Twenty-one frigates participated in General MacArthur's New Guinea campaign and return to the Philippines in 1944. These included all Consolidated Steel built frigates, Nos. 34 to 51, except for CORPUS CHRISTI (PF-44). CORPUS CHRISTI steamed on by the jumping off points of Noumea, New Calidonia and Cairns, Australia, where her sisters were enlisting one-by-one in Admiral Barbey's Seventh Fleet amphibious division. PF-44 continued on around the southern coast of Australia to Fremantle, the port for Perth, for a lengthy tour of submarine training exercises and lonely patrol in the Indian Ocean. All alone on 13 February 1945, she rescued ninety-two survivors of the torpedoed Liberty ship, PETER SYLVESTER. Joined by HUTCHINSON from Leyte in December 1944, these two set the frigate record for continuous time away from the States at sixteen months, returning to California in October 1945. Escorting six British transports bound for New Guinea, New Hebrides and the Soloman Islands,four Great Lakes built frigates, ALLENTOWN, CHARLOTTESVILLE, MACHIAS and SANDUSKY, arrived in New Guinea in September 1944. Now the list was complete; twenty-one patrol frigates wed to the Seventh Fleet for operations stretching from the tail of bird-shaped New Guinea at Milne Bay to the last stop in New Guinea at Cape Sansapor on the bird's head on Vogelkop Peninsula. From New Guinea MacArthur's scheme drew the frigates northwest to Morotai in the Halmahera Islands, and lastly 500 miles northwest to Leyte. Through it all the call to duty saw frigate sailors through long spells of anti-submarine patrol (ping patrol), sleepless invasion screening, plodding escort duty to and fro across the Equator from Hollandia, New Guinea, 1400 miles northwest to Leyte, occasional bombardment assignments and often days on end at general quarters warding off air attacks in Leyte Gulf and San Pedro Bay, all endured on ships lacking suitable ventilation below decks.
For the Leyte campaign, Vice Admiral Kincaid was in command of naval operations. Kincaid's reorganized Seventh Fleet consisted of three task forces - 77, 78 and 79, with Kincaid commanding TF77, Admiral Barbey TF78 and Admiral Wilkinson TF79. Over 700 ships made up the Leyte campaign of which ten frigates steamed with TF78 Northern Attack Force, 17-29 October 1944 -- GALLUP and BISBEE TG78.4, the Dinagat Attack Group, landing Rangers on islands commanding entry to Leyte Gulf prior to invasion -- CARSON CITY and BURLINGTON TG78.6 Reinforcement Group One -- MUSKOGEE and SAN PEDRO, Reinforcement Group Two -- EUGENE, EL PASO, VAN BUREN and ORANGE, Reinforcement Group Three. Following the October invasion, the primary role for all twenty-one frigates was escort duty back and forth from Hollandia to San Pedro Bay and Tacloban at the northern edge of Leyte Gulf, most trips under sporadic enemy aircraft attack and occasional kamikaze attacks on transports, LSTs and large freighters. On 5 December 1944, CORONADO and SAN PEDRO, en route to Leyte Gulf, raced to the sinking SS SAUGRAIN torpedoed by a Japanese OSCAR torpedo bomber, successfully saving 418 army troops. On 12 November 1944, OGDEN and BURLINGTON on patrol as anti-aircraft screen off Dulag, Leyte, engaged aircraft attacking unloading convoy. At the end of the day OGDEN proudly accepted the well-earned message: FROM COMMANDER ESCORT DIVISION TWENTY-FIVE, USS LONG BEACH, FLAGSHIP. THE OGDEN PF39 TO BE COMMENDED FOR SHOOTING DOWN THREE (3) ENEMY PLANES, DULAG, LEYTE ISLAND, PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
As the year 1944 drew to a close, the days were numbered for the frigates in the Southwest Pacific. The Pacific War was rapidly moving north ever closer to Japan waters, where fast task forces and big guns ruled the seas and long range bombers raided the Japanese homelands from the Marianas. By December, 24 knot DEs with 5 inch guns made first appearance in Equatorial waters replacing the 20 knot frigates. Of the frigates, first to leave was CortDiv 43 - ROCKFORD, GALLUP, BISBEE, BURLINGTON, MUSKOGEE, CARSON CITY - arriving Pearl Harbor on 15 December and shortly on north to join up with Escort Division 27 in the Bering Sea. CortDiv 25, made up of the six frigates that collectively earned the most battle stars - GLENDALE, LONG BEACH, CORONADO, SAN PEDRO, OGDEN, BELFAST - were next to leave, arriving Boston on 24 January 1945, for refit in preparation for transfer to the USSR at Cold Bay, Alaska. CortDiv 29, made up of EUGENE, EL PASO, VAN BUREN, ORANGE, were on their way north by early January for refit as weather ships and other duties. HUTCHINSON and CORPUS CHRISTI carried on in the Indian Ocean until August 1945. Cort Div 33, SANDUSKY, MACHIAS, ALLENTOWN and CHARLOTTESVILLE, remained in Philippine waters until early March 1945, escorting convoys to Mindoro, Subic Bay and Lingayen Gulf as American forces moved north to Manila and Luzon. All four departed together, first for Pearl Harbor and on to Seattle in April for refit en route to Cold Bay and transfer to the USSR on 12 July 1945. Collectively, the twenty-one frigates of the Philippine theater were awarded fifty-two battle stars as follows:
GLENDALE 5 -- SAN PEDRO 4 -- CORONADO 4
LONG BEACH 3 -- EL PASO 3 -- OGDEN 3
VAN BUREN 3 -- ORANGE 2 -- EUGENE 2
BLFAST 2 -- BISBEE 2 -- BURLINGTON 2
CARSON CITY 2 -- HUTCHINSON 2 -- GALLUP 2
ROCKFORD 2 -- CHARLOTTESVILLE 2 MACHIAS 2
SANDUSKY 2 -- ALLENTOWN 2 -- MUSKOGEE 1