PCE - Patrol Escort
During World War II, Germany's U-boat campaign was strangling Great Britain by cutting off her supplies from the United States. After Pearl Harbor, the United States joined this Battle of the Atlantic. The Navy, desperate to halt the carnage, needed more antisubmarine ships. Destroyers took long to build. Meanwhile the Navy built PCEs. PCEs were rough riders but rugged ships, and their depth charge attacks helped defeat the U-boats. Then, they crossed the Atlantic and Pacific. Many became control ships that led landing craft in invasions.
There were 68 Patrol Craft Escort vessels built and delivered to the US Navy and an additional 17 delivered under the Lend-Lease Program to Allies during World War II PCEs were an inexpensive substitute for larger and more valuable DD's and DE's. Though not much longer than the PC, the 185 foot steel hulled PCE's tonnage is more than twice as great. Its speed is 15 knots, diesel propelled and armed with a dual-purpose 3"/50 gun, three 40mm guns, five 20mm guns, two depth charge tracks, and ten K-Guns.
The PCE-905 Class Patrol Craft Escorts (PCE-905 to PCE-976) were converted units of the AM-136 Admirable class. Admirable class minesweepers formed the largest class of American minesweepers ordered during the war and proved to be one of the most successful classes. They were also employed as patrol and escort vessels. The six units of the considerably smaller PCE-1604 Class Patrol Craft Escorts (PCE-1604 to PCE-1609) were all exported for use by the Netherlands.
These 185' vessels (by way of comparison, Flower class corvettes were 200' in length) were "lively". They pitched and rolled with a vengeance, and seasoned sailors aboard larger ships were amazed at the fearsome battering a heavy sea could inflict on a PCE.Life for the 99 man PCE crew was cramped and difficult. The constant battering and seasickness wore down even experienced sailors. But the hardship bred both camaraderie and an absence of formality not found on larger ships.
The PCEs carried a considerable amount of detection and ranging gear for locating submarines. The PCE was designed for general escort work, whereas the PC normally stayed near harbors and worked only with coastal convoys. Some PCEs were converted to PCE(R), Rescue Escorts while others were converted to Amphibious Control Vessels, PCE(C).
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