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USS Atherton (DE-169)
Atherton 1.jpg
USS Atherton (DE-169)
Career (United States)
Name: USS Atherton (DE-169)
Namesake: John McDougal Atherton
Ordered: 1942
Builder: Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newark, New Jersey
Yard number: 285
Laid down: 14 January 1943
Launched: 27 May 1943
Sponsored by: Mrs. Cornelia A. Atherton
Commissioned: 29 August 1943
Decommissioned: 10 December 1945
Struck: 15 June 1975
Honors and
1 battle star, World War II
Fate: transferred to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), 14 June 1955
Acquired: returned from JMSDF, 1975
Fate: transferred to the Philippine Navy, 13 September 1976
Career (Japan)
Name: JDS Hatsuhi (DE-263)
Acquired: 14 June 1955
Decommissioned: 1975
Fate: Returned to the United States, 1975
Career (Philippines)
Name: BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11)
Acquired: 23 December 1978
Commissioned: 27 February 1980
Decommissioned: 1993
Recommissioned: January 1996
Status: in active service, as of 2022

USS Atherton (DE-169), a Cannon-class destroyer escort, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Lt. (jg) John McDougal Atherton, who died when the USS Meredith sank near Guadalcanal during World War II.

Atherton (DE-169) was laid down on 14 January 1943 at Newark, New Jersey, by the Federal Drydock & Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 27 May 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Cornelia A. Atherton, the mother of Lt. (jg.) Atherton; completed at the Norfolk Navy Yard; and commissioned there on 29 August 1943, Lt. Comdr. Paul L. Mansell, Jr., USNR, in command.

US Service History

Atherton began shakedown in September. During this time, conducted exercises in Chesapeake Bay and made two cruises to Bermuda. On 13 November, she got underway for Puerto Rico. Upon her arrival there, the destroyer escort assumed anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol duties in waters between St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and the Anegada Passage. On 24 November, she attacked a submarine contact, but observed no evidence of damage. The ship was relieved three days later and returned to Norfolk on 30 November. There, she began making daily cruises in Chesapeake Bay to train prospective crew members for destroyer escorts. Atherton left Norfolk on 11 December to escort a convoy bound for the Panama Canal but was back in Hampton Roads on 27 December.

From January 1944 to May 1945, Atherton operated under the control of Task Force 62 on escort duty for transatlantic convoys. She escorted convoys from Norfolk and New York City to various ports in the Mediterranean. These ports included Casablanca, Morocco; Bizerte, Tunisia; and Oran, Algeria. Atherton periodically reported to the Boston Navy Yard for overhaul. On 9 May 1945, while en route from New York to Boston, Atherton encountered a U-boat. After four depth charge attacks, pieces of broken wood, cork, mattresses, and an oil slick broke the surface. Atherton, in conjunction with Moberly (PF-63), was later credited with destroying the German submarine U-853.

On 28 May, Atherton sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She arrived on 1 June and held a week of exercises with Escort Division 13 before sailing on 6 June for the Pacific. Proceeding via the Panama Canal and San Diego, Atherton arrived at Pearl Harbor on 29 June. There, the ship underwent a tender availability and carried out a series of exercises before getting underway on 15 July for the Marianas. She reached Saipan on 26 July and conducted antisubmarine patrols off Saipan. On 5 August, she got underway for Ulithi, where she operated on picket station until 18 August. Between 19 August and 16 September, Atherton made two round-trip voyages escorting convoys to Okinawa. She was then assigned to rescue station duties out of Saipan which lasted through the end of the war.

On 1 November, Atherton headed back toward the United States. After stops at Pearl Harbor and San Diego, she transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Jacksonville, Florida, in December. On 10 December 1945, she was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Green Cove Springs, Florida. On 14 June 1955, Atherton was transferred to Japan; and, her name was struck from the Navy list.


Crew members of the Atherton received a bronze "battle star" for the American Campaign Medal for their actions in the sinking of the last German submarine in American waters during World War II. The battle took place shortly after the U-853 had torpoedoed the Boston based collier "Black Point" at 5:40PM, 5 May 1945 (just a few days before VE Day). The Atherton tracked down the U-853 just eight miles off Block Island, Rhode Island, sinking her in just 100 feet of water. The next day divers were sent down, confirming the only sinking of a submarine with the newly developed "Hedge Hog" anti-submarine weapon.

Transfer and Sale

Hatsuhi c. 1967


USS Atherton was transferred to Japan in 1955 and commissioned in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force as Hatsuhi (DE-263). After 20 years in service, she was retired in 1975 and was reverted to the United States Navy.

Rajah Humabon c. 2009


Atherton was transferred to Philippines in 1978. She was commissioned in Philippine Navy service in 1980 after a refit in South Korea as BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-78). She was reclassified as patrol frigate and changed the hull number to (PF-6). She was decommissioned in 1993, but was recommissioned in 1995 with a different hull number (PF-11). She is still in active service with the Philippine Navy as of 2011.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.

External links

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