Peterson DE-152 - History

Peterson DE-152 - History


(DE-152: dp. 1,200; 1. 306'; b. 36'7"; dr. 8'7"; s. 21 k., cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 1 40mm 8 20mm, 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 3 2i" tt.; cl. Edsall)

Peterson (DE-152) was laid down 28 February 1943 by Consolidated Steel Corp. Orange, Tex.; launched 15 May 1943; sponsored by Mrs. liola B. Peterson; and commissioned 29 September 1943, Lt. Comdr. Richard F. Rea, USCG, in command.

Peterson moved to Galveston, Tex., 6 October 1943 to continue her outfitting, then sailed by way of Algiers, La. to Bermuda for shakedown. She reported to Charleston, S.C., for a brief post-shakedown upkeep 22 November, and six days later was enroute to New York, arriving the last day of the month.

Her first voyage between New York and Casablanca, French Morocco, commenced 2 December when Peterson sailed for Norfolk to join the main body of a North Africa bound convoy. She returned to New York 18 January 1944.

Peterson then shifted her activity to Northern Europe making ten voyages to Britie:h and Fren~b port~. Ou tbe fir~t of these voyages, Peterson with the other escorts of Division 22 steamed from New York I March to screen a fast oiler convoy to Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On this voyage a submarine sank Leopold (DE-319).

Peterson arrived with the convoy at Londonderry and returned to New York 28 March where she was joined by Gandy (DE-764). Departing New York 15 April with an Irelandbound convoy, Peterson was detached the following day to eseort two merchant ships, which had collided, back to New York. Enroute to rejoin the convoy later on the same day, Peterson joined Gandy and Joyce (DE-317) in rescuing survivors of the torpedoed Pan pennsylvanZa and destroying the attseker. At 1345 Joyce reported a hot sound eontaet and the last survivors scrambled on board Peterson just as Joyce dropped a pattern of depth charges. The submarine shot to the surface at 1400. Gandy opened fire on the U-boat which returned fire until rammed with a glancing blow by Gandy

two minutes later. Peterson commenced firing at 1404 to lay open the conning tower, and as she passed alongside the submarine, fired two shallow-set depth charges at close range from her starboard "K" guns. At 1409 the submarine surrendered and the crew commenced abandoning the sinking boat. Joyce picked up the crew and U-550 slid beneath the waves at 1430. The three escorts rejoined the convoy and steamed safely to Lisahally, Northern Ireland, returning to New York 12 May 1944.

Peterson made three more convoy voyages to Londonderry and return. She then made sueeessive voyages from New York to Plymouth, England (6 October-5 November 1944)

from New York to Cherbourg, France and Plymouth England (23 November-24 Deeembor); from New York to {iverpool, England (10 January-9 February 1945), from New York to Le Havre, France and Southampton, England (27 February29 March); and from Boston to Greenoek, Seotland and Liverpool, England, returning to New York 16 April.

After an overhaul to fit her for extended duty in the Pacific, Peterson departed New York 4 June 1345 with tho rest of Eseort Division 22 for exercises at Culebra Island, and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She transited the Panama Canal 23 June, ealled at San Diego for voyage repairs, and arrived Pearl Harbor 16 July. With the end of the war, she reported to Commander Amphibious Group 8 and Commander Transport Squadron 18 for duty.

Peterson departed Pearl Harbor the last day of August 1945 with an LST convoy. Calling at Saipan enroute, the convoy arrived off Wakayama, Japan, 27 September and Peterson assumed patrol in the Inland Sea until 29 October. On that day she set course for the United States, ealling at Pearl Harbor, and arriving San Diego 17 November. She shifted to San Pedro the following day. She got underway for the east coast, transiting the Panama Canal 6 December. Three days later off the coast of Florida, a PBM-3D (Mariner) landed close aboard to ask assistance. Peterson towed the disabled plane to Ponee de Leon Inlet where a erash boat from New Smyrna took over the tow. She then continued up the coast to Charleston, S.C., arriving 10 December 1945.

Peterson sailed for Jacksonville, Fla., 14 January 1946, arriving the following day to eommenee her inactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve at Green Cove Springs, Fla., 1 May 1946.

Peterson recommissioned in the Boston Naval Shipyard, 2 May 1962, Lt. Kay S. Irwin in command. Peterson spent the next five years operating with Eseort Squadron 10 off the east coast of the United States, from Newport, R.I., to Key West, Fla., and in the Caribbean. During these years she saw considerable duty as Fleet Sonar Sehoolship at Key West. In July 1953 she visited Bergen, Norway, and Copenhagen, Denmark. In October 1954 she conducted simulated convoy escort exercises to waters off Hamilton Inlet, Labrador. In July 1955 she cruised to Edinburgh, Seotland, and Copenhagen. In May 1957 while in the Caribbean she tracked Jupiter

missiles fired from Cape Canaveral and in August played a vital role in the first successful recovery of a missile 40se cone, attaching a buoy-float to the nose eone flotation unit.

Peterson put to sea 3 September 1957 with fifteen other warships and eleven auxiliary vessels of Task Force 88.1, bound for Portland, England. She reached Portland 14 September and was underway the next day for strenuous North Atlantic Treatv Organization maneuver$. She ep~dDeted wdependent reconnaissance patrol olf Sweden until 19 September when ~he wa~ joined by Hu~e (DE—145), two Canadian destroyers and a Duteh cruiser, for patrol off southern Sweden, and then to Frederikshaven, Denmark, where she arrived 23 September. She departed that port in company with Huse the next day for maneuvers in the North Sea and reached La Havre, France, 30 September. After a visit to Dunkirk, she returned to Newport 21 October.

Peterson became a unit of the newly created Destroyer Eseort Squadron Twelve 1 November and arrived at Key West 24 November for another tour of service as sehoolship for the Fleet Sonar Sehool. She departed Key West 23 January 1958 for a Caribbean training cruise with her squadron. In May Peterson assisted in the first recovery of a full-size missile nose eone that had penetrated the atmosphere. She resumed her Fleet Sonar sehoolship duty at Key West 22 May 1958 and got underway 8 August for competitive exercises off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She arrived Kingston, Jamaica 14 August 19S8 and put to sea within fifteen hours on an emergency mercy mission to deliver badly needed water to a rescue tug tendinK a Greek freighter aground about 150 miles south of Kingston.

Peterson resumed sehoolship duties at Key West 18 August 1958 and put to sea 3 January 1959 for waters off the north coast of Cuba, standing by with other ships of her task group in the event American citizens in Havana might need her proteetion. She returned to Key West 6 January and continued services for the Fleet Sonar School. She departed 24 August to participate in "Operation Deep Freeze 60." She passed through the Panama Canal and arrived Dunedin, New Zealand, 22 September. A unit of Task Force 43, she got underway six days later and steamed to Ocean Weather Station (latitude 60 degrees south; longitude 170 degrees east). On that station midway between Antarctica and New Zealand, she acted as a weather communications and rescue ship for supply flights from Christehureh to the southernmost continent.

From July 1961 to December 1963 Peterson served prineipally as a training ship for students of the U.S. Fleet Sonar Sehool, Key West, Fla. ln April 1962 she visited Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Jamaica. During the second half of 1962 Peterson was a movie star, playing the role of the Japanese destroyer that rammed and sank PT-109. On 22 October 1962 Peterson suddenly found herself on a full war-time footing and bound full speed for quarantine duty off the Cuban coast. She was ordered home in time for Christmas. Peterson visited Guantanamo Bay for training in January and July 1963.

January 1964 found Peterson patrolling the coasts of Columbia and Venezuela. She returned to Key West 23 February. For the balance of the year she operated out of Key West mainly as Fleet Sonar Sehoolship. Since 1964 Peterson has operated with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Peterson received one battle star for World War II service.

USS Peterson (DE 152)

Decommissioned 1 May 1946.
Recommissioned 2 May 1952.
Decommissioned at an unknown date.
Stricken 1 August 1973.
Sold 24 June 1974 and broken up for scrap.

Commands listed for USS Peterson (DE 152)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Richard Foster Rea, USCG29 Sep 194314 Apr 1944
2Sidney M Hay, USCG14 Apr 19441 May 1946

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Peterson include:

16 Apr 1944
German U-boat U-550 was sunk in the North Atlantic east of New York, in position 40°09'N, 69°44'W, by depth charges and gunfire from the US destroyer escorts USS Gandy, USS Joyce and USS Peterson.

Some two hours after the attack USS Joyce and USS Peterson together pick up 56 survivors from the American tanker Pan Pennsylvania that was the first and only ship sunk by U-550.

Media links

Peterson DE-152 - History

Hull 1000 through Hull 1048

Hull 1800 through Hull 1805

This is a complete list of all Bath Iron Works production, listed in order by BIW hull number. Small repair or overhaul jobs that were not assigned hull numbers are not included.

This list was compiled and is maintained by Andrew Toppan, using sources listed at the bottom of the document.

The first column is the Bath Iron Works hull number, followed by the vessel's name, the type/size/class of the vessel, the owner/customer for the vessel, the type of work done (new construction, overhaul, etc.), the date the vessel was delivered, and the fate or status of the vessel. For ships that remain in existence the current name is listed in the status/fate column if no name is listed, the vessel retains its original name.

For conversions, repairs, etc., the vessel's new name (at completion) is listed under "name", the original name and description are listed under "type", and the nature of the conversion is listed under "work type" the date given is for redelivery or completion, as appropriate.

Bath Iron Works Production Record
Hull Name Type/Descr. Owner Work Type Delivered Fate or Status
The 1000-series numbers were assigned to major conversions and overhauls done at BIW after WWII. Minor refits and maintenance work accomplished at BIW were not assigned hull numbers.
1001 Yankee States Artemis Class Assault Cargo Ship Sirona (AKA 43) Maritime Commission Conversion to S4-SE2-BE1 Training Ship 30 Dec 1946 Sold 1966
1002 Southwind Tolland Class Assault Cargo Ship Caswell (AKA 72) Maritime Commission Conversion to C2-S-AJ Freighter 06 Jun 1946 Unknown
1003 Indian Bear Tolland Class Assault Cargo Ship Starr (AKA 67) Maritime Commission Conversion to C2-S-AJ2 Freighter 18 Jul 1947 Scrapped 1970's
1004 Philippine Bear Tolland Class Assault Cargo Ship Towner (AKA 77) Maritime Commission Conversion to C2-S-AJ3 Freighter 29 Aug 1947 Unknown
1005 Elpetal Patrol Gunboat Beaumont (PG 60) Elpetal Corp. Reconversion to Yacht 28 Dec 1949 In Service 1986 ( Jezebel )
1006 Tweedy
(DE 532)
Butler Class Destroyer Escort US Navy ASW Conversion 28 Mar 1952 Target 5/1970
1007 Peterson
(DE 152)
Edsall Class Destroyer Escort US Navy ASW Conversion 30 Apr 1952 Discarded 1973
1008 Number not used
1009 Number not used
1010 Number not used
1011 Harry E. Yarnell
(DLG 17)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 27 June 1969 Stricken 1993 Pending Disposal
1012 Gridley
(DLG 21)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 9 Jan 1970 Stricken 1994 Pending Disposal
1013 Reeves
(DLG 24)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 14 August 1970 Stricen 1993 Pending Disposal
1014 Worden
(DLG 18)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 8 January 1971 Stricken 1993 Pending Disposal
1015 England
(DLG 22)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 16 June 1971 Stricken 1994 Pending Disposal
1016 Dale
(DLG 19)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 22 Nov 1971 Stricken 1994 Pending Disposal
1017 Richmond K. Turner
(DLG 20)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 19 May 1972 Target 9 Aug 1998
1018 Halsey
(DLG 23)
Leahy Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 8 December 1972 Stricken 1994 Pending Disposal
1019 Damato
(DD 871)
Gearing Class Destroyer US Navy Repairs 31 January 1973 Scrapped 1995
1020 Mato Grosso
Sumner Class Destroyer Compton (DD 705) US Navy for Brazilian Navy Pre-Transfer Overhaul / Modifications 7 May 1973 Discarded 1990
1021 Mahan
(DLG 11)
Farragut Class Frigate US Navy AAW Upgrade 22 March 1975 Sold 1999
1022 Biddle
(CG 34)
Belknap Class Cruiser US Navy AAW Upgrade 30 November 1977 Stricken 1993 Pending Disposal
1023 Detroit
(AOE 4)
Sacramento Class Replenishment Ship US Navy Overhaul 11 July 1977 In Service
1024 Brumby
(FF 1044)
Garcia Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 13 April 1978 Scrapped 1994
1025 Ronald D. Beary
(FF 1085)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 15 June 1978 In Service (Turkish Karadeniz )
1026 Jesse L. Brown
(FF 1089)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 7 October 1978 In Service (Egyptian Dumyat )
1027 Capodanno
(FF 1093)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 19 December 1978 In Service (Turkish Mauvenet )
1028 Connole
(FF 1056)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 7 June 1979 In Service (Greek Epirius )
1029 Pharris
(FF 1094)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 29 June 1979 In Service (Taiwanese Ning Yang )
1030 W.S. Sims
(FF 1059)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 31 March 1980 Stricken 1995 Pending Disposal
1031 Conyngham
(DDG 17)
C.F. Adams Class Destroyer US Navy Overhaul 22 August 1980 Scrapped 1995
1032 Trippe
(FF 1075)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 11 December 1980 In Service (Greek Thrace )
1033 Vreeland
(FF 1068)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 27 July 1981 In Service (Greek Makedonia )
1034 American Appollo Freighter Replace Bow
(@ Boston)
23 December 1980 Unknown
1035 McDonnell
(FF 1043)
Garcia Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 19 January 1982 Scrapped 1994
1036 Brumby
(FF 1044)
Garcia Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 18 December 1981 Scrapped 1944
1037 Unknown
1038 King
(DDG 41)
Farragut Class Destroyer US Navy Overhaul 6 May 1983 Scrapped 1995
1039 -- Portland Drydock BIW Overhaul / Modernize -- In Service
1040 Paul
(FF 1080)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 23 January 1983 Stricken 1995 Pending Disposal
1041 Patterson
(FF 1061)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 14 July 1983 Stricken 1995 Pending Disposal
1042 Elmer Montgomery
(FF 1082)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 30 September 1983 Discarded 1993
1043 Capodanno
(FF 1093)
Knox Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 11 April 1984 In Service (Turkish Mauvenet )
1044 Richard L. Page
(FFG 5)
Brooke Class Frigate US Navy Overhaul 9 June 1986 Scrapped 1994
1045 Hamilton
(WHEC 715)
Hamilton Class Coast Guard Cutter US Coast Guard FRAM Overhaul 30 June 1988* In Service
1046 Dallas
(WHEC 716)
Hamilton Class Coast Guard Cutter US Coast Guard FRAM Overhaul 13 November 1988* In Service
1047 Chase
(WHEC 718)
Hamilton Class Coast Guard Cutter US Coast Guard FRAM Overhaul 31 December 1989* In Service
1048 Gallatin
(WHEC 721)
Hamilton Class Coast Guard Cutter US Coast Guard FRAM Overhaul 24 July 1990* In Service
The 1800-series numbers were assigned to major overhauls and repairs done at BIW's Portland Ship Repair Facility. Some work on 1000-series ships (above) was accomplished at the Portland facility, as well as work on new-construction ships. Post Shakedown Availabilities (PSAs) are not listed.
1800 Conolly
(DD 979)
Spruance Class Destroyer U.S. Navy Overhaul 13 December 1984 Stricken 1998 Pending Disposal
1801 O'Bannon
(DD 987)
Spruance Class Destroyer U.S. Navy Overhaul 14 June 1985 In Service
1802 Deyo
(DD 989)
Spruance Class Destroyer U.S. Navy Overhaul 20 May 1986 In Service
1803 Scott
(DDG 995)
Kidd Class Destroyer U.S. Navy Repairs 26 January 1984 Stricken 1998 Pending Disposal
1804 Moosbruger
(DDG 980)
Spruance Class Destroyer U.S. Navy Repairs 19 May 1987 In Service
1805 Brumby
(FF 1044)
Garcia Class Frigate U.S. Navy Overhaul 1 July 1988* Scrapped 1994
* = Contractual completion date. Actual completion date not available.

Major Sources:
Eskew, Garnett Laidlaw. Cradle of Ships . G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1958.

Snow, Ralph L. Bath Iron Works: The First Hundred Years . Anthoensen Press, Portland, 1987.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships . Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C., 1959-1991.

Special thanks to everyone who has provided updated information about these ships.

Michael Peterson was released from prison in 2017

In 2017, Michael Peterson submitted an Alford plea, which allowed him to still publicly maintain his innocence while pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. According to WRAL, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson found Peterson guilty of voluntary manslaughter and released him on time served. Altogether, Peterson spent eight years in jail.

Following his release from prison, Peterson wrote a book detailing a behind-the-scenes account of his trial, imprisonment, and life after release, according to the News and Observer. The book, titled Behind the Staircase, was self-published in 2019. Free downloads of the book are available online.

In July 2020, the infamous five-story Cedar St. mansion was put up for sale for the third time since Kathleen Peterson's death. Per the News and Observer, Michael Peterson has not owned the home since he sold it to Jason Balius for $640,000 in 2004, but according to most recent reports, he still lives in Durham and maintains his innocence.

Peterson DE-152 - History

WWII & Related Documents
Open Collection

This collection is designed to remain &ldquoopen&rdquo in order to add all manner of written material referencing WWII. Because of random donations to the collection the researcher/historian must check the manuscript index closely for types of documents, service represented, years, and Theatre of Operation. It is not possible to maintain a chronological record. Both original and copied material, personal histories and 2nd person interviews, newsletters announcing reunions and final rest of brothers in arms.

An original EXTRA! edition of Honolulu STAR-BULLETIN, December 7th, 1941, a souvenir edition of the same newspaper noting &ldquothe Final Voyage&rdquo of the USS Missouri to forever rest final port Pearl Harbor, June 1998. The surrender of Japan was signed on deck of MISSOURI, Tokyo Bay, 1945. War Record of USS Nashville (CL-43) a declassified Report of Rescue of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, copy of photo showing crew of B-29 &ldquoBockscar&rdquo after dropping 2nd atomic bomb, August 9, 1945. A secret map of target area Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan Aug. 1945, History of U.S.S. Eagle, Monograph: &lsquoPersonal Experience of Company Commander&rsquo by Raymond Restani, &ldquoThe Operations of Co. A 254th Infantry at Eschringen, Germany, March, 1945 while in Advanced Officers Course Ft. Benning, GA., 1948-49. These are a sampling of the contents.

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

John J. Burney, Jr.
James Flowers
Wilbur D. Jones, Jr.
Glenn R. Lang
Billie Ray Lyerly
Elisha Sellers, Jr.
Harold Sherwood
Charles Sloan
Paul Zarbock
Bill Zinzow

Carroll R. Jones
Special Collections
William Madison Randall Library



The Fredericksburg, VA. Free - Lance Star, victory edition, May, 1945, "Germany Surrenders "
Jacksonville, NC Daily News, Nov. 8, 1963 "Happy Birthday Marines Everywhere!"
Honolulu Star - Bulletin, June 17, 1998 "The Last Battleship"
Honolulu Star - Bulletin souvenir edition, "U.S.S. Missouri, Final Voyage"
June 19, 1998, Honolulu Advertiser, Final Edition, "Mighty Mo On The Horizon"
Honolulu Advertiser, Special Report, June 19, 1998 "U.S.S. Missouri"
Honolulu Advertiser, June 22, 1998 ALOHA MO, "Hawaii Welcomes Battleship to final port"
Honolulu Star - Bulletin 1st Extra, Dec. 7, 1941 "War! Oahu Bombed by Japanese Planes"

Jacksonville, NC Daily News, July 17, 1964 (2 issues)
Jacksonville, NC Daily News, July 18, 1964
Map: Central Japan, Sasebo. Use for War & Navy Dept.)
Camp Lejeune Globe, Nov. 7, 1963 - 188 yrs. of Pride, 1775 - 1963
Camp Lejeune Globe, July 16, 1964
Whiteville News Reporter, Oct. 18, 2001
State Port Pilot, Southport, NC Dec. 4, 2002
Army Times Anniversary Edition 50 Years of Military Life, 1940 - 1990
U.S. Marines Semper Fidelis, nd
Atlantic-Gulf Ship Canal map, Sept. 1935
Photo of Officer Candidates Ft. Monmouth, NJ, Oct., 1942
2 photos ofWilmington Housing Development tenants, nd
Framed Flying Tiger logo, inscribed on back, gift of Paul Zarbock
Map of Federal Republic of Germany includes area occupied by Soviet-Union in 1945
Daily Telegraph War Map No. 10 of Germany. Both maps gifts of Paul Zarbock

Copies of photos from James Flowers Surrender Tokyo Bay, Yokuska Naval Base and Roi Namur

2 issues The Quantico Sentry, April 19, 1945, & May 3, 1945

Copy of report of Ops of 5th Batt. 1 December, 1940 - 30 April, 1944

Outpost In The North Atlantic: Marines In The Defense of Iceland. WWII Commemorative Series, 1992

Condition Red, Marines in WWII Commemorative series, 1992

1942 Saturday Evening Post article by Lt. Col. Max Myers
&ldquoLookit Those Old Buzzards Go!&rdquo, based on &lsquoOldsters of New York&rsquos Liberty Division&rsquo

&ldquoAs I Saw It&rdquo, by James Di Fede, 306th Infantry, 77th Div.

War Record of U.S.S. Nashville (CL 43)
War record of Yeoman Billie Ray Lyerly and related papers, 1942 - 46

Associated Press Service, 23 Sept. 1943, &ldquoSouthern Exposure, Overview of War In Europe and Pacific&rdquo

Declassified, report of rescue of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker and party, 11, 12 Nov. 1942

&ldquoTales of the 5th and 14th Defense Battalions&rdquo, as told by Tom Bartlett. Photos courtesy survivors

107th Pipeline, newsletter, Oct. 1944, Vol. II, issue 1
Vol. II, issue 39, Tinian, Marianas, July, 1945

Map of Tinian, c. 1945, showing 107th (Seabees) construction.
Copy of photo showing crew of B-29 &ldquoBockscar&rdquo, after dropping 2nd atomic bomb, 9 Aug., 1945
Copies of photos, articles from 107th newsletter

Copy of Pictoral Review, 435th A.A.A. A.W. BN., 1942 -1945
List of killed in action, Feb. - May 1945

Allentown, PA., August 10, 1945, copy of Evening Chronicle EXTRA!, "ACCEPT POTSDAM ULTIMATUM: No Announcement by Allies." Copies of photos Marines capturing Solomon Islands
WWII crossword puzzle from unknown newspaper

U.S.S. Peterson DE-152 War Diary, Jan. 1944-1945

History of U.S.S. Peterson, DE-152
Survivors of German Submarine sunk April, 1944
Radio Log for 16 April, 1944 --sinking of U-550

U.S.S. Booth, DE-170, history and voyages
List of Ship&rsquos Company,Christmas, 1944

2nd Marines: JCOC Special Purpose Exercise, 24 Sept.
Comphib Assault Phase, 1963

U.S. Marine Corps 200th Anniversary Historical Calendar
Camp Chapel (Protestant) Service of Dedication, Camp Lejeune, NC, 25 April, &lsquo45
This Is It, MCAS Cherry Point, NC cartoons

Spring Dance 1944, 578th AAA AW Bn, Ft. Fisher, NC
Ethyl - Dow Chemical Co., Kure Beach Plant, Presentation Award program of U.S. Army-Navy, 1944
Army-Navy Country Club, Washington, D.C. Constitution, By-Laws, Feb. 1939

Message Book U.S. Marine Corps, nd
Regimental Parade & Review 6th Marines, 19 March, 1965

The Recj Hall Gazette - civilian version, 1956
Muster List X-107th Seabees, Dec. 1987
107th Pipeline, June, 1997

Assorted copies of news articles refer. atomic photo crew
History U.S.S. Eagle
Local interviews, 1945 timeline

WWII Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition Bulletins, 2001-2002

The Operation of Co. A 254th Infantry of Eschringen, Germany, 15 March, 1945,
a Monograph: Personal Experience of Co. Commander, by Capt. Raymond
Restani, 1948 -1949, while in Advanced Officers Course, Ft. Benning, GA

The 5:14 Express, newsletter for 5th and 14th Det. Batt. Association. 1987-88, 8 issues.

The 5:14 Express newsletters, 10 issues-Jan. 1989 - May 1991

The 5:14 Express newsletters, 9 issues, July 1992 - Aug. 1995

The 5:14 Express, newsletters, 17 issues, July 1997 - Nov. 2002

3 framed sketches of major early buildings Camp Lejeune

2 small photos of Bill Taylor 1 head and shoulders in uniform, 1 w/plane crew
1 8x10 of Taylor & plane crew front of &ldquoTough Titty&rdquo

Copy of Instrument Of Surrender, Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2, 1945

Letter to W.D. Jones, Jr. from Bill Zinzow, former crew member USS Henry A. Wiley, DM-29
H.A. Wiley Service Log - Data. History of new classification of ship used in WWII - Destryer Minesweepers.
Story of Destroyer Minesweepers by Charles D. Nichols, DM-29
General Plan of Fires D-Day Iwo Jima, 19 Feb. 1945

&lsquoGood Night for Bogey&rsquos&rsquo by William E. Tucker. Excerpt from Naval Institute article from N.Y. Newsday, march 4, 1990, &lsquoFamily Reunion Salutes Btavr Warrior
USS H.A. Wiley Newsletter, June 4, 2004. 11 members met in Washington D.C. for dedication of WWII Memorial.

Saga of The USS Henry A. Wiley, DM-29, compiled by Bill Tucker, 1993-1994
Presidential Unit Citation - James Forrestall, Secretary of the Navy

CD recorded for Pacific Theater Project, National Partner of Library of Congress.
Pacific Theater Project part of Center for Pacific War Studies National Museum of Pacific War, Fredericksburg, Texas

A Wartime Romance, by George J. Greene. CWO-4 USMC (Ret.) of his courtship of the &ldquogirl back home&rdquo, the hurried up wedding, moving to Wilmington while he commuted to Camp Lejeune. After spending time in the San Diego, CA area they came back to to Lejeune as a &ldquofamily&rdquo where they spent several happy, interesting years. Just one of the many wartime romances that, although rushed, lasted through the decades. Some photos accompany.

Memories of the 558th AAA AW Bn, Volume II, byBill Drobnich, 1999

RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF TWO WARS, prepared by Nancy N. Beeler for The New Hanover Committee of National Society of Colonial Dames of America in North Carolina, March, 1999

52nd Presidential Inaugural-1993 Commemorative Invitation
from Paul Zarbock

General Assembly Session, 2003:
House Resolution 1683 - Tribute to Veterans of WWII who have or are now serving in General Assembly - adopted 5/27/04

Robert T. Bradicich, WWII 110th Regimental Combat Team, story in The Ridgetopper, Ocean Ridge, NC, August, 2002

Newspaper story on Robert Bradicich, March 1993, &ldquoOmaha Beach to VE Day&rdquo

2005 &ldquoSalute To World War II Veterans&rdquo, Feb. 26th at 2nd and Orange USO
Feb. 17th article on Vets Robert Newman & Charles Boneyattending &ldquoSalute&rdquo

History of USS ORIZABA, AP-24
Photocopy of stamps honoring distinguished Marines
Cartoon depicting GI&rsquos in Iceland during WWII. Gift of Michael Stefanowicz

Memorabilia of Billie Ray Lyerly, U.S. Navy WWII, includes itinerary of USS Nashville, CL-43, 1941-46

Navy Tales: Selected Short Stories of World War II by Scouts & Raiders Personnel
Sid Chapin. ed.

World war II Heritage Guide Map of Wilmingtob and Southeastern North Carolina

V-Mail, with envelope, dated 16 Nov. 1943

Maps drawer 10
1. Korea - Fourth edition AMS
2. American Samoa Topographic map, B-2 sect. 2nd Marine Brigade, Sept. 30, &lsquo42
3. Culebra Island - Puerto Rico, east coast
4. Sevret map of target area Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan, 13 Aug., 1945 (4 sections)

COPYRIGHT : Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States
copyright law.

Peterson DE-152 - History

Aug 1959 - Mar 1960 Cruise Book

Operation Deep Freeze

A great part of Naval history. (Most Sailors consider the cruise book one of their most valued treasures)

You would be purchasing the USS Peterson DE 152 cruise book during this time period. Each page has been placed on a CD for years of enjoyable computer viewing. The CD comes in a plastic sleeve with a custom label. Every page has been enhanced and is readable. Rare cruise books like this sell for a hundred dollars or more when buying the actual hard copy if you can find one for sale.

This would make a great gift for yourself or someone you know who may have served aboard her. Usually only ONE person in the family has the original book. The CD makes it possible for other family members to have a copy also. You will not be disappointed we guarantee it.

Some of the items in this book are as follows:

  • Ports of Call: New Zealand , Antarctic, Tahiti .
  • Divisional Group Photos with Names
  • DEparture Key West
  • Panama Canal Transit
  • Crossing the Equator
  • Christmas in Dunedin
  • Orphans Party
  • Crew Activity Photos
  • Plus much more

Over 110 photos and the ships story told on 42 pages.

Once you view this CD you will know what life was like on this Destroyer Escort in 1959-60.

Peterson DE-152 - History

Listing of AGs and Their Spouses Who Have Passed

Compiled by CDR Earl Gustafson, USN RET

LaRue was predeceased by her husband, Ralph A. Wright Jr., daughter, Jennifer Case, brothers Thomas and William Hess and sister Alice Kirkpatrick. Left to cherish her memory are her daughters and son-in-laws, LaRue Allen (Archibald), Denice Maphis (John), Diana Vickers (Dane), Claudia Liebig (Dave), sister, Dolores Machik, 10 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, as well as extended family and friends.

LaRue, Diana, and Claudia would like to thank Denice and John Maphis for graciously welcoming their mother into their home during her time of need. We especially want to thank our sister Denice for the love, selfless devotion and quality of care she provided for our mother throughout this entire journey. The entire family would like to thank Clare D. for her friendship, companionship, and patience she showed to our mother while going above the call of duty each and every day. You are family, Clare.

The family expresses their deepest gratitude to their mother’s medical providers, the Glennan Center at EVMS, Dr. Okhravi and recently, hospice providers, Dawn and Heather, for their knowledge and experience in end-of-life care as our mother and family traveled these uncharted territories. Your calming presence provided our mother comfort and dignity as she peacefully went to be with her Lord, Jesus Christ.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 23, at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 712 Little Neck Road, Virginia Beach, VA. The family invites you to attend the reception at the church directly after the service. In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Alzheimer's Association, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,, Catholic Charities, Condolences may be offered to the family at

CAPT Conley Richard "Dick" Ward, USN RET

October 1, 1930 &ndash April 18, 2021

Conley Richard (Dick) Ward was born October 1, 1930 in Zionsville Indiana to parents Leslie and Mabel Ward and passed away peacefully surrounded by his family in Roseville, California on April 18, 2021 at the age of 90.

One could sum up his life as historic, impactful, and adventurous. Dick grew up a farm boy and after HS, he enrolled first at Purdue University and a year later transferred to University of Louisville (U of L) where he took part in the NROTC. As a student at U of L Dick met his life partner, Mary Lou Kennedy, with whom he was married for 68 years until her passing in 2019.

Upon graduation, Dick was commissioned in the Navy where, for 27 years he specialized in planning, directing, and applying meteorological and oceanographic observing and forecasting programs. Dick was a true patriot and served his country through two deployments in Vietnam and one in Korea. As career Navy, Dick was given various assignments of increasing responsibility including Assistant Professor at Harvard, Meteorologist on the USS Oriskany, Commander of Fleet Numerical Weather Central in Monterey, CA, and culminating his Naval career as Director Naval Oceanography and Meteorology and Assistant Oceanographer of the Navy for Environmental Prediction. After retiring from the Navy at the rank of Captain,

Dick started a second career as Vice President of Ocean Data Systems, Inc and Global Weather Dynamics where he was responsible for development and marketing of communication and forecasting systems to world meteorological and aeronautical communities. He earned a BA in Chemistry from U of L, a BS in Meteorology from the Naval Post Graduate School and a MS in Oceanography from Old Dominion University. As a scientist, he was driven by evidence and logic and challenged conventional thinking. He was a member of the American Meteorological Society, as well as a lifetime member of MENSA.

Dick was an unassuming and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He and Mary Lou were the ultimate power couple, they worked together and were admired and respected by all who knew them. Family was most important to Dick, and he and Mary Lou worked hard to keep the ever expanding extended families of their four children connected. As a team he and Mary Lou organized many family reunions. On two occasions, Dick and Mary Lou took their grandchildren to Europe to expose them to international cultures. Dick also assumed the mantle of family historian, spending the last three decades scouring the archives to develop the history of the Ward and Kennedy families. Dick was the eternal optimist, even at the end of his life he told his family he still had a &ldquofive year plan&rdquo.

Dick is now with his wife, Mary Lou where they are both watching over their children. Surviving are his daughters Marsha Ward (Tom), Valerie Beyrouty (Craig Beyrouty, &ldquoWhat&rsquos His Name&rdquo), Cynthia Davidson and his son Kevin Ward, his 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Preceding Dick in death was a grandchild, Daniel.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Conley Richard Ward&rsquos name to Wounded Warriors.

USS Slater Celebrating Navy’s Birthday Saturday

In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, authorized recognition of October 13 as the U.S. Navy’s Birthday.

The Capital Area Chief Petty Officers Association will conduct a ceremony aboard USS Slater beginning at 9 am, Saturday, October 13, to celebrate the Navy’s Birthday.

To mark this occasion, the Association is honoring USS Slater volunteer Michael Marko as their Volunteer of the Year.

The Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on October 13, 1775, by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. These ships became Andrew Doria and Cabot.

Michael Marko has been a tour guide and maintenance volunteer with USS Slater for years. A former Destroyer Escort Sailor, he served four years on USS Brough DE-148 and USS Peterson DE-152. At the time he was involved with Operation Deep Freeze, spending much of his time in Antarctic waters. He spend the next 14 years of his Naval career on submarines, eventually becoming a Senior Chief Fire Controlman. He served aboard Triton SSRN-586.

USS Slater is located on the Hudson River in Downtown Albany. Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for children.

USS Slater will be open through November 25 this year, but closed on Thanksgiving Day. Call (518) 431-1943 or click here for more information.

New Jersey Scuba Diving

The U-550 sank precisely one ship – the tanker Pan Pennsylvania – before being sunk herself. The Pan Pennsylvania was a fat prize, loaded with AvGas for Britain, with several B-25 bombers as deck cargo. But trading an oil tanker for a submarine is no way to win a war. The Pan Pennsylvania was brand new, and you can bet we launched a replacement within a week. Germany was doomed by the industrial might of the United States.

Sinking the U-550

Coast Guard-manned Destroyer Escorts USS Joyce (DE-317) & Peterson (DE-152) Sink the U-550

By 1944, German submarines no longer prowled unimpeded through Allied sea lanes. The massive increase in the numbers of new merchant and escort vessels, long-range anti-submarine aircraft, and technological advances such as radar, sonar, and the evolution of anti-submarine tactics that utilized all of these new advances were factors that blunted the Nazi’s U-boat offensive. A few U-boats, however, still attempted to interdict the precious convoys and Allied escort vessels, many Coast Guard-manned, remained vigilant.

On the afternoon of 15 April 1944 the 28 merchant ships of the fast-tanker convoy CU-21 departed New York harbor for Great Britain. Poor weather conditions prohibited them from forming up into their assigned positions within the convoy, which they usually did well outside of the harbor. So instead they simply formed two columns and steamed on through the night. Their escorts for the voyage, six destroyer escorts, had rendezvoused by this time and formed up around the merchantmen, much like sheepdogs guarding a flock, their sonars probing the rough water for any sign of intruders. The six escorts formed Escort Flotilla 21.5 of Escort Division 22, commanded by Coast Guard Captain William W. Kenner. His command originally consisted of six Coast Guard-manned destroyer escorts but one, the USS Leopold (DE-319) had been lost the month before south of Iceland when a U-boat torpedoed her with the loss of 171 of her crew. Another destroyer escort from the flotilla, USS Joyce (DE-317) rescued the few Leopold survivors. A Navy-manned destroyer escort, USS Gandy (DE-764), took Leopold’s place within the escort flotilla.

Fortunately the weather cleared the next morning and the convoy’s commodore, Captain E. H. Tillman, USN, the man in charge of all of the merchant ships in the convoy, ordered the merchant ships to take their appropriate places. Despite the care with which the escorts took in protecting their charges, an unannounced observer watched with interest as the large tankers maneuvered into their assigned convoy positions. The U-550, one of three U-boats that dared venture into the North Atlantic that spring, was on its first combat patrol. She had lain in wait outside New York harbor for just such an opportunity. Its young commanding officer, Kapitanleutnant Klaus Hanert, saw what every U-boat commander looked for: a straggler. This merchant ship, a tanker with a full cargo of aviation fuel, was well behind the forming convoy. What luck! Not only was she a straggler, but she was also one of the most valuable targets any U-boat could hope to attack.

As the tanker sailed ever closer to the submerged U-boat, Hanert’s crew prepared their attack. He checked the range and bearing to the target and this data was fed into the torpedo aiming computer which then prepared the torpedo for its run. Once ready, Hanert gave the order to fire. A little after 0800 the single torpedo hit the port side of the SS Pan Pennsylvania, the largest tanker in the world at that time. It carried a highly combustible cargo of 140,000 barrels of 80-octane aviation fuel, a fact not lost on its 50-man crew or the 31 members of her Naval Armed Guard.

Many men panicked and leapt into the water while others attempted to launch a lifeboat without waiting for the order to abandon ship or for the Pan Pennsylvania to come to a complete stop. The lifeboat capsized and spilled the men into the frigid water. Luckily the cargo did not explode but only began to catch fire. But the explosion did cut communications between the bridge and the engine room. The tanker’s master sent the chief engineer to check on the conditions in the engine room while he informed the convoy commander of his predicament. He then searched the ship to make sure that no remaining crewmen were trapped as the huge tanker began to settle by the stern.

In an effort to evade an inevitable counterattack by the escorts, Hanert attempted to place his submerged U-boat near the sinking tanker, hoping it would mask his presence. Unbeknownst to him, however, the escorts were also heading in that direction, as Kenner immediately ordered the Joyce to retrieve the survivors. He then ordered USS Peterson and the Gandy to screen the rescue effort, and the three destroyer escorts broke formation and sailed toward the stricken tanker, all with their sonar equipment actively pinging the area. The situation on board the Pan Pennsylvania worsened. The chief engineer inspected the engine room and saw what the men feared most. A fire had broken out and was spreading. The engineer reported back to the tanker’s master who then gave the order to abandon ship. The tanker continued to settle by the stern and developed a list to port but the crew managed to launch two lifeboats and three life rafts before the ocean’s surface began to wash over the tanker’s large deck.

Joyce hove to, near the doomed ship, and its crew quickly went to work retrieving the survivors. There were so many, in fact, that Peterson had to lend a hand. Joyce’s crew pulled 31 men from the lifeboats and rafts and Peterson’s crew saved 25, but 25 others remained unaccounted for. The tanker continued to settle and then slowly capsized. As Joyce prepared to get underway, her sonar operator obtained a contact at 1,800 yards. Hanert, growing uneasy so near a sinking ship, had attempted to slowly and quietly move away from the drowning behemoth. U-550’s engineer later told interrogators, “We waited for your ship to leave soon we could hear nothing so we thought the escort vessels had gone but as soon as we started to move — bang!”

Joyce’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Wilcox, USCG, gave orders to prepare to attack and brought the warship to flank speed. Joyce radioed the other two destroyer escorts about the contact as her crew prepared to drop depth charges. Gandy formed up behind Joyce to carry out a synchronized attack. Peterson sailed close behind her sisters. As Joyce passed over the sound contact, her crew dropped 13 depth charges, all set to a shallow setting. In a perfectly timed and executed attack the depth charges bracketed the submerged submarine and exploded, literally blowing the U-550 out of the water. The depth charges were so well placed, reported another German survivor, that one depth charge actually bounced off the submerged U-boat’s deck plating before it exploded.

The sailors saw the U-boat’s bow break the surface and both Gandy’s and Peterson’s commanding officers gave the order to ram. At the same time, the three destroyer escorts opened fire on the hapless Germans but the two Coast Guard-manned warships ceased firing as the Gandy (USN) unadvisedly sailed between them and the submarine. Peterson veered off as Gandy closed with the German submarine.

Gandy slammed in to the U-550 abaft the conning tower, damaging the U-boat further and Peterson fired two depth charges from her “K” guns, which exploded along the side of the German submarine. Once Gandy was clear, all three destroyer escorts again opened fire, preventing the German crew from attempting to man their deck guns. Nevertheless a number of U-boatmen attempted just that and were cut down as they exited their hatches. When Gandy ceased firing, more Germans attempted to man the after machine gun and actually managed to open fire briefly before the concentrated fire from all three destroyer escorts mowed each one down and laid waste to the conning tower.

U-550 continued taking on water and dipped lower within the sea. The surviving U-boatmen, realizing their submarine was doomed, first set their scuttling charges and attempted to abandon ship. The charges exploded quickly, and the U-boat quickly settled by the stern and then sank beneath the waves, trapping most of the crew within its hull. The destroyer escorts ceased firing and sailed in close to rescue the few survivors, men who they were attempting to kill only a few moments before. Joyce managed to pull thirteen German sailors from the water, including U-550’s commander, but the rest of the U-boat’s crew went to the bottom with their submarine. As the three destroyer escorts sailed back to the convoy, the Gandy’s crew patched the damage they received when they rammed U-550. The now-capsized Pan Pennsylvania lay against the horizon, a solemn reminder of just how deadly the Battle of the Atlantic still was. The smoking hulk was sunk by gunfire two days later.

One of the rescued U-boatmen, Heinrich Wenz, later died from his wounds. LCDR Wilcox conducted a funeral service and then committed Wenz’s body to the sea. The convoy continued on to Britain, despite the loss of the Pan Pennsylvania, and arrived there unscathed. In a gruesome side script to the story, apparently some of the German crewmen survived the sinking of their U-boat in their forward watertight compartments. Over the next few hours or days they attempted to eject from their sunken submarine to reach the surface with their escape equipment, but unfortunately perished in the attempt. A few of their bodies were recovered floating off the coast a few days later, fueling speculation that some Germans actually made it to shore along the U.S. coast.

As for the attack, a mere thirteen minutes passed from the moment Joyce detected U-550 to the time the U-boatmen abandoned ship, an indication of the effectiveness of Allied anti-submarine capabilities and the teamwork demonstrated between the escorts.

The Navy ended up crediting all three destroyer escorts with the kill, but noted, “the [depth charge] pattern dropped by the Joyce was accurate. There is no doubt that it threw the sub out of control and caused it to surface, if not causing greater damage.”

Right: U-550 survivors aboard Joyce

Both Hanert and Wilcox survived the war. One of the surviving junior officers of the U-550, Hugo Renzmann, met with Wilcox in 1960 in New York City to discuss the battle. As a Coast Guard press release noted, “they shook hands and immediately began relating events which led up to their first meeting. It was like two avid sport enthusiasts telling each other how they won or lost the previously played game.”

USS Joyce USS Peterson USS Gandy ( after the war, in Italian service ) German sailors continuing the fight from their sinking sub with the deck guns. ( Various views of the same photo )

If this doesn’t make sense, it is because it is not true – the Germans never fired on the DEs. Look at the picture – no one is manning a gun, the guns are all pointing at the sky. The three DE’s, however, surrounded the sinking sub in a crossfire, attacking fiercely and probably taking hits from each-other in the process. A stray shot from the Gandy even set the Pan Pennsylvania on fire.

The U-550 sinks ( ironically, a day before her victim )
Photographed from USS Joyce DE-317

Divers Find Sunken German U-boat Off Massachusetts Coast

Friday Jul 27, 2012 5:53 PM

Researchers have discovered a World War II-era German submarine nearly 70 years after it sank under a withering U.S. attack in waters off Nantucket.


BOSTON — Divers have discovered a World War II-era German submarine nearly 70 years after it sank under withering U.S. attack in waters off Nantucket.

The U-550 was found Monday by a privately-funded group organized by New Jersey lawyer Joe Mazraani.

“They’ve looked for it for over 20 years,” Mazraani, a shipwreck diver, told The Boston Globe. “It’s another World War II mystery solved.”

In the second trip in two years to the site by the team, the seven-man crew using side-scan sonar located the wreck listing to its side in deep water about 70 miles south of Nantucket.

Sonar operator Garry Kozak said he spotted the 252-foot submarine during the second of an exhausting two days of searching. Kozak said the team asked him if they’d found it, then erupted in joy without a word from him.

“They could see it with the grin ( on my face ) and the look in my eyes,” Kozak said.

The crew had searched 100 square miles of ocean, the Globe reported. Traveling at five knots, the ship scanned the vast expanse for signs of the sunken vessel, a tedious process crew members likened to “mowing the lawn.”

Mazraani dove down to confirm the discovery with pictures, the Globe said.

On April 16, 1944, the U-550 torpedoed the gasoline tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania, which had lagged behind its protective convoy as it set out with 140,000 barrels of gasoline for Great Britain, according to the U.S. Coast Guard website and research by Mazraani.

This sonar image provided by GK Consulting & AWS Expeditions / Joe Mazraani, shows a World War II-era German submarine, U-550, found by a team of explorers Monday on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean 70 miles south of Nantucket Island, Mass.

The U-boat slipped under the doomed tanker to hide. But one of the tanker’s three escorts, the USS Joyce, saw it on sonar and severely damaged it by dropping depth charges.

The Germans, forced to surface, manned their deck guns while another escort vessel, the USS Gandy, returned fire and rammed the U-boat. The third escort, the USS Peterson, then hit the U-boat with two more depth charges. The crew abandoned the submarine, but not before setting off explosions to scuttle it. The submarine hadn’t been seen again until Monday.

The U-550 is one of several World War II-era German U-boats that have been discovered off the U.S. coast, but it’s the only one that sank in that area, Mazraani said. He said it’s been tough to find largely because military positioning of the battle was imprecise, and searchers had only a general idea where the submarine was when it sank. Kozak noted that the site is far offshore and has only limited windows of good weather.

The other team members were Steve Gatto, Tom Packer, Brad Sheard, Eric Takakjian and Anthony Tedeschi

Mazraani is cagey about the vessel’s precise location, saying only that it’s in deep water. Mazraani’s said his best estimate was that the team spent thousands of dollars of its own money on the expedition. He joked that no one on the team, whose members range in age from the mid-20s to mid-50s, stands to make money from the find unless someone writes a book.

Mazraani said the next step is to contact any sailors or their families from the escort vessels, the tanker and the German U-boat to share the news and show the pictures. Another trip to the site is coming, he said, adding the investigation has just started.

“The history behind it all is really what drives us,” Mazraani said.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press.

Part of the Pan Pensylvania was found upside-down in 240′ of water in 1995. The stern broke off and was found 20 miles away. The U-550 was found in 2012 at about 300′, close to the edge of the continental shelf.


reprinted from Where Divers Dare by Randal Peffer

A black night on the North Atlantic. Joe Mazraani’s eyes feel like they’re popping out of his skull as he sits in the steering seat on the dive boat Tenacious. The vessel is lumbering westward at 10 knots, giving off the sour scent of diesel exhaust. It’s only about 2240 hours, at night, but it feels like long past midnight. Mazraani squints to see beyond the glow of the chart plotter, the depth sounder screen, the radar, and the compass. More than a few people have noted that when he’s at the helm of his dive boat, he puts them in mind of George Clooney in The Perfect Storm.

He has been peering into the gloom for hours, days. Years, if he has to admit the truth about the depth of his obsession for this hunt. He knows that it’s not rational, but at some point tonight he has started to imagine flailing, beckoning arms, the flashes of white life vests among the dark waves. Then German cries of “Helfen sie mir.” Help me.

He wonders if he’s alone with these ghosts. Or are the other men on Tenacious haunted, too? But, of course, they are. Why would they be out here on such a night so far from land if they were not spellbound, caught in the thrall of the dead, the dying, and the mysteries that surround them? Possibly divers Brad Sheard, Eric Takakjian, and Anthony Tedeschi, sleeping in their forecastle berths, are dreaming of the naval battle that took place here, near the edge of the continental shelf, 70 miles south of Nantucket Island on April 16, 1944. It was a day when the Battle of the Atlantic exploded in chaos on America’s doorstep.

Maybe sonar operator Garry Kozak, curled on the berth behind the steering station on a short break, is picturing the morning when a torpedo from U-550 split open the side of the tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania on this patch of ocean. Maybe as he snores softly, Kozak’s seeing the Pan Penn list suddenly 30 degrees to port. Or perhaps he’s seeing twenty-five American men from the tanker scrambling into a lifeboat, then seeing the ship capsize.

Maybe divers Steve Gatto and Tom Packer are sharing the same nightmare as they sit side by side on a bench seat, snacking on peanuts and gazing into the sonar monitor on the galley table in front of them. Gatto and Packer have been deep wreck diving buddies for so long, they sometimes feel uncertain where one man’s mind leaves off and the other’s picks up.

Maybe together they are lost in the moments when depth charges from the destroyer escort USS Joyce drive the German sea wolf to the surface. Perhaps they are witnessing the withering attack from three destroyer escorts, hearing the pock-pock-pock of 20mm cannons firing as the Americans’ shells turn U-550‘s conning tower into Swiss cheese. Or possibly they are wondering what it must have been like to be one of those German boys who abandoned his sub for the water as the U-boat was sinking. The Americans rescued only thirteen men. That water’s so cold. Nobody knows better than divers such as Gatto and Packer how frigid and unforgiving the North Atlantic can be. They’ve witnessed too many men die in these waters for real, not just in a nightmare hijacked from 1944.

Joe Mazraani hears a groan. It’s Pirate, his Portuguese water dog sleeping at his feet. Mazraani shivers a little. But it’s not Pirate’s groan or the chill of the night air that rattles him. It’s this place and its phantoms. If you ask him, he’d tell you that you don’t want to ever come to a watery graveyard like this without a serious band of brothers. You don’t want to be hunting for a lost U-boat far at sea with bad weather coming without the best of shipmates. You sure as hell don’t want to be thinking of diving 300 feet down in black waters unless you have someone you really trust to watch your back.

Ashore he works as a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey, but out here he’s the captain of Tenacious. Like all of his shipmates tonight, he’s not just a man starting to face off with ghosts. He’s a man on a mission. They all are.

This trip marks their second summer of active searching, and the pressure’s building. While Mazraani’s team has been hunting for U-550 in absolute secrecy, another team, led by a respected New England wreck diver, has been publicizing its own search for the 550 with YouTube videos. A recent one shows the New England team laying a wreath on the water over the wreck of the tanker blown apart by the U-boat. And rumor has it that yet another team is also trying to mount a search for U-550. Bottom line: if the Tenacious divers don’t find the 550 on this trip, someone else will probably beat them to the long-lost submarine.

Not even treasure is more compelling to these divers than being the first humans on a wreck. And treasure, of a sort, is definitely important to wreck divers. They bring back artifacts all the time, spend tens of thousands of dollars to restore them and display them at their homes and at museums and dive shows. If this wreck were a commercial ship like the liner Andrea Doria, salvaging artifacts from the wreck would be fair game. The U-550 discovery divers have plates, glasses, silverware, and bronze nautical hardware from dives on the Doria. Wreck divers see their artifact collections as preserving history, and at times they share their collections with museums. Tom Packer was one of the divers who helped to salvage a bell off the Doria back in 1985. Gatto has a helm, a steering wheel, from the liner. He, Packer, and diver John Moyer have filed legal papers in court, which makes them Salvors in Possession of the wreck.

But divers cannot own a warship such as U-550. Maritime law unequivocally states that the wreck of a warship forever belongs to the country it served. It’s a way of honoring and preserving war graves. The divers aboard Tenacious respect that. Instead of harvesting artifacts from the sub, they want to find 550 to get as close as they can to a moment when the Battle of the Atlantic flared right off US shores.

U-550 is the last unfound German U-boat known to have sunk in diveable waters off America’s East Coast. For divers Eric Takakjian and Brad Sheard, the hunt to unravel the mysteries of this submarine goes back twenty years. For others, such as Gatto and Packer, men in their fifties, this dive expedition is another chance to bond with some of the few men who really understand them. They are divers whose names rise from the pages of Shadow Divers as some of the most seasoned deep wreck divers in the Northeast.

All of these guys feel the lure of unearthing history. They crave the opportunity to bear witness to the buried time capsule that is a previously undiscovered wreck. They seek the challenge of the search above and below the water, the planning for both the hunt and the deep, dangerous dive. They love the anticipation of a long and sometimes rough boat ride, crossing the water to the middle of nowhere. They thrill to the interface with sea creatures such as lobsters, immense codfish, sea turtles, rays, dolphins, whales, and white sharks. They relish plunging to places few humans see and fewer return from. Finally, they cherish the chance to resurface in the world of the living again with an artifact such as a bell or a porthole that says, “I have been to the underworld, the land of the dead. I have come back to tell you all.” Strong drugs.

And, while Packer rarely puts his motives into words, he’s here to watch out for his dive buddies, especially the totally pumped younger men whose enthusiasm for their sport can drive them to take terrible risks. Packer knows how easy it is to get lost inside a wreck or trapped by debris. Diving gear has gotten so much better since he, Gatto, Sheard, and Takakjian started diving more than three decades ago, but equipment is never fail-safe. And when you are going as deep as 300 feet, you probably can’t make it to the surface and live if you run short of air down there. Every man on Tenacious has his own personal collection of almost-died stories. All of them have known men who have died diving wrecks. Several of them have led the way to recover dead divers from the dark corridors of a shadowy ghost ship.

But for thirty-four-year-old Mazraani, and the even younger Tedeschi, danger beckons. Finding and diving the U-550 is the ultimate adventure, one seductive enough to prompt Mazraani to buy his own dive boat to chase the dream. It’s a fantasy so alluring that the young attorney has hired Kozak to use his high-tech sonar “fish” to scan the inky water for a lost phantom.

And right now it looks like Kozak’s fish has a problem.

“What the hell?” Packer’s voice brings Mazraani back to the present.

“The monitor just freaking froze,” says Gatto.

“Hold your course,” he says groggily, “until I can fix this thing.”

For the past fifteen hours the expedition team aboard Tenacious has been towing their sonar fish, a 6-foot-long, torpedo-shaped echo sounder on a wire, 440 yards behind the boat, 250 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. The dive boat has been steaming back and forth across an 84-square-mile grid where the divers think U-550 lies.

This kind of searching is what deep-sea hunters call “mowing the lawn.” It’s mind-numbingly boring, and yet it demands total attention to every little detail observed by the sonar fish if you want any hope of finding your needle in the haystack. In this case the needle is the wreck of a U-boat sent by Hitler to prey on American merchant shipping sixty-eight years ago. A predator sunk by Coast Guard and Navy sailors. The alleged grave of more than forty men.

“You want me to turn around for the next pass to the east?” asks Mazraani.

“No. Just keep going,” says Kozak. Tenacious moves beyond the perimeter of the search grid.

Mazraani nods, reminds himself to focus, stick with the program.

It’s only a minute or so before the sonar monitor’s online again. Mazraani’s thinking about turning his boat back to the search grid when one of the guys at the monitor says, “Holy shit. We’re going over something.”

Instinctively, Mazraani hits the key on the laptop that is his GPS chart plotter to mark the position.

Gatto, Packer, and Kozak are watching a strange bottom anomaly coming into view on the side scan, a mysterious blip. It looks too large to be a submarine, but who knows?

“This could be big,” someone’s voice cracks. “Wake the others.”

It’s 2245 hours, July 22, 2012, and maybe these deep wreck hunters have just found their holy grail. But nobody’s going down there to see. Not now. Even on the sonar monitor the ocean looks dark as all hell.

The entire story, from the sinking of the Pan Pennsylvania to the discovery of the U-550, and the true final moments of the sub, is covered in this excellent book.

Pan Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of SSHSA Collection, University of Baltimore Library

At 14.05 hours on 16 April 1944 the Pan Pennsylvania (Master Delmar Melum Leidy) in station #72 of convoy CU-21 was hit by one torpedo from U-550 about 200 miles east of New York. The torpedo struck on port side in the #8 tank, causing an explosion that blew a large hole in the side, ruptured the #7 tank and disabled the steering gear. The tanker soon went down by the stern and listed to port about 30°. The master was not able to reach the engine room to order the engines stopped, while some of the nine officers, 41 crewmen and 31 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) on board panicked and tried to launch two lifeboats while the ship was still making headway. The master halted those at one boat, but the other was launched and capsized, throwing the occupants into the sea. After ascertaining the damage the tanker was finally stopped at 14.20 hours and the remaining men abandoned ship in the last two usable lifeboats and three rafts.

In the meantime, USS Gandy (DE 764), USS Joyce (DE 317) and USS Peterson (DE 152) had brought U-550 to the surface in the counter-attack and sank her. The latter two then picked up the survivors of the tanker about two hours after the attack and landed them in Londonderry on 26 April. Two officers, 13 crewmen and ten armed guards were lost, the most of them when the lifeboat capsized but three were crushed when they attempted to launch a lifeboat on the weather side and some drowned after jumping overboard.

The Pan Pennsylvania later capsized and was bombed and sunk by Allied aircraft two days later at 40°24N/69°37W.

Location of attack on Pan Pennsylvania.

ship sunk.

If you can help us with any additional information on this vessel then please contact us.

Media links