USS Sutton (DE-771)
|Namesake:||Shelton B. Sutton, Jr.|
|Builder:||Tampa Shipbuilding Company, Tampa, Florida|
|Laid down:||23 August 1943|
|Launched:||6 August 1944|
|Commissioned:||22 December 1944|
|Decommissioned:||19 March 1948|
|Struck:||15 November 1974|
|Fate:||Loaned to South Korea, 2 February 1956|
|Name:||ROKS Kang Won (F-72)|
|Acquired:||2 February 1956|
|Struck:||28 December 1977|
|Fate:||Sent to the Philippines to be cannibalized for spare parts|
|Class and type:||Cannon-class destroyer escort|
|Beam:||36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)|
|Draft:||11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)|
|Propulsion:||4 × GM Mod. 16-278A diesel engines with electric drive, 6,000 shp (4,474 kW), 2 screws|
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)|
|Range:||10,800 nmi (20,000 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
|Complement:||15 officers and 201 enlisted|
USS Sutton (DE-771) was a Cannon-class destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. She served in the Atlantic Ocean and provided escort service against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys.
The Sutton achieved fame in mid-May 1945, seizing the German U-boat U-234, which had left Germany with a cargo bound for Japan of a disassembled Messerschmitt Me 262 jet plane, the most sophisticated fighter of World War II; two top Japanese scientists; and two high ranking Nazi officers. While this was enough to create a media sensation, it was decades later before the U.S. government revealed that the sub also carried a top secret load of uranium oxide produced by the German atomic weapons program bound for a last-ditch Japanese effort. Instead, the extremely valuable nuclear material was diverted to the U.S.' top secret Manhattan Project, and ended up part of the bomb the U.S. Army Air Corps dropped over Hiroshima to hasten the end of the Pacific war.
She was named in honor of Ensign Shelton B. Sutton, Jr. (1919-1942), who was killed on 13 November 1942 when the light cruiser Juneau (CL-52) was torpedoed and sunk during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Sutton was laid down on 23 August 1943 by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Tampa, Florida; launched on 6 August 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Shelton B. Sutton, Sr.; and commissioned on 22 December 1944, Lt. T. W. Nazro in command.
World War II North Atlantic operations
After fitting out, Sutton sailed on 12 January 1945 for the Bermuda operating area and held her shakedown there until she headed for Boston, Massachusetts, on 14 February. After yard work at the Boston Navy Yard and training at Casco Bay, Maine, she was assigned to Escort Division (CortDiv) 79 which was attached to Task Group (TG) 22.13 and sailed for Argentia, Newfoundland, on 1 March. The group conducted anti-submarine patrols off Newfoundland from 4 to 22 March when it returned to Casco Bay.
Sutton stood out of Casco Bay, on 3 April, with her task group which took station on the North-South antisubmarine barrier patrol.
Confiscating German submarines
Sutton and Neal A. Scott (DE-769) were relieved of patrol duty on 9 May to intercept the German submarine U-1228 which wished to surrender. They contacted the former sea wolf the next day, and the two ships began escorting it to Casco Bay. However, Sutton was soon detached to accept the surrender of U-234. Sutton met the latter U-boat two days later, and she escorted it towards the United States. On 15 May, she put a 15-man boarding party on the submarine and embarked 37 prisoners, including General der Flieger Ulrich Kessler of the Luftwaffe. Sutton's destination was changed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she arrived with U-234 on the 19th. The submarine and the prisoners were delivered to a representative of the 1st Naval District. The escort steamed on to New York two days later and remained there until early June.
Final post-war operations
Sutton and CortDiv 79 departed New York for Jacksonville, Florida, on 10 June and arrived on the 14th. Sutton operated out of Mayport, Florida, until 29 August when she sailed for Charleston, South Carolina, and a yard overhaul which lasted all of September. She moved up the coast to Norfolk, Virginia, from 5 to 18 October when she sailed for the Gulf of Mexico. Sutton was at New Orleans, Louisiana, from 23 October to 6 November when she got underway for Norfolk. The escort operated from there until the fall of 1947 when she moved to New York to be inactivated.
She was placed in reserve, out of commission, in September 1947 and assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. In 1948, the destroyer escort was moved to Florida and joined the mothball fleet at Green Cove Springs, Florida.
Sutton was loaned to the Republic of Korea on 2 February 1956 under the Grant Aid Program and served that government as ROKS Kang Won (F-72) until she was stricken on 28 December 1977 and sent to the Philippines for cannibalization of parts.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery of USS Sutton (DE-771) at NavSource Naval History