USS VANCE (DE-387)
Vance (DE-387) was laid down on 30 April 1943 at Houston
by the Brown Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 16 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. John W. Vance
mother of the late Lt. (jg.) Vance; and commissioned on 1 November 1943
Lt. Comdr. E. A. Anderson
Following shakedown off Bermuda
Vance became the flagship for Escort Division (CortDiv) 45-a Coast Guard-manned unit-and convoyed a group of oil tankers from Norfolk
to Port Arthur
and back. Upon her return to Norfolk
she served as a training ship for destroyer escort crews while awaiting the arrival of the rest of her division.
In February 1944
the ship conducted local escort operations before joining the New York section of Convoy UGS-33
bound for Gibraltar. Her section rendezvoused off Norfolk with the remainder of the convoy and its flagship
and set out across the Atlantic. On 7 March
Vance departed Casablanca with GUS-33 for the return voyage and put into the New York Navy Yard on the 23d for availability.
Vance next got underway on 12 April
with the other ships of CortDiv 45 and a Navy-manned destroyer escort division
to screen the 102 merchantmen of convoy UGS-39 to Tunisia. Arriving at Bizerte on 3 May
the warship left Tunisian waters eight days later
bound for New York with GUS-39. Off Oran on the 14th
a German U-boat slipped through the screen of escorts and torpedoed two merchantmen. Vance
holding the "whip" position of the screen (where she had the duty of shepherding stragglers ) came up through the convoy
sighted the periscope
and attempted to ram. The U-boat "pulled the plug" and dove deeper
evading the onrushing escort's sharp bow.
Vance remained on the scene for 10 hours
subjecting the U-boat to depth-charge and hedgehog attacks
until relieved by a squadron of Navy destroyers. Three days later
after an extensive hunt
the relief ships sank U-616.
Vance made eight round-trip voyages to the western Mediterranean and followed each with availability at either Boston or New York. Four times the ship engaged in training exercises out of Casco Bay-sharpening up her antisubmarine and gunnery skills. On 14 July 1944
Vance helped to fight off a German air attack against an Allied convoy off Oran. During most of the voyages
the destroyer escort held the "whip"' position in the convoy-a grueling and sometimes frustrating detail since merchantmen frequently displayed a lack of discipline and straggled behind the convoy. Carrying the division doctor on board
Vance on occasion would take on board men from other ships for medical treatment.
On 2 May 1945
Vance departed New York with her last Mediterranean-bound convoy. On the morning of 11 May-four days after Germany had surrendered -Vance sighted a light up ahead in the convoy and rang down full speed to investigate. Upon closing the light
the destroyer escort discovered a surfaced U-boat
which had been at sea for 50 days. While the submarine began to run
Vance hailed the erstwhile enemy in German by bullhorn
ordering the submariners to heave to. Vance placed a prize crew on board the captured U-boat who delivered the prize at Portsmouth
on the 16th.
Vance then underwent alterations to her antiaircraft armament and soon got underway for the Pacific. However
she arrived too late to participate in anything but training operations and returned to the east coast for decommissioning. In mid-October 1945
she underwent a pre-deactivation availability before proceeding south to Green Cove Springs
Fla. On 27 February 1946
Vance was decommissioned and placed in reserve.
The ship remained in "mothballs" for the next nine years
before she was towed to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in November 1955 for conversion to a radar picket destroyer escort. The extensive alterations involved the addition of: improved air-search radar
extensive communications equipment
and complete facilities for fighter-direction operations. It also entailed the enclosing of the entire main deck areas amidships to provide accommodations for officers and men. Designated DER-387
Vance was recommissioned on 5 October 1956 at Mare Island
Lt. Comdr. Albert M. Brouner in command.
Between March of 1957 and the end of the year
Vance was homeported at Seattle
as a unit of CortDiv 5 and completed eight patrols on various stations of the Radar Early Warning System in the northern Pacific. Each tour lasted approximately 17 days
and the ship maintained a round-the-clock vigil with air-search radars
tracking and reporting every aircraft entering or approaching the air space of the northwestern United States. On Labor Day 1957
Vance drew emergency duty-an engineering casualty prevented the assigned ship from going out-and got underway in a fast 75 minutes. Although she was only manned at 60 percent of her complement (because many of her officers and men were ashore on leave or liberty and could not be notified in time to return to the ship before she weighed anchor) Vance was deployed for 12 days and completed a successful mission.
On 1 June 1958
the radar picket escort ship's home port was changed to Pearl Harbor; and she began operating with CortRon 7. One month later
she departed Hawaiian waters for a 29-day patrol on the mid-ocean picket lines which provided radar coverage from Alaska to Midway Atoll. Vance thus became the first ship on the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line in the Pacific and the first to sail under the newly organized Pacific barrier patrol. In mid-January 1959
following routine overhaul and refresher training at Pearl Harbor
Vance again took station on the mid-Pacific stretch of ocean on her second DEW-line deployment.
Vance continued to conduct regular DEW-line patrols until May of 1960
when CortRon 7 was dissolved. At that time
she rejoined CortDiv 5 and served with her old unit into 1961. On occasion
the picket ship took Russian trawlers under surveillance-undoubtedly while the communist vessel was returning the compliment.
Early in 1961
Vance's communications capabilities were extensively augmented during an overhaul at Pearl Harbor. After resuming DEW-line patrols late in the spring
the ship received orders in August 1961 designating her an ocean station vessel with TF-43
Operation "Deepfreeze 62." Temporarily based at Dunedin
Vance served as a communication relay ship for aircraft bringing in vital supplies to the Antarctic stations from New Zealand. She remained on station in the cold
southern waters into March 1962
when she headed home via Melbourne
to Pearl Harbor. She soon resumed duties on the DEW-line and-but for periodic interruptions for maintenance
and training-devoted herself to the task of operating mainly off the Aleutian Islands through February 1965.
In the mid-1960's
with the advent of improved radar and early-warning capabilities
the radar picket escort ship was rapidly approaching obsolescence. However
as the United States stepped up its efforts to aid the South Vietnamese government in countering internal and external communist aggression
the ship received a new lease on life. In Vietnam
a ship of this nature could be invaluable for coastal patrol work. Accordingly
in February 1965
Vance was ordered to the Western Pacific (WestPac). On 25 March 1965
she sailed from Pearl Harbor
in company with Brister (DER-327) and Forster (DER-334)
as Task Group (TG) 52.8
bound for the Philippines.
En route from Subic Bay to waters off the coast of Vietnam
Vance rescued Capt. Leland D. Holcomb
who had ejected from a burning F-100 Super Sabre fighter plane. Vance took station in Operation "Market Time" on 11 April 1965. From that day until the 24th
she operated near the 17th parallel as a part of Task Unit (TU) 71.1.1. During the assignmeet
she maintained communications between airborne Convair EC-121K Constellations and Commander
in John W. Thomason (DD-760). Subsequently from 15 May to 4 June
Vance returned to "Market Time" surface surveillance-this time in the Gulf of Thailand near the border dividing South Vietnam from Cambodia. She operated in company with small minesweepers (MSO's) and embarked a Vietnamese Navy liaison officer to aid in the ship's "visit and search" activities. She continued these activities until sailing for Hawaii early in September and arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 18th.
Vance returned to "Market Time" station in mid-January 1966
and then participated in Operation "Masher
" the amphibious operation designed to clear northern Binh Dinh province of Viet Cong insurgents. Next moving to the Gulf of Thailand once more
the destroyer escort conducted close-support and logistics operations with Navy PCF's (swift boats) and Coast Guard WPB's in interdicting communist coastal supply traffic
often boarding 30 vessels per day.
Underway on 11 April to patrol off Cap de Ca Mau
the southernmost tip of South Vietnam
Vance monitored coastal junk traffic and seagoing vessels
surveying traffic patterns in the South China Sea. Later
off Binh Dinh
she closed to investigate a trawler and came under fire from Viet Cong ashore. Although the ship's skin was pocked by bullets
Vance briskly returned the fire with her 3-inch battery
driving away or killing the unseen but pestiferous snipers.
In a more humanitarian vein
Vance and a "Swift" rescued 56 men
and children from a swamped boat near Qui Nhon. For several hours
Vance's men cleaned and fed babies; made old women as comfortable as possible; and gave away blankets
and food. Relieved by Haverfield (DER-393) late in July
Vance headed for Hawaii and got as far as the San Bernadino Strait before she was ordered to return to Vietnam for further "Market Time" duty. On 6 August
Surfbird (ADG-383) relieved the destroyer escort on station and allowed Vance to sail again via the Philippines for Pearl Harbor.
On 15 January 1967
Vance returned to the Far East for another 7th Fleet deployment and relieved Koiner (DER-331) off the mouth of the Saigon River. Once again
Vance's duties involved hunting for contraband-carrying craft attempting to infiltrate from the north to deliver their cargoes to the Viet Cong. Vance tracked all ocean-sized vessels and stopped and searched junks and sampans-tedious and frustrating but vital work.
The ship conducted two more "Market Time" patrols during her third WestPac deployment and
underwent a tender availability at Kaohsiung
Taiwan; rest and recreation at Hong Kong; and upkeep at Subic Bay. At the end of her last "Market Time" assignment
she patrolled the Taiwan Strait between communist China and Taiwan before returning to Pearl Harbor for routine overhaul. In late 1967
the ship began her final WestPac deployment in which her duties were similar to those of her third deployment. She subsequently returned to the west coast of the United States late in 1968 for inactivation.
Placed in reserve
at the Inactive Ship Facility
Vance was decommissioned on 10 October 1969
struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1975
and scheduled to be used as a target.
Vance received seven battle stars for service in Vietnam.
[Note: The above USS VANCE (DE-387) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS VANCE (DE-387) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]