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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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James E. Craig

 

James Edwin Craig, born Jacksonville, Fla., 29 October 1901, was appointed to the Naval Academy 3 July 1918. After graduation in 1922, he saw almost continuous sea duty until early 1929 when he received aviation training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. As an aviator, he served at Coco Solo, C.Z., and on board Wright, Arizona, and Yorktown. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1937 and commanded Torpedo Squadron 5 in 1938. In March 1939 he assumed command of Conyngham. Two years later he became Damage Control Officer and First Lieutenant aboard Pennsylvania. Lieutenant Commander Craig was killed in action during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941.

 

(DE-201: dp. 1.400; l. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 8 20mm., 3 21" tt, 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 2 dct.; cl. Buckley)

 

James E. Craig (DE-201) was launched 22 July 1943, by Charleston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. J. E. Craig, widow of Lieutenant Commander Craig; and commissioned 1 November 1943, Lt. Comdr. Hampton M. Ericson in command.

 

The new destroyer escort departed Charleston 23 November for shakedown off Bermuda and returned to Charleston 25 December for alterations. She sailed 4 January 1944 for Panama via the Windward Passage. In the Caribbean she joined Lovelace (DE-198) and Samuel S. Miles (DE-183) 7 January to escort two troop transports. She transited the Panama Canal 8 January.

 

In company with other DE's, James E. Craig steamed from Balboa, C.Z., 14 January escorting SS Azalea City to Noumea, New Caledonia. Stopping at Bora Bora 27 January, James E. Craig and Azalea City departed the 28th and 2 days later encountered a typhoon which pounded the ships with 50-foot waves. They passed through a second typhoon 4 February with winds of 80 knots. On 5 February they were ordered to Espiritu Santo, and arrived the following day.

 

James E. Craig departed Espiritu Santo 13 February with three other escorts and seven merchant ships bound for Guadalcanal. Upon arrival the 16th, she began antisubmarine patrol off Lunga Point. She departed for Espiritu Santo 23 February escorting two merchant ships and continued her escort duty between Guadalcanal and Espiritu Santo for several weeks. On 15 March she escorted Cacapon (AO-52) from Espiritu Santo to a fueling rendezvous with Task Force 36, which was engaged in operations against Kavieng, New Ireland, and Emirau Island, "the last link in the ring around Rabaul." Refueling completed on the 25th, James E. Craig and Cacapon joined other escorts and tankers and returned to Espiritu Santo.

 

On 31 March James E. Craig departed Espiritu Santo in company with Escort Division 37, including Lovelace (DE-198), Manning (DE-199), Neuendorf (DD-200) and Eichenberger (DD-202). Stopping at Tulagi in the Solomons 2 to 4 April, they sailed the 5th for New Guinea, where James E. Craig was to see action for 5 months.

 

On 26 April James E. Craig joined a convoy of escorts and transports bound from Cape Sudest to Humboldt Bay to support the invasion of Hollandia, underway since the 22d. The convoy arrived 3 May; and after discharging the transports, the escorts returned to Cape Sudest the 5th. James E. Craig, now under command of Lt. Comdr. Edward F. Andrews, steamed 13 May on escort duty to Humboldt Bay via Aitape Roads, arrived the 17th, and immediately joined an attack convoy bound for Wakde-Sanni, west of Hollandia. She returned the same day to Humboldt Bay, where she continued her patrols and escort duty. She bombarded enemy troop concentrations at Wakde-Sanni on the 27th and returned to Cape Cretin via Humboldt Bay on the 31st.

 

James E. Craig returned to Humboldt Bay 6 June to prepare for the bitter conquest of Biak Island. With six other escorts she accompanied the convoy and supported the landing operations 12 June. Departing the same day, the convoy returned to Humboldt Bay the 14th; and James E. Craig continued as escort to Cape Cretin, where she arrived 3 days later.

 

During the remainder of June and through July James E. Craig continued escort and antisubmarine duties along the northern coast of New Guinea. While on ASW operations off Wakde, she conducted prolonged, successful bombardments of enemy supply depots at Sawar 11-12 July, expending some 3,300 rounds of 3" and 1.1" shell-fire. A week later she arrived at Noemfoor Island, southwest of Biak, and escorted convoys 18 to 23 July on a triangular route from Noemfoor to Humboldt Bay via Biak. Arriving Madang Harbor, Astrolabe Bay, 23 July for overhaul, James E. Craig returned to Humboldt Bay to resume her escort and ASW operations.

 

During August she plied the coastal waters off New Guinea from Cape Cretin to Wakde; then devoted the next 6 weeks to escort and antisubmarine patrols between Cape Cretin, Manus Island, and Humboldt Bay. On 11 October she joined a convoy at Ulithi, then sailed for the Palaus on the 18th and arrived Peleliu 2 days later for ASW operations. She returned to Manus the 25th for repairs.

 

Back at Humboldt Bay on 14 November, she joined a large convoy of transports, amphibious craft, and escorts underway on the 17th for the Philippine Islands to support the vital, Allied foothold on Leyte, established some 4 weeks earlier. The convoy of 75 ships and 9 escorts steamed northwestward and by dusk of the 23d approached Leyte Gulf.

 

James E. Craig, returning from radar picket patrol to her assigned ASW station, made radar contact with six low-flying unidentified planes approaching from the south at approximately 190 knots. Soon her spotters observed "Jill" torpedo planes 7 miles out, closing at high speed. As the enemy planes broke into three groups in an attempt to "box the target," James E. Craig turned left full rudder to meet the attackers; and all guns which could bear commenced firing at the planes, still more than 2 miles out. Four of the attackers began a run and launched their torpedoes at a range of 1,000-1,500 yards to port; as the ship turned, three torpedoes passed "close aboard to port" and almost parallel to her. Meanwhile, two planes commenced a run from the starboard side. Approaching almost directly from out of the sunset, one plane dropped a torpedo within a thousand yards which broached once before settling down on its run. As James E. Craig turned hard to starboard, the torpedo passed within 5 yards astern. One of the attackers passed within 200 yards of the ship, was hit by starboard 20mm. gunfire, and splashed after passing over El Paso (PF-41).

 

The convoy stood into San Pedro Bay, Leyte, the following day, and remained at battle stations a greater part of the day to repel enemy aircraft which attempted to bomb the convoy. That night the convoy and escorts reformed and departed for Humboldt Bay via the Palaus.

 

Upon arrival, James E. Craig received general maintenance and overhaul from Do&ftm (AL-3) through 10 December. She spent the remainder of the month escorting fleet tankers and practicing antiaircraft and night torpedo firing drills at Padaido, Dutch East Indies, and Humboldt Bay. On 28 December Escort Division 37 departed Humboldt Bay with a convoy of tankers and merchant ships bound for Leyte, where they arrived 1 January 1945.

 

The following day, James E. Craig stood out for Mindoro Island to join Task Group 77.2, ordered to support landing operations on northern Luzon. Enemy reconnaissance planes maintained close surveillace; and late afternoon 4 January an enemy suicide plane penetrated defenses and struck Ommaney Bay (CVE-79),. causing her to burst into flame. After the conflagration got out of hand, the escort carrier's commander ordered abandon ship. James E. Craig assisted in rescue operations and later that evening proceeded with other escorts and tankers to Mindoro.

 

Standing into Mangarin Bay the following morning, •James E. Craig commenced picket and ASW operations, which continued through the day and into the night, as the convoy departed Mangarin to maneuver off Mindoro during darkness. Designed to prevent enemy attack at night, the night maneuvers continued until the 10th, when the convoy remained at Mangarin Bay through the night.

 

James E. Craig resumed ASW operations at the harbor entrance for several days until troublesome submarine detection equipment forced her to retire to Mangarin Harbor 14 January. She commenced antiaircraft patrol for ships in anchorage and on 5 February returned to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, for repairs, thence to Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, arriving 2 March.

 

Getting underway the following "day, she returned to San Pedro Bay via Kossol Roads, Palaus. Upon arriving Leyte 10 March, James E. Craig prepared for continued escort duties between San Pedro Bay and Manila, Manus Humboldt Bay, and Kossol Roads. From 14 March to 21 May, she operated almost continuously on escort duty, and on the 21st she departed Leyte for Lingayen Gulf. Standing into San Fernando Harbor 4 days later, she commenced antisubmarine and escort patrols along the coast of Luzon that continued to 13 August when she departed for Manila. Once at Manila she resumed ASW operations to the 27th; then, as escort in company with Eichenberger (DE-202), she convoyed tugs and tows en route Okinawa. An impending typhoon disrupted the convoy 1 September; high seas and 70-knot winds scattered the ships and separated tugs from their tows. As the storm abated 2 September, James E. Craig began search and rescue operations which continued to the 9th. Further typhoon warnings caused the ships to return to Subic Bay, Luzon, where the convoy anchored the following day.

 

James E. Craig remained at Subic Bay until 1 October, when she steamed for the United States via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor. She arrived San Diego 5 November and decommissioned there 2 July 1946. As a unit of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, she presently is berthed at San Diego, Calif. James E. Craig received four battle stars for World War II service.