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  USS Samuel B. Roberts DE-413
John C. Butler Class Destroyer


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USN October 1944
Ship History
Built by Brown Shipbuilding Company in Houston, Texas. Laid down December 6, 1943. Launched on January 20, 1944. Commissioned April 28, 1944. Named in honor of Coxswain Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr., who earned the Navy Cross and sponsored by Mrs. Samuel B. Roberts. Assigned to captain Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, USNR.

Wartime History
Following shakedown off Bermuda from May 21 - June 19. On July 22, 1944 departed Norfolk, Virginia and traveled via the Panama Canal on July 27 and proceeded to Pearl Harbor arriving on August 10 and joined the Pacific Fleet.

Following training exercises, departed on August 21 with a convoy that arrived at Eniwetok on August 30, then departed on September 2 for Pearl Harbor with anothar convoy returning on September 10.

After further training, the ship got underway on September 21 escorting another convoy to Eniwetok and arriving on September 30. Afterwards, proceeded to Manus Island and joined Task Unit 77.4.3, "Taffy 3" and proceeded to the Leyte Gulf area and commenced operations with the Northern Air Support Group off Samar Island.

Sinking History
On October 25, 1944 shortly after dawn, Samuel B. Roberts was escorting escort carriers off Samar Island, when a Japanese task force suddenly appeared on the horizon and opened fire, in an action that would become known as the Battle Off Samar, the centermost action of theĀ Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Racing into action, this destroyer reached 28.7 knots by diverting all available steam to the ship's twin turbines (although only designed to make 23-24 knots) and launched a daring torpedo attack against the Japanese cruisers, scoring a torpedo hit on one and at least 40 gunfire hits on a second before being hit by a salvo of 14" shells which tore a hole 40' long and 10' wide in the port side of her no. 2 engine room. Heavily damaged, the crew abandoned ship and the destroyer sank soon afterwards.

Samuel B. Roberts was included in the Presidential Unit Citation given to TU 77.4.3 "for extraordinary heroism in action" and earned one battle star for World War II service. Officially, struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 27, 1944.

120 surviving crew clung to three life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued.

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020


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