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J. R. Y. Blakely

 

John Russell Young Blakely was born 17 July 1872 in Philadelphia and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1892. After serving in various Navy ships and at many shore stations, he took his first command, Des Moines, in 1914. As captain of this ship, and later Seattle, Blakely rendered important service in transporting and escorting troops and supplies to Europe during the First World War. For his outstanding contribution he was awarded the Navy Cross. Following the war Blakely served with the Chief of Naval Operations, at the Naval War College, and with the rank of captain he commanded Arizona (BB-39). After a tour as Assistant to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation in 1925, he was promoted to Rear Admiral and given command of a cruiser division. He also commanded the 15th Naval District and served on the important General Board before poor health forced him to retire 1 June 1932. Rear Admiral Blakely died 28 March 1942 in Denver, Colo.

 

(DE-140: dp. 1,200; l. 306'; b. 36'7"; dr. 8'7"; s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 dct, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.),321"tt.;cl. Edsall)

 

J. R. Y. Blakely (DE-140) was launched by Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd., Orange, Tex., 7 March 1943; sponsored by Miss Mary Young Blakely, niece of Rear Admiral Blakely; and commissioned 16 August 1943, Comdr. J. H. Forshew in command.

 

J. R. Y. Blakely conducted her shakedown training out of Bermuda during September 1943, returning to Charleston 22 September to prepare for convoy duty in the Atlantic. She sailed 4 October from Norfolk with a convoy for the Mediterranean; and, after transporting precious supplies safely to Casablanca, returned to New York 16 November. J. R. Y. Blakely made another round trip voyage to Casablanca December 1943 through January 1944, and a third during February through March 1944, as American ships began the great buildup in Europe.

 

After voyage repairs the escort vessel was assigned to a hunter-killer group built around an escort carrier. She sailed from New York 30 March 1944 and rendezvoused with Core (CVE-13) and her escorts in the Atlantic to search for German submarines. After a vigilant search and stops at Newfoundland and Casablanca the ship reached New York 30 May 1944. J. R. Y. Blakely was soon at sea again, joining the Wake Island (CVE-65) group at Norfolk 15 June. During June and July the ships intensified the hunt for U-boats, and covered the all-Important supply convoys in the Atlantic. After a short stay in Casablanca harbor, the group was sent by Admiral Ingersoll to search for German weather picket submarines, and by 2 August the escorts had found U-boat U-804. In the engagement which followed, Fiske (DE-143) was torpedoed and sunk. J, R. Y. Blakely made several depth charge attacks -before retiring to protect Wake Island. She returned to New York 16 August 1944.

 

The veteran ship conducted training operations in Casco Bay, Maine, for several weeks, but departed Norfolk 8 September with another hunter-killer group, led by Mission Bay (CVB-59). On this cruise the escort vessel took part in her first successful attack, as the Mission Bay group was sent to break up a suspected meeting between cargo submarine U-1062 and another submarine. Tripoli's (CVE-64) group helped maintain an around the clock search, and on 30 September Fessenden, Howard and J. R. Y. Blakely began to search out a contact. Fessenden's depth charge attack sank the submarine, U-1062, which was carrying valuable cargo for Germany. Following this success the group moved into the South Atlantic, where because of the great success of allied antisubmarine tactics, contacts were scarce. After visiting Bahia and Capetown, J. R. Y. Blakely arrived New York 27 November 1944.

 

During December the ship conducted additional training in the Caribbean, after which she sailed 16 January 1945 to participate In tactics out of Mayport, Fla. After screening carriers and acting as rescue ship, the ship carried out training and escort duties In the Caribbean, arriving New York 9 March 1945.

 

As German submarines were known to be moving westward for a final effort against the United States, J. R. Y. Blakely again joined an escort carrier group, and with Mission Bay and destroyer escorts set up barrier patrol north of the Azores. The ships departed 27 March, and In the cruise which followed sank one of the U-boats, combining with other hunter-killer groups to foil the German plans. J. R. Y. Blakely returned to New York 14 May, her important work in the Atlantic completed.

 

Following carrier training operations, the ship sailed for the Panama Canal, arriving 19 July 1945, and joined the Pacific Fleet. She reached San Diego 29 July for onward routing to Pearl Harbor, where the ship celebrated the end of organized hostilities 15 August 1945. J. R. Y. Blakely departed 27 August, however, to perform escort duties among the island bases of the western Pacific. The ship also aided in the occupation of many small islands before arriving San Diego 23 January 1946.

 

J. R. Y. Blakely steamed via the Panama Canal to New York 15 February, and after pre-inactivation overhaul arrived Green Cove Springs, Fla., 13 March 1946. She decommissioned 14 June 1946 and was placed in reserve, later moving to the Texas Group, where she remains.