A semi-precious gem.
(PY-23: displacement 1,220; length 225'0"; beam 34'0"; draft 13'5"; speed 14.2 knots (trial); complement 66; armament 2 3-inch, 4 .50 caliber machine guns, 2 depth charge tracks)
Rene, a Diesel-powered twin-screw yacht built in 1930 at Wilmington, Del., by Pusey & Jones Corp., was purchased by the Navy from Alfred Pritchard Sloane, Jr., the chairman of the board of General Motors Corp., on 13 December 1941; converted for naval service at the Brewer Dry Dock Co., Staten Island, N.Y.; and commissioned on 17 March 1942, Lt. Cmdr. Charles A. Thorwall, USNR, in command.
After fitting out at the New York Navy Yard, Booklyn, N.Y., Beryl got underway for Norfolk, Va., on 6 April 1942. On the morning of the 10th, she made an underwater sound contact and attacked it with depth charges, but apparently scored no hits. Later, she encountered the converted yacht Azurlite (PY-22) and the Norwegian whale factory ship Kosmos II lying-to and rescuing survivors from the British armed trawler HMT St. Cathan (FY.234) (Lt. John Mackay, RNR, commanding) one of the Royal Navy’s antisubmarine vessels allocated to operate off the U.S. eastern seaboard under U.S. Navy direction but retaining their British crews, that had been sunk in a collision with the Dutch freighter Hebe, that had suffered damage of such severity in the mishap that she foundered and sank as well. The district patrol vessel YP-22 (ex-CG-221) rescued seven British tars from St. Cathan and 31 men from Hebe while Beryl embarked eight men from Kosmos II’s lifeboat and, in company with Azurlite, set course for Charleston, S.C. Between them, the two patrol vessels transported Hebe’s entire 31-man crew and Lt. Mackay and eight of his men from St. Cathan’s 39-man complement.
From there, Beryl and Azurlite escorted several district patrol craft to Panama. The former yacht transited the isthmian waterway late in April 1942 and reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet on 1 May. She entered dry dock at San Diego, Calif., and underwent five weeks of repairs.
By late June 1942, Beryl was on her way to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii On the 29th, she began duty at the Bishop's Point Section Base as a unit of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier. Her duties consisted of picket, patrol, and convoy escort assignments. The converted yacht also conducted air-sea rescue missions and stood watch on weather stations. In July 1944, she was reassigned to the base at Midway. A year later, on 10 July 1945, the vessel returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs to her main engine. She remained there until November. On 20 November 1945, the ship stood in to San Francisco harbor to begin the deactivation process.
Decommissioned on 25 January 1946, Beryl was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal on 14 October 1946, and her name stricken from the Naval Register that same day.
Raymond A. Mann
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
6 October 2021