Mannert L. Abele off Boston, 1 August 1944.
Mannert L. Abele (DD 733) was laid down by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath Maine, 9 December 1943; launched 23 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Mannert L. Abele; and commissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, 4 July 1944, Comdr. Alton, E. Parker in command.
Three Minutes off Okinawa

Three Minutes off Okinawa by shipmate Roy S. Anderson.

After shakedown off Bermuda, Mannert L. Abele trained destroyer crews in Chesapeake Bay before departing Norfolk 16 October for duty in the Pacific. Steaming via San Diego, she reached Pearl Harbor 17 November and remained for two weeks of intensive training. She sailed in convoy for western Pacific 3 December, but returned two weeks later for conversion to a fighter director ship. She received special radio and radar equipment and completed radar picket training before departing 27 January 1945 for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Assigned to the transport screen of Vice Adm. R. K. Turner’s Task Force 51, Mannert L. Abele steamed via Eniwetok and Saipan and screened ships of the assault force during amphibious landings 19 February. The next day, she joined the fire support group for shore bombardment and close support gunfire operations. During the next 28 hours, she blasted numerous enemy gun emplacements, blockhouses and eaves with devastating effect. In addition, she provided night illumination and harassing fire in support of ground operations by the 5th Marine Division. She resumed screening and radar picket duty at dusk 21 February.

On 3 and 4 March and again from 8 to 10 March, Mannert L. Abele served on the bombardment line as effective naval firepower provided valuable support for the marines’ ground conquest of that important enemy island fortress. On 10 March, she steamed to Ulithi, arriving the 12th.

Mannert L. Abele departed 20 March for radar picket duty off Ulithi. The next day, she joined TF 54, Rear Adm. M. L. Deyo’s Gunfire and Covering Force for the invasion of Okinawa. She reached the Ryukyu Islands on 24 March and during the next week, screened heavy shore bombardment ships during preinvasion operations from Kerama Retto to Ie Shima. In addition, she pounded enemy positions and supported underwater demolition team (UDT) operations at proposed assault beaches on Okinawa.

As American troops stormed the beaches 1 April, Mannert L. Abele provided close fire support before beginning radar picket patrols northeast of Okinawa later that day. On 3 April, three Japanese planes attacked her but the destroyer splashed two of the raiders with intensive, accurate gunfire. Released from picket duty 5 April, she resumed screen patrols off the beaches. On 6 April, she helped splash an attacking twin‑engined bomber.

The next day, Mannert L. Abele joined TF 54 to protect the transports off Okinawa from ships of the Surface Special Attack Force, which included the super-battleship Yamato, which was steaming south from Japan in a last desperate effort to destroy superior American sea power. Hard-hitting planes of the fast carrier task force wiped out the enemy’s thrust with furious bomb and torpedo strikes, however, sinking six enemy ships and damaging the four surviving destroyers.

On 8 April, accompanied by two LSMRs, Mannert L. Abele resumed radar picket duty at station No. 14, about 70 miles northwest of Okinawa. There, midway through the afternoon watch on 12 April, she caught the full fury of suicide planes. Three “Vals” attacked at 1345 but her lethal gunfire drove off two and set fire to the third, which splashed after attempting to crash an LSMR. By 1400, between 15 and 25 additional planes “had come down from the north and the ship was completely surrounded.” Except for one light bomber, which challenged and was damaged by the destroyer’s fire, the enemy kept outside her gun range for more than half an hour.

At about 1440, three “Zekes” broke orbit and closed to attack. Mannert L. Abele drove off one and splashed another about 4,000 yards out. Despite numerous hits from 5‑inch bursts and antiaircraft fire, and spewing smoke and flame, the third kamikaze crashed the starboard side and penetrated the after engine room where it exploded.

Immediately, Mannert L. Abele began to lose headway. The downward force of the blast wiped out the after engineering spaces and broke the destroyer’s keel abaft the No. 2 stack. The bridge lost control and all guns and directors lost power.

A minute later, at about 1446, Mannert L. Abele took a second and fatal hit from a baka bomb—a piloted, rocket-powered glider bomb—that struck the starboard waterline abreast the forward fireroom. Its 2,600‑pound warhead exploded, buckling the ship and “cutting out all power, lights and communications.”

Almost immediately, Mannert L. Abele broke in two, with her midships section obliterated. Her bow and stern sections then sank rapidly. As survivors clustered in the churning waters, enemy planes bombed and strafed them. However, LSMR‑189 and LSMR‑190—praised by Comdr. Parker as “worth their weight in gold as support vessels”—splashed two of the remaining attackers, repulsed further attacks and rescued survivors.

Mannert L. Abele was the first of three radar pickets hit by the baka during the Okinawa campaign and the only ship known to have been sunk by it. She earned two battle stars for World War II service.

Source: Naval Historical Center including Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.