Naval Legends: USS Slater | World of Warships

USS Slater,
a Cannon-class escort destroyer, is stationed at the Port of Albany,
the capital of the State of New York. Ships of this class had
modest speed and firepower, experienced extreme rolling during
storms, and had tight spaces inside. Sailors sparingly
called them “tin cans”… …Space per man
on a US destroyer escort was 1/6 to what the US Bureau of
Prisons said a prisoner had to have at a shoreside penitentiary. Much tighter than prisoners, and there
was a chance that you might drown. Some people had
to get off the ship, because they couldn’t
stand that much time just out there bouncing
around in the ocean. Submarine could lay off,
they could fire torpedoes and be out of
the range of our sonar. However, it was these destroyers
that crushed the “wolfpacks”— German Kriegsmarine submarines—
during World War II in the Atlantic. And I guess I knew from the very
beginning that I was going to be killed. Well it didn’t happen… Naval Legends: USS Slater During the initial years
of World War II, the German submarines were
basically masters of the Atlantic. England needed
military aid badly: the country awaited convoys
from the other side of the ocean, but the Allies weren’t able
to counteract the enemy effectively. There was no system of anti-
submarine defense at that time— convoys had poor protection, while the “wolfpacks” of Admiral Dönitz
were merciless and almost unstoppable. A single submarine of Hitler’s destroyed
cost 16 sunk ships departed from the US. We needed to have supplies
sent to our allies in Europe and later to our own forces, and they
had to cross a large body of water where they were subject to attack by the
enemy Navy or submarines or whatever… Special destroyers
for escorting convoys were ordered by the British government
from the USA by lend-lease in 1941. But after joining the war,
the USA changed their priorities for mass production of other
ship types and cargo vessels. That’s why Evarts- and
Buckley-class escort destroyers joined the Allied fleet
only starting in 1943. The first ships were equipped
with just K-guns and 76 mm guns. The British didn’t think
very much of this gun at all on the 78 ships
that we loaned them, because they swore that they
saw these armor-piercing projectiles bounce off submarine hulls… Nevertheless, the escort destroyers
joined the naval forces by the dozen and played a significant part
in the battle for the Atlantic. Both the numbers and quality of performance
of the US escort ships increased. The third series
of the Cannon-class destroyers was equipped with
a diesel-electric power plant providing two times
greater cruising range than the previous
Buckley-class possessed. The lead ship out of
72 constructed, USS Cannon, entered service in the fall of 1943,
and USS Slater—on May 1, 1944. USS Slater performance
characteristics on September 1945. Length: more than 93 meters.
Beam: more than 11 meters. Draft: more than 3 meters.
Total displacement: 1,620 tons. Armament: three single
3-inch /50 cal. Mark 22 guns. …they were originally designed, the
destroyer escorts were supposed to have a very effective 5-inch 38 caliber gun,
which fired a 54-pound projectile. But because supply
outdistanced demand, they couldn’t make
these guns fast enough, so destroyer escorts ended up with kind
of an obsolete 3-inch 50 caliber gun that only fired
a 26-pound projectile. Anti-aircraft artillery: six 40-mm
Bofors guns in twin mounts, eighteen 20-mm
Oerlikon guns in twin mounts. Anti-submarine
armament and torpedoes: Hedgehog
anti-submarine mortar, one triple 21-inch torpedo
tubes as commissioned, eight depth charge projectors,
two depth charge racks. Power plant: 4 GM Mod. 16-278A
diesel engines with electric drive. Power: around 6,000 hp. …Would overhaul the
engines every 1,800 hours. Pull out the piston,
the liner, make them up, see what the weird dimensions are,
and then rebuild it back together. Maximum speed: 21 knots. Cruising range:
10,800 miles at 12 knots speed. Cannon-class escort
destroyer crew: up to 220 men. When we talk about warships,
we always talk about the machinery, we talk about
the caliber, the guns, we talk about how many
torpedoes they carried, or we talk about
how fast a ship was. But that’s only part of the equation,
the other half of the equation is the crew and the crew morale
and their willingness to fight. And that’s directly affected by
the kind of captain that they have. Normally with the big ships you have
tugs to bring you in and out of Port, and during World War II, with the
destroyer escorts and the destroyers, they were always expected
to get underway into a big dock, come back into the dock
by themselves without tugboats. Now, that required a lot of skill in the part of the captain
in terms of ship handling. But if the captain
was a bad ship handler and tended to go alongside
other ships doing damage, or when it did
underway replenishment, and went alongside
tankers to take on oil. If the captain couldn’t control
the ship and collided with a tanker, that embarrassed the whole
crew and tended to affect morale, and that ship wouldn’t
have as high morale as a ship where the captain
was a really good ship handler. The majority of officers
on escort destroyers were reservists who had
graduated from civilian universities. They passed intensive naval training,
which lasted for three months. Due to that, the crew on such ships
was often called a “90-day miracle.” While sailors were sent to the
“submarine hunter training center” in Key West
and in the Bermudas… When I first went in the Navy, I didn’t know anything at all
about any of this business. And when they sent me
to the sonar school in Key West, there they had all of the things
and they trained you on it. And the training
was very intense. And they used to take you out from
Key West on a ship with all the gear, and then they’d bring one of
our own submarines along for us to try to work against it,
to see whether or not we were able to contact them and follow
them, and so on and so forth. So we got a lot
of that kind of training before we ever went
to the actual real thing. “And here they go! Sailors
who had never been on a ship. On board the ship
that had never been to sea. But before they do any fighting, the ship and her crew spend
some time in getting acquainted. The shakedown.” I got on board and chief says,
“Kid, what are you here for?” I say, “I’m here
to be an electrician mate.” He says, “You may wanna
be an electrician mate, but we need enginemen,”
so I wound up in the engine room. In closed rooms, it was always
over 100 degrees temperature-wise. And you’d be rolling almost over on
its side, everybody was getting seasick, and it would be going this way as
well as this way, and sometimes both. And you’d have to serve your duty on
watches whether you were seasick or not. It was such a small ship,
but it was a good gang. We had some
good times together, and once in a while we had
a little battle, a little fisticuffs, but when you’re out to sea for
three, three-and-a-half weeks, and you don’t see anybody,
you don’t have good food— you get on each other’s nerves. And when we went
on liberty, we didn’t care it was a boatswain mate from top deck
or enginemen from bottom deck— we partied. “And liberty! But wherever they go, sailors are sure to find
courteous uniformed guides who will point out
the recommended places. And those not quite
so high reportable.” During training and short
vacations, the crew would bond, and, as a rule,
after the sea trials of their ship, they were
considered ready for battle. …everything the Navy gave a sailor
was supposed to fit into this sea bag. There was also a joke that the Navy had
about sailors who wanted to get married, they used to say that if the Navy
had wanted you to have a wife, they would’ve issued you one
with your sea bag, you know. So that was the Navy’s way of discouraging sailors
from getting married. And then the Navy gave
you a mattress and a hammock, and that was all supposed to be
rolled up around the sea bag, so when you move from one ship to
another, you just carried the sea bag, the mattress and the hammock
over your shoulder in a package. And then they had the dress
blue hat, and prior to World War II, that had the name
of your ship on it. But during World War II, since that was a military
secret, it just said “US Navy.” “It doesn’t take long to get the
sailors’ handsome luggage on board. But it does take time to stow
an amazing amount of ammunition. Depth charges are still among the most
effective weapons against submarines. So, we take a few along. The shakedown is finished,
they’re ready for action.” During the war,
the small ships did a great deal, they freed up everything for all
the big ones so they could go, in other words, we did convoy
work, we did patrol work, we patrolled
harbors and so forth. The convoys,
destroyed submarines. We also used a lot of small ships
in the invasions, not only convoying, but they were firepower to fight
aircraft, they used them for aircraft. In case of necessity, escort destroyers could defend against
any attacking surface ships or aviation, but, nonetheless, their primary task
was to fight against enemy submarines. For that purpose, USS Slater
and other Cannon-class ships were equipped with state-of-the-art
surveillance systems for that time. In addition, the ship had
a very small turning circle radius, providing good maneuverability. We would send out a signal, when the signal would bounce off
something and come back to us— that was a sign that
we perhaps had a submarine. Of course, that could have
been caused by other things: rocks on the bottom
or various other things. We had to determine
by the nature of the sound what it was that we were locating,
and whether this object moved— the submarine would move,
the rock wouldn’t, you know. World War II sonar had a problem—
it could only scan ahead of the ship. So when a destroyer escort got on
top of a submarine, it lost contact. So the submarine is trying
to get out from under you. So to solve this problem,
the World War II destroyer escort wanted to put as many depth
charges in the waters it could in a short period
of time over a wide area. So to do that, we had the two
depth-charge racks in the fantail, and then we also had
that depth-charge projectors, four on each side of the ship. And with a depth-charge projector, basically we thrown a depth charge over
the side of the ship about 75 yards. And the way this worked was
it had an impulse charge in it, and you put the impulse
charge into the breech, and then that black powder
explosion would detonate and blow this arbor plate over the side,
the separation point was right here, and the depth charge was chained to it,
and that would go out about 75 yards. So you’ve got four
of these going off either side, and you’ve got dropping
four off the back end, so you’re getting as wide in area as
you can, to try to sink that submarine. These were
pressure-sensitive, basically. You set the depth that you wanted
the depth charge to explode at, and at that depth water pressure
would overcome spring tension and detonate the depth charge. So you had to guess what
the depth of the submarine was. So the problem with that
was all that noise in the water basically destroyed any chance
the sonar operator would have of hearing the submarine. To overcome these problems,
the British developed the World War II anti-submarine
rocket called the Hedgehog. Basically, the Hedgehog
was of 24 projectile launcher that fired this type of projectile over
the forward gun against the submarine. You had the propellant back here
and the explosive charge right here, that would actually
pierce the submarine’s hull. And a fuse on the end that actually
rotated when it hit the water, so it was like a safety feature that kept
this from detonating aboard the ship. Now these only detonated
if it actually hit the submarine, so if you got an explosion
with one of these rockets, you basically knew
that you hit the submarine. Other than that,
they would just fall to the bottom. And this turned out to be a much more
effective weapon against the submarines than the depth charge. In 1943, the entire
anti-submarine defense system began operating at full
strength as a united mechanism. It comprised shipborne
seek and destroy groups, escort aircraft carriers, and
land-based anti-submarine aviation. Additionally, the method of
defining the approximate location of German submarines using radio
direction-finders was deployed… And also we came up
with what they call a huff-duff, which was nothing but
a radial detector, signal detector. And they set up
stations along the coast, and they would try to pick up the
Germans when they talked on radio. And we would also see what our
ship, we would try to pick them up, and where the two of them crossed, we
knew that’s where the German sub was. And we could send airplanes, we sent airplanes out or
ships that were close to that, and we got a lot
of the German subs this way. According to the statistics from
the HQ of Fleet 10 of the US, commanding and
coordinating the entire system of anti-submarine
defense across the Atlantic, every enemy submarine destroyed in 1941
was equal to 16 allied vessels sunk. In 1943, that number was reduced to two
vessels for every submarine destroyed, and in spring of 1944,
Germans paid with a submarine sunk for almost every
destroyed allied vessel. The Kriegsmarine’s submarines managed
to sink just two allied escort destroyers. By the end of summer 1944, German submarines turned out
to be completely incapable of cutting off the supply lines
from the USA to a new front in Europe. Seek-and-destroy groups and small
escort destroyers within those groups won the battle for
the Atlantic with the aid of radar, high-frequency direction-finders,
and multi-barrel projectors, as well as well coordinated action
and the dedication of their crews. …when you get up in those
situations, you feel fear. The only thing is,
you do things automatically, you don’t even
think about doing it. People were trained
so well, and it helped. I had a job to do, I thought
the job was an important job, and so I just did
what I was assigned to do. When the war in Europe ended,
USS Slater was sent to the Pacific Ocean where she served
until the end of the year. She was then placed in reserve,
and later transferred to the Greek Navy. In 1993, thanks to donations from
veteran sailors of escort destroyers from across the country,
the ship was returned to the USA, and on October 26, 1997, she
was stationed at the Port of Albany. Today, USS Slater
serves as a museum, telling the story
of one part of World War II, and a monument to the simple heroes
who served on such small ships.

31 thoughts on “Naval Legends: USS Slater | World of Warships

  1. War gaming, I know I'm just a normal person that love history but …..Can you ad the USS Enterprise CV 6? Please reply back👍👍👍

  2. Fun Fact:
    While serving in the Greek Navy, this ship served under the name "ΑΕΤΟΣ" (Eagle) and was also a setting for a film here where it couldn't use its engines because of the noise it made (making recording audio nearly impossible) so it had to be towed off-camera.

  3. If you add this type of ship in the future maybe you can add the BRP Rajah Humabon (Ex-USS Atherton / Cannon-class) as Pan-Asian Destroyer


  5. A top speed of 21 knots?

    Was that sufficent?

    I understand these are destroyer escorts, anti-submarine warships.

    In which case, I'm wondering if the torpedo rack was redundant, it's not as if you'd be going up to other surface based warships and loosing off torpedos in their direction.

    Wouldn't mind knowing if the US Navy also considered these and made a revision to the design. The video also mentions how much the ship would rock in the water, what was the turning circle like?

  6. 220 men, wth? i know oldtime ships had more crew and stuff but why would you put 220 men on something as small as this, like you need say 7 man per gun and 4 per AA battery that makes less than 70 crew to that, what was the remaining 150 crew doing? i cant imagine officers, engine room and steering taking up more than say 40 man for something that size.

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