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Champlin II (DD-601)

(DD-601: dp. 1,620; l. 347'9"; b. 36'1"; dr. 17'4"; s. 38 k.; cpl. 252; a. 4 5", 5 21" tt.; cl. Benson)

Born in Kingston, R.I., 17 November 1789, Stephen Champlin entered the Navy as a sailing master 22 May 1812. He commanded the schooner Scorpion in her capture of the British Little Belt during the Battle of Lake Erie, and later in the War of 1812 was wounded when his ship was taken on Lake Huron. Retired in 1855, Captain Champlin was later promoted to Commodore on the retired list, and died in Buffalo, N.Y., 20 February 1870.


The second Champlin (DD-601) was launched 25 July 1942 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River, Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Mrs. A. C. Brendel; and commissioned 12 September 1942, Lieutenant Commander C. L. Melson in command.

After escorting a convoy to Argentia, Newfoundland, and another to the Panama Canal Zone, Champlin sailed from New York 11 December 1942 on her first convoy crossing to Casablanca, returning to New York 7 February 1943. She sailed again on 4 March guarding a convoy which was constantly shadowed by German submarines for 6 days after it passed the Azores on 12 March. On that day, a radar contact was made ahead of the convoy, and Champlin charged ahead to investigate, finding the submarine on the surface. She opened fire, and attempted to ram the enemy, which made a crash dive. Champlin hurled a pattern of depth charges into the swirl, and sank U-130 in 37-10' N., 20-21' W. As the convoy plodded east, Champlin and the other escorts fought a constant battle to protect it, but Champlin's was the only kill, while the convoy lost three merchantmen before reaching Casablanca. Champlin rescued every member of SS Wyoming's 127-man crew, as well as taking aboard two survivors from SS Molly Pitcher. The return convoy which arrived at Boston 15 April was without incident.

Champlin sailed from New York 1 May 1943 with a slow convoy of small craft and support ships which called at Bermuda before arriving at Oran 26 May. She put to sea again to bring a convoy in from Gibraltar, then took part in training as well as conducting patrols in the western Mediterranean. On 5 July, she cleared Oran for the invasion of Sicily, escorting a convoy to the transport area south of Scoglitti arriving 9 July. Leaving her charges, she sped ahead to join in the pre-assault bombardment the next day, during which she aided in driving off an enemy air attack. While covering the landing and initial advances the same day, she answered the request from shore for a bombardment of the village of Camerina, so successfully that the enemy there surrendered.

Champlin left Sicily guarding a convoy for Oran and New York, arriving 4 August 1943. Continuing this essential task, she made four more Atlantic crossings on convoy escort duty from New York to North Africa and the British Isles between 21 August 1943 and 11 March 1944. While undergoing refresher training in Casco Bay in March 1944, Champlin was ordered out on a submarine hunt, joining an all-day operation 7 April. At 1632, she made contact and dropped deep-set depth charges, driving the submarine to the surface. Immediately, her guns opened fire scoring several hits, including one on the conning tower, which started a furious fire. Champlin dashed in for the kill, ramming the stern of the submarine, and U-856 sank in 40- 18' N., 62- 18' W. The cost, however, included Champlin's commanding officer, Commander John J. Shaffer III, wounded by shrapnel during the attack, who died the next morning despite emergency surgery.

After repairs to her bow, damaged in the ramming, Champlin left New York 21 April 1944 with a convoy for Oran. On 15 May, she reported at Naples for duty supporting the operations striving to break loose from the Anzio beachhead. She conducted patrols, escorted convoys, and provided fire support for minesweepers, and the Army ashore. Returning to Palermo, she sailed from that port 13 August for the invasion of southern France, in which she was assigned to patrol southwest of the transport area as a reserve fire support unit. On 18 August, she rescued a downed Army pilot from his raft, and on 19 August, she was fired upon by enemy shore batteries as she steamed off Cannes. Next day she returned to the area to locate those batteries and destroy them, and the 21st, blocked the Gulf of Napoule while enemy E-boats thus trapped were destroyed. Continuing her fire support, she knocked out a bridge across the Var River near Nice upon Army request on 24 August, and a week later left the area to guard merchantmen bound for Oran. She continued to New York, escorting a division of battleships, and began a program of training and plane guard operations which lasted through the remainder of 1944.

On 6 January 1945, Champlin returned to Atlantic convoy escort, sailing for Oran. On 30 January, she cleared Oran to rendezvous with the group bringing President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Malta, where he was to enplane for the Yalta Conference. She later escorted this same group back into the Atlantic, and on 20 February returned to Gibraltar for patrol and convoy escort duty in the western Mediterranean. On 22 April, she departed Oran for New York and preparations for deployment to the Pacific.

Champlin passed through the Panama Canal 4 June 1945, arrived at Pearl Harbor 10 July, and after training, sailed 24 July for the attack on Wake Island 1August. Continuing to Okinawa, she arrived 12 August for local escort and patrol duty until 4 September, when she cleared on the first of two voyages to Japan in connection with occupation arrangements. On 31 October, she sailed from Okinawa with homeward-bound servicemen, calling to embark more at Saipan and Pearl Harbor. She disembarked her passengers at San Diego 21 to 24 November, then sailed for the east coast, where she was placed in commission in reserve at Charleston 28 March 1946, and out of commission in reserve 31 January 1947.

Champlin received six battle stars for World II service.

Published: Tue Jun 30 09:47:20 EDT 2015