U.S.S. Frustrate: "The Luckiest Ship in the Navy"
by E. B. Dennis
Privately published, 1998, 179 pages
The destroyer U.S.S. Flusser (DD-368) got the nickname of U.S.S.
Frustrate from a February 1943 newspaper article with the subtitle "Fighting
Ship Vainly Seeking Action in the Pacific." Flusser had been stationed at
Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked on December 7, 1941, but the destroyer had been
escorting the carrier Lexington (CV-2) away from base so did not
encounter the enemy. Not until September 1944 did Flusser directly engage
the Japanese in battle when the ship was hit by shrapnel from nearby exploding
shells that had been launched from shore batteries on Wotje Island. In November
and December 1944, the action really got hot during several encounters with
kamikaze aircraft in the Philippines.
E. B. Dennis served aboard Flusser as a sonarman from January 1942
until April 1945, when he had to leave due to three fractured vertebrae. He
published a previous book about Flusser (The
Destroyer U.S.S. Flusser DD368, 1989). U.S.S. Frustrate,
published in 1998, generally expands on the accounts included in his earlier
work, but this book does not include a few interesting items from the prior work
such as a June 1944 newspaper article about the continuing frustrations of
U.S.S. Frustrate. Both books suffer greatly from a lack of personal
stories despite the author's involvement in the U.S.S. Flusser
Association. This history quickly turns into a dry recitation of ship movements
most probably from official logs.
Although the author's emotions and opinions during the war do not come out in
the narrative, he clearly has a sense of humor. The end of each of the 46
chapters has a joke, quite unrelated to the book's main contents. He sometimes
uses inflammatory terms for Japanese kamikaze such as "suicide nuts," "crazy
Kamikazes," and "nuts who like to die for the Emperor."
Flusser's closest encounter with a kamikaze came on November 18, 1944.
A suicide plane passed just over the bridge, and its bomb exploded along the
port side amidships. "Pieces of the aircraft rained all over the ship like hail.
Almost everyone on the deck picked up a piece of the airplane" (p. 112). During
the Battle of Ormoc Bay on December 7, 1944, Flusser faced continuous
kamikaze attacks. The destroyer Mahan (DD-364) and the high speed
transport Ward (APD-16) were sunk by kamikaze hits. In mid-afternoon, a
kamikaze plane crossed Flusser's bow and slammed into the bridge of the
destroyer Lamson (DD-367). The crash killed 21 men, but Flusser
rescued many survivors from the water as kamikaze planes continued their
Although Flusser may have had the somewhat negative nickname of
Frustrate, the crew considered her to be a lucky ship to have gone through
the entire war and survived so many life-threatening situations.