Destroyer Escort Divisions

in World War II

by Anne McCarthy

(from )



     The USN afloat in WWII was comprised of fleets. A fleet was an organization of vessels and aircraft under the command of a commander in chief. It normally comprised all types of vessels and aircraft in sufficient numbers to carry on major operations in a given theatre of war. The major subdivision of a fleet was known as a force. From these forces, task forces were organized to accomplish special tasks. The fleet and force organizations were prepared and issued by the Chief of Naval Operations.

     The basic unit of fleet vessels was the division, which was composed of two or more vessels of the same type. Destroyer Escort divisions were known as escort divisions - CortDiv. During WWII, CortDivs were almost exclusively comprised of DEs, consisting of 6 ships of the same class, usually with sequential hull numbers. However, this was not always the case. While most DEs served with their original assigned division, it was common for a DE to be moved from division to division. The move may have been due to changing needs of the division, reclassification of the DE or the DEs availability for service.

     One role of the CortDiv was to protect convoys from enemy attack, whether air, surface or underwater attack. Ships in the convoy were of


many types and included cargo ships, tankers, troop transports and specialty vessels such as repair ships and barges.

     The other roles of CortDivs were as "hunter-killer" (HUK) teams in task forces that went to sea for the specific purpose of locating and destroying submarines; antisubmarine and antiaircraft screening of capital ships as they bombarded enemy shore installations prior to amphibious assaults; and manning "picket" stations on the outer perimeter of fleet and landing operations to engage kamikazes and to warn inner perimeter vessels of their approach. This was very hazardous duty and DEs suffered personnel and material casualties.

     The following is a list of known DE divisions. This is a work in progress. If you have additional information, please contact the webmaster.

     For the purposes of this web site, our main interest is CortDiv 53

          Division 53 Pacific

          DE 745 USS Snyder

          DE 746 USS Hemminger

          DE 747 USS Bright

          DE 748 USS Tills

          DE 749 USS Roberts

          DE 750 USS McClelland



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