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Depth Charge Racks


The primary, pre-war anti-submarine weapon carried by destroyer type vessels were the stern depth charge racks. These racks were essentially a set of inclined rails on which the charges rested, with suitable mechanical devices arranged to release one charge at a time. The typical rack would hold up to 12 MK6 depth charges.

The charges roll aft by their own weight and rest against the after detents. When the release lever is operated, the after detents depress, allowing the first charge to roll off the rack into the water. At the same time, forward detents rise and hold the second and following charges on the rails. When the rack control is returned to its original position, the detents move in reverse directions and the next charge moves to the dropping position.

Depth charges in the racks could be released from two locations through hydraulically operated levers. The most common location on destroyer escorts was from the starboard side of the flying bridge where two release levers and a surge tank was located.

The depth charges could also be released locally by release levers located immediately adjacent to each rack. Prior to release, the exploder mechanism on the depth charge had to be manually pre-set according to orders from the bridge based on the estimated depth of the submarine.

Additional depth charges were stowed below the fantail hatch and could be hauled up and loaded by block and tackle, a painstaking and labor intensive process.

 

Starboard depth charge rack aboard the USS SLATER DE766
Starboard depth charge rack aboard the USS SLATER DE766

Starboard depth charge rack aboard the USS SLATER DE766
Starboard depth charge rack aboard the USS SLATER DE766

Depth charge rack diagram


Historic

Depth charge racks on the fantail of an unknown destroyer escort
Depth charge racks on the fantail of an unknown destroyer escort

Pre-Restoration

Depth charge rack pre-restoration
Depth charge rack before restoration

Current

Depth charge racks after restoration
Depth charge rack after restoration