For Release Thursday 14 February 1952
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla., Feb. 14–Three Destroyer-escorts, veterans of World War II fighting in the Pacific, formally will be transferred to the Government of Peru and commissioned during ceremonies at the reserve fleet base here next Thursday, February 21.
One of the principal participants in the turnover ceremony will be Senor Fernando Berkemeyer, Peruvian Ambassador to the United States, who will accept the ships on behalf of his government.
The ships, the U. S. S. Bangust, DE 739, the U. S. S. Waterman, DE 740, and the U. S. S. Weaver, DE 741, have been purchased from the United States by Peru.
In the Peruvian Navy they will be known respectively as the B. A. P. “Castilla,” the B. A. P. “Aguirre,” and the B. A. P. “Rodriguez,” the first named for a former President of Peru and the other two for Peruvian naval heroes of the Battle of Punta Angamos in 1879.
All three of the ships have distinguished World War II fighting records, including participation in the campaigns of the Marshall Islands, the Marianas, Tinian, the Philippines and Okinawa.
Under Peruvian colors, they will form a destroyer division commanded by Captain Luis E. Llosa, of Lima, Peru. The “Castilla” will be commanded by Commander Fernando Lino of Callao, Peru; the “Aguirre” by Commander Enrique Leon of Pacasmayo, Peru, and the “Rodriguez” by Commander Enrique Carbonel, of Chiclayo, Peru.
Peruvian crews have been present in the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, since October, assisting officers and men of Sub Group Two in the reactivation of the vessels. Prior to their arrival here, nucleus crews had been given intensive technical training in U. S. Navy schools to fit them for destroyer-escort operations.
Next Thursday’s colorful ceremonies will begin with the arrival of Senor Berkemeyer, accompanied by Senora Berkemeyer and member of his staff, including the Peruvian Minister, Senor German Aranburu and Senora Aranburu and the Peruvian Naval Attache, Commander Luis Castro and Senora Castro.
A large number of civil, military and naval officials in the Jacksonville area are expected to be present for the ceremonies.
The ships will formally be transferred to Peru by Captain Cauncey Moore, USN, Commander Florida Group. After signing transfer certificates, the Ambassador will turn the ships over to Captain Llosa, who will then place them in commission in accordance with Peruvian naval custom.
First, Captain Llosa will briefly explain the names of the vessels, and then will request that Commander H. P. McNally, USN, Senior Chaplain at the Green Cove Springs, Naval Station, bless the ships. The Chaplain, accompanied by the official party then will go to each ship to bless it.
Upon completion of the blessings, Captain Llosa will order the commanding officers to commission them, and they in turn will order “Iza,” Spanish for “Raise the Colors,” and the Florida Group Band will play the Peruvian National Anthem. At the end of the Anthem, the Peruvian crews will cheer three times “Viva El Peru,” and the ceremonies will end.
Crews for the three ships are made up of approximately 480 enlisted men and 42 officers, including the division staff.
On first arriving at the Green Cove Springs reserve fleet base, the men were berthed in a Florida Group berthing ship, and the officers in the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters.
As soon as work on their ships had progressed far enough, however, the crews moved onto their ships.
During their stay in the Florida Group, in a splendid gesture of good will, approximately one-half of the Peruvians volunteered to give blood under the Armed Forces Blood Donor Program, thereby filling the entire Florida Group quota for nearly a month.
Heading up from the land of the Incas and the Andes, two Peruvian ships pulled in to the U.S. West Coast, then headed to sea again for a training cruise under the guidance and instructions of U.S. Navymen. From engineroom to wheelhouse the salty word was passed between our sailors and those of this South American Navy. The ships, BAP Castillo (D1) and BAP Aguirre (D2) were familiar to U.S. waters and Navymen as they are the former USS Bangust (DE 739) and USS Waterman (DE 740), transfered to the Peruvian Navy in 1952 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.
As the ships cruised Pacific waters their crews sharpened the skills of their ratings under watchful eyes. Instructors included gunnery, navigation, plotting, operations in the combat operations center and communications.
In addition to the exchange of the skills of the sea, the feeling of understanding was strengthened between men of two navies sailing the high seas for the same principles.