USS Dempsey


It was purely by chance that the USS Dempsey was in Fiji at the time the Cape was attacked, but fortunate she was available to help. Dempsey had been in a pattern of escorting ships between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor until the U.S.S. Tangier escort assignment (detailed below) came up. I also find it somewhat ironic that she had been on a break from convoy escort duty when she was needed to rescue the survivors of the unescorted Cape. This again though speaks to the fact that Navy convoys were normally under much more threat from Japanese submarine attacks than merchant vessels.

Pre-Cape San Juan History

According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships;

Originally intended for transfer to Great Britain, Dempsey was launched as BDE-S6 on 19 February 1943 by Mare Island Navy Yard; retained for use by the United States Navy and assigned the name Dempsey 14 June 1943; and commissioned 24 July 1943, Lieutenant Commander H. A. Barnard, Jr., in command.

The USS Dempsey spent August of 1943 on various offensive and defensive combat exercises off the coast of San Diego with a number of other US Navy vessels, primarily Destroyer Escort U.S.S. Duffy (DE-27), Destroyer U.S.S. Hoel (DD-533), Light Cruiser U.S.S. Oakland (CL-95), Submarine S-44, and others.

The first part of September was spent back at Mare Island undergoing their post shakedown cruise overhaul.

On September 23rd, 1943 they departed San Francisco escorting Convoy #2311 to Pearl Harbor with U.S.S. Zane (DMS-14), arriving on September 30th.

From October 2nd to October 4th they rendezvoused at sea and escorted Aircraft Transport U.S.S. Hammondsport (AKV-2) into Pearl Harbor.

On October 8th, 1943 Dempsey departed Pearl, escorting Convoy #4797 consisting of six merchant ships to San Francisco with U.S.S. Wintle (DE-25). U.S.S. Harold C. Thomas (DE-21) joined from October 9th until the 13th. They arrived safely in San Francisco on October 17th.

Dempsey departed San Francisco October 19th, acting as screen (with U.S.S. Emery (DE-28), U.S.S. Wintle (DE-25), U.S.S. Franks (DD-554), and U.S.S. William C. Miller (DE-259)) for Task Group 12.1 consisting of several Battleships including U.S.S. New Mexico (BB-40), U.S.S. Mississippi (BB-41), and U.S.S. Idaho (BB-42). They arrived at Pearl Harbor on October 25th and the battleships were being staged for the upcoming offensive in the Gilbert Islands, where the I-21 would be lost after her attack on the Cape San Juan.

On October 27th, 1943 Dempsey departed Pearl to rendezvous at sea with the seaplane tender U.S.S. Tangier (AV-8) and escort her to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides arriving on November 6th. They held a Crossing the Line Ceremony on October 31st.

Dempsey departed Espiritu Santo on November 7th and arrived in Fiji on November 8th, to await their next assignment.

Cape San Juan Rescue

At the time Cape San Juan was torpedoed on November 11th, U.S.S. Dempsey (DE-26) was lying at anchor in Nadi (pronounced Nandi) Bay on the west side of the main island of Viti Levu, Fiji. It is believed Dempsey was the biggest warship in the harbor at the time as most of the assets in the area were committed to the on-going Solomon’s campaign or the upcoming invasion of the Gilberts (including Tarawa).

It was not until 1135 that they were instructed to make preparations for getting underway.

According to Dempsey’s War Diary:

0800-1200 Anchored as before. 1135 Stationed special sea details and made all preparations for getting underway. 1147 Underway in accordance Port Director Nandi orders enroute to sea to pick up survivors of torpedoed S.S. San Juan [sic]. Steaming at various courses at various speeds clearing harbor. Captain and Navigator on the bridge, Captain at the Conn. – H.C. Farnsworth, Lt. (j.g.) USNR

Position at 1200: 176° 22’ E, 17° 40’ S

1200-1600 Steaming as before. 1236 Passed through anti-submarine net. 1254 Cleared Navula Passage and steadied on course 180° T at full speed 19 knots 550 R.P.M. 1300 Secured special sea detail and set condition #2.1400 Changed course to 148° T. – E.A. Sandor, Lt., USNR

2000 – 2400 Steaming as before. – H.C. Farnsworth, Lt. (j.g.) USNR

Position at 2000: 178° 26’ E, 19° 42’ S

0000 – 0400 Steaming on course 129° T at full speed 19 knots 550 R.P.M. enroute to rescue survivors of the torpedoed S.S. San Juan. – E.A. Sandor, Lt., USNR

0400 – 0800 Steaming as before. 0716 Sighted hulk of S.S. San Juan bearing 116° T distant 15 miles. Changed course to 116° T. – R.J. Fisher, Lt., USNR

Position at 0800: 178° 00’ E, 22° 00’ S

0800 – 1200 Steaming as before. 0802 Circled sinking S.S. San Juan. Ship smoldering aft, well down by the head and listing about 25° to starboard. No visible life on board. 0807 Sighted several ships and aircraft bearing 125° T distant 14 miles. Steadied on course 125° T at full speed 19 knots. 0839 Commenced steering various courses at various speeds investigating wreckage. 0925 Picked up five survivors from life raft. All U.S. Army enlisted personnel as per Part II of the log. 1032 Secured from rescue work in accordance visual dispatch of SOPA in the U.S.S. McCALLA (DD-448). Hoisted in motor whaleboat. 1115 Proceeded as screen for U.S.S. McCALLA which is operating without sound gear [see page on U.S.S. McCalla]. Base course 298° T speed 12 knots. Zigzag plan #11. – H.C. Farnsworth, Lt. (j.g.) USNR

Position at 1200: 178° 05’ E, 22° 07’ S

According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,

she rescued 45 survivors of the torpedoed merchantman San Juan 13 November.

This number seems impossibly light considering the four vessels picked up a total of 845 survivors. The tiny SC-654 alone was carrying 152 which she transferred to McCalla, the YMS-241 was not much bigger and transferred 40 to Dempsey as noted below, although her normal complement was 4 officers and 29 crew. The McCalla was missing a substantial portion of her bow (Which I detail on her page), including her Chief Petty Officers berths and other spaces that would have been useful. The Dempsey was the last on the scene, however, and by that point the other three vessels had picked up most of the survivors.

Once all the survivors they could find were picked up the ordeal was not yet over as now the four vessels, three heavily overloaded, had to make their way back to Fiji in moderate to heavy seas. As they needed to stick together, they were limited in how fast they could travel by the lowest common denominator, probably the YMS-241. Notice Dempsey’s speed from Fiji to the rescue scene was at 19 knots (her top speed, which wasn’t very impressive to begin with), and her speed back to Fiji was only 12 knots. The Cape had been doing 14.7 knots when she was hit.

Dempsey’s war diary continues:

1200 – 1600 Steaming as before. 1344 Sound contact. 1346 Lost contact. Identified as non sub.1422 Commenced circling U.S.S. McCALLA while she stopped to transfer some of survivors to Submarine Chaser [SC-654, and it was actually from the smaller vessel, not to]. 1446 Resumed station. 1459 Slowed to 7 knots, permitting Y.M.S. 241 to come alongside, and transfer survivors to us. 1534 Y.M.S. (241) cast off. Received 40 survivors from her. – E.A. Sandor, Lt., USNR

1600 – 2000 Steaming as before. – R.J. Fisher, Lt., USNR

Position at 2000: 179° 14’ E, 21° 31’ S

2000 – 2400 Steaming as before. 2035 Changed course to 328° T. – H.C. Farnsworth, Lt. (j.g.) USNR

0000 – 0400 Steaming on zigzag plan 11, base course 328° T, together with Y.M.S. (241) as part of screen for U.S.S. McCALLA (DD-448) enroute to Suva, Fiji, to bring survivors of the torpedoed U.S.S. Cape San Juan to port. 0230 Crossed 180° meridian. – E.A. Sandor, Lt., USNR

0400 – 0800 Steaming as before. – R.J. Fisher, Lt., USNR

Position at 0800: 179° 21’ E, 19° 35’ S

0800 – 1200 Steaming as before. 0800 Mustered crew at quarters, no absentees. 0830 Matuku Island Peak sighted bearing 052° T distance 32 miles by radar. 1110 Radar reports land bearing 280° T distance 34 miles. – H.C. Farnsworth, Lt. (j.g.) USNR

Position at 1200: 178° 57’ E, 18° 56’ S

1200 – 1600 Steaming as before. – E.A. Sandor, Lt., USNR

1600 – 2000 Steaming as before. 1618 Changed base course to 350° T. 1633 Stationed special sea detail and entered Suva harbor, Captain at the Conn, Navigator on the bridge. 1745 Moored port side to U.S.S. McCALLA (DD-448) at Kings Wharf, South Suva, Fiji Islands. Made preparations to land survivors. 1800 Survivors started leaving ship, received by the proper military authorities. 1820 Completed transfer of survivors. – R.J. Fisher, Lt., USNR

Position at 2000: 178° 26’ E, 18° 08’ S

2000-2400 Moored as before. 2000 Liberty party left ship. – R.T. Hanley, Lt., USNR

To date I have only been able to identify seven of the U.S.S. Dempsey’s normal complement of fifteen officers that were aboard during the Cape San Juan rescue according to her War Diary:

      • Barnard, Harry A. Jr., Lieutenant Commander, USN (Commander)

      • Weber, Alban, Lieutenant, USNR (Navigator, and Executive Officer (XO))

      • Sandor, Edward Anthony, Lieutenant, USNR

      • Farnsworth, H.C., Lieutenant (j.g.), USNR

      • Fisher, R.J., Lieutenant, USNR

      • Hanley, Robert Timothy, Lieutenant, USNR

      • Shutan, Robert H., Ensign, USNR

Possible officers at that time:

      • Walden, Ben, Lieutenant (j.g.)

      • Alexander, C., Ensign, USNR

      • Caulfield, Lieutenant

      • Patrick, Ensign

      • Shubart, H.S. Ensign, USNR

      • Singleton, J.V. Ensign, USNR

Below is a list of Dempsey's 187 enlisted personnel at the time of the rescue:

Post-Cape San Juan History

After the Cape San Juan rescue, U.S.S. Dempsey departed Fiji on November 18th and screened various oilers of Task Unit 16.10.1, including U.S.S. Guadaloupe (AO-32) and U.S.S. Platte (AO-24) during Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilberts (Tarawa). From the 23rd through the 24th they were joined by U.S.S. Cimarron (AO-22) and U.S.S. Greiner (DE-37).

They arrived at Pearl Harbor on December 2nd.

Barnard relinquished command of Dempsey on December 13th, 1943 while she was in Pearl Harbor undergoing repairs and routine maintenance. His XO, Alban “Stormy” Weber took over command until February of 1945.

According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:

Dempsey sailed from Pearl Harbor 25 January 1944 escorting a convoy of transports and cargo ships to newly captured Majuro, arriving 3 February. She escorted White Plains (CVE-66) to Kwajalein, then returned to Pearl Harbor 24 February. The next day she got underway for Noumea, arriving 8 March, and from 14 March to 22 September served in the Solomons and adjacent islands on local escort and patrol.

Transferred to the 3rd Fleet Dempsey arrived at Manus 27 September 1944 and sailed 2 October to screen transports to the Palau’s. She patrolled and served as harbor entrance control vessel off Peleliu, on 28 October sinking a Japanese patrol craft and capturing one prisoner.

From 20 November 1944 Dempsey sailed on convoy duty from Guam to Eniwetok, Ulithi, and Leyte. On 15 April 1945 her base became Eniwetok, and she continued her convoy duty to Ulithi and Kwajalein, serving also on air-sea rescue patrols until 5 July when she departed for the west coast. Arriving at San Francisco 18 July, Dempsey was decommissioned 22 November 1945 and sold 18 April 1947.

Dempsey received three battle stars for World War II service.

USS Dempsey Junior Officers

Alban “Stormy” Weber

January 29th, 1915 – Born Joseph Alban Weber Jr. in Chicago, IL to Joseph Alban Weber Sr. (1875-1943) and Anna von Plocheski (1887-?) He always went by Alban or nickname "Stormy" to his friends. He had two sisters; Marcella (1910-2000) and Bonita (1922-?)

1935 - Graduated Harvard University and Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA.

July 24th, 1943 – As Lieutenant, was part of USS Dempsey’s original crew during her commissioning.

December 13th, 1943 – February 11th, 1945 Commanded USS Dempsey

April 1944 - Promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Commanded USS DeLong (DE-684, mid-shipman training ship docked in Miami) Commanded USS Marshall (DD-676)

1955-1970 – Northwestern University Chief Counsel. While in the Reserve he would spend one weekend a month to command a cruise of one of the following Great Lakes training vessels:

USS Ely (PCE-880) in Sheboygan, WI

USS Portage (PCE-902) in Milwaukee, WI

USS Havre (PCE-877) at Great Lakes

USS Parle (DE-708) in Chicago, IL

USS Amherst (PCE-853) in Detroit, MI

1969 – Made a failed bid to run for Congress.

1969 - Promoted to Rear Admiral in the Naval Reserve.

1970 – Executive Director of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities.

September 1st, 2007 - Died in Virginia Beach, VA at the age of 92. Buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 54, Site 893. Married to Margaret Marie Kenny (1916-2008) in 1951.

Survived by his sons Alban Chip Weber, Brian J. K. Weber, and daughters, Gloria and Peggy Ann.

Alban "Stormy" Weber with mascot "Blackie".

E. A. Sandor

November 2nd, 1915 – Born Edward Anthony Sandor in Mutual, CO to Louis Sandor (1886-1919) and Magdaline Sandor (1890-1965). His siblings were Mary (1912 - ?), John Henry (1914-2012) and Martha Smith (1918 - ?)

May 25th, 1940 - Graduated Northwestern University, Evanston, IL ROTC as Ensign. He majored in Industrial Engineering.

July 24th, 1943 – As Lieutenant, was part of USS Dempsey’s original crew during her commissioning.

December 1943 – Became Dempsey’s Executive Officer when Weber took over as Commander.

October 3rd, 1945 - Promoted to Lieutenant Commander.

July 1st, 1951 - Promoted to Commander. 1953 Commanded Fletcher-class Destroyer USS Caperton (DD-650)

1957 – 1958 - Assistant to Director, Technical Division, Shore Establishment Division, Colorado.

June 15th, 1962 - Retired at the rank of Commander. After the Navy he worked for Lockheed as a consultant on the Polaris Missile System.

January 1st, 1998 - Died in Roseville, CA at the age of 82. Buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 64, Site 222. Married to Muriel Maria Sandor (1922-2011).

Notes: Both his parents were born in Hungary and immigrated to the US. His father was a miner and died in a rock fall at Colorado Fuel & Iron Co.’s Cameron Mine, Huerfano County in 1919 when Edward was only three. Survived by his daughter, Carol Ann, born in 1949.

Edward A. Sandor

R. H. Shutan

May 12th, 1918 – Born Robert Harry Shutan in Chicago, IL to Arthur Joseph Shutan (1886-1957) and May Flower Shutan (1895-1946). He was an only child.

  • 1934 Graduated Hyde Park High School, Chicago, IL.

  • 1939 Graduated U.C.L.A. (B.S.), Los Angeles, CA

  • 1942 Received J.D. (Juris Doctor Degree) from Boalt Hall, Berkeley, CA

  • January 1942 Admitted to the California Bar

  • October 5th, 1942 enlisted in the Navy

  • January 28th, 1943 Graduated US Naval Reserve Midshipman's School (V-7), 3rd Battalion, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN (First Class).

  • July 24th, 1943 – As Ensign, was part of USS Dempsey’s original crew during her commissioning, and appears to have spent his entire time on the Dempsey until she was decommissioned in November of 1945, at which point he was her Executive Officer (XO) under Lieutenant Commander William C. Harris Jr. USNR.

  • 1944 - Promoted to Lieutenant (j.g.).

  • March 28th, 1946 - Discharged at the rank of Lieutenant.

  • After the Navy he practiced law in Los Angeles, specialized in the field of bankruptcy and corporate reorganization. One of his more famous clients was the actor Peter Lorre.

  • October 15th, 2008 - Died in Marina Del Rey, CA at the age of 90.

  • Married to Janice H. Dottenheim (1932- Living) in 1955. Divorced 1975.

  • Married to Georgia Franklin in 1997.

Robert Shutan aboard the USS Dempsey circa 1943. Photo courtesy of his daughter, Anne Shutan.

Notes: His father was born in Montreal, Canada. His first wife, Jan Shutan, was a singer and actress with TV and film credits.

Survived by his son Peter Shutan and his daughter Anne Shutan.

I was fortunate to have found his children, however, I have not been successful to date contacting his son. His daughter was kind enough to send the photo of him on the Dempsey, but unfortunately was unable to assist with any details on his brief naval career.

H.C. Farnsworth and R.J. Fisher

Unfortunately, in both cases to date I have not been able to find any information on these young men other than:

July 24th, 1943 – Both were part of USS Dempsey’s original crew during her commissioning.

Both were Reserve officers which would indicate they had graduated a civilian college before entering a Navy V-7 training program.

Fisher served as XO on Dempsey just before Shutan, and so likely left Dempsey at that time.

H.C. Farnsworth

R. T. Hanley

Robert Timothy Hanley was born October 20th, 1917 in Butte, MN to Timothy Hanley (1878-unknown) and Kate (1881-unknown). Both his parents were born in Ireland and immigrated to the US. His father was a watchman at a mine.

He had two brothers, John J. (1910-unknown) and James Henry (1913-1995).

He was a graduate of the Montana State School of Mines (Present day Montana Tech of The University of Montana).

Naval career:

  • January 16th, 1942 - Graduated US Naval Reserve Midshipman's School (V-7), New York (USS Prairie State) and Cornell University.

  • 1941-1943 - Served on USS PC-466 as Engineering, Gunnery and Commissary Officer.

  • July 24th, 1943 – As Lieutenant was part of USS Dempsey’s original crew during her commissioning.

  • 1943-1945 - Served on USS Dempsey (DE-26) 1945 - Served on Submarine USS Charr (SS-328)

  • June 1st, 1946 - Promoted to Lieutenant

  • 1951 – Flag Secretary and aide to the commander of the Atlantic Fleet Training Command, Norfolk, VA

  • 1953-1954 – Executive Officer (XO) of USS Murray (DD-576)

Lieutenant Robert T. Hanley

  • July 1st, 1954 – Promoted to Commander

  • 1955 - 1958 – Executive Officer of the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Washington

  • 1958 - 1960 – Commanding Officer USS Stoddard (DD-566) 1960 - 1962 - Navy Staff-Pentagon

  • 1963 - 1968 - Staff-Command, Naval District 13 – Seattle, WA

  • 1968 - Retired at the rank of Commander. After the Navy he worked for the State of Washington and then the Seattle-King County Health Department, retiring in December of 1982.

Hanley died in Seattle, WA on February 15th, 1983 at the age of 65. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 6, Site 5775-7.

Robert was married to Mary Ellen Sullivan (1929-2009) a lawyer who earned her law degree in 1958. She was also a US Marine and had a very distinguished career in the military and the legal profession.

He is survived by his daughter, Mary K. Scheffler and son Timothy Robert Hanley, also a naval officer (Retired as a Captain).

Captain Harry Allan Barnard Jr.

Harry Allan Barnard Jr. was born in San Francisco, CA on January 26th, 1913 to Harry Allan Barnard Sr. (1875 - 1955) and Cora G. Gow (1888 - 1976).

He appears to have been an only child, and his father was an Army man. Harry Jr. spent part of his childhood in the Philippines where his father was stationed as an officer (eventually retired as a Major) in the Army Quartermaster Corps.

Harry enlisted in the Navy on June 14th, 1932 at the age of 19 and was a 1936 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. His 'Lucky Bag' year book description reads:

Hails from Washington [his family’s home was in Deer Park, Washington by this time] but knows more about the Philippines than most people who have lived there all their lives. A shining light at all social functions he is not, however, without his more serious moments during which times he is prone to take most anything apart to see what makes it tick. In these times of mental stress his naturally flushed face reaches its most colorful hue. Tennis and handball along with cribbage are his most frequent forms of recreation. A professed hater of hops and all that goes with them, it is impossible to find Barney in bed on such festive nights. Although not a first section man, Barney has managed to get his 2.9 [GPA] regularly and usually a good bit more, too. May he always have such success.

As a newly commissioned ensign he served on the destroyer U.S.S. Hull (DD-350) in July of 1938.

While stationed in Hong Kong, Barnard married 29-year-old divorcee Stella Ann Marriner (1911 - ?), a British National, on September 9th, 1940.

Midshipman Harry A. Barnard Jr., USNA, Annapolis circa 1936 from his "Lucky Bag" yearbook profile.

On March 24th, 1942 Barnard departed New York as one of the officers on the destroyer U.S.S. Aaron Ward (DD-483), commanded by Lieutenant Commander Orville F. Gregor. Shortly thereafter, however, on April 3rd, 1942, Lieutenant Barnard was transferred from the Aaron Ward to the US Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, NH for treatment.

His first command is believed to be the sub chaser U.S.S. PC-1119, which Barnard took command of (possibly as a Commander in training) in January of 1943.

While serving on Sub Chaser U.S.S. PC-597 (though not as commander) he was transferred on March 24th, 1943 to the US Naval Hospital, Treasure Island, CA, but again it is unclear why.

On July 24th, 1943, less than 4 months before the Cape San Juan’s loss, Barnard commissioned the new Evarts-class destroyer escort U.S.S. Dempsey (DE-26).

As noted above in Dempsey’s history, Barnard relinquished command soon after the Cape San Juan rescue on December 13th, 1943.

U.S.S. Richard M. Rowell (DE-403)

On March 9th, 1944, Barnard commissioned the John C. Butler-class destroyer escort U.S.S. Richard M. Rowell (DE-403).

According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships;

Following shakedown off Bermuda, Richard M. Rowell departed Boston 6 May 1944, and proceeded via the Panama Canal and San Diego to Pearl Harbor, arriving on the 31st.

From June through September of 1944, Barnard and the Rowell screened a number of convoys in the Pacific.

As operations continued into October of 1944, however, disaster struck.

On October 3rd, 1944, 35 miles East of Morotai, at 0807, the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine RO-41 (Commander Lt. Shiizuka) attacked an American Task Group. According to

Lt Shiizuka fired all four of his remaining torpedoes on what he took to be three carriers. He heard four explosions. Actually, his torpedoes miss the two carriers, but one hits a screen escort, Lt.Cdr. L. G. Salomon's U.S.S. Shelton (DE-407) in the stern. Shiizuka mistakenly reports one CV sunk and one CV damaged.

According to Rowell’s War Diary:

At 0806 MIDWAY [CVE-63] reported seeing torpedo wakes. At 0808 U.S.S. SHELTON (DE-407) was hit by a torpedo well aft of her starboard side. Hit was just about at the propellers. The Commanding Officer of the SHELTON later reported that one torpedo was definitely seen to change course toward the SHELTON which points to the possibility of an acoustic type torpedo being used. At 0808 [Rowell] sounded general alarm and manned all battle stations and stood by SHELTON on order of CTU 77.1.3, commenced search ‘OBSERVANT” attempting to locate submarine. SHELTON did not appear to be settling so advised CTU 77.1.2 that this vessel could take her in tow. After completing first two legs of search, SHELTON reported she could hear sub astern. Returned to vicinity of SHELTON and at 0839 dropped three depth charges set at fifty feet on bearing between SHELTON and sub. Did not have sound contact and charges were laid on information from SHELTON. Attempting to drive sub away from SHELTON. Turned and dropped three more charges, on same bearing, set at 100 ft. at 0842. [This portion of the attack may very well have been against to RO-41, as an unsuccessful counterattack was reported].

CTU 77.1.2 asked by voice radio if ROWELL was taking SHELTON in tow – replied in the negative and asked if he wished that this be done – reply was in the affirmative. At 0945 lay to off SHELTON to take on survivors. Ordered by CTU 77.1.2 to sink SHELTON by gunfire when all survivors were clear. At 0958 commenced taking on wounded which were being transferred by whaleboat. This method of transfer proved entirely too slow so at 1105 went alongside SHELTON to take off remaining survivors, incurring slight superficial damage while doing so due to rolling of the ships. At 1111 Commanding Officer of SHELTON came aboard and there were no remaining living persons on the SHELTON. Total survivors on board 210 plus the ship’s cat, three of which were seriously wounded and nineteen others wounded in varying degrees. At 1113 cleared SHELTON and asked CTU 77.1.2 if orders to sink hulk were still effective – answer was negative. Commenced circling SHELTON and looking for additional survivors that might have been blown clear by the explosion – results negative. Continued circling hulk on orders of CTU 77.1.2.

At 1225 ASP plane reported sub on surface about seven miles away. Plane attacked and dropped dye marker – results of attack were negative and submarine submerged on a northwesterly course [this was believed to be an attack by an aircraft from the escort carrier U.S.S. ST. LO (CVE-63)]. Proceeded at best speed to area. At 1311 made sound contact on submarine. At 1315 made hedgehog attack – sound gear reported one explosion but this was not noticed on the bridge. At 1327 made second hedgehog attack – three to five definite explosions were heard or felt on the bridge – debris was blown to the surface and sank at once indicating it was metal or some heavy material – no oil slick was noticed for total time this vessel remained in the area. A large bubble of air came to the surface shortly after the debris. One piece of debris, looking like the end of a periscope, was seen to come up vertically out of the water about two feet, tilt over to an angle of about 70 degrees, and then sink. Commanding Officer of SHELTON concurs in the opinion that it appeared to be a periscope. The submarine attempted to jam sound gear by sending a continuous dash on his gear from about 300 yards on in, and was highly evasive, fish-tailing all of the time. At 1340 made third hedgehog attack with negative results. Area was now full of wakes and explosion boils and it is doubtful that any of the remaining attacks were made on the submarine itself although he was close. At 1350 made fourth hedgehog attack with negative results. At 1355 fired thirteen charge depth charge pattern set at very deep where sub was thought to be. About two minutes after explosions of the charges were heard, a distinct underwater explosion was heard, or possibly felt, on the bridge, coming from the general direction of the submarine. At 1403 made fifth hedgehog attack with negative results. Sound conditions were bad due to wakes and boils. During all early attacks submarine was estimated to be making three knots and was making highly evasive course changes during all attacks. It is thought possible that the embarrassing attacks made at 0839 and 0842 may have shaken him up causing the sub to surface when planes and surface craft were nearby and that his speed was reduced somewhat. This would account for his low speed during attacks. At 1426 commenced retiring search curve attempting to regain contact.

At 1508 ASP plane reported sub on surface and identified it as friendly, bearing about 070° T., distant about 10 miles from this vessel. Proceeded at best speed to investigate regardless of friendly report by plane for no friendly subs were known to be in the area. At 1530 challenged and exchanged calls with U.S.S. DARTER (SS-227) which was not included in any submarine notices to date. Returned to vicinity of SHELTON arriving about 1600. Considered contact to be hopelessly lost and considered medical aid for seriously wounded imperative. ComDesRon 4, with STEVENS and LANG, was at the scene and had hulk in tow of LANG. At 1631, on orders of CTU 77.1.2, proceeded with wounded to MOROTAI at best speed. At 2110 met crash boat off entrance with pilot and doctor aboard. Proceeded inside and on orders of CTF 73 prepared to go alongside TANGIER to transfer wounded. As approach was being made red alert was sounded and lay to at general quarters until all clear sounded. At 2313 went alongside TANGIER and transferred three seriously survivors and took on small amount of stores.

In the weeks and months after, it became apparent that Darter was not the only American submarine in the area that the vessels of the Task Force were not aware of. Despite the inconclusive results, the allies came to the horrific conclusion that Barnard had not attacked the Japanese RO-41, but likely sank their own Sargo-class submarine U.S.S. Seawolf (SS-197), commanded Albert Marion Bontier, with the loss of all hands!

The Japanese RO-41 escaped unscathed despite the initial counterattack by Rowell, but was eventually lost with all hands (82) less than five months later on the evening of March 22nd/23rd, 1945 off Okinawa while under the command of Lt Yoshikuni Honda. She was brought to surface by depth charges from the U.S.S. HAGGARD (DD-555), raked by gunfire and rammed before sinking by the stern.

Several other sources were quick to judge Barnard for attacking a submarine in a safety zone. Hindsight is 20/20 and in in the heat of battle things are seldom that black and white. Yes, Barnard was aware of the “safety zone”, but was not informed of actual friendly submarines in his vicinity by his command. What Barnard was aware of is that there was an enemy submarine in their midst firing torpedoes and sinking his comrades vessels and the carriers he was protecting could be next. He of course had no way of knowing that RO-41 was out of torpedoes and the attack was over.

The fact that the Seawolf was forced to submerge by attacks from friendly aircraft only complicated identification. Bontier as well had an impossible decision to make. Surface in the hope that Seawolf would be identified before aircraft or the Rowell destroyed her, or remain submerged and take evasive maneuvers to try and avoid destruction. In the end the evasive maneuvers and apparent lack of effective communication to identify themselves sealed their fate. Rowell’s anti-submarine weapons systems and tactics were all too effective.

While the Navy was trying to figure out what happened there was still a war going on, and so Barnard’s command of Rowell continued. According to Rowell’s history,

She next screened a carrier group providing air support for the landings on Leyte, Philippine Islands, 20 October.

At the start of the Battle of Samar, 25 October, the destroyer escort operated in group "Taffy One." That day Taffy One was operating off Surigao Island about 130 miles south of Task Force 3, which received the main Japanese attack. Taffy One had just launched planes to the south to attack the Japanese retiring from the Battle of Surigao Strait, when attacked by six Japanese planes from Davao. This attack was the first intentional use of the Kamikaze suicide plane. Responding to this emergency, Richard M. Rowell rescued one survivor from Santee (CVE-29). Taffy One arrived too late to be of much assistance to Taffy Three, which bore the main Japanese attack, but she did fight off another kamikaze attack on the 26th, as Richard M. Rowell was attacking an enemy submarine. Returning to the carrier formation, she donated blood plasma from her own supply, and medical supplies from Petrof Bay (CVE-80) to Suwanee (CVE-27). On the 27th she escorted Santee (CVE-29) to Manus, and arrived at Pearl Harbor 19 November.

She joined anti-air and anti-submarine patrols for the landings 9 January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands. After protecting underwater demolition drills at Ulithi in late January and early February, she guarded transports to Iwo Jima, and supported air units during the landings there 19 February. Departing Ulithi 21 March.

On March 20th, 1945 Barnard was relieved of command of the Rowell, and replaced by Lieutenant Commander Norman B. Bullard.

Barnard was awarded the Legion of Merit for his attack and destruction of the RO-41 (which sadly later turned out to be the USS Seawolf).

Commander Harry A. Barnard, Jr. after being award the Legion of Merit. Photo from

U.S.S. Sigsbee (DD-502)

On June 20th, 1945 Barnard replaced Commander Gordon Pai'ea Chung-Hoon as commander of the Fletcher-class destroyer U.S.S. Sigsbee (DD-502) while repairs were being made at Pearl Harbor. Sigsbee had been hit by a Kamikaze just aft of her #5 gun turret while in support of the invasion of Okinawa.

Barnard was detached for temporary duty on July 5th, 1945 for a period of instruction at U.S. Naval Training School (Damage Control) San Francisco, CA

The war ended on September 2nd when the Japanese formally surrendered.

Sigsbee’s repairs were finally completed on September 28th, and they departed Pearl under the command of Barnard on October1st, 1945, arriving in Philadelphia on October 22nd. They moved to Camden, NJ for Navy Day celebrations, then sailed for Charleston, SC on November 1st, arriving on November 3rd where the vessel was prepared for reserve status.

Harry’s marriage to Stella ended in 1946. She was living in Florida at the time. With his frequent deployments during the war, the time they spent together in those five or six years would have likely been measured in months.

It’s not clear exactly what year he re-married, but it’s known that before his retirement he married Betty J. Wood (1925-2018) and they traveled extensively. They had a daughter, Betty Aileen, born in 1948.

U.S.S. BEATTY (DD-756)

Barnard’s last command appears to be the Sumner Class Destroyer U.S.S. BEATTY (DD-756), which he commanded from March 15th, 1949 to December 3rd, 1949. According to that vessel’s history, shortly after taking command;

the ship, along with other units of Squadron TWELVE, proceeded to New Orleans, Louisiana, for the purpose of cruising Naval Reservists out of that port. During the summer and fall, the ship visited most of the leading ports in the Caribbean, with interim periods of training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Barnard was replaced by Lieutenant Commander John McLaughlin.


Barnard retired from the Navy as a Captain on October 1st, 1952 on a disability after 16 years of service.

The Seawolf tragedy did not appear to adversely affect his naval career, despite later being censured. Soon after the attack Barnard was actually awarded the Legion of Merit, but it is believed that this was withdrawn after it became apparent that it was not an enemy submarine, but most probably the Seawolf.

His father passed in 1955 at the age of 80.

Harry Allan Barnard Jr. passed away in Seattle, WA on February 1st, 1958 at the age of only 45. It is not known if his premature death was due to natural causes or some other reason. There are hints that he had health issues earlier in his life, such as the disability retirement, and several visits to Naval Hospitals throughout his career, but no specifics. His obituary, oddly titled “Death Takes Harry Allen Barnard, Jr.” noted he passed “after a long illness”. It is also not known what the physical and/or psychological impact was from the Seawolf tragedy. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 30 Site 794-1, on February 10th, 1958.

His wife Betty passed in Washington State in 2018. Hopefully one day their daughter Betty (aka "Babs") Johnson or extended family will find the site and be able to help fill in some of the blanks.

Sources for information on Captain Barnard and junior officers Weber, Sandor, Shutan and Hanley.

DANFS – Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships website for history of the USS Dempsey. for military reports relating to this story including War Diary's and Crew Rosters. for information on Barnard and his junior officers including various newspaper articles and obituaries. for information on USS Dempsey.

Shutan, Anne - for photo of her father, Robert Shutan.

Wikipedia free on-line encyclopedia for summaries on miscellaneous topics related to this story.