USS NEWELL (DE-322)
(DE-322) was laid down 5 April 1943 by the Consolidated
Steel Co., Orange, Tex.; launched 29 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Byron B. Newell,
wife of Lt. Comdr. Newell; and commissioned 30 October 1943, Lt. Comdr. Russel
J. Roberts, USCG, in command.
The new destroyer escort got under way 17
November 1943 for shakedown out of Bermuda. Newell
then sailed, via Charleston, S. C., to Norfolk to train precommissioning
crews for sister ships of her division. Two weeks, later Menges (DE-320), Mosley (DE-321),
Newell, Pride (DE-323), Falgout (DE-324), and Lowe (DE-325) had assembled and the
first convoy voyage began. The division safely escorted a convoy to Casablanca
and back. Her second trans-Atlantic voyage took Newell to Bizerte. Two days past Gibraltar, during a twilight alert
20 April 1944, German planes hit the convoy with a torpedo attack. At 2100 five
planes were reported about six miles distant dead ahead. Four minutes later a
terrific explosion occurred in the center of the convoy. At the same time three
planes came in at about 40 feet above the water, cutting between Newell and Lansdale (DD-426). All starboard 20 millimeter guns and the 40
millimeter gun opened fire. Three of the 20s and the 40s were hitting the after
plane repeatedly and it swerved off to port and probably exploded, as two
German aviators were picked up in this area.
Gun number 3 observed planes coming in
aft and opened up, immediately followed by the 40 millimeter gun. The planes
were driven off to Newell's port.
At 2114 planes were sighted dead ahead.
Guns 1 and 2 opened fire along with the forward 20 millimeter guns, blanketing
the incoming planes which turned sharply northward. At 2118 while Newell was closing the convoy, Lansdale broke in two and sank. Newell and Menges picked up 119 survivors. The ships then searched the area
for additional survivors for three hours.
Many members of Newell's crew went over the side to bring on board survivors too
weak to swim to the ship.
The ship with three other DE's then towed
merchant ships to Algiers, where the survivors were discharged. The escorts
then caught up with the convoy, which had proceeded to Bizerte.
After ten days in Bizerte, the convoy
started the long trek home. On the second night underway, Menges was torpedoed while tracking down a target, and on the next
night Fechtler received a torpedo hit
amidships, sinking her. Menges was
towed to port and received another stern.
The ship then made two more round trips
to Bizerte and two to Oran. In February 1945, after the last of her six convoy
trips, Newell reported to Norfolk for
special duty in the Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet. She tested
sonobuoys, determined the minimum speed possible for DEs while dropping various
types of depth charges, and trained newly commissioned officers.
In April, Newell steamed to Florida, where she acted as escort and plane
guard for a carrier training pilots. During this period, the ship recovered six
downed pilots from the water. This assignment lasted until she sailed for New
York 3 June.
sailed to Panama on 18 June, where she helped train
submarines and remained on this duty through the summer and the Japanese surrender.
On 20 October orders arrived sending the destroyer escort to Charleston, S. C.,
where she decommissioned 20 November 1945 and entered the Atlantic Reserve
recommissioned in the Coast Guard 20 July 1951, steamed to
Chesapeake Bay for shakedown, then transited the Panama Canal and proceeded to
Mare Island Naval Shipyard for post activation overhaul and conversion to a
WDE-type ship for ocean station search and rescue duty. Yard work completed,
she steamed to Hawaii for operational training. She arrived on her first ocean
station 27 April and for the next year and a half operated out of Pearl Harbor
in the northwestern Pacific, ranging north to the Aleutians and west to Japan.
Following first phase inactivation at Pearl Harbor the DE arrived Long Beach,
Calif. 21 February 1954, decommissioned 31 March, and entered the Pacific
Fitted out with the latest electronic
equipment, manned for the first time by a Navy crew and reclassified DER-322, Newell recommissioned at Long Beach 20
August 1957, and steamed to her new home port, Pearl Harbor. She soon took up
station on the Pacific Barrier, the westward extension of the DEW line. For
over seven years she alternated duty at Pearl Harbor with patrols on the
Pacific Barrier. During this period she also served in operation Cosmos, the
escort line for President Eisenhower's flight to the Far East in the spring of
1960; and provided weather surveillance for Johnston Island/Christmas Island
nuclear tests. On 15 April 1965, Newell departed
Pearl Harbor for her 28th Pacific Barrier patrol, the last picket ship to steam
for the Pacific Barrier which Newell helped
to formally terminate in a ceremony at Midway 1 May. The radar picket escort
vessel then returned to Pearl Harbor to prepare for a WestPac deployment.
got underway 17 May for Vietnam via Guam, Subic Bay and Hong
Kong. On her first Market Time patrol, just north of the Mekong Delta, she
searched many junks and several steel hulled vessels to help stop infiltration
of arms, ammunition, and supplies into South Vietnam to support Viet Cong
forces. After upkeep at Subic Bay, her second patrol took her between Da Nang
and Nha Trong. She worked closely with Vietnamese junk forces, Vietnamese Navy
Sea Forces, U. S. Coast Guard cutters and other American Navy sea and air
forces. On her third patrol, she operated between Vung Tau and An Thoi; and her
guns destroyed a Viet Cong shelter on the Island of Phu Quoc. Her fourth and
fifth patrols took her to the coast between Nha Trang and Da Nang. While on
patrol off Viet Nam, she spent 155 days on station, detected 6,905 wooden
hulls, inspected 2,472, and boarded 631. She detected 384 steel-hulled ships,
inspected 67, and boarded 6.
On New Year's Day, 1966 Newell departed the Market Time area
and sailed via Subic Bay and Japan, for home, arriving Pearl Harbor 3 February.
After operations in Hawaiian waters, she headed back to the western Pacific 6
June. In addition to Market Time duty she supported smaller Coast Guard and
Navy ships. On her third patrol she guarded the 17th parallel to stop
infiltration from the North. She departed Vung Tau on the last day of 1966 and
sailed via Japan for Hawaii, arriving Pearl Harbor 19 January 1967.
Underway 6 July for her third West Pac
deployment. Newell spent much of July
and August on Tawian patrol before turning toward Vietnam on the 27th. She
arrived Market Time Area 11 on 30 August and departed on 19 September for
Kaohsiung, to resume Tawian patrol. She headed back toward the Vietnamese coast
on the last day of October and relieved Lowe
(DER-325) on Market Time Area II, 2 November. Newell departed Vietnam for the last time on the 28th, and steamed
for Hawaii via Hong Kong; Subic Bay; Sidney, Australia; and Suva, Fiji Islands
arriving Pearl Harbor 29 February 1968.
After operations in Hawaiian waters, Newell departed Pearl Harbor 6 August for West Pac, but three days
later received orders to return for inactivation. She decommissioned at Pearl
Harbor 21 September 1968, and was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 23
September 1968. Subsequently the ship's engines were removed and her hull was
used by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 22 January to 15 April 1969 during
the filming of motion picture, Tora Tora Tora.
[Note: The above USS NEWELL (DE-322) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS NEWELL (DE-322), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]