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USS Samuel B. Roberts - (DE-413)
sammy b rr

1280px USS Samuel B. Roberts DE 413 underway in October 1944 NH 96011
Destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) underway in October 1944, a week or two before she was lost in the Battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. She is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 22D. The photo was taken from USS Walter C. Wann (DE-412).
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International Radio Callsign: November-Tango-India-Kilo

Builder:  Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, TX
Laid down: 06 December 1943
Launched: 20 January 1944: sponsored by Mrs. Samuel B. Roberts
First commissioned: 28 April 1944: Lcdr. R. W. Copeland USNR, in command
Last decommissioned:   - 
Struck: 27 November 1944
Fate: 25 October 1944: Sunk by Japanese warships off Samar when hit by a salvo of 14-inch shells.
120 survivors clung to 3 life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued, 89 crewmembers were lost.

Listen to USS Slater's podcast episode on USS Samuel B. Roberts or follow this link to go to Samuel B. Roberts' podcast page including transcript and other resources

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort of the United States Navy which served in World War II, the first of three U.S. Navy ships to bear the name.

Samuel B. Roberts was named after Coxswain Samuel Booker Roberts Jr., a Navy Cross recipient, who had been commended for voluntarily steering a Higgins boat towards enemy forces at Guadalcanal, in order to divert fire from evacuation efforts being undertaken by other friendly vessels. The ship was nicknamed the "Sammy B".

Samuel B. Roberts was sunk in the Battle off Samar, in which a small force of U.S. warships prevented a superior Imperial Japanese Navy force from attacking the amphibious invasion fleet off the Philippine island of Leyte. The ship was part of a relatively light flotilla of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers called "Taffy 3" which was inadvertently left to fend off a fleet of heavily armed Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers off the island of Samar during the Battle off Samar, one of the engagements making up the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944.

Steaming through incoming shells, Samuel B. Roberts scored one torpedo hit and several shell hits on larger enemy warships before she was sunk. After the battle, Samuel B. Roberts received the appellation "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship." As of June 2022, she is the deepest shipwreck discovered. Her last known survivor died on 20 March 2022.

Samuel B. Roberts was laid down on 6 December 1943, by the Brown Shipbuilding Company of Houston, Texas. She was launched on 20 January 1944, sponsored by the namesake's mother, Mrs. Anna Roberts. She was commissioned on 28 April 1944, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR.

Samuel B. Roberts had a shakedown cruise off Bermuda from 21 May to 19 June 1944. After spending time at the Boston Navy Yard, Roberts departed for Norfolk, Virginia, on 7 July. Later that day, the ship presumably struck a whale, which bent her starboard propeller. Repairs were completed by 11 July. Roberts departed Norfolk on 22 July, going through the Panama Canal on 27 July. She joined the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on 10 August.

She conducted training exercises around the Hawaiian Islands then steamed out on 21 August with a convoy reaching Eniwetok Atoll on 30 August. On 2 September, Roberts returned to Pearl Harbor, with a convoy arriving on 10 September. Following further training, the destroyer escort got underway on 21 September, escorted a convoy to Eniwetok, and arrived on 30 September.

Roberts next proceeded to Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands of the Southwest Pacific and then joined Task Unit 77.4.3, nicknamed "Taffy 3". From there she steamed to Leyte Gulf area off the eastern Philippines. On arrival, she commenced operations with the Northern Air Support Group off the Island of Samar.

Shortly after dawn on 25 October, Samuel B. Roberts was protecting Taffy 3's escort carriers whose aircraft were supporting the Army assault. The warships were steaming off the eastern coast of Samar when the Japanese Center Force, a 23-ship task force under the command of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, appeared on the horizon and opened fire. At 07:35, Roberts turned and headed toward the heavy cruiser Chōkai.

The commanding officer, Copeland, announced "We're making a torpedo run. The outcome is doubtful, but we will do our duty." With smoke as cover, Roberts steamed to within 2.5 nmi (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) of Chōkai, coming under fire from the cruiser's forward 8 in (203 mm) guns.

Roberts had moved so close that the enemy guns could not depress enough to hit her and when in torpedo range, Roberts launched three Mark 15 torpedoes, with one blowing off Chōkai's stern. Roberts fought with the Japanese ships for a further hour, firing more than six hundred 5 in (127 mm) shells, and while maneuvering at very close range, hitting Chōkai's superstructure with her 40 mm and 20 mm anti-aircraft guns.

At 08:51, the Japanese landed two hits, the second of which damaged the aft 5 in (127 mm) gun. This damaged gun suffered a breech explosion shortly thereafter which killed and wounded several crew members. With her remaining 5 in (127 mm) gun, Roberts set the bridge of the heavy cruiser Chikuma on fire and destroyed the Number Three gun turret. Roberts was then hit by three 14 in (356 mm) shells from the battleship Kongō, which tore a hole 40 ft (12 m) long and 10 ft (3 m) wide in the port side of her aft engine room.

At 09:35, the order was given to abandon ship. She sank 30 minutes later, with 90 of the crew dying. The 120 survivors of the crew clung to three life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued.

During the battle, Samuel B. Roberts, which was designed for 23–24 kn (43–44 km/h; 26–28 mph), managed 28.7 kn (53.2 km/h; 33.0 mph) by raising pressure to 660 pounds per square inch (4,600 kPa) and diverting all available steam to the ship's turbines.

Samuel B. Roberts was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 27 November 1944.

The wreck was discovered around 22 June 2022, at a depth of 6,895 metres (22,621 ft), at that time the deepest wreck ever identified.

Samuel B. Roberts was included in the Presidential Unit Citation given to Task Unit 77.4.3 "for extraordinary heroism in action." Samuel B. Roberts earned one battle star for her World War II service.

Gunner's Mate Third Class Paul H. Carr was in charge of Gun Mount 52, the aft 5 in (127 mm) gun, which had fired nearly all of its 325 stored rounds in 35 minutes before a round exploded in the gun's breech. Carr was found dying at his station from a severe intestinal wound, begging for help to load the last round he was holding into the breech. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded a Silver Star. A guided-missile frigate, USS Carr (FFG-52), was named for him.

The frigate USS Copeland (FFG-25) was named for the ship's commanding officer.

Two later U.S. warships have borne the name USS Samuel B. Roberts:

The second Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823), was a Gearing-class destroyer, commissioned in 1946 and struck in 1970.
The third Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate, commissioned in 1986 and decommissioned on 22 May 2015.

An exploration team led by Victor Vescovo and made up of personnel of Caladan Oceanic, Deep Ocean Search, and EYOS Expeditions discovered the wreck of Samuel B. Roberts in June 2022. The team found, identified, and surveyed the wreck during a series of six dives conducted from 17 to 24 June 2022.

The team determined that the wreck reached the seabed in one piece, although it hit the sea floor bow first and with enough force to cause some buckling, and observed that the ship's stern had separated from the rest of the hull by about 5 meters (16 ft). The team reported that it had found evidence of damage to the ship inflicted by a Japanese battleship shell, including Samuel B. Roberts's fallen mast.

The wreck of Samuel B. Roberts lies at a depth of 6,895 meters (22,621 ft; 4.284 mi), making her the deepest known shipwreck and the deepest shipwreck ever identified by a crewed submersible. It exceeds the previous record of 6,469 meters (21,224 ft; 4.020 mi), set in March 2021 when Vescovo's team found and identified the wreck of the destroyer USS Johnston, which was sunk in the same battle.

Sources:  Navsource - Wikipedia - USS Slater