Arthur Leonard Gustafson was born 13 June 1913 in Watertown, S. Dak. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1932, serving in battleships Idaho and Colorado before reporting to destroyer Peary 4 September 1939. He perished in action against the enemy when Peary was sunk by Japanese bombers off Port Darwin, Australia, 19 February 1942.
(DE-182: dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36'8"; dr. 8'9"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 8 20mm.; 2 dct, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.); cl. Cannon)
Gustafson (DE-182) was launched 3 October 1943 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newark, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. Eva Smythe Stevens, widow of Lt. Gustafson ; and commissioned 1 November 1943, Comdr. Herman Rich in command.
Following shakedown training, Gustafson escorted coastal convoys in waters ranging from New York to Galveston. On 20 February 1944 she departed New York in the screen of two escort carriers for duty with Admiral Jonas Ingrain's 4th Fleet based at Recife, Brazil. This fleet kept down the German U-boat and raider menace in waters running south from Trinidad to the tip of South America, and across to the coast of Africa. On 14 April 1943, the destroyer put to sea in company with escort carrier Solomons to sweep the Atlantic Narrows. On the 23d, Gustafson made an unsuccessful hedgehog attack on a target that was probably German submarine U-196. Due south of St. Helena, 15 June 1943, aircraft launched by Solomons sank the German submarine U-860.
Gustafson continued antisubmarine patrol and convoy escort in the South Atlantic. Operating out of Recife and Bahia, Brazil, she helped cover coastal waters from the border of French Guiana down to Rio de Janeiro and across the Atlantic narrows more than halfway to the coast of Africa. On 22 November 1944, while escorting Navy transport General M. C. Meigs to a mid-way rendezvous in the Atlantic Narrows, she closed alongside cruiser Omaha to pass orders and the two ships collided. Both ships suffered damage but were able to complete the mid-ocean rendezvous escort mission. After temporary repairs at Bahia, Gustafson proceeded north to the New York Navy Yard, arriving 21 December 1944. During a swift overhaul she received additional armament and a new Combat Information Center.
Gustafson departed New York 22 January 1945 for antisubmarine warfare refresher training out of Key West, Fla. From there she proceeded in the escort of a slow convoy to Trinidad and ports of South America. She returned north in March and was stationed at Casco Bay as German Submarine 17-857 moved into the Gulf of Maine. The U-boat announced its presence 5 April 1945 by torpedoing the American tanker Atlantic States. Two Coast Guard frigates and two destroyer escorts, including Gustafson, were soon hunting for the enemy. U-857 lay on the bottom, off Cape Cod, but was rooted out by Gustafson who destroyed the U-boat by repeated hedgehog attacks in the early hours of 7 April 1945.
Gustafson trained out of New London, Conn., with submarines until 18 May 1945 when she put to sea as a unit of the escort for a convoy bound to Oran, Algeria. She returned to Charleston, S.C., 13 June 1945 and thence to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training.
Gustafson departed Guantanamo Bay 24 July 1945 and transited the Panama Canal the 27th on her way to San Diego, Calif. She sailed for Hawaii 9 August and was on the high seas when hostilities ceased with Japan 15 August 1945. Her base Pearl Harbor, she served as a weather patrol ship north of Hawaii for the remainder of the year, thence via San Diego for return to the Atlantic seaboard. She transited the Panama Canal 27 January 1946 for inactivation at Green Cove Springs, Fla. She decommissioned there 26 June 1946.
Gustafson remained in reserve until 23 October 1950 when she was transferred to the Netherlands under terms of the Military Defense Program. She serve the Netherlands Navy as Van Ewijk (F-808) until scrapped early in 1967.
Gustafson received one battle star for World War II service.