USS Ellyson (DD-454/DMS-19), a Gleaves-class destroyer, is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Theodore Gordon Ellyson, a submariner who became the first officer of the U.S. Navy to be designated a naval aviator.
Ellyson was laid down by Federal Shipbuilding of Kearny, New Jersey on 20 December 1940. She was launched on 26 July 1941 sponsored by Miss Gordon Ellyson, daughter of Commander Ellyson, and commissioned on 28 November 1941 with Lieutenant Commander L. B. Rooney in command.
Still outfitting when the United States entered World War II, Ellyson was quickly readied for sea and patrolled in the Atlantic, protecting Allied shipping from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the West Indies and Panama Canal. On 14 January 1942 she rescued 24 survivors from the sunken Norwegian SS Norness. On 15 June she broke the pennant of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 10, which she was to carry proudly through the war, through the squadron’s redesignation to Mine Division 20 and the subsequent conversion of its destroyers to high-speed minesweepers.
In August 1942 Ellyson began operating with the aircraft carrierRanger, and remained with her through the landings at Fedhala, French Morocco, on 8 November. After two months of escort duty along the east coast, she rejoined Ranger on two voyages to Casablanca to ferry Army planes to north Africa.
On 5 April 1943 Ellyson arrived at NS Argentia, Dominion of Newfoundland, to prepare for operations with the Royal Navy. She sailed for England on 12 May in the screen of the battleshipsSouth Dakota and Alabama, and operated with the British Home Fleet out of Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands screening convoys, giving distant support to Allied shipping to Murmansk and Iceland, and attempting to lure German battleship Tirpitz and other German surface ships from the safety of Norwegian bases to battle on the open seas. In July she took part in a feint invasion of southern Norway to distract German attention from the real assault on Sicily.
Returning to Norfolk, Virginia, on 9 August 1943, Ellyson screened Iowa during the battleship’s shakedown cruise off Argentina, then returned to Norfolk with her on 24 October. On 3 November Ellyson sailed in the scouting line for Iowa who was carrying PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt to the Teheran Conference. Later, moving into the battleship’s screen, Ellyson touched Bahia, Brazil; Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dakar, and Port Royal, South Carolina; before returning to Boston, Massachusetts, on 19 December.