Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Destroyer Escorts & Vietnam

This weekend, while giving a tour of the USS Slater, I was asked about the role that Destroyer Escorts (DEs) had during the Vietnam War. This question underlines a few of the reasons for this blog. Many times during a tour I've was presented with a question that I couldn't do justice within the time limits allowed. During the typical tour you have a diverse mix of ages and interests. On a busy day tour groups can become queued (stacked) if too much time is spent at a single tour station. Because of these constraints it's important to keep answers terse.

During the tour I gave the quick answer to the question “What role did Destroyer Escorts have during the Vietnam War?”: Off the cost of South Vietnam Destroyer Escorts provided Naval Gunfire Support, and participated with Operation Market Time. Operation Market Time was the inspection of coastal vessels like trawlers and junks for contraband. The Destroyer Escorts fitted with advanced radar (DERs) were especially well suited for Operation Market Time. In WWII a few Destroyer Escorts were specialized for a high speed transport role (called APDs). During the Vietnam War these ships supported UDT, Seal Teams and Marine Units. In the mid-1960 new classes of Destroyer Escorts were built. These modern ships operated in the coastal areas near North Vietnam. These operations included PIRAZ, SAR and Yankee Station escort. Piraz was the modern evolution of Radar Picket duty. SAR was pilot rescue. Yankee Station was the operating station in the Tonkin Gulf for Aircraft Carriers.

Sometime I offer to provide additional details once a tour is over. However, by using a blog to fill out an answer, you can keep the tour moving and use the resources of the world-wide web to provide in depth answers. Rather than go into detail on the Naval Mission during the Vietnam War, I can provide a link to the US Navy History Center's detail account: By Sea, Air and Land. I can also link to specific ships that are representative of the DE's Vietnam Missions. The USS Whipple (DE-1062), a modern (post WWII) Knox-Class Destroyer Escort was deployed to the coast of Vietnam in 1972. It's duties included Piraz, C-SAR and Yankee Station Escort. The USS Haverfield (DE-393), a WWII-era Edsall-class, Destroyer Escort, was retrofitted with additional radar equipment and re-designated as a Destroyer Escort Radar Pickett (DER). Off the coast of Vietnam this ship's primary role was with the Market Time Operation. The USS Weiss (APD-135) was a support ship for UDT and Seal Teams. Regarding Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS), the National Archives maintains a database of NGFS missions off of Vietnam. A search for DE related ships will return over 3,000 missions.

The term Littoral referrers to coastal waters. Since WWII DEs, because of their lower draft, were often deployed in these waters. Based in part on these experiences of the US Navy is constructing a modern ship the Littoral Combat ship. In large part, the DE mission in Vietnam was similar to the roles outlined for the Littoral Combat Ship.


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