USS Calcaterra

History of USS Calcaterra, DE(R) - 390

This plaque was found in Dunedin, New Zealand, Nov 2001

This print of USS Calcaterra is available from:   Please contact Ian for pricing information.

These three photos were taken around 1956

From the "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,"

(1969) Vol. 2, pp.10-11.


Displacement:  1,200 t.     Length:  306'  Beam:  36'7"  Draft:  8'7"  Speed:  21 k.

Complement:  186


        3 3";
        3 21" torpedo tubes;
        2 depth charge tracks;
        8 depth charge projectors;
        1 hedge hog

Class:  EDSALL


        CALCATERRA (DE-390) was launched 16 August 1943 by  Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.; sponsored by Mrs. G. M. Stites; commissioned 17 November 1943, Commander H. J. Wuensch, USCG, in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.

        Assigned to the vital duty of escorting convoys between the United States and the Mediterranean, CALCATERRA made  eight round trips between 13 February 1944 and 10 June 1945.  The ships she guarded provided the men and equipment which  insured the success of the invasions of Italy and southern France.  Twice the escort vessel met the challenge of enemy opposition when she depth charged a suspected submarine contact and fired on two aircraft.  Her alert action helped prevent damage or loss to the ships under convoy.

        On 9 July 1945, CALCATERRA headed for the Pacific to tackle a new job, but the war ended shortly before her arrival at Pearl Harbor.  She lifted passengers back to the west coast, then sailed on to the Atlantic.  CALCATERRA was placed out of commission, in reserve, at Green Cove Springs, Fla., 1 May 1946.


         Reclassified DER-390, 28 October 1954, CALCATERRA was converted to a radar picket ship at Norfolk and commissioned 12 September 1955.  Based at Newport, the radar picket ship has almost continuously served in the violent weather of the North Atlantic to maintain her link in the extension of the Distant Early Warning system.  Except for exercises with the fleet in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and a cruise to Europe (August-October 1958).

         From 1956 to 1965 the Calcaterra has been on regular picket duty in the Atlantic, first on the GIUK Barrier and later on the "Southern Tip".  In 1965 she participated in The Atlantic Fleet training exercise Spring Board in the Caribbean. Then followed the multi-force amphibious exercise Quick Kick VII.

         On 16 August 1965 the Calcaterra got underway from Newport, Rhode Island and completed a nine month deployment as a remote weather and air rescue station as part Operation Deep Freeze 1965-1966. The Calcaterra operated out of Dunedin, New Zealand for the 1965-1966 Deep Freeze season. During this cruise the Calcaterra was commanded by Lieutenant Commander William C. Earle, USN. This schedule allowed Calcaterra to circumnavigate the world and to visit many ports from New Zealand through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.


Panama City, Panama
Lima, Peru
Dunedin, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand
Invercargill, New Zealand
Hobart, Tasmania
Freemantle, Australia
Aden, British Protectorate
Beriut, Lebanon
Athens, Greece
Naples, Italy
Marseilles, France
Barcelona, Spain
Portsmouth, England

The ship arrived back at   Newport, Rhode Island on 28 April 1966. In June 1966 it was transferred to Key West, Florida as a unit of Destroyer Division 601, operating as a Sonar School Ship.

Calcaterra got underway again from Key West, Florida on 21 August 1967 for its second and final deployment as part of Operation Deep Freeze 1967-1968. Once again the the ship operated out of Dunedin New Zealand while on Deep Freeze. Again this schedule allowed the ship to circumnavigate the globe.


     Panama Canal
     Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
     Pago-Pago, American Samoa
     Dunedin, New Zealand
     Port Chalmers, New Zealand
     Campbell Island
     Freemantle, Australia
     Lauren Marquees, Mozambique
     Montevideo, Uruguay
     Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
     Recipe, Brazil
     Port of Spain, Trinidad

            Calcaterra arrived back at Key West, Florida on 3 May 1968.  Stricken 2 July 1973. Sold 14 May 1974 and broken up.   Stricken from the Navy Register on 2 July 1973, K. Jack Boer and Stephen S. Robbers, "Register of Ships of the U. S. Navy, 1775-1990," p.226.]

Transcribed by Michael Harness

USS Calcaterra DER-390 images from Kevin Burke collection. Converted to "spook" ship with the removal of TACAN and SPS-8 and the addition of communications intercept equipment.