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Jenks (DE-665)

1944-1966 

Henry Pease Jenks -- born in Chicago, Ill. on 31 May 1914 to Mr. and Mrs. Maurice L. Jenks – attended Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1936. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 8 October 1940 in the city of his birth, as an apprentice seaman, and underwent his active training duty in battleship Arkansas (BB-33) (28 October-22 November 1940).

His enlistment terminated under honorable conditions on 5 March 1941, Jenks received an appointment as midshipman, U.S. Naval Reserve, the following day. Following his active training duty at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School located on board the training ship Prairie State (ex-Illinois, Battleship No. 7), New York, N.Y., (6 March-5 June 1941), he executed acceptance and the oath of office of an ensign on 6 June 1941, being placed in an “active duty status other than training” on the same day, assigned to the Naval Torpedo Station, Keyport, Wash., for a course of instruction. He reported to his new duty station on 20 June 1941.

Detached on 11 October 1941 from instruction at Keyport, Jenks reported to the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J., on 25 October for duty in connection with fitting out the light cruiser Atlanta (CL-51), then under construction at that building yard. The ship was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 24 December, the day before Christmas of 1941.

After fitting out, Atlanta conducted shakedown training until 13 March 1942, first in Chesapeake Bay and then in Casco Bay, Maine, after which she returned to the New York Navy Yard for post-shakedown repairs and alterations. Adjudged “ready for distant service” on 31 March, the new light cruiser departed New York for the Panama Canal Zone on 5 April. After reconnoitering Clipperton Island en route, the new light cruiser reached Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 23 April.

Atlanta escorted ammunition ship Rainier (AE-5) and oiler Kaskaskia (AO-27) to Noumea, New Caledonia, in company with destroyer McCall (DD-400), then joined Task Force (TF) 16 under Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., as it returned from the South Pacific to Pearl Harbor as part of the gathering of forces for the Battle of Midway. Atlanta took part in that engagement (4-6 June) in TF 16, screening carrier Hornet (CV-8), and returned to Pearl on 13 June; two days later, on 15 June 1942, Ens. Jenks received promotion to lieutenant (junior grade).

Lt. (j.g.) Jenks’ ship then took part in Operation Watchtower, the invasion of Guadalcanal, screening the carriers that supported the initial landings (7-9 August 1942), then participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (24 August 1942), screening Enterprise (CV-6) and conforming to the carrier’s every move as the cruiser’s 5-inch, 1.1-inch and 20-millimeter batteries contributed to the barrage. Atlanta’s Capt. Samuel P. Jenkins later reported that his ship may have shot down five of the attacking planes, and the ship emerged from her true baptism of fire “unscathed and confident.”

Atlanta screened the torpedoed carrier Saratoga (CV-3) (31 August 1942), escorted Guadalcanal-bound transports (11-14 October), then became the flagship for Rear Adm. Norman Scott, when he broke his flag as Commander Task Group (TG) 64.2 on 28 October, shelling Japanese positions on Lunga Point two days later. She continued as Scott’s flagship, escorting a convoy with troops and stores to Guadalcanal, and defending transport Zeilin (AP-9) and cargo ships Libra (AK-53) and Betelgeuse (AK-28) as they came under air attack off Lunga Point on 11 November. She again employed her antiaircraft batteries on 12 November defending the unloading ships, then took part in engaging the Japanese Bombardment Force (Rear Admiral Abe Hiroaki) comprising battleships Hiei and Kirishima, light cruiser Nagara and six destroyers, en route to shell Henderson Field in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. 

During the battle that began during the mid watch on 13 November 1942, Atlanta dueled with the Japanese destroyer Akatsuki (Cmdr. Takasuka Osamu), inflicting heavy damage but taking one torpedo that forced her to lose all but auxiliary diesel power. Heavy cruiser San Francisco (CA-38) fired upon Akatsuki, her fire and Atlanta’s sinking her, but San Francisco, “in the confused intermingling of friend or foe” in the close-range nocturnal battle, also scored at least 19 8-inch hits on Atlanta, most shells passing through the ship’s thin skin and scattering green dye to mark their passage. Among those who died in that furious battle was Lt. (j.g.) Jenks.

Atlanta proved beyond salvage, and Capt. Jenkins reluctantly ordered that she be scuttled, an order carried out during the first watch on 13 November 1942, and the ship that would be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for her “heroic example of invincible fighting spirit” slipped beneath the waves at 2015 on 13 November 1942, sank three miles west of Lunga Point in 30 fathoms.

(DE-665: displacement 1,400; length 306', beam 36'10"; draft 9'5"; speed 24 knots; complement 186; armament 3 3-inch, 4 1.1-inch, 3 21-inch torpedo tubes, 8 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog); class Buckley)

Jenks (DE-665) was laid down on 12 May 1943 at Pittsburgh, Pa. by the Dravo Corp.; launched on 11 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Maurice  L. Jenks, mother of the late Lt. (j.g.) Jenks; and commissioned at New Orleans on 19 January 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Julius Frederick Way in Command.

Following shakedown training out of Bermuda, British West Indies, in February 1944, Jenks set course for the Atlantic convoys during the buildup of men and supplies in the United Kingdom. Operating as part of Task Force (TF) 68 screening convoy UT-10, her companions were light cruiser Cincinnati (CL-6), destroyers Davison (DD-618), Quick (DD-490), Mervine (DD-489), Ingraham (DD-444) and Tillman (DD-641), and the escort vessels Fogg (DE-57), Ira Jeffery (DE-63), Foss (DE-59), Robinson (DE-562), Gantner (DE-60) and Lee Fox (DE-65).

Jenks arrived at Swansea, Wales, on 4 April 1944 where she remained for the following four days. Over the next week, the escort vessel conducted exercises with TF 68. On 15 April, in preparation to return to New York, Jenks was attempting to refuel from the oiler Chemung (AO-30). As the two ships drew close, they collided, severing Jenks port anchor chain and sending it plunging in to the sea. Ultimately, the escort vessel fueled without further incident, received 39,005 gallons and was soon back on station and steaming for home.

Reaching New York on 21 April 1944, Jenks anchored at Hempstead Harbor, Long Island. From 23-30 April, she underwent repairs and alterations during an eight-day assigned availability at the New York Navy Yard.  Following training out of Casco Bay, Maine, she steamed to Norfolk on 10 May and joined Task Group (TG) 22.3, formed around the escort carrier Guadalcanal (CVE-60), under Capt. Daniel V. Gallery. The hunter-killer group sortied on 15 May bound for the Atlantic shipping lanes in quest of German submarines.

Ultra intelligence from decrypted German cipher messages had disclosed that U-boats were operating near the Cape Verde Islands. On 4 June 1944, TG 22.3, which consisted of Guadalcanal, with Composite Squadron (VC) 8 embarked, and five escort vessels -- Pillsbury (DE-133), Pope (DE-134), Flaherty (DE-135), Chatelain (DE-149) and Jenks -- under Cmdr. Frederick S. Hall, made sonar contact with U-505 (Oberleutnant zur See Harald Lange) -- a Type IXC German submarine that had left Brest, France, on her 12th war patrol on 16 March 1944 -- about 170 miles off the coast of Rio de Oro but only 800 yards off Chatelain’s starboard bow. The escorts immediately converged on the contact, while Guadalcanal moved away at top speed and launched a Grumman F4F Wildcat to join one Wildcat and a Grumman TBM Avenger already airborne.

So close to U-505 that depth charges would not sink fast enough to intercept the U-boat as she submerged, Chatelain fired Hedgehog projectiles before passing the submarine and turning to make a follow-up attack with depth charges. At around that time, one of the aircraft sighted U-505 and fired into the water to mark the position while Chatelain dropped depth charges. Immediately after the detonation of those charges, a large oil slick spread on the water. Less than seven minutes after Chatelain’s first attack began, the badly damaged U-505 surfaced less than 700 yards away.  Chatelain immediately commenced fire on her with all available automatic weapons as did the other ships of the task force and the two Wildcats.

Believing U-505 to be seriously damaged, Oberleutnant zur See Lange, the U-boat’s 40-year old commander, ordered his crew to abandon ship. His men obeyed so quickly, however, that although some valves were opened, scuttling was not completed and the engines were left running. U-505 began to circle clockwise at approximately 7 knots. Chatelain then fired a single torpedo at the submarine, but missed.

While Chatelain and Jenks picked up 59 survivors (all but one of the U-boat’s crew, including Lange, survived) Pillsbury quickly lowered a motor whaleboat and sent a party of nine men led by Lt. Albert David to board the U-boat, soon identifying her as U-505. Although he had every reason to believe that Germans could still below decks setting demolition charges and scuttling the ship, David led Pillsbury's men on board and hurried below down the conning tower hatch, prepared to encounter the enemy, and took possession of the boat. Although he found the sea flooding into U-505, David remained below directing the initial salvage operations. Men from Guadalcanal arrived soon afterwards in order to aid in the struggle to keep her afloat. Through their efforts, U-505 was stabilized and made seaworthy. After three days of towing and a voyage of 1,700 nautical miles, U-505 entered Port Royal Bay, Bermuda on 19 June 1944. Guadalcanal then transferred her tow to the fleet tug Abnaki (ATF-96). 

Meanwhile, on 14 June 1944, Jenks stood out of Port Royal Bay, underway for New York and ten days availability at the New York Navy Yard. She arrived at her destination two days later, and moored at Pier 4 until 26 June. The following day, Jenks got underway for New London, Conn. and arrived the following day in order to serve as a training ship for submarines undergoing final shakedown. She remained engaged in that duty until late July.

Underway from Casco Bay on 31 July 1944, Jenks stood out in column open order with Solar (DE-221), Fowler (DE-222), Wiseman (DE-667) and Tomich (DE-242) for join a Mediterranean-bound convoy. The escorts put in to Norfolk on 2 August, but quickly got underway that same day in order to patrol the swept channel covering the sortie of Convoy UGS-50. On 19 August, Jenks challenged a ship and found her to be the Spanish fishing vessel St. Simon and quickly diverted her. Four days afterwards, Jenks and her fellow escorts relieved TF 64 of escort duty and proceeded to the Bay of Bizerte, Tunisia. On the final day of August, Jenks was detached from the screen in order to escort Alfred Moore and Edward Burleson to Algiers.

On 1 September 1944, Jenks received 25,244 gallons of fuel from Merrimack (AO-37) and was then en route from North African waters to the U.S. as part of a 77-ship convoy. Detached from the escort group on 15 September, she conducted an abortive search for a submarine reported in the area, then proceeded with her previous orders. Three days later, she reached the Navy Yard Annex, Boston, Mass. and remained there until 4 October when she got underway for Casco Bay.

After undergoing refresher training, the escort vessel departed for the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown, Va., on 8 October 1944 in company with Wiseman and Durik (DE-666) to load Mk. 8 depth charges, then proceeded to Hampton Roads for extended duty with CTF-64. On 12 October, Jenks got underway to shepherd convoy UGS-57 to the Mediterranean.

Jenks reached Bizerte Bay, Tunisia, on 2 November 1944, and there fueled from Cossatot (AO-77). The following day, she sailed for Palermo, Sicily, and arrived there on 4 November, remaining moored there for six days. On 11 November, the convoy formed in four columns in order to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar. They were soon joined by Frament (DE-677) and the Italian submarine Luigi Settembrini and reformed a broad front after passing the Strait. Ordered to return to the United States, Jenks, in company with Wiseman and Durik, steamed for New York. On 30 November 1944, the escort ships passed buoy Able and reached their destination, where Jenks moored alongside Hamman (DE-131) at Pier C, Berth 3, New York Navy Yard.

On 8 December 1944, Jenks stood out for Norfolk, Va. for temporary duty with CTF 23, to embark nucleus crews and officers for training and exercises in the York Spit Channel and Chesapeake Bay operating area. She continued to train those officers and crew until 13 January 1945.

Released from her training duties, and in company with Durik, Jenks departed Norfolk on 14 January 1945 for the New York Navy Yard to escort a convoy of six Army coastal “Y” tankers to the Mediterranean. The convoy (NY-147) got underway on 17 January. The escort ships rendezvoused with the Horta, Azores assigned Chemung on 3 February to refuel. Jenks received 43,292 gallons before returning to her escort duties. On 10 February, south of Carnero Point, the convoy was dispersed in accordance with orders and the coastal tankers proceeded independently to their destinations. The remaining ships then formed up in column open order and steamed for Oran, Algiers. The following day they got underway for Horta.

On 23 February 1945, Jenks departed Horta, Fayal, and operated as part of the screen for TG 63.1 as it sailed for the United States. Jenks and Durik were relieved of their screening duties on 9 March and set a course for New London before reporting to the New York Navy Yard the following day to begin a ten-day availability.

After extensive exercises at Casco Bay in March 1945, Jenks was assigned as an escort for TG 60.10 en route to Mers-el-Kebir, Oran, Algeria, and arrived there on 25 April. On its return, the convoy formed four columns to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar on 3 May and by 17 May the Norfolk section, that included Jenks, broke off for their destination. She was relieved by a local escort on 18 May and stood out for Boston where she arrived the following day.

On 5 June 1945, Jenks got underway for Miami, Fla., with orders to report to Commander TG 23.2 for temporary duty as a school and training ship. She arrived there three days later, ready for her first group of student officers. While stationed there, the ship was engaged in training ensigns who were passing through the nine weeks cruise at the school and being taught all of the particulars concerning escort vessels.

Jenks received orders to proceed to the New York Navy Yard on 18 July 1945 and got underway that same day. She arrived there three days later. On 18 August, she sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in company with Jordan (DE-204), Scott (DE-214) and Durik to carry out anti-aircraft gunnery training. When the training was completed Jenks returned to Miami on 5 September and resumed her school ship duties.

Jenks continued peacetime operations out of Charlestown, S.C., and Key West, Fla., until arriving at Green Cove Springs, Fla. on 2 May 1946. She was decommissioned on 26 June and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was later moved to the Texas Group where she remained until stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 February 1966. She was sold for scrap on 5 March 1968.

Jenks received two battle stars for her World War II service and the Presidential Unit Citation for her part in the capture of U-505.

Paul J. Marcello

14 June 2016 

Published:Tue Jun 14 21:24:01 EDT 2016