The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

WWII History Sails Down the Hudson

The USS Slater. Photo courtesy of

In April the Bugler featured an article on a national treasure that is very important to residents of South Carolina, the USS Hindley, which is being restored with public donations. Another such local treasure that is also being restored with public donations is the USS Slater. Two weeks ago, on April 6th, the USS Slater made a historic trip down the Hudson River from Albany to Staten Island so that it could be put in dry dock for repairs.

The trip of the USS Slater brought attention not only to the fundraising goals of its organizers but also to the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum which is located in Albany, New York. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday during the months of June-November. And will reopen when the ship is refurbished and back in Albany.

There is a website devoted to the Slater and the museum. The website is a treasure trove of information about the history of destroyer escorts and the USS Slater in particular. Destroyer escorts were critical during WWII in the battles not only in the Atlantic but also in the Pacific. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the Battle of the Atlantic, "everything elsewhere on land, sea and air, depended ultimately on the outcome of this battle. The outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic depended on the destroyer escort." The website also has a great section on oral histories by men who sailed on the destroyer escort fleets.

Another interesting part of the museum and the website is the discussion about naming of the Escort Destroyers. The ships were named after sailors who had performed extraordinary acts. The USS Slater was named after a man from rural Alabama, Frank Slater. Information from the website states that the Navy Cross Citation for Slater reads,

"For extraordinary heroism as a gunner aboard the USS SAN FRANCISCO during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on November 12 and 13, 1942. Courageously refusing to abandon his gun in the face of an onrushing Japanese torpedo plane, SLATER, with cool determination and utter disregard for his own personal safety, kept blazing away until the hostile craft plunged out of the sky in a flaming dive and crashed on his station. His grim perseverance and relentless devotion to duty in the face of certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the defense of his country. "

According to an article in The Poughkeepsie Journal on April 6, "the 306-foot USS Slater is the last floating destroyer escort in the United States. It was laid down in March 1943 and commissioned a little over a year later. Destroyer escorts protected merchant vessel convoys across the Atlantic. Destroyer escorts were later called frigates by the Navy. The last frigates will be retired from the Navy in 2015."

Today the Slater is one of less than a dozen surviving destroyer escorts, and it is the only ship that is still in its World War II configuration. We cannot recommend the website enough so please visit the site.

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