USS Belfast (PG-143)

Career (United States)
Name: USS Belfast (PG-143)
Namesake: Belfast, Maine
Builder: Consolidated Steel Corporation, Wilmington, California
Laid down: 26 March 1943
Reclassified: PF-35, 15 April 1943
Launched: 20 May 1943
Sponsored by: Miss Elizabeth C. Wilson
Commissioned: 24 November 1944
Decommissioned: 12 July 1945[1]
Honors and
awards:
2 battle stars, World War II
Fate: Transferred to the Soviet Navy, 12 July 1945
Struck: 31 January 1950
Career (Soviet Union)
Name: EK-3
Acquired: 12 July 1945
Commissioned: 12 July 1945
Fate: Wrecked, 17 November 1948
Scrapped 1960
General characteristics
Class & type:
Displacement: 1,430 long tons (1,453 t) light
2,415 long tons (2,454 t) full
Length: 303 ft 11 in (92.63 m)
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.43 m)
Draft: 13 ft 8 in (4.17 m)
Propulsion: 2 × 5,500 shp (4,101 kW) turbines
3 boilers
2 shafts
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 190
Armament: • 3 × 3"/50 caliber guns (3×1)
• 4 × 40 mm guns (2×2)
• 9 × 20 mm guns (9×1)
• 1 × Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar
• 8 × Y-gun depth charge projectors
• 2 × depth charge tracks

USS Belfast (PF-35), the only ship of the name, was a United States Navy in commission from 1944 to 1945. She then served in the Soviet Navy as EK-3.

Construction and commissioning

Belfast (PF-35) was laid down on 26 March 1943 at Wilmington, California, by the Consolidated Steel Corporation under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1446). She was launched on 20 May 1943, sponsored by Miss Elizabeth C. Wilson, and commissioned at Terminal Island, California, on 24 November 1943 with Lieutenant Commander J. J. Hutson, USCG, in command.

Service history

U.S. Navy, World War II, 1943-1945

Following outfitting, shakedown, and post-shakedown repairs, Belfast stood out of San Pedro, California, on 30 April 1944 and headed for Australia. After stopping at Noumea, New Caledonia, Belfast reached Cairns, Australia, at the end of May 1944. From there, she moved into the Southwest Pacific theater of operations to serve as a patrol vessel and convoy escort. During the summer and early autumn of 1944, she supported the latter stages of the leapfrog assaults along the northern coast of New Guinea. She took part in the Noemfoor landing on 2 July 1944 and in the assault on Cape Opmarai four weeks later.

Belfast continued to operate in the waters around western New Guinea until sent to escort a reinforcement convoy to Leyte in the Philippine Islands during October 1944. She then operated around Leyte from the end of October until the second week in December 1944. Near the end of 1944, she headed back to the United States and arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, on 24 January 1945 for extensive repairs lasting until spring.

As part of Escort Division 25, Belfast departed Casco Bay, Maine, with the rest of the division – her sister ships USS Long Beach (PF-34) (the flagship), USS Glendale (PF-36), USS San Pedro (PF-37), USS Coronado (PF-38), and USS Ogden (PF-39) – on 28 March 1945 for Seattle, Washington, via the Panama Canal. The six patrol frigates arrived at Seattle on 26 April 1945, and Belfast also called at Port Townsend, Washington, at some point. All six patrol frigates got underway for Kodiak in the Territory of Alaska on 7 June 1945. Ogden had to return to Seattle for repairs, but Belfast and the other four frigates arrived at Womens Bay, Kodiak, on 11 June 1945.[2]

On 13 June 1945, Belfast, Long Beach, Glendale, San Pedro, Coronado, and their sister ships USS Charlottesville (PF-25), USS Allentown (PF-52), USS Machias (PF-53), and USS Sandusky (PF-54) got underway from Kodiak for Cold Bay, Alaska, where they arrived on 14 June 1945 to participate in Project Hula, a secret program for the transfer of U.S. Navy ships to the Soviet Navy in anticipation of the Soviet Union joining the war against Japan. Training of Belfast's new Soviet Navy crew soon began at Cold Bay.[3]

Soviet Navy, 1945–1948

Belfast was decommissioned on 12 July 1945[1] at Cold Bay and transferred to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease immediately along with nine of her sister ships, the first group of patrol frigates transferred to the Soviet Navy. Commissioned into the Soviet Navy immediately, she was designated as a storozhevoi korabl ("escort ship") and renamed EK-3 in Soviet service. On 15 July 1945, EK-3 departed Cold Bay in company with nine of her sister ships – EK-1 (ex-Charlottesville), EK-2 (ex-Long Beach), EK-4 (ex-Machias), EK-5 (ex-San Pedro), EK-6 (ex-Glendale), EK-7 (ex-Sandusky), EK-8 (ex-Coronado), EK-9 (ex-Allentown), and EK-10 (ex-Ogden) – bound for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Soviet Union.[4] EK-3 served as a patrol vessel in the Soviet Far East.

In February 1946, the United States began negotiations with the Soviet Union for the return of ships loaned to the Soviet Navy for use during World War II. On 8 May 1947, United States Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal informed the United States Department of State that the United States Department of the Navy wanted 480 of the 585 combatant ships it had transferred to the Soviet Union for World War II use returned, EK-3 among them. Negotiations for the return of the ships was protracted, but in October and November 1949 the Soviet Union finally returned 27 of the 28 patrol frigates transferred in Project Hula. The only exception was EK-3, which had ran aground during a storm on 17 November 1948 off Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and been damaged beyond economical repair. The U.S. Navy declared her a total loss on 14 November 1949, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 31 January 1950. The only Project Hula frigate not returned to the United States, she was scrapped in the Soviet Union in 1960.[5]

Awards

The U.S. Navy awarded Belfast two battle stars for her World War II service.

References

This article incorporates text from the here.

External links

  • Photo gallery of USS Belfast at NavSource Naval History


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