Triage at Sea
The smallest things are often the most easily overlooked. That also applies to some of the most diminutive surface ships, PCE(R)s-patrol craft, escort rescue. Only 13 of the vessels were built, and their role in World War II has been largely forgotten. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, however, one of the rescue ships valiantly fought off Japanese air attacks to save the lives of wounded Sailors.
The PCE(R)-853 was laid down on 16 November 1943 at Chicago, Illinois, by the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Co. Launched on 18 March 1944, she was placed in service on 31 May for the ferry trip down the Mississippi River and commissioned at New Orleans, Louisiana, on 16 June. After leaving Mobile, Alabama, the ship transitted the Panama Canal and headed for Pearl Harbor. En route she exercised her guns, which proved disappointing. After one particular "badly needed" evolution, 29-year old Lieutenant William W. Boynton, her commanding officer, noted that while the gunnery had improved, it was still, in his candid opinion, "not . . . up to standard." Wartime experience demanded good shooting, no matter what the type of ship.