit was included on this list because the Gustafson was part of a task force that was commanded by a U.S. Coast Guard officer.
However, the Foreign Documents Section of the Naval Historical Branch of the U.K. Ministry of Defense revoked this credit in April 1994, surmising that the Gustafson attack was "very probably directed against a nonsub target." Axel Niestlé, in his 'German U-boat Losses During World War II: Details of Destruction' (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998) claims that "There is presently no known explanation for U-857's loss." Both citations are from Niestlé's U-boat Losses, page 238, note 145.
Gustafson trained out of New London, Connecticut, with submarines until 18 May 1945 when she put to sea as a unit of the escort for a convoy bound to Oran, Algeria. She returned to Charleston, South Carolina on 13 June 1945 and thence to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training.
Transfer to the U.S. West Coast
Gustafson departed Guantanamo Bay on 24 July 1945 and transited the Panama Canal the 27th on her way to San Diego, California. She sailed for Hawaii on 9 August to be refitted with more anti-aircraft guns for Pacific service and was on the high seas when hostilities ceased with Japan on 15 August 1945. Her base Pearl Harbor, she served as a weather patrol ship north of Hawaii for the remainder of the year, thence via San Diego for return to the Atlantic seaboard.
Post-War inactivation and decommissioning
She transited the Panama Canal on 27 January 1946 for inactivation at Green Cove Springs, Florida. She decommissioned there on 26 June 1946. Gustafson remained in reserve until 23 October 1950 when she was transferred to the Netherlands under terms of the Military Defense Program. She served the Netherlands Navy as HNLMS Van Ewijk (F808). She was returned to the U.S. on 15 December 1967, and sold in February 1968, and scrapped.
Gustafson received one battle star for World War II service.