USS Spangler DE-696
- Ship's History -

The USS Spangler (DE 696), named for Donald H. Spangler, LTJG, USN of Indiana, killed in action during in 1942 near the Solomon Islands, was constructed at DeFoe Shipbuilding Corp. in Bay City, Michigan..  It was commissioned at New Orleans on Oct. 31, 1943.

SheThe Spangler was a 306-foot Buckley-class destroyer, having a 36-feet beam width, a drought of 11-feet and weighing 1,740 tons.  Primary operating equipment included two "D" class express boilers, G.E. turbines with electric drive. Normal cruising speed was 15 knots with a maximum speed of 24 knots.

Photo of Donald H. Spangler
Donald H. Spangler, LTJG

Armament included three MK22 3-inch 50mm dual purpose open mount main guns, six 40mm and eight Mk4 20mm anti-aircraft guns, one MK3 21-inch triple torpedo tube mounts, Mark 15 Torpedos (3x1)'s, one MK10 (144 rounds) Hedgehog Projector, eight Mk 6 K-Gun depth charge projectors, two Mk 9 depth charge tracks. - Source: Navsource Online

Eleven other ships of the Buckley Class were constructed at the DeFoe Shipbuilding yard in Bay City, MI.  These include the USS Bull 693, USS Bunch 694, USS Rich 695, USS George 697, USS Raby 698, USS Marsh 699, USS Currier 700, USS Earl V. Johnson 702, USS Holton 703, USS Cronin 704, USS Frybarger 705, and USS Osmus 701. Source: DeFoe Shipbuilding Co. Highlighted, underlined names are linkable sites.

On completion of constuction the DeFoe Shipbuilding yard in Bay City, MI on July 15, 1943, the Spangler traveled through the Great Lakes (Lake Huran and Lake Michigan) to Chicago, IL in time to participat in the Treasury-Navy Tribune Exhibition on Sept. 24, 1943. She then traveled down the Missouri River to the New Orleans Navy Shipyard for the ship's commissioning on Oct. 31. 1943.



Following shakedown cruise to Bermuda the Spangler "steamed into Boston, Massachusetts with eight inches of sea ice all over the ship.  LCDR William A. Burgett USNR was Commanding Officer and LT. Douglas J. McFarlane, USNR was XO

LCDR W. A. Burgett USNR
Lt. D. J. McFarlane USNR

Dave Rehymer (LTJG 1943-1944) provides some interesting insight into the Bermuda and Boston experience, "Lots of practice exercises working with friendly subs and B-26-towed targets for anti-aircraft target practice. Finally pronounced fit and ready for combat duty in the southwest Pacific, we made a high speed run (at 21 knots) from Bermuda to Boston. The Boston Navy Yard gave us an availability to fine tune our engines and power plant and our ordnance, three 3"-50 caliber main battery, our triple torpedo tubes, our 1.1 caliber quad mount anti-aircraft guns, and 20mm pea shooters.

Over my desk is a picture of Spangler in Boston Yard, morning after our run from Bermuda. I had the morning watch, 0400-0800. We had to slow to 15 knots because of nasty weather but continued to take green water, not spray, over the flying bridge where we stood watch. There was no cold weather gear aboard-we were SOPAC destined-and it was cold, but really cold. It took the yard most of the day to de-ice us using yard steam hoses."

Departing Boston on December 24, 1943 with three big Destroyers, the Spangler headed for the Pacific via the Panama Canal to join her first wartime convoy, crossing the Equator enroute to Bora Bora in the Society Islands, arriving on January 20, 1944. She was then ordered to rendezvous with convoy Task Unit 116.15.3 as flag ship of Escort Division Thirty Nine, then directed to head for Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands.

Ted Smith (SN 1943-1945) in his Memoir: "My Navy Days" provides us with an outstanding overview of the Spangler's history in the Pacific during World War II, including a trip by trip accounting of the ship's movements from New Years Day 1945 through September 28, 1945.

The map on the right displays the Spangler's areas of operation while in the Pacific.   Click on the map for a larger display.  Not included are the Spangler's stop at Bora Bora on Jan 20, 1944 or her arrival in San Pedro Harbor, California, on Sept. 28, 1945.  When viewing the larger maps, please note that locations of interest can be clicked on to open small windows displaying useful tidbits of information about the Spangler's visit to each location.

-- Adopt An Island--

Of the 28 locations of interest on the map, at least eleven lack information (posted as pop-up information when using the map) on when, why and how often the Spangler was there.  And of those that have information, most could stand improvment.  If you would like to help on this little project, please jump in and forward some information my way (

During Feb. 1944 the Spangler was assigned to escort Shasta (AE-6) to Purvis Bay, Florida Islands in the Solomons and undertake antisub patrols off the Florida Islands, Blanche Harbor, Treasury Island, Guadalcanal, and Bouganville including participating in practice LST landings at Guadalcanal.   Part of these duties included escorting Alnita (AK-127) to Torokina Point on Bouganville.   Following convoy operation from the Solomons to Espirito Santo and New Caledonia in late March, the Spangler incurred damage to her propellers, when struck by an unidentified floating object and put into Naumea, New Caledonia for repairs. Other islands visited during the patrol operations in addition to those mentioned included: Espirity Santo, Majuro, Emiru, Rendova and Manus

"In late May, Spangler sailed from Tulagi to the Admiralty Islands with a supply of hedgehog depth charges for England (DE-636) Raby (DE-698), and George (DE-697).  She rendezvoused with the three ships at Manus on the 27th, delivered her cargo and the four ships sortied the next day to join a hunter/killer group formed around Hoggatt (CVE-75).  The task group was steaming north during the waning hours of 30 May when Hazlewood (DD-531) made a sound contact on the Japanese submarine, RO-105.  While England and Spangler headed toward the southern end of the scouting line, Raby and George charged to the attack.  Both ships attacked the enemy, but with no apparent success.  During the night, they lost contact with the sumerged enemy.  However, after a few hours, the Japanese commanding officer obligingly surfaced between Raby and George and switched on his searchlights.  England and Spangler raced toward the shaft of light which fixed RO-105's position for them perfectly. By 0500 on the 31st, they were in contact with Raby and George, and with officer in tactical command (OTC).  At first light, Raby and George each attacked the Japanese sub in quick succession. When their efforts failed, Spangler joined the fray.  She attacked with 24 depth charges, but without success.  Englands full pattern of depth charges at 0735 brought a hugh explosion and a water grave to RO-105." - Source: American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. VI.

Merlin Carr (RM2 1949 - 1952) is an avid fan of Naval history and recently put together a wonderful writeup on the Spangler's involvement in the sinking of RO-105.  His focus, however, is really on the story of the "Little Boys," as he puts it, the Destroyer Escorts of CortDiv39 and their role in the sinking of six Japanese submarines during the "Merry Month of May" 1944. Please take a moment to visit his page, you'll enjoy it.  But be sure to click on the History page link at the bottom of his writeup to return here.

The Spangler joined Task Group 30.4 on June 2nd and proceeded to Seeadler Harbor at Manus when she continued to conduct operations with Haggatt Bay until heading for Purvis Bay and overhaul on June 21st., In May 1944, while operating out of New Georgia Island on special assignment, the ships of Escort Division Thirty Nine were credited with the sinking of one submarine.  After repairs at Florida Island and Espirito Santo, the Spangler spent two months in continuous convoy work out of Purvis Bay, Florida Island until in Oct. 1944, she was ordered to Funa Futi Atoll for duty as station ship.

Commander Escort Division Thirty Nine moved to the Spangler's sister ship, USS Ruby, in April and the Spangler left port in company with a convoy for the Admiralty Islands. From the Admiralty islands the ship moved to New Georgia Islands where LCDR D. J. McFarland, the Executive Officer, relieved LCDR W. A. Burgett as Commanding Officer on May 13, 1944. LCDR H. M. Edwards was assigned as Executive Officer.

The month of June was spent in escorting carrier escorts on various missions and late in the month the Spangler made port at Florida Islands for a needed availability. Upon completion of repairs at Florida Island, the ship sailed for Espiritu Santo and there entered a floating drydock for repairs to the hull and propeller shaft.

The next two months were spent in continued convoy out of Purvis Bay, Florida Islands, and late in October the Spangler was ordered to Funa-futi Atoll, Ellice Islands for duty as station ship. In November the ship was relieved and proceeded to Bougainville with several passengers from Florida Island.

LCDR Harold M. Edwards, USNR

The middle of December the Spangler arrived at Ulithi where she spent her first Christmas in the Pacific. Tthe day after Christmas she was enroute to Guam which became her operating base on New Years Day 1945.

In Feb. 1945 the Spangler was assigned to escort duty on the Guam-Ulithi supply route and the additional duty of hunter-killer operations, with a part of these duties serving as air-sea rescue ship as part of the Marianas-Iwo unit operating out of Saipan, keeping lookout for damaged Saipan-based aircraft which were beginning attacks on the home islands of Japan.  On March 13th, LCDR Harold M. Edwards, USNR, relieved CDR MacFarland as Commanding Officer. Later In March the Spangler proceeded to Iwo Jima area (not yet secured by land forces) where she received a battle star for that campaign.  She served as station ship in Siapan from April 26 to May 27, 1945. During the early summer the Spangler made convoy trips between Saipan and Iwo Jima and was assigned ASW duties outside Guam.

In the middle of June, the Spangler was assigned escort duty with a transport enroute to Eniwetol. In August CDR E. L. Holtz relieved Capt Jackson as Division Commander and shortly after the ship departed for Okinawa. It was on the return from Okinawa that the Spangler received word of Japan's capitulation.

Soon after the Japanese surrender, the Spangler in company with the USS Raby departed for the United States.  She took a load of SeeBees aboard and sailed for Pearl Harbor.   On 28 September, the Spangler sighted Catalina Island and entered San Pedro Harbor, California after an absence from the U. S. for almost two years.   During overhaul at Todd Shipyard her 3"/50 cal. battery was removed and 5"/38 cal. mounts installed.

She departed San Pedro on February 20, 1946 and returned to the Far East, stopping over at Pearl Harbor and Guam. On reaching China the Spangler visited Swatow, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tsingtao, then on October November 1946 sailed to Okinawa.

During the later part of 1946 and the early part of 1947, the Spangler was at Buckner Bay, Okinawa.  LCDR Easterling was the Commanding Officer, having relieved LCDR Harold M. Edwards on November 10, 1946.   During the early part of 1947 the ship made several runs between Okinawa and Guam, carrying passengers. After leaving Guam, the Spangler sailed for Pearl Harbor and from there continued to San Diego, arriving March 2nd.  On 6 march LCDR Easterling was relieved by LCDR Roy A. Norelius as Commanding Officer.

In April she departed again for Pearl Harbor in company with the USS Major (DE-769) and the USS Currier (DE-700). Commander Escort Division One was embarked on the Spangler. Following this trip the Spangler spent a long period of ASW training in the waters in and around the Hawaiian Islands, operating out of Pearl Harbor, Kauoche Bay and Kailula Bay.

Photo of LCDR H. M. Easterling
LCDR H. M. Easterling USNR

In June the Squadron left Pearl Harbor enroute to mare Island, California, but a few hours out of port the Spangler had a boiler casualty and was forced to leave formation. On 20 June a complete breakdown developed and the Spangler was taken under tow by the Raby until a fleet tug arrived from Pearl Harbor.

On 26 June LCDR A. A. Richards relieved LCDR Norelius as Commanding Officer and the Spangler departed Pearl Harbor again enroute to San Francisco, arriving 2 July and entering drydock the same month.   After repairs were completed in Sept. 1947 the Spangler returned to Hawaiian waters in early October where she spent the rest of the year in ASW and plane guard operations. (photos of LCDRs Richards and Norelius unfortunately are unavailable)>

On 7 January 1948 the Spangler departed Pearl Harbor enroute to Kwakalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, but her orders were changed and she made port in Eniwetok Atoll.

Early in February the Spangler was assigned partrol duties outside the harbor of Eniwetok and while on this duty affected several search and pick-up operations in adjacent waters.   The ship remained on this duty until the later part of May when she departed the Marshall Islands for Pearl Harbor.   L. H. Boyd served aboard the Spangler as an ensign from 1947 to mid-1948.  His (Ensign 47-48) memories of the atomic test are included in the website's SeaTale section.  On 22 July LCDR J. P. Rizza relieved LCDR Richards as Commanding Officer.

The remainder of 1948 was spent operating around the Hawaiian waters.  She spent the early and middle part of 1949 operating in waters south of Oahu, in company with Escort Division One and submarines based at Pearl Harbor. In the latter part of the year LCDR R. R. Carter relieved LCDR Rizza as Commanding Officer.   Unfortunately, a photograph of LCDR Pizza is unavailable.  In Sept. 1949 the Spangler returned to San Diego, California.   She soon returned to the Hawaiian waters in October, steaming with Task Force 134, with COMCORTDIV ONE embarkerd on the Spangler. After participating in Operation MIKI, the ship returned to Pearl Harbor to resume her gunnery and ASW training until early 1950 when she entered drydock at San Diego.   After drydock period the Spangler moored to pier 6 at Fleet Sonar School, the berth that was to be her "home" for several years of Sonar Training Ship for the school's students.

Photo of LCDR R. R. Carter
LCDR R. R. Carter USNR

When the "Spangler was first assigned to the sonar school she was equipped with a QGB(b) sonar stack, OKA range/range rate recorder, TRR range/rate recorder, QDA depth determining sonar and a Mk 1 Attack plotter. This equipment was located on the open bridge area in the asdic shack and it was quite cramped. (During the yard overhaul this area was enlarged and housed the AP, UQC, Mk 5 attack director plus electrical filing buttons for all ASW weapons.) We had a standard 13 depth charge pattern with hedgehogs that would only train 20 degrees and all ASW weapons were fired manually from their locations...When the Mk 5 system was installed on the ship the Underwater Telephone UQC was also installed. The Spangler was the first surface ship on the west coast..." - Bob Ellis ( SeaTales )

Aside from periodic yard periods, the Spangler spent 1950 to 1955 in the San Diego area with Escort Squadron Three.   Early in 1951 LCDR J. G. Pollock relieved LCDR Carter as Commanding Officer and on 3 November LCDR Pollock was relieved by LCDR R. R. Law. On 4 December 1953, LCDR R. R. Law was relieved by LCDR D. J. O'Connel.  In Jan.  1954 the Spangler made a reserve cruise with 70 reserves aboard, from Long Beach to Acapulco for two weeks.   In May 1954 she represented the U. S. Navy at Encinada, Baja California for the President's Cup Sailing Race. During 1954 the Spangler won recognition for locating the submarine in a "Lost Submarine" exercise three straight times.  In addition to this she was recognized as one of the most reliable ships in the area for sonar work.

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Photo of LCDR Pollock
LCDR Pollock
Photo of LCDR Law
LCDR R. R. Law

LCDR D. J. O'Connel

From Jan. to April 1955 the Spangler was in the yards at Pearl Harbor, returning to San Diego as Sonar School Ship on Oct. 3, 1955.

On October 4, 1955, Escort Squadron Three less the USS Currier (DE-700) departed for a six month tour of WESPAC, stopping briefly at Pearl Harbor and Midway Island, arriving in Yokosuk, Japan on October 22nd. She remained there for one week, then sailed to Hong Kong, British Crown Colony, arriving there around November 1, 1955 and served as a station ship for two months.   On the way from Hong Kong to Subic Bay in the Phillipines, the ship had encountered a malfunction and spent two weeks in the drydock in Subic Bay, which included another Christmas away from the states.  After completing six months in WESPAC the Spangler returned with Escort Squadron Three, arriving at San Diego March 31, 1956, following brief stops at Midway Island and Pearl Harbor.   In April LCDR Washburn, the present commandinq officer, relieved LCDR O'Connel.

The remainder of 1956 was spent operating in the San Diego area providing services to Fleet Sonar School and submarines of the SUBFLOT ONE.   On Sept. 14 the Spangler with other ships of the Pacific Fleet, participated in the first Fleet Review at Long Beach, California.   The review consisted of some 75 ships and 150 planes.

LCDR O. J. Washburn

On Jan. 3, 1957 Escort Squadron Three, less the USS Currier (DE-700), departed for a six month tour in WESPAC.   Click here to visit the 1957 Cruise Writeup on the trip along with viewing photos published in the trips cruise book. If you do pause to go there, please re3member to use your browsers back button to return.

On Jan. 20, 1957, King Neptune was received aboard and the age old custom of initiating sailors who have never been across the Equator took place.   For this occasion nearly 150 men of a crew of 162 lost their title as POLLYWOGS and became HONORABLE SHELLBACKS.

Continuing south the Spangler with Escort Squadron Three arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on Jan. 26, departing Jan. 31.   On Feb. 10, 1957 the Spangler arrived at Guam where she spent six weeks.   This period was spent making surveillance of the Bonin Islands, the Eastern Caroline Islands and four days retrieving weather balloons launched from Guam.   On Feb. 28, the Spangler stopped at Saipan and picked up 170 Philippino workers and transported them to Guam.   March 21 she was relieved by the USS Wilson (DE 414) and left for Yokosuka on March 22, 1957.

Shortly after departure, the Spangler was diverted to assist in a search for 67 persons who crashed in a C97.   The search was ended and the Spangler entered port at Yokosuka March 27 remaining until April 24.   From Yokosuka she went to Subic Bay, Manila, and then southward arriving at Singapore April 20.   From April 24 to May 2 the Spangler with Escort Squadron Three participated in operation ASTRA off the Malay coast with units of the British, Australian, French, and other SEATO forces.

The remainder of May and the early part of June was spent operating around Japan, Formosa, Hong Kong, and Korea.   The Spangler departed Yokosuka June 22 arriving in San Diego with Escort Squadron Three July 7, 1957.   Upon arrival at San Diego, the Spangler completes 14 years and nearly 9 months service never having been placed out of service since the date of her commission Oct. 31, 1943.

The USS Spangler was decommissioned at Astoria, OR on 8 October 1958. She was then placed in the reserve fleet and was finally sold for scrap on 20 November 1972.  LCDR C. H.. Carroll was Commanding Officer, having relieved LCDR O. J. Washburn in one of the later months of 1957 (exact date is unknown)

Principal Sources:  "Ship's 1957 Cruise Book," Published by Jack Davidson Publishing Co., San Diego, CA.; "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships," VOL VI, Naval History Division, Department of the Navy, Washington: 1976; and "My Navy Days", by Ted Smith .

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