USS Roe (DD-418) was a Sims class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1941. After the US entry into the Second World War she remained in the Atlantic throughout 1942, before taking part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. In 1943 she supported the invasion of Sicily, where she was badly damaged in a collision with the Swanson (DD-443). After repairs she escorted two transatlantic convoys, before moving to the Pacific early in 1944. She supported the advance along the north coast of New Guinea, then served on support roles in the Marshalls and Marianas. This duty lasted for most of the rest of the war, apart from a number of attacks on Iwo Jima. In April 1945 she moved up to support the air attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. She returned to the US to a refit before the end of the war and was decommissioned in October 1945.
The Roe was named after Francis Asbury Roe, who served in the US Navy during the American Civil War.
The Roe was laid down at the Charleston Navy Yard on 23 April 1938, launched on 21 June 1939 when she was sponsored by Mrs Eleanor Roe Hilton and commissioned on 5 January 1940.
After her shakedown cruise the Roe took part in exercises along the east coast, before moving to the Pacific, where she spent the rest of the year.
In the spring of 1941 the Roe returned to the US east coast, and she spent the summer operating in the mid-Atlantic part of the coast.
From 30 July-10 August she took part in a 3,998 mile long neutrality patrol that began at Hampton Roads and ended at Bermuda, along with the Yorktown, Brooklyn, Eberle (DD-430) and Grayson (DD-435).
In the autumn the Roe moved north to Argentia, from where she escorted convoys moving between Newfoundland and the American garrison on Iceland.
In January 1942 the Roe moved south, to patrol the approaches to Bermuda and Norfolk, Virginia.
On 18 January 1942 the tanker SS Allan Jackson was torpedoed and sunk off North Carolina by U-66. The Roe arrived four hours later, and rescued the Second Mate, Third Mate and an able seaman from the water, then rescued the occupants of the only lifeboat that could be launched. Finally she found the Master after he had been in the water for seven hours. Thirteen of her crew of 35 survived, and were landed at Norfolk, Virginia, on 19 January.
In mid-February the Roe returned to New York, from where she resumed North Altlantic convoy duties.
On 3 March she arrived at Iceland, and she spent the next couple of weeks in that area, patrolling around the island and in the Denmark strait. Later in the month she returned to New York.
In April she escorted ships to Panama and the canal.
In May she operated off New England.
In June she escorted a convoy across the Atlantic to Britain.
In July she screened larger US navy ships as they carried out training exercises in the Caribbean and along the US coast.
In mid-July she was part of the screen for the South Dakota during part of the battleship’s shakedown cruise. At the end of July she carried out the same role for the Indiana.
On 6 August she departed from New York with TF 21 (Arkansas, Brooklyn (CL-40) and thirteen destroyers) to escort a convoy of fourteen US, British and Polish troop transports north to Halifax, arriving on 8 August.
From mid-August to October she operated on the routes between Trinidad and Brazil.
On 1 October 1942 she resuced 17 merchant seamen and two Naval Armed Guard from the SS West Chetac, who had been adrift for eight days after their ship was sunk by U-175 off the coast of Brazil.
In October she returned to Norfolk, ready to take part in Operation Torch, the landings in North Africa.
On 24 October the Roe, Livermore, Kearny and Ericsson put to sea to act as the anti-submarine screen for Cruiser Division 8, which was itself the advance guard for the troop transports, supply ships and tankers crossing the Atlantic to attack French Morocco.
On the morning of 7 November, as the fleet was approaching their target, the Roe was assigned to the Northern Attack Group (Texas, Savannah (CL-42), seven destroyers and two mine sweepers), which was to escort ten troop and supply ships.
The Northern Attack Group’s role was to land on a series of beaches to the north and south of Mehdia, at the mouth of the Sebou River, then push inland to capture Port Lyautey and its nearby airfield.
The Roe’s first task was to find the submarine USS Shad (SS-235), which was meant to have been acting as a navigation beacon off the landing area. However she was unable to find the submarine, so instead had to identify the landing area herself then guide the transport shisp into place. She then acted as the control destroyer off Blue and Yellow beaches, at the southern end of the landing area. At about 0630 she came under heavy fire from French guns near the Kasba, an old citadel at Mehdia village, near the mouth of the river. She was straddled four times and had to increase speed and withdraw. The Savannah and Texas then opened fire, temporarily forcing the French battery to cease fire. A little later the Savannah and Roe were strafed by a pair of Dewoitine D.520s.
From 7-15 November the Roe remained off Morocco, providing fire support and screening the larger ships. She then returned to the US, arriving at Hampton Roads on 26 November.
On 11-17 December she helped escort a convoy of oilers from New York to Galveston, Texas. On 16 December the Glennon, one of the other escorts, believed she had detected a U-boat and dropped several depth charges, but without success.
Into the spring of 1943 the Roe was used to escort tankers operating in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean and to escort reinforcement convoys heading to Casablanca.
On 16 April she was photographed off the New York Naval Yard, painted with dark painted on the lower part of the hull and light on the upper part and superstructure.
On 10 June she left New York heading for the Mediterranean to take part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. She reached Oran at the end of Oran, then moved to Bizerte to join her part of the invasion force.
On 8 July she left Bizerte as part of ‘Joss’ Force, heading for Licata. On 9 July she took up a position in the fire support area off Beach Red, near the Torre de Gaffe.
On 10 July the Roe and Swanson (DD-443) moved towards the Italian motor torpedo base at Port Empedocle, 24 miles to the west of Licata, to investigate a series of small pips seen on radar. Just before they were about to open fire on the suspected targets the Roe had to alter course to avoid the minefield that protected the base, and to take up a position behind the Swanson. However she was going too fast, and just before 0300 rammed the Swanson at right angles on the port side. The Roe lost part of her own bow, whiule the Swanson’s fireroom was flooded.
For a short time both ships were dead in the water, but by 0500 both had restored power. The Germans were soon aware of the damaged destroyers, and send the Luftwaffe to try and sink them. However the destroyers were able to defend themselves and during the engagement shot down one Ju 88 with the newly issued proximity influence fused 5in shells
Following temporary patching at Oran, Roe returned to New York for permanent repairs.
After temporary repairs at Oran the Roe crossed the Atlantic in mid-August as part of TG 89.6, which departed from Casablanca on 12 August and reached New York on 22 August. She then underwent full repairs at New York.
These were completed by mid-September, when the Roe returned to convoy escort duties, carrying out two runs to North Africa by the end of December.
At the start of 1944 it was decided to send the Roe to the Pacific. The Roe left New York on 26 January, and on the following day joined up with TG 29.7, which included the transport Clay carrying over 1,500 Marines heading for Pearl Harbor, and the Athos II, a French ship being used as a troop transport. The convoy reached Pearl Harbor on 13 February.
The Roe then continued across the Pacific, joing CTF 76 at Cape Sudest on 12 March. From then until mid July she supported the 7th Fleet’s amphibious ships as they took part in the series of landings that saw the Allies leapfrog along the north-western coast of New Guinea.
From 13-16 March she escorted a convoy of seven LSTs from Cape Sudest to Seeadler Harbour. From 16-21 March she supported the fighting on Manus in the Admiralty Islands.
In early April she moved Army personnel from Manus to Rambutyo. On 22 April she supported the landings at Humboldt Bay.
On 18 May the Roe and Wilkes (DD-441) landed the 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry on the island of Wakde. She then supported the fighting at Toem and Wakde. At the end of May she escorted LSTs to Biak.
She carried out fire support and escort duties to support the fighting at Biak into June. On 29 June she carried out fire support to support the troops fighting to the north-east of the Driniumor River.
In July she carried out a pre-invasion bombardment of Noemfoor and then provided fire support after the landings.
In mid-July the Roe left the 7th Fleet and moved to Majuro, where she joined the 5th Fleet. For the rest of July and all of August she was used as an aircraft rescue ship around Maloelap, Wotje, Mili, and Jaluit.
From September to early December she carried ouit patrol, picket and escort duties around the Marshalls and Marianas.
In early December she joined TG 94.9 and took part in a bombardment of Iwo Jima that was completed by 8 December. The force then returned to Saipan, from where the Roe carried a doctor to a convoy heading to Saipan and carried out two search and rescue missions. On 14 December she rescued the crew of a B-29 who had been adrift for eleven days, since their aircraft crashed at sea after a raid on the Japanese home islands on 3 December.
On 24 December and 27 December she took part in two more attacks on Iwo Jima. During the first of these she sank a small trawler. Later on 24 December the Roe and the Case (DD-370) were sent to chase a fleeing Japanese transport, probably a destroyer converted into a fast transport. After a two hour long chase the Japanese ship sank, and her survivors refused any help from the Americans. On 27 December she bombared buldings and anti-aircraft positions around Iwo Jima’s west boat basin, and sank several small boats.
During the first week of January she took part in an attack on the Volcano and Bonin Islands then spent a period of availability at Ulithi. She was then used for patrol and escort duties from Guam.
In late April she carried out radar picket and search and rescue operations around the Volcano and Bonin Islands to support air attacks on the Japanese Home Islands.
At the end of May she resumed operations in the Marianas.
In June she was ordered back to the US, and she reached San Francisco for an overhaul on 29 July. After the end of the war she was decommissioned on 30 October 1945, struck off on 16 November and sold for scrap in August 1947.
Roe (DD-418) earned seven battle stars during World War II, for North Africa, Sicily, the Bismarck Archipelago, Hollandia, Western New Guinea, Western Caroline Islands and Iwo Jima.
2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
6,500nm at 12kts design
Armour - belt
Five 5in/38 DP guns