SHIP'S HISTORY In the early days of 1943 the destroyer escort building program was launched by the Navy Department in an effort to find a permanent means of overcoming the submarine menace.
As a part of that program the Fore River Yard of the Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts completed the USS SCHMITT as the Destroyer Escort 676 on the 24th of July 1943. Named for the Reverend Aloysius Schmitt, a Catholic Chaplain of the Navy who was killed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the SCHMITT left Boston for its shakedown cruise in the Bermuda area. Upon completion of the shakedown period this vessel was assigned to duty as an escort vessel of the Atlantic Fleet..
In October of the same year, she left New York escorting her first convoy to the Netherland West Indies, from there across the Atlantic to Londonderry, Ireland and then back to New York. For the following year, through the worst atmospheric conditions, the SCHMITT commuted across the North Atlantic with her convoys of precious materials so urgently needed for the successful pursuance of the war. Although not present on D-Day in France, it may be safely said that this vessel played an important part in that invasion having escorted over three hundred ships across the Atlantic with not a single loss.
After eighteen crossings of the North Atlantic the SCHMITT was relieved and placed as an escort a convoy from Norfolk to the Mediterranean ports. In all her travels in the Atlantic and Mediterranean her men stopped ashore in Londonderry, Portsmouth, London, Oran, Palermo, Bizerte, Curacao, and almost every major port on the East Coast.
But, by the first of 1944, the submarine menace had diminished and there was an urgent need for small, HIgh-Speed Transports in the Pacific. After a short period of duty at New London, Conn., the SCHMITT entered the Navy Yard at Tompkinsville, Staten Island N.Y. for conversion to a High -Speed Transport (APD).
On April 9, 1945 she left New York en route to the Panama Canal and new fields in the Pacific. At Pearl Harbor she was to undergo a novel experience and be engaged in one of the most secretive types of work in the Navy. An Underwater Demolition Team was embarked and the SCHMITT set sail for the shores of Balikpapan, Borneo where she assisted in pre-invasion operations in June 1945, at which time she assisted in destroying two Japanese planes. The task force commander's report on the SCHMITT'S performance of duty was: "EXCELLENT'. Upon completion of the operation it was her good fortune to return home for further training preparatory to the scheduled invasion of Japan.
But, while on the West Coast, the war ended and the combat days of the SCHMITT were over. But her work was by no means finished. Less than a week after the surrender announcement she was on her way to Japan where she assisted in pre-occupation work in Sasebo, Kyushu. Leaving Japan she headed south for reconnaissance operations on two islands in the Okinawa area, Kikai Jima and Miyako Jima. -1-