USS Richard M. Rowell (DE-403)
USS Richard M. Rowell (DE-403) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the United States 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. Post-war, she returned home with six battle stars to her credit.
She was named in honor of Ensign Richard M. Rowell (1916–1942) who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for downing a Japanese plane 20 February 1942. She was laid down 18 August 1943 by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas; Launched 17 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Agnes M. Rowell; and commissioned 9 March 1944, Lieutenant Commander Harry A. Barnard, Jr., in command.
World War II
Following shakedown off Bermuda, Rowell departed Boston, Massachusetts on 6 May 1944 and proceeded via the Panama Canal and San Diego, California to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on 31 May. In July 1944 she escorted a convoy to Eniwetok and screened escort carriers returning to Pearl Harbor. In August she protected a transport group on its voyage to Tulagi, Solomons, and screened escort carriers to Manus. In September she protected an air support task force during the landings on Morotai on the 15th, saving two pilots.
Rowell rescued survivors from USS Shelton (DE-407), hit by a torpedo from Japanese submarine RO-41, on 3 October 1944. Later that day, thinking she was attacking the culprit of the Shelton attack, she mistakenly attacked USS Seawolf (SS-197) in a submarine safety lane and sank her. Rowell next screened a carrier group providing air support for the landings on Leyte, Philippine Islands, 20 October.
On 23 October, Rowell sank I-54. She then took part in the Battle off Samar. 25 October, Rowell was a member of the escort of Taffy One, which was operating off Surigao Island about Script error: No such module "convert". south of Task Force 3, which was the subject of the main Japanese attack. Taffy One had just launched planes to the south to attack the Japanese retiring from the Battle of Surigao Strait, when she was subjected to a kamikaze attack by six Japanese planes from Davao. Responding to this emergency, Rowell rescued one survivor from Santee (CVE-29). Taffy One arrived too late to be of much assistance to Taffy Three, which bore the brunt of the Japanese attack; Rowell did fight off another kamikaze attack on 26 October. Returning to the carrier formation, she donated blood plasma from her own supply, and medical supplies from Petrof Bay (CVE-80), to Suwanee (CVE-27). On 27 October, Rowell escorted Santee to Manus, and arrived at Pearl Harbor 19 November.
She joined antiair- and ASW patrols for the landings 9 January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands. After protecting underwater demolition drills at Ulithi in late January and early February, she guarded transports to Iwo Jima, and supported air units during the landings there 19 February. Departing Ulithi 21 March, she protected air units during the landings 1 April upon Okinawa, before returning to Guam 11 May. In July she patrolled in Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands, and escorted Hoggatt Bay (CVE-75) to Ulithi, before escorting three transports to San Pedro Bay, Philippine Islands, in August. Following duty at Leyte Gulf and Okinawa in September, she proceeded via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor to San Diego, arriving 6 November.
Richard M. Rowell received six battle stars for World War II service.
- Her skipper, Barnard, was not disciplined. Blair, Silent Victory.
- Stille, Mark. Imperial Japanese Navy Submarines 1941-45 (Osprey, 2007), p.33;
- Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Vol. 13, p.1409, "I54".
- There is some doubt about the date of this and the sinking of I-54. DANFS has both 26 October, which is contradicted by Fitzsimons.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships — USS Richard M. Rowell (DE-403)
- NavSource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive — USS Richard M. Rowell (DE-403)