About 3 years ago I made a post about the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts (DDE-413) being a potential premium destroyer for the game. After a good while of “gitting gud,” reading another post about her earlier that threw the idea around again, and having nothing better to do during lockdown, I’ve decided to write up another suggestion post about her.
For those who are unfamiliar, Samuel B. Roberts was a John C. Butler class destroyer escort, which were effectively smaller, slower, and undergunned destroyers designed to be mass produced anti-submarine escorts for convoys. Before her fateful action, she was assigned to Taffy 3, a small bombardment force comprising of nothing more than a handful of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers (like destroyer escorts but carriers) meant to provide fire support for the marines landing at Leyte. On October 25, 1944, Roberts, along with the Fletcher class destroyer Johnston, was one of the first ships to launch a suicidal torpedo attack against a vastly superior Japanese force, which included the battleship Yamato.
During the ensuing brawl, Roberts scored a torpedo hit from her 3 tubes against heavy cruiser Chokai, blowing its stern off and scoring multiple hits with her modest 5 inch battery against her and cruiser Chikuma, setting the latter afire. She would later take a massive beating from the Japanese fleet, including three 14 inch shells hits from battleship Kongo, that ultimately sealed her fate. However, her actions and those of the other tin cans of Taffy 3 were not in vain; the Japanese fleet, seeing the ferocity of the suicidal American charge, vastly overestimated the strength of the American fleet and believed they had stumbled upon the outer elements of a much larger force, and opted to retire their forces. The heroic actions of Taffy 3 likely saved the marines landing at Leyte, as the Japanese fleet were on a course to intercept the landing fleet. The actions of Roberts in particular would later earn her the title of “The destroyer escort that fought like a battleship.”
For the following stats, I compared how I believe she should be implemented to tier 4 destroyers, which I believe is the best place to put her in. My reasoning for this placement will be explained in the subsequent sections.
Going off on how WG states that it gave HP pools loosely related to the ship’s displacement, at tier 4, Sammy B would be a heavyweight clocking in at 1,350 tons. At her tier she would only be beat by the French Bourrasque in terms of normal displacement, which also happens to have the highest HP pool out of all tier 4 DDs (11,500). Having an above average HP pool of perhaps around 10,500-11,000 is something that I believe will help Roberts overcome some of her weaknesses in her maneuvering, which I will explain below.
Speed and Maneuverability
This is where things get a little interesting. Remember how I said that destroyer escorts were slower than destroyers? Well, this does come back to bite the Roberts in her aft quite a bit. Her maximum listed speed was 24 knots, which easily makes her the slowest DD in the game. Every cruiser she can face will be able to run her down in a straight line, hell, there are even some BBs in her matchmaking bracket that can outrun her. However, note that I specified listed speed. During the Battle off Samar, her engineering crew must’ve found the sport mode switch on her as they managed to squeeze an astonishing 28.7 knots out of her (engineer wired safety valves shut for the curious). This is why I suggest that if she were to be implemented into the game, she should be given a long lasting 20% engine boost much like those found on French DDs so that she could also maintain this speed in-game. With the speed flag, that would give her a top speed of 31.1 knots. While still quite poor for a DD, it would at least give her some degree of flexibility to move around the map.
In regards to agility, the Roberts does make up quite a bit for her lack of speed. In the book For Crew and Country, which focuses on the Roberts, it specifies that her double rudder configuration combined with her relatively small size made her extremely agile. The book lists a turn radius of about 400 yards or about 365 meters, which would easily make her the tightest turning ship in the game. For reference, most DDs at tier 4 have a turn radius anywhere from 500-580 meters. This would probably be widened a bit to perhaps 400 meters for balancing purposes as that figure even on a DD would be absolutely absurd in-game, but it would partially make up for her atrocious top speed.
As a destroyer escort, her armament is inherently inferior to those found on her destroyer counterparts. Subsequently, her main gun armament is composed of only two of the ubiquitous US dual purpose 5”/38s in the same closed turret mounts as those found on the Benson and Fletcher. While these would be the fastest firing guns at tier 4, the important thing to note here is that even though she has Fletcher guns, she still only has two of them. Her HE DPM would be mediocre for a tier 4 gunboat DD at 64.8k HE DPM. Refer to the following chart for the HE DPM of her contemporaries.
|Clemson (gun upgrade)||77.4k|
|Samuel B. Roberts||64.8k|
While not exactly bottom of the barrel, beating out only a stock ship, one of the poorest gunboats of the tier, and two torpedo boats isn’t exactly impressive for a gun oriented DD. How would I suggest fixing this? During her last stand at Samar, Samuel B. Roberts almost completely expended her complement of 650 5” shells, with one of her crewmen, Paul Carr, famously being found dying and begging for help in loading her final shell in the aft 5” gun, not knowing that the mount was inoperational after the breech had exploded.
How would this translate to the game? Well, if we’ve already stolen the French speed boost, why not the reload booster?
If we were to give Roberts the French 50% reload booster, it would temporarily bump her HE DPM up to the top of the pile with a total of 97.2k at a 1.65 second reload time, which would let her guns maul any DD unfortunate enough to get close to her. Counteracting this would be the low muzzle velocity of US 5 inch shells precluding its usefulness against targets at longer ranges. A maximum firing range of 9-10 km would probably work best for her.
As mentioned previously, Roberts packs an underwhelming torpedo armament of only a single triple launcher as destroyer escorts were not built for surface combat, but rather for anti-submarine warfare. However, being a mid-war design, Roberts’ torpedoes individually are nothing to gawk at, especially at tier 4. Historically, Roberts would have been equipped with the standard US destroyer torpedo, the Mark 15, the same torpedoes that would be found in-game as the Mk 15 Mod 0 that are Mahan’s upgraded torpedoes and Benson’s stock torpedoes. These would have a 9.2 km range at 55 knots, with a maximum damage of 11.6k. Following the reload speed on Mahan and Benson, they would have a reload speed of about 65 seconds. While bested in damage by Shenyang’s deepwater torpedoes and also slow, their range and somewhat quick reload time would make them a good supplementary armament to her guns. She would also lack the alpha to devastate BBs, having the lowest torpedo alpha at her tier by far, unless she is downtiered due to the presence of only a single triple launcher.
Being the only tier 4 DD with dual purpose guns, plus an AA battery of 2×2 40mm Bofors and 10×1 20mm Oerlikons, Roberts would have the best AA suite for a DD at her tier and very good AA at tier 4 in general. While perhaps not enough to swat entire squads out of the air a la Halland at tier 10, her exceptionally tight turning circle on top of her above average AA would make it a chore for a CV to drop on her.
This was a bit tricky to come up with as concealment is based off the height of the tallest point of the ship and I couldn’t find anything conclusive about her height or even her freeboard. However,
based on pictures found online, she sits quite low to the water with a cut-down superstructure that reduces her profile quite significantly save for her tall radar mast. However, much of the same can be said of her contemporaries as low freeboard and minimal superstructure is the norm and not the exception for tier 4 DDs. I would say a stock concealment of 6.4 km would work well with her. While not at the top of the pile, being outspotted by the likes of Isokaze and V-170, she would still be able to get the drop on most of her gunboat contemporaries, making her a potent DD hunter.
Smoke would be the final addition to her kit and would make sense from a historical standpoint as her smoke bought valuable time for the slow escort carriers of Taffy 3 to make their escape, however, a tier 4 DD with 3 consumable slots would be quite strong, especially when you combine smoke with the reload booster. I believe the best way of going about it then was to make the choice of either having smoke or reload booster for one of her slots. This wouldn’t be any smoke, either, but rather the Italian exhaust smoke generator that would allow her to stay concealed for short periods at top speed. While she would still have to deal with being outgunned by most DDs of her tier, it would make it easier for her to disengage from a sticky situation despite her low speed, or to get in close to make plays.
If WG is really serious about bringing submarines into the game (not a good idea imo but in the event they do…), Roberts, as a purpose built anti-submarine vessel, would bring a very strong ASW suite in with her. With 8 depth charge launchers, 2 depth charge racks, a hedgehog mortar (forward launched anti-submarine rockets), and a sonar dome, Roberts would make for an incredibly strong ASW warship.
Samuel B. Roberts would be a gunboat DD that would bring a unique set of strengths and weaknesses to the table. She would be a very slow but agile DD with a low number of strong guns with the option of either temporarily boosting them to gain the upper hand in a knife fight with reload booster, or to control the engagement with exhaust smoke. Her torpedoes would be slow, but long ranged and hard hitting for the tier, but the low number of torpedoes per salvo preclude their usefulness. In my opinion, she would play best as an ambush predator that is best utilized for hunting enemy DDs, either shredding them in a hail of 5” shells or disappearing into smoke and using her superior concealment and maneuverability to line up another strike, occasionally shooting torpedoes for the possibility of a lucky hit.
Source: Original link
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