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    The USS Rich began in Bay City, Michigan on 27 March 1943. The ship was laid down by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company. It was launched 22 June 1943. A skeleton crew manned the Rich down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana. The remainder of the crew had finished Destroyer Escort School at Norfolk, Virginia, and met the new ship at New Orleans. The commissioning date was 1 October, 1943. Lt. Comdr. E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, was in command.

    A green crew took the ship on shake-down cruise to Bermuda. Their indoctrination was hastened by extremely rough weather enroute. Following a period of post shakedown repairs, the Rich escorted a transport to Argentia, Newfoundland, for its first assignment. Further convoy duty took the Rich to Panama. By the beginning of 1944 the Destroyer Escort seemed destined for regular North Atlantic convoy duty. All the trips were from New York to Northern Ireland (Londonderry) where the vessel laid over to wait for the convoys to unload and then it returned to the States with them. This routine continued through the winter and the spring.
 

 

The Rich was named in honor of Lt. Ralph McMaster Rich. Click here to read more about Lt. Rich.

   On 10 May, 1944, the Rich left on what appeared to be the usual run to the United Kingdom. Upon arrival off Northern Ireland, the vessel was, as in the past, sent to Londonderry to await the trip back to the States. But, the convoy sailed on the return trip without the Rich. She was diverted to take part in the invasion of Normandy.

    The Rich departed Londonderry with orders to proceed to Plymouth, England. The ship was buffeted by high waves as it passed through the Irish Seas. She reached port on the English coast on 4 June, 1944. More armament  was added and the vessel was assigned as the protective ship for the Battleship USS Nevada (BB 36).


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