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USS Whitehurst DE-634

Condensed History of USS Whitehurst DE-634

whitehurst-1.jpgCompiled by Max Crow, Webmaster, USS Whitehurst Assn.

Named for Ensign Henry Purefoy Whitehurst who lost his life during the Battle of Savo Island while serving on the USS Astoria CA-34

USS Whitehurst DE-634, New ship, 1944

The Destroyer Escort was launched 5 September 1943, christened by Mrs. Robie S. Whitehurst, mother of Ensign Whitehurst. Commissioned 19 Nov. 1943.  The ship escorted convoys during the Pacific War.  She sank 1 Japanese Submarine and downed 4 aircraft.  12 April 1945, during the Battle of Okinaw, the DE was struck by suicide bomber.  Forty-two men lost their lives and many others were wounded.  Returning, under her own power, to Pearl Harbor, Whitehurst was repaired, given “ship to shore” power capability, and sent back to Manila, PI, arriving shortly before two Atomic Bombs forced the Imperial Japanese to surrender. 


June 1953 Full Dress Ship to honor the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II, Great BritainAfter supplying Power to Manila until October of 1945, Whitehurst steamed south to Apra Harbor, Guam where she supplied power for cleanup of the harbor itself.  Decommissioned 27 Nov. 1946, she was “partially” mothballed in the St. Johns River, Green Cove Springs, FL.  But her boilers stayed hot.  Whitehurst supplied the power needed by the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Green Cove Springs.

1 September 1950, called to the colors for the Korean Conflict, the seasoned veteran was sent to Pusan, South, Korea, where she generated the power needed by the city for several months before steaming west to assume the same duty for the city of Mok Po, S. Korea. In late 1951 Whitehurst arrived at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California for a lengthy overhaul and minor weapons upgrade after which, the ship operated out of San Diego until late summer 1952 when her home port was changed to Pearl Harbor.  November 1952, with every weapon armed for action, she escorted the ship which carried the H-Bomb test data to NAS Alameda, CA.

From late 1952 until 1958 the aging veteran alternated between antisubmarine exercises out of Pearl Harbor and Patrols of the Trust Territories of the Pacific out of Apra Harbor, Guam. The old ship performed admirably in the course of several Search and Rescue Missions, in one case moving 112 natives from their typhoon ravaged village on Agrihan, to Saipan. In June-July of 1957 Whitehurst starred in the 20th Century Fox movie, “The Enemy Below”.

September 1957, Whitehurst’s duties changed from honing the skills of regular navy sailors, to training Navy Reservists on weekends in the 13th Naval District. Her home port was changed to Seattle and her Regular Navy crew was reduced to a nucleus of about 35 men whose duty was to make sailors of the “weekend warriors”.

December 1958, she was decommissioned but “in service” as a unit of the Select Reserve ASW Force.

October 1961 re-commissioned for the Berlin Crisis but sent to Viet Nam where she assisted in the training of South Viet Namese Patrol Boat Captains.


August 1962 Decommissioned again as an “in service” as a Group II Naval Reserve Training ship.  1967 Homeport changed to Portland Oregon where she relieved McGinty DE-365 as NRT ship.

12 July 1962: Placed “out of service” and stricken from the NVR.

28 April 1971: The venerable old veteran served her country on her final mission as a sacrifice in the first “War Shot” test of the Mk. 48 Torpedo. Sunk by USS Trigger SS-564


  Last Whitehurst photo: by Periscope Photographer Tom Boyer of