(PCER-852: dp. 903 (f.); l. 184'6"; b. 33'1"; dr. 9'5"; s. 15.4 k. (tl.); cpl. 99; a. 1 3", 2 40mm., 4 20mm., 4 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.), 2 dct.; cl. PCER 848)
A town in Windham County in the southeastern corner of Vermont.
PCER-852 was laid down on 28 October 1943 at Chicago, Ill., by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Co.; launched on 1 March 1944; and commissioned at New Orleans, La., on 26 May 1944, Lt. Henry J. Irwin, USNR, in command.
On 6 and 7 June, PCER-852 made the voyage from New Orleans to Miami, Fla. For the next month, she conducted shakedown and antisubmarine training out of Miami. On 7 July, the warship departed Miami on her way to Bermuda, and arrived at her destination on the 10th. She spent the rest of the month engaged in training and patroling. On 1 August, PCER-852 stood out of Bermuda bound for Norfolk with 26 prisoners of war: sailors from the German submarine U-505, captured in June by a “hunter-killer” group formed around escort carrier Guadalcanal (CVE-60) under the command of Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery.
She headed back to Bermuda on 7 August and operated in the vicinity until 20 August when she shaped a course for the Pacific. Proceeding via the Panama Canal, PCER-852 reached Pearl Harbor on 15 September. Later that month, she moved on to Manus in the Admiralty Islands, one of the staging points for the invasion of the Philippines. On 11 October, the submarine chaser stood out of Manus with Task Group (TG) 79.5, the LST flotilla attached to Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson's Southern Attack Force. Her task organization moved into Leyte Gulf on the morning of 20 October.
PCER-852 anchored some 2,000 yards off the invasion beaches at Dulag in a position to render immediate first aid to casualties. Her first opportunity came at about 1600 that afternoon when a Japanese torpedo bomber scored a hit on Honolulu (CL-48). She and sistership PCER-851 went alongside the stricken cruiser and began removing the wounded. The subchaser's medical staff rendered first aid and then transferred the casualties to a hospital ship for evacuation. The next day, she closed the shore to a distance of about 1,000 yards where she began receiving wounded soldiers from the fighting on Leyte. Over the next month, the ship received and treated about 400 men and then moved them on to the better-equipped hospital ships. In the meantime, her gunners participated in the air defense of the ships in Leyte Gulf and claimed to have splashed an enemy plane on 26 October.
On 23 November, the subchaser took departure from Leyte Gulf to return to Manus for repairs. She arrived at her destination on 29 November. While she underwent repairs in drydock, her crew enjoyed rest and relaxation ashore. On 11 December, PCER 852 set sail as part of the escort for a reinforcement convoy bound for the stubborn campaign still being prosecuted in the Palau Islands. After six days, she was relieved of that escort mission and was assigned another convoy bound for Leyte. The warship and her charges entered San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 20 December. For about two weeks, she conducted ASW patrols in Leyte Gulf and provided escort services for the forces occupying some of the lesser islands of the Philippines.
PCER-852 steamed out of San Pedro Bay on 4 January 1945 to join the tremendous fleet slated to assault the island of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf. She entered the gulf on the morning of 9 January, S-day for the amphibious operation. The troops went ashore at 0930, however, during the Lingayen attack, the bulk of the casualties she treated came from ships and craft in the gulf subjected to both conventional air attacks and fanatical kamakaze suicide dives. Completing her mission at Lingayen late in January, PCER-852 returned to Leyte, refueled, and put to sea again to escort a convoy to Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines. She arrived at her destination on 6 February and began an availability.
PCER-852 remained at Ulithi through February and most of March repairing and preparing for the last campaign of the war--the invasion of Okinawa. On 27 March, the warship began the voyage to the Ryukyu Islands. After the Army and Marine Corps troops went ashore on 1 April, the campaign split into two distinct battles--the ground war ashore and the aerial onslaught on the invasion fleet. In large measure, PCER-852's rescue and first aid services were directed toward the crews of the stricken ships around Okinawa. Over the next 91 days, the subchaser treated over 200 badly wounded men and rescued in excess of 1,000 survivors of ships that sank. On 30 June, she departed the Ryukyus and then steamed via Saipan to Pearl Harbor. PCER-852 arrived at Oahu on 19 July and began an extended repair period that lasted through the end of the war and into the fall of 1945.
The subchaser stood out of Pearl Harbor on 17 October 1945 and began the long voyage to the Atlantic coast of the United States. She spent the remainder of 1945 with the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Green Cove Springs, Fla.--though remaining in commission. Early in 1946, however, the subchaser moved north to Philadelphia where she was converted into an experimental ship to test infrared equipment for the Bureau of Ships. At that time, she was redesignated E-PCER-852. She completed the conversion in May of 1946 and began test work along the Delaware coast in cooperation with Callao (IX-205). In September of 1947, the Bureau of Ships shifted the infrared test program to the Underwater Sound Laboratory at New London, Conn., and E-PCER-852 operated from that base.
For the next 18 years, the ship continued to do experimental work out of New London. By the early 1950's the nature of her test work expanded from infrared gear to include optical communications equipment, sonar apparatus, weather gear, and various other items of hardware. In addition to the Bureau of Ships, she did test work for both the Bureau of Ordnance and the Office of Naval Research. On 15 February 1956, the ship was named Brattleboro. She continued her experimental duties for nearly a decade after receiving her name. During that time, her zone of operations also expanded to include the coastal waters along the southeastern United States and thence into the West Indies. On 1 October 1965, Brattleboro was ordered to Philadelphia to begin inactivation. Decommissioned at Philadelphia and struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1965, Brattleboro was sold to the Republic of Vietnam on 11 July 1966. She was renamed Ngoc Hoi (HQ.12).
Brattleboro earned three battle stars during World War II as PCER 852.
Raymond A. Mann
13 December 2005