Mason file photo

USS Mason

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassEvarts-class Destroyer Escort
BuilderBoston Navy Yard
Laid Down14 Oct 1943
Launched17 Nov 1943
Commissioned20 Mar 1944
Decommissioned12 Oct 1945
Displacement1140 tons standard
Length289 feet
Beam35 feet
Draft8 feet
Speed21 knots
Crew156
Armament3x3in guns, 4x1.1in guns, 9x20mm cannon, two depth charge tracks, eight depth charge projector, one hedgehog-type depth charge projector

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Mason was commissioned to Lieutenant Commander William M. Blackford of the United States Navy Reserve amidst WW2, who took her to Bermuda on her shakedown cruise. She had the distinction of being the first US Navy ship to be manned by a predominantly African-American crew. She was named for Ensign Newton Henry Mason, an US Navy Reserve pilot who was killed in action during the Battle of Coral Sea in May 1942.

On 14 Jun 1944, Mason departed from Charleston, South Carolina, United States to escort a convoy for Horta Harbor, Azores. After a stop in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, she returned to Boston and operated off Boston through Aug 1944. Between 2 and 19 Sep, she escorted convoy NY.119 from New York City, New York, United States to Falmouth, Cornwall, England, United States. In late-Dec 1944, she escorted a convoy for Europe; mid-way, she broke formation for North Africa, where she operated from 5 Jan 1945. On 11 Jan, off Oran, Algeria, Mason made radar contact with a surface target; assuming it was a submarine, she rammed the target at full speed and dropped depth charges all around, only to find out at the end that it was an abandoned wooden vessel. She sailed to St. George's Harbor, Bermuda and then New York Navy Yard in the United States for repairs. On 12 Feb, Mason departed for the Mediterranean Sea, arriving off Gibraltar on 28 Feb. Between 8 and 24 Mar, she escorted a convoy from Oran to Bermuda, Chesapeake Bay, and finally New York. In early Apr, she conducted sonar and fighter-director training off Rhode Island, United States. Between 10 and 28 Apr, she escorted a convoy to Europe. She was en route back to the United States when she received news that Germany had surrendered.

On 23 May, Mason arrived at New York City, where she remained until Jul. Between 28 Jul and 18 Aug, she served at the Naval Training Center in Miami, Florida, United States as a training vessel. On 20 Aug, she arrived at New London, Connecticut, United States to be outfitted for long-range underwater signal testing, which she conducted in Bermuda in late Aug and early Sep 1945. As Japan surrendered and ending WW2, Mason was decommissioned in late 1945. She was sold to Thomas Harris of Barber, New Jersey, United States for scrapping on 18 Mar 1947.

Sources: United States Navy Dictionary of American Fighting Naval Ships, Wikipedia.

Destroyer Escort USS Mason Interactive Map

USS Mason Operational Timeline

20 Mar 1944 Mason was commissioned into service.
12 Oct 1945 Mason was decommissioned from service.

Photographs

Commissioning Ceremony of Mason, Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, United States, 20 Mar 1944; note Lt Cmdr Blackford in center, African-American crew, and LST in backgroundThree African-American sailors of USS Mason, Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, United States, 20 Mar 1944




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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Gregg Heilman says:
    15 Jan 2010 08:13:29 AM

    If you havent rented it yet go out immediately and rent the DVD "Proudly we Served".

    I am posting the story from US Navy account of the story of this great ship the USS Mason 529 and its' great crew who served their nation proudly.

    The second Mason (DE-529) was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, in October 1943 and launched 17 November 1942. The ship was commissioned 20 March 1944. Lieutenant William Blackford was the Commanding Officer. Mason served as convoy escort in the Atlantic through the remainder of World War II.

    MASON (DE-529) has the distinction of being the only U.S. Navy destroyer to be manned with a predominantly black enlisted crew. This was the first time black Americans were permitted to be trained and serve in ratings other than cooks and stewards. In late 1943, the Navy announced its plan to place an all-black crew with white officers aboard MASON. One hundred and sixty black Sailors were enrolled in all fields of operational and technical training and manned the ship at commissioning. Although known as “Eleanor’s Folly” for Eleanor Roosevelt’s introduction of the idea for an all-black crew, the MASON served with distinction during World War II. During the worst North Atlantic storm of the Century, MASON was serving as an escort to a convoy of merchant ships bound for England. During the storm, the convoy was forced the break up and MASON was chosen to escort a section of ships to their destiny. With land in sight, MASON’s deck split under the strain of heavy sea, threatening the structural integrity of the ship. Emergency repairs were conducted and MASON returned immediately to assist the remainder of the convoy.

    The MASON crew was recommended for commendation from their Captain, Lieutenant Commander Bill Blackford, and the Convoy Commander, Commander Alfred Lind. The commendations were never rewarded. At the end of the war MASON was assigned as a training ship operating from Miami, Florida until being decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1947. On July 26, 1947 President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, officially desegregating the Armed Forces.

    Through the efforts of the Mason veterans and the author Mary Pat Kelly, the MASON story has been chronicled in the book “Proudly We Served.” Their persistence in telling the MASON story paid off in 1994 when President Clinton awarded the long-overdue commendation to sixty-seven surviving crewmembers. In 1998, the Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton made official his decision to name an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer the USS MASON (DDG-87) in order to mark the contributions of USS MASON DE 529 Sailors equality and desegregation in Today’s Navy.

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Destroyer Escort USS Mason Photo Gallery
Commissioning Ceremony of Mason, Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, United States, 20 Mar 1944; note Lt Cmdr Blackford in center, African-American crew, and LST in background
See all 2 photographs of Destroyer Escort USS Mason



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