USS Gilligan (DE-508)
USS Gilligan (DE-508) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket. After the war, she proudly returned home with one battle star to her credit.
She was launched 22 February 1944 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newark, New Jersey; sponsored by Mrs. John J. Gilligan, the namesake's mother; and commissioned 12 May 1944, Lt. Comdr. Carl E. Bull, USNR, commanding.
World War II Pacific Theatre operations
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Gilligan escorted a troopship from New York to Maine and sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, 5 August 1944 to escort an LSD to Pearl Harbor, arriving 30 August. Underway 29 September to escort merchantmen to Eniwetok, she put in at Majuro 13 October and from 16–27 October 1944 escorted merchantmen to Kwajalein, bombarded Mille Atoll and Jaluit Island, and sank a Script error: No such module "convert". Japanese schooner, before returning to Majuro the latter date.
Loss of the Mississinewa
Gilligan sailed 1 November to escort merchantmen to Eniwetok and Saipan, subsequently mooring at Ulithi 17 November. Three days later, on 20 November, fleet oiler Mississinewa (AO-59) -- loaded with more than 400,000 gallons of aviation gasoline -- was torpedoed inside Ulithi lagoon with a loss of 50 officers and men. Seconds later, Gilligan saw a miniature Japanese submarine pass close alongside; with other ships she depth charged within the lagoon and possibly damaged one midget. Destroyer Case (DD-370) rammed and sank another outside the harbor, and Marine planes finished off a third the same day.
Gilligan sailed 4 December as a steamship escort to Manus and conducted patrols off Bougainville from that port until 31 December 1944 when she departed Manus to escort troopships bound for Lingayen Gulf, arriving in time for D-Day, 9 January 1945. Although in constant danger from enemy air attacks, the destroyer escort supported the assault, screened for Attack Group Able of VADM Wilkinson's Task Force 79, and made smoke.
Struck by a kamikaze
Gilligan came under kamikaze attack 12 January. A sailor under fire from the attacking plane leaped from his post onto the main battery director and threw it off target, a mistake which prevented the 5-inch guns from getting off more than 1 round although it was able to fire an additional 13 rounds thirty minutes later at a second plane that dived into the USS Suesens (DE-342). The kamikaze crashed directly into the muzzles of Gilligan's No. 2 40 mm gun, killing 12 men (10 missing in action, 1 killed in action, and 1 who died of his injuries shortly after the attack) and wounding 13, and started raging fires. Outstanding damage control kept the ship seaworthy; she put in at Leyte 17 January for repairs, subsequently reaching Pearl Harbor 21 February for overhaul.
Supporting Okinawa operations
Gilligan sailed again 29 March 1945 as an antisubmarine convoy escort and closed the western beaches of Okinawa 17 April to commence antiaircraft and antisubmarine screening around the transport anchorage. The Japanese were at this time using every conceivable means—kamikazes, submarines, swimmers, and motor boats—to destroy the assembled ships. In spite of heavy air attacks she engaged in screening and escort duties for transports, splashed at least five attacking planes, and possibly damaged a submarine.
Struck by a torpedo which did not go off
On 27 May her luck almost ran out; a torpedo bomber hit her solidly with a torpedo, which fortunately was a dud. Gilligan returned to Ulithi 25 June and sailed again 6 July on merchantmen escort duty to Leyte and Hollandia and subsequently closed Manila where she was attached to the Philippine Sea Frontier.
On 16 August she sailed to escort merchantmen to Okinawa, returning to Manila 27 August, and repeated this voyage 29 August – 25 September 1945. Underway from Manila 5 November, Gilligan reached San Pedro, California, 26 November for overhaul. She was towed to San Diego 14 April 1946 and was placed out of commission in reserve at that port 2 July 1946.
Reactivated as a training ship
Gilligan recommissioned in reserve 15 July 1950 at Seattle, Washington, and conducting reserve cruises in Pacific Northwest waters, and voyages thence to the Fleet Sonar School at San Diego. Training cruises brought her twice to Hawaii, once to Acapulco, Mexico, and once to the Panama Canal Zone Also as a training ship in Portland, OR in 1958, with a cruise to Alaska.before she decommissioned 31 March 1959 at Point Astoria, Oregon. Gilligan remained out of commission in reserve at Bremerton, Washington. On 1 March 1972 she was struck from the Navy list and, on 20 November 1973, she was sold for scrapping.
This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here. Declassified Action Report, USS Gilligan DE-508 January 12, 1945 by C.E. Bull Lt. Commdr USNR