USS Major (DE-796)
USS Major (DE-796) was a Buckley-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during the latter part of World War II. She served as an escort vessel, protecting Allied ships, both in the Atlantic Ocean, and later in the Pacific Ocean. When the war with Japan ended, Major witnessed the Japanese surrender from her berth in Tokyo Bay.
Constructed in Texas
Major (DE 796) was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Texas, 16 August 1943; launched 23 October 1943; sponsored by Ens. Margaret Roper Major, Ensign Major’s widow; and commissioned at Orange, Texas, 12 February 1944, Lt. Comdr. O. W. Goepner in command.
World War II operations
North Atlantic convoy escort duty
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Major served in the Caribbean Sea frontier and escorted convoys between Cuba and Trinidad until arriving Boston, Massachusetts, 11 June. She underwent training out of Casco Bay, Maine, with ships of Escort Division 56 before arriving Yorktown, Virginia, 2 July for convoy escort duty. On 4 July she sailed as part of Task Force 61 and escorted UGS-47, a 68 ship convoy, to Bizerte, Tunisia, where she arrived 23 July. Between 30 July and 18 August she escorted a westbound convoy back to the United States.
Major again sailed with Task Force 61 as convoy escort 12 September, but on the 25th she left UGS-54 and steamed to Plymouth, England, arriving 29 September. There she met a convoy of 18 LSTs and 20 LCIs, and between 5 and 24 October she sailed as escort to Charleston, South Carolina. During the next 2 months Major made another convoy run to North Africa and back; and, after returning to Boston 29 December, she served as submarine training target ship out of New London, Connecticut. Thence she sailed 21 February 1945 for duty in the Pacific.
Pacific Ocean operations
Arriving Manus, Admiralties, 1 April, Major escorted a convoy from Hollandia, New Guinea, to Leyte Gulf, Philippines, where she reported for duty with the Philippine Sea frontier. During the remainder of the war she operated out of Leyte Gulf, patrolling for enemy submarines, providing passenger and mail service to islands in the southern Philippines, and conducting periodic convoy escort duty, including a run to New Guinea and back. Late in July she reached Okinawa as escort for an LST convoy, thence she departed 1 August guarding LSTs bound for Leyte. Three days later, as Earl V. Johnson (DE-702) dueled with a Japanese submarine, Major protected the convoy, which arrived at Leyte Gulf 7 August.
Witnessing the surrender in Tokyo Bay
Following the cessation of hostilities 15 August, Major steamed to Manila 18 August and escorted LSTs to Japan. She anchored near mighty Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay 1 September and the following day witnessed the Japanese surrender on board the giant battleship. After returning to the Philippines later that month, she operated out of Leyte.
Late in 1945 she steamed to the U.S. West Coast. Major decommissioned at Long Beach, California, 13 March 1948 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet berthed with the Pacific Inactive Fleet at Stockton, California. Major was sold for scrapping 27 November 1973.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- NavSource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive – USS Major (DE-796)