The destroyer escort USS Holder [DE-401] was in active service for just 83 days, 18 January 1944[date of commissioning] to 11 April 1944 [date irreparably damaged by an aircraft torpedo]. Nine other naval vessels had similar shortened careers : USS Corvina [SS-226]----3 months-----6 August 1943 to 16 November 1943, USS Cytheria [PY-26] ----2 months----3 March 1942 to 2 May 1942, USS Dorado [SS-248]---6 weeks----28 August 1943 to 12 October 1943 , USS Lancetfish [SS-296] -----1 month-----12 February 1945 to 15 March 1945, USS Liscome Bay [CVE-59]-----15 weeks-----7 August 1943 to 24 November 1943, USS Leopold [DE-319]----20 weeks----18 October 1943 to 9 March 1944, USS Mount Hood [AE-11] ----4 months ----1 July 1944 to 10 November 1944, USS SC-709------67 days-----16 November 1942 to 21 January 1943, and the USS SC-1024----3 months-------3 December 1942 to 2 March 1943.

While not sunk like the above vessels, the USS Holder was a “War Loss”. Another destroyer escort also permanently put out of action after a torpedo attack was the USS Donnell [DE-56]. On 3 May 1944, while escorting a convoy to Londonderry, North Ireland, she was struck by a torpedo which blew off her stern. The Donnell spent the rest of the war as a moored power plant and later an accommodation/ barracks ship [reclassified IX-182].

The keel of the USS Holder, a member of the Edsall Class, was laid at the Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas, on 6 October 1943. Brown Shipbuilding Co. had been built in 1941, at the junction of Houston Ship Channel and Green’s Bayou, as an emergency yard with a $9 mm grant from the US Navy. The only other yard that constructed Edsall Class destroyer escorts was Consolidated Steel, Orange, Texas.

The escort was named for Lt. JG Randolph M. Holder, a Navy pilot, who had been killed during the Battle of Midway. At the time, he was a member of Torpedo Squadron 6 on the USS Enterprise [CV-6]. Lt.JG Holder was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for valor. Around this time, civilian and naval shipyards throughout the country were working around the clock to turn out needed escorts. As a result, the Holder was completed within 7 weeks----being launched on 27 November 1943. Her sponsor was Mrs. Annette Holder, the mother of Lt.JG Holder.

Edsall Class destroyer escorts specifications were:

  Displacement:   1,490 tons [full load] ,
1,200 tons [standard]
  Length   306’
  Beam   36’7”
  Draft   8’7”
  Speed   21 knots
  Endurance   11,500 NM @ 11 knots
  Fuel Capacity   279 tons
  Complement   186 enlisted
  10 officers
  Armament   three - 3”/50 caliber main guns
eight - 20 mm Oerlikons
one - quad 40 mm Bofors
one - triple torpedo launcher
one - hedgehog
eight - d. c.   “K-guns”
two - d.c.   stern racks
  Radar   SL surface search
SA air search
  Main Engines   2 shafts; 4 Fairbanks—Morse
Model 38d8-1/8—10 geared diesel engines [2 per shaft],
6,000 bhp [shp] horsepower output

The grinding “fitting out” period now began. As the men and officers arrived at the yard, they were assigned to their divisions and began to acquaint themselves with their new home. Equipment had to be hauled aboard and stowed or installed [welded/ bolted]. The list seemed endless: charts, typewriters, mimeograph machines, battle lanterns, life jackets, file cabinets, medical sterilizers, desks, radio transmitters/receivers, etc. There were weapons to be cleaned, halyards rigged, fire hoses to be tested, sextants/ chronometers checked, medical equipment to be arranged in the wardroom, and seamen sent to classes .Each day brought the Holder a little bit closer to being a fighting ship.

On 18 January 1944, with the crew assembled on the faintail, the USS Holder [DE-401] was placed in commission. Lt. Comdr. G. Cook was her first commanding officer. Reading his orders, he assumed command and directed the XO to” set the watch”.

Within a few weeks, she departed for southern waters to begin shakedown training. A full month was spent carrying out drills, participating in night gunnery practice, formation exercises, firing torpedoes, towing other DE’s, and ASW operations.

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