Eighty years ago today, the EDSALL Class, USS SNOWDEN, was launched by Brown Shipbuilding, in Houston Texas. The destroyer honored Thomas Snowden, who was born on 12 August 1857, in Peekskill, New York. He graduated after serving in several ships and shore stations, including command of the yacht MAYFLOWER, the battleships SOUTH CAROLINA, and WYOMING. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1917, and, during World War I, served as Commander, Squadron 1 and Division 2, Battleship Force, Atlantic Fleet. Admiral Snowden was awarded the Navy Cross for his service in World War I. Admiral Snowden was transferred to the Retired List on 12 August 1921, and died on 27 January 1930.
SNOWDEN (DE-246) was laid down on 7 December 1942, by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Inc., in Houston, Texas, and launched on 19 February 1943. She was sponsored by Mrs. Halford R. Greenlee; and commissioned on 23 August 1943, with Lcdr. Alexander Jackson, Jr., USNR, in command.
SNOWDEN sailed for New Orleans on 3 September, en route to Bermuda, for her shakedown cruise, which lasted until 14 October. The ship was assigned to convoy UGS-24 on 11 November, and es**rted it to Casablanca, arriving on 1 December. She picked up another convoy there, and returned to New York on 24 December 1943.
SNOWDEN then es**rted ARKANSAS (BB-33) from Norfolk to New York. In January, she es**rted convoy UGS-31 to Gibraltar, via Norfolk. Next, in February, she returned to New York with convoy UGS-30, which arrived on 8 March. The es**rt then sailed to Norfolk.
There she joined Task Group (TG) 21.15, a hunter-killer group, built around the es**rt carrier USS CROATAN (CVE-25). The group sailed on 24 March. That evening, a sound contact was made by SNOWDEN, but she was ordered out of the area so that aircraft from CROATAN (CVE-25) could drop sonar buoys, which produced negative results.
On 28 April, SNOWDEN, FROST (DE-144), and BARBER (DE-161) left their screening positions to make fathometer readings at the head of an oil slick. SNOWDEN made a reading at 560 feet. The trio dropped two depth charge patterns of 39 charges each. Two undersea explosions followed as U-488 was sunk.
The task group continued operations in June and July. On 12 June, SNOWDEN, FROST, and INCH (DE-146) made a surface radar contact. INCH illuminated the target with star shells, and it was identified as a submarine. FROST commenced firing, as SNOWDEN was out of range.
An SOS was received by FROST, which was followed by a loud explosion from the submarine. The three es**rts picked up 60 survivors from the sunken U-490. On 3 July, FROST and INCH sank U-154. SNOWDEN put a boat in the water in the water to collect debris.
On 22 August, SNOWDEN operated in the Caribbean until 30 December 1944, when she returned to Norfolk. On 25 March 1945, the task group sailed to the north-central Atlantic, to hunt enemy submarines. No contact was made until 15 April. SNOWDEN left the barrier patrol to screen CROATAN, while STANTON (DE-247) and FROST attacked. Six minutes later, both ships were shaken by a violent explosion. At 0114 the next morning, there was an even larger explosion, which shook ships 12 miles away, followed by several minor ones. That was the end of U-1235.
SNOWDEN remained at Norfolk until 4 July, when she sailed for Pearl Harbor. SNOWDEN was in Pearl Harbor when the war ended, and was ordered to Norfolk for overhaul and inactivation, arriving on 28 September 1945. After the overhaul was completed, she sailed to Green Cove Springs, Florida. Then, on 29 March 1946, she was placed in reserve, out of commission, with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
On 6 June 1951, SNOWDEN was again placed in active service. She held refresher training at Guantanamo Bay in July and August, and then conducted exercises out of Newport, R.I., from September 1951 to March 1952. After further refresher training at Guantanamo Bay in June and July, she sailed to the North Atlantic and participated in her first North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) fleet exercise. After calling at ports in Norway and Scotland, she returned to the Caribbean and spent the remainder of the year there.
From 1953 to 1957, SNOWDEN operated with the Atlantic Fleet along the east coast, ranging from Labrador to the Caribbean. She participated in her second NATO exercise from 3 September to 21 October 1957, with port calls in France. The es**rt resumed her normal east coast operations until February 1960, when she became a Group I, Naval Reserve Training Ship.
SNOWDEN was decommissioned in August and placed in service as a Group II, Naval Reserve Training Ship, and berthed at Philadelphia. She was recommissioned on 2 October 1961, and assigned to Key West; she operated from there until April 1962, when she was ordered to return to Philadelphia, where she was again decommissioned and resumed her former status as a Group II, Naval Reserve Training Ship.
She remained in this category until 20 August 1968, when she was ordered to prepare for inactivation and striking. SNOWDEN was struck from the Navy list on 23 September 1968, and sunk as a target on 27 June 1969.
The photo shows SNOWDEN off New York on 20 March 1944 courtesy of Roger Torgeson.