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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Somerworth

 

A town in New Hampshire.

 

(PCER-849: dp. 850; l. 184'6"; b. 33'1"; dr. 9'5"; s. 15.4 k.; cpl. 99, a 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. PCER-849)

 

Somersworth was laid down as PCER-849 on 24 September 1943 by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Co., Chicago, Ill.; launched on 31 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Frank G. Hammar; and commissioned on 11 April 1944, Lt. Albert O. Lind in command.

 

PCER-849 sailed on 22 April for Miami, Fla., and conducted a short shakedown cruise before heading for the Pacific where she was urgently needed by the Army. General MacArthur had directed his chief signal officer, Major General S. B. Akin, to form a fleet command post to facilitate communications during complex land, sea, and air attacks. Most of the ships designated for this duty belonged to the Army. The Navy, realizing that the hospital space on the PCER could easily be converted into a communications center, assigned PCER's 848, 849, and 850 to the operational control of General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Areas. Consequently, the patrol craft stood out of Miami, on 11 May, and proceeded, via the Panama Canal and Bora Bora, to Australia. She arrived at Brisbane on 17 June and reported to the Service Force, 7th Fleet, for administrative control and conversion into a communications ship. Work was completed in mid-September; and, on the 30th, PCER's 848 and 849 sailed to Hollandia, New Guinea.

 

On 13 October 1944, PCER-849 sortied with the Service Force to participate in the landings on Leyte, and remained in Leyte Gulf until 4 January 1945. During the operation, Army communication facilities on board acted as a relay between Army forces on Leyte and bases in New Guinea and Australia. The ship also shot down three Japanese planes during the operation. The patrol craft was attached to Task Force (TF) 78 on 4 January and participated in the Lingayen Gulf landings. Due to the rapid advance of infantry units ashore there and the increasing need for communication facilities in southern Luzon, the ship weighed anchor for Tacloban on 31 January. She loaded more radio equipment aboard and delivered it to Subic Bay on 17 February.

 

PCER-849 moved to Manila Harbor on the 26th and remained there until 19 April when she sailed to Moro-tai and joined the task force being formed there for the assault against Tarakan Island, Borneo. She arrived off Tarakan, on 1 May, and provided communications between the Australian forces on the beach and Headquarters, Armed Forces, Pacific. On 9 May, she departed for Morotai to join fleet units staging for the assault on Brunei Bay, Borneo. The landings were made on 10 June and PCER-849 remained there until her assignment was completed on the 16th. During this operation, she struck an uncharted, sunken, Japanese ship and bent a blade of her port propeller. A period of availability at Subic Bay followed.

 

The patrol craft sailed to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and remained there, from 20 July to 1 August before returning to Manila. She sailed for Japan on the 14th, proceeded via Okinawa to Tokyo Bay, and operated in Japanese home waters until 22 October. On that day, with PCER-850, she sailed for the east coast of the United States. She arrived at San Diego on 13 November 1945 and continued on her voyage five days later.

 

PCER-849 entered Hampton Roads, Va., on 10 January 1946 and was routed onward to New London, Conn., for duty with the Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory. On 15 February 1956, she was named Somersworth. Until 1957, she performed testing and developmental assignments, principally in the field of underwater sound transmission, for the Bureau of Ships, David Taylor Model Basin, Operational Development Force, the Sound Laboratory, and for various commercial contractors.

 

In July 1957, an explosion ripped through the ship while she was on a routine mission off Long Island. Three crewmen were killed and four seriously injured. In response to radio calls for medical assistance, doctors from the Queen Mary boarded Somersworth and supervised the transfer of the four injured to the luxury liner. Upon completion of repairs, the ship returned to her experimental duties and continued that work until September 1965 when she was attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and berthed at Norfolk. On 1 April 1966, Somersworth was struck from the Navy list, and she was subsequently sold to Alfred Dana, Tampa, Fla.

 

Somersworth received three battle stars for World War II service.