Tuesday, July 31, 2012

USS Margaret (SP-527)

PLEASE NOTE: Due to a prior commitment, the next ship will be posted on Tuesday, August 14. Thank You.


Figure 1:  American Steam Yacht Margaret, 1899, at anchor off New York City, prior to World War I. This yacht was commissioned on 16 October 1917 as USS Margaret (SP-527). She was sold on 30 September 1921. Photographed by Edwin Levick, New York. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.   


Figure 2:  USS Margaret (SP-527) leaving Bermuda for the Azores in November 1917. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 3:  USS Margaret (SP-527) underway at Bermuda in November 1917. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 4:  USS Margaret (SP-527) crewman throwing a heaving line to a French submarine chaser, preparatory to taking her in tow enroute from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda in November 1917. Officer second from left is Margaret's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Frank Jack Fletcher. Fletcher went on to become one of the great American admirals of World War II. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.  




Figure 5:  USS Utowana (SP-951) standing by USS Margaret (SP-527), while she was disabled at sea in passage from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda in November 1917. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 6:  USS May (SP-164) at Bermuda in November 1917. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527). Courtesy of Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 7:  US Navy converted yachts and other small ships enroute from Bermuda to the Azores, November 1917. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527) by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 8:   USS Cythera (SP-575) preparing to take USS Margaret (SP-527) in tow during their passage from Bermuda to the Azores in November 1917. She towed Margaret for thirteen of the seventeen days of this voyage. Another converted yacht is visible in the center distance. Photographed from on board Margaret by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 9:  USS Wenonah (SP-165) steams through heavy seas while enroute from Bermuda to the Azores in November 1917. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527) by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 10:  USS Wenonah (SP-165) seen from USS Margaret (SP-527) while steaming through heavy seas enroute from Bermuda to the Azores, November 1917. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 11:  US Navy converted yachts and other small ships enroute from Bermuda to the Azores in November 1917. The converted yacht in the center appears to be USS Wenonah (SP-165). Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527) by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 12:  USS Margaret (SP-527) upon arrival at Ponta Delgada, Azores, in December 1917, after seventeen days' passage from Bermuda. Note the worn condition of her paint. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 13:  USS Margaret (SP-527) at Horta, Fayal, Azores, in December 1917. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 14:  USS Margaret (SP-527) dressed with flags for George Washington's birthday, while anchored off Horta, Fayal, Azores, on 22 February 1918. Mount Pico is in the distance. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.    




Figure 15:   USS K-6 (Submarine No. 37) coming alongside USS Margaret (SP-527) at Horta, Fayal, Azores, in December 1917. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 16:  USS K-6 (Submarine No. 37) at Horta, Fayal, Azores, in December 1917. This photograph gives you a good idea of how small American submarines were during World War I. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527) by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 17:  The American gunboat USS Galatea (SP-714) at Ponta Delgada, Azores, in February 1918. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527). Note Galatea's camouflage. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 18:  USS Caldwell (Destroyer No. 69) taking on fuel oil from the French four-masted barque Quevilley, at Ponta Delgada, Azores, 27 February 1918. Caldwell appears to be painted in a Mackay low-visibility camouflage pattern. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527) by Raymond D. Borden. Quevilley was one of the world's few sailing oil tankers. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.   




Figure 19:  USS Tonopah (Monitor No. 8) in the harbor at Ponta Delgada, Azores, in April 1918. She is painted in what appears to be Mackay-type camouflage. Photographed from USS Margaret (SP-527) by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 20:  Ship's officers and crew posed on board USS Margaret (SP-527) while she was at Ponta Delgada, Azores, in February 1918. Lieutenant Commander Frank Jack Fletcher, her commanding officer, is in the center of the second row. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 21:  USS Margaret’s (SP-527) original officers, circa October 1917. Lieutenant Commander Frank Jack Fletcher, her commanding officer, is in the center. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 22:    Ship's officers stand by her binnacle, while USS Margaret (SP-527) was at Ponta Delgada, Azores, circa December 1917. Lieutenant Commander Frank Jack Fletcher, her commanding officer, is in the center. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 23:  USS Margaret’s (SP-527) Number Two (after) 3-inch gun and its crew, circa 1917-1918. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 24:  Watertender "Jack" (or "Pop") Dalton, USN, wearing his medals on board USS Margaret (SP-527), circa 1917-1918. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 25:  USS Margaret’s (SP-527) commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Frank Jack Fletcher (standing in Margaret's gig), leaving his ship to take command of a destroyer, at Ponta Delgada, Azores, 1 March 1918. Photographed by Raymond D. Borden. Note camouflage pattern on the ship in the left background. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.



Built in 1899 by the famous shipbuilder John Roach & Sons at Chester, Pennsylvania, as the private steam yacht Eugenia, this 245-ton vessel changed ownership and became Marjorie before finally being called Margaret shortly before World War I. The ship was taken over by the US Navy in August 1917 and, after being converted into a gunboat, was commissioned on 16 October 1917 as USS Margaret (SP-527). Her first commanding officer was Lieutenant Commander Frank Jack Fletcher, who would go on to become one of the great American admirals of World War II, especially during the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Technical details about Margaret are a bit sketchy, but we do know that she was approximately 176 feet long and 21 feet wide and was armed with at least two 3-inch guns (one forward and one aft). Gunboats like this usually carried several smaller-caliber guns as well. The exact number of her crew is not known, but a photograph of the entire crew shows roughly 62 officers and men, which sounds about right for a ship that size.
On 4 November 1917, Margaret and several other US Navy ships left fashionable Newport, Rhode Island, for the first part of what ended up being an incredible journey across the Atlantic. During this phase of the trip, Margaret sailed with the tender USS Hannibal, along with five other yachts converted to patrol vessels: USS Helenita (SP-210), USS May (SP-164), USS Rambler (SP-211), USS Utowana (SP-951), and USS Wenonah (SP-165). Each of the six former yachts towed an American-built French submarine chaser, 110-foot boats which did not have the range for long trips. Although Helenita, Margaret, May, and Utowana all broke down along the way, the little flotilla managed to reach Hamilton, Bermuda, on 9 November.
After the ships were repaired and refueled, the small task force left Bermuda on 18 November 1917 and was bound for the Azores. Helenita and Utowana stayed in Bermuda, but their absence was made up by the addition of three more ex-yachts: Artemis (SP-593), Cythera (SP-575), and Lydonia (SP-700).  The French submarine chasers were also still being towed by the ships. But while leaving Bermuda, Wenonah broke down and had to be towed by May and, soon afterwards, Margaret’s engine quit on her and she had to be towed by Cythera. Margaret was pulled along for most of what turned out to be a very stormy passage. The bad weather made towing both the crippled gunboats and the submarine chasers extremely difficult and dangerous. At any given moment a tow line could part, leaving Margaret and any of the other vessels stranded in the stormy seas. But the ships kept plodding along and finally on 5 December, after 17 days at sea, they arrived at the port of Horta on the Azores island of Fayal. Most, if not all of the ships, soon proceeded to nearby Ponta Delgada and some of them, Margaret not included, left for Gibraltar later in December. The entire voyage demonstrated how unpredictable and unreliable many of these former yachts were, especially when subjected to the rigorous demands of wartime naval service.
Margaret’s mechanical difficulties were so serious that she remained in the Azores for the rest of the war, occasionally patrolling the waters around the Azores. Margaret returned to the United States following the end of the war on 11 November 1918. That she made it back at all is in and of itself a minor miracle, given how unreliable her engine was. USS Margaret was decommissioned in November 1918 and was eventually sold on 30 September 1921. Her final fate is unknown.
Some ex-yachts like Margaret proved to be excellent gunboats, but many of them suffered from mechanical problems and were difficult to handle in the open sea, especially in bad weather. This is not surprising since none of these yachts were designed to be warships, let alone meant to stay at sea for weeks on end. These were mainly coastal yachts that were built for short trips and pleasure cruising, not for hunting German submarines in the stormy Atlantic Ocean. But the mere fact that the Navy grabbed all of these ships at the start of the war shows how desperate it was for patrol and escort vessels. They were poor substitutes for real warships, but they did provide inexperienced crews an opportunity to learn their sea-going skills under wartime conditions. USS Margaret didn’t see any combat, but one has to believe that Lieutenant Commander (later admiral) Frank Jack Fletcher became a better sailor and a much more experienced naval officer because of his time on board Margaret.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

USS Hull (DD-945)


Figure 1:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway off the coast of southern California, 21 October 1971. Photographed by PH1 B.L. Kuykendall, USN. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 2:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway off the coast of southern California, 21 October 1971. Photographed by PH1 B.L. Kuykendall, USN. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 3:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway at sea, July 1973. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 4:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway at sea off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, 13 July 1973. Photographed by Chief Photographer's Mate C.C. Curtis. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 5:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway in the Pacific Ocean, during initial shipboard trials of the Mark 71 8-inch Major Caliber Lightweight Gun, 17 April 1975. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.    




Figure 6:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway in the Pacific Ocean, during initial shipboard trials of the Mark 71 8-inch Major Caliber Lightweight Gun, 17 April 1975. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.





Figure 7:  USS Hull (DD-945) underway in the Pacific Ocean, during initial shipboard trials of the Mark 71 8-inch Major Caliber Lightweight Gun, 17 April 1975. Compare the size of the 8-inch gun mount forward with that of the two 5"/54 Mark 42 gun mounts aft. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.    




Figure 8:  USS Hull (DD-945) steaming alongside USS Ranger (CVA-61) in the Pacific Ocean, 25 June 1975. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 9:  USS Hull (DD-945) gets underway from Seal Beach, California, to conduct tests of her 8-inch Mark 71 gun mount off San Clemente Island, 16 September 1975. Photographed by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Carl R. Begy. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 10:  USS Hull’s (DD-945) experimental 8-inch Mark 71 Major Caliber Lightweight Gun undergoes initial shipboard test firings during trials off the southern California coast, 17 April 1975. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 11:  USS Hull’s (DD-945) 8-inch Mark 71 Major Caliber Lightweight Gun is test fired off San Clemente Island, California, 17 September 1975. Photographed by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Carl R. Begy. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 12:  Seaman Gunner's Mate David W. Jutz greases the gun barrel chase of one of the Hull’s after 5-inch Mark 42 gun mounts, 1975. Note rifling inside the gun barrel. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.





Figure 13:  Some of the Hull's crewmen loading ammunition for her 5-inch guns at the Naval Base at Seal Beach, California, 16 September 1975. Photographed by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Carl R. Begy. Note the markings on these 70-pound shells. The 24-foot personnel boat on Hull's starboard davits has serial number 24PER721. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 14:  USS Hull’s (DD-945) jacket patch insignia used in 1966. Courtesy of Captain G.F. Swainson, USN, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.



Named after US Naval hero Commodore Isaac Hull (1773-1843), the 2,850-ton USS Hull (DD-945) was a Forrest Sherman class destroyer that was built by the Bath Iron Works at Bath, Maine, and was commissioned on 3 July 1958. The ship was approximately 418 feet long and 45 feet wide, had a top speed of more than 30 knots, and had a crew of 324 officers and men. Hull was armed with three 5-inch guns, four 3-inch guns, four 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges.
After completing her shakedown cruise off the coast of New England, Hull steamed out of Newport News, Virginia, on 7 September 1958 and headed south to the Panama Canal. After transiting the canal, Hull headed north and arrived at San Diego, California, on 13 October to join the US Pacific Fleet. The ship participated in fleet training exercises until ordered to sail to the Far East on 15 April 1959. After arriving in the Far East, Hull was assigned to the Seventh Fleet and joined the Formosa (now Taiwan) Patrol, which was designed to defend the island from neighboring communist China. This would be the first of fifteen deployments with the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific (WestPac). Hull made three more cruises in that area in 1960, 1961-1962, and 1963-1964. During October and November 1962, Hull escorted Pacific-based amphibious forces to the Panama Canal Zone as part of the Navy’s Cuban Missile Crisis operations. Hull’s 1965 Seventh Fleet tour-of-duty was the first of six Vietnam War deployments, during which she fired tens of thousands of five-inch shells in support of US and South Vietnamese forces on shore and helped rescue several downed American pilots.

Hull completed her eleventh WestPac cruise in 1973, after the direct American role in the Vietnam War ended. After completing a major overhaul, she lost her 3-inch gun mounts and had her forward five-inch gun replaced by an experimental 8-inch gun. The ship conducted tests of this new 8-inch weapon from 1975 to 1978, while also making her twelfth and thirteenth Seventh Fleet deployments. But the big gun was removed in 1979, and Hull spent the rest of her career with the three 5-inch gun mounts that were common to her class.

From February to September 1981, Hull again served in Asian waters. She began her final deployment in September 1982, steaming to the western Pacific by way of Alaska, rescuing five Vietnamese refugees at sea in October and then moving further west to serve in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea as part of the battle group built around the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65). Returning to the US west coast in April 1983, she immediately commenced inactivation preparations. USS Hull was decommissioned in July 1983 and was sunk as a target in April 1998.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

USS Tacoma (PG-92)


Figure 1:  USS Tacoma (PG-92), date and place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 2:  USS Tacoma (PG-92), date and place unknown. Photograph courtesy of Terry Eccleston, GMCS(SW), USNR, Patrol Gunboat Association, and Terry W. McManuels, ETCM(SW), Retired. Click on photograph for larger image. 




Figure 3: USS Tacoma (PG-92), right, coming up astern of USS Canon (PG-90), date and place unknown.  US Navy photograph from the November 1972 edition of All Hands Magazine. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 4:  Cutaway drawing of an Asheville class patrol gunboat. Click on diagram for larger image.




Figure 5:   USS Tacoma (PG-92), date and place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 6:  USS New Jersey (BB-62) and USS Crockett (PG-88), in Dry Dock 6, Ship Repair Facility at Yokosuka, Japan, circa January or February 1969.  This picture gives you an idea of the difference in size between an Asheville class patrol gunboat and a battleship. Photograph by YN3 Clark Pickard, aboard Crockett. Click on photograph for larger image.  




Figure 7:  USS Tacoma (PG-92) after she was transferred to Colombia in 1983 and renamed ARC (Armada de la República de Colombia) Quitasueño (P 112). Photograph courtesy of Lieutenant (r) Luis Bernardo Castro Villegas. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 8:  ARC Quitasueño (P 112) in July 1998 after she was transferred from the Colombian Navy to the Colombian Coast Guard. Photograph courtesy of Capitan de Corbeta, Phinio Alberto Garcia Garavito, Columbian Navy, via Patrol Gunboat Association, Terry W. McManuels, ETCM(SW), Retired. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 9:  ARC Quitasueño (P 112) as she looks today at the Naval Base ARC Bolivar, Colombia, Main Pier, Sector E. The photograph is dated 8 June 2012. Photograph courtesy of Lieutenant Luis B. Castro (r), Colombian Navy.  Click on photograph for larger image. 



Named after a city in Washington State, the 247-ton USS Tacoma (PG-92) was an Asheville class patrol gunboat that was built by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Company at Tacoma, Washington, and was commissioned on 14 July 1969. The ship was approximately 165 feet long and 24 feet wide, had a top speed of 37.5 knots, and had a crew of 24 officers and men. Tacoma was armed with one 3-inch gun, one 40-mm gun, and two twin .50-caliber machine gun mounts.
During the fall of 1969, Tacoma completed her shakedown cruise along the coast of California. After that, she participated in amphibious exercises off Camp Pendleton, California, in early December. In January 1970, Tacoma entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for post-shakedown availability. She went to San Diego, California, on 20 May and began preparations for deployment to the western Pacific. On 1 August, she set sail for the Marianas Islands. After a one-week stopover in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Tacoma arrived in her new home port at Apra, Guam, on 28 August.
For the next four years, Tacoma alternated deployments to Vietnam and patrols in the islands of the Trust Territories of Micronesia. Her first tour of duty off the coast of Vietnam began on 28 September 1970 when she arrived at Cam Ranh Bay after a brief overhaul at Subic Bay in the Philippines. She was assigned to the US Navy’s Coastal Surveillance Force off Vietnam and participated in search-and-rescue missions and interdicted communist coastal supply traffic as part of “Operation Market Time,” which was designed to prevent communist guerrillas in South Vietnam from being supplied by sea by the North Vietnamese. On 22 November 1970, Tacoma and several other units of the Coastal Surveillance Force attacked and destroyed a large North Vietnamese trawler that was trying to run the blockade to supply communist rebels in South Vietnam with weapons and ammunition.  Tacoma steamed off the coast of Vietnam for two more months and then returned to Subic Bay on 31 January 1971. The gunboat remained there for two weeks and then headed back to Guam, arriving at Apra on 20 February.
For the next five months, Tacoma was in port undergoing an overhaul and then patrolled off the coast of Guam. On 9 July 1971, Tacoma went on her first patrol of the Micronesia Trust Territories. She visited seven islands in the Yap and Palau districts of the Eastern Caroline Islands, conducting surveillance and making goodwill visits. Tacoma returned to Guam on 26 July, but left again on 10 August for her second patrol of the Trust Territories, which lasted from 10 August to 1 September. The ship visited 19 islands in the Truk and Ponape districts and apprehended a Japanese fishing vessel for violating the territorial waters of the Trust Territories at Ngatik Island. Tacoma returned to Guam on 1 September and remained there until early November. 
On 5 November 1971, Tacoma left Guam with her sister ship and class leader, the patrol gunboat USS Asheville (PG-84), and headed (via Subic Bay) back to Vietnam. On 29 November, Tacoma and Asheville relieved the gunboats Crockett (PG-88) and Welch (PG-93) and resumed “Market Time” operations by blockading and intercepting communist coastal supply shipments off the coast of Vietnam. After almost two months of patrolling the Vietnamese coastline, Tacoma left Cam Ranh Bay on 26 January 1972 for a visit to Bangkok, Thailand. After arriving in Bangkok, the ship welcomed officers of the Royal Thai Navy on board for tours of the ship. On 3 February, Tacoma resumed coastal surveillance patrols along the coast of Vietnam. In late March, troubles with the ship’s starboard main engine forced her to return to Subic Bay for repairs. Tacoma remained there from 29 March to 24 May and then returned to Guam on 31 May.
After she returned to Guam, Tacoma began three months of sea trials, independent exercises, restricted availabilities, and inspections. On 14 October 1972, Tacoma headed back to Vietnam along with Asheville. From 20 October to 15 December, Tacoma completed two patrols along the coast of Vietnam, and made a brief visit to Bangkok in mid-November. On 15 December, Tacoma and Asheville left Vietnam and returned to Subic Bay in the Philippines, staying there from 18 to 21 December. The two gunboats then departed for Guam, arriving there on 28 December.
For the first three months of 1973, Tacoma conducted naval exercises while based at Guam. In April, Tacoma underwent an overhaul at Apra, which was completed two months later. In late June and early July, Tacoma conducted sea trials and completed various drills. Then on 12 September, Tacoma was given the task of “shadowing” or following a Soviet submarine tender and fleet submarine which were operating in the vicinity of the northern Marianas Islands. Tacoma returned to Apra on 18 September and completed additional sea trials on 27 October. On 5 November, she began another patrol of the eastern Caroline Islands, returning to Guam on 24 November. From 11 to 16 December, Tacoma made Christmas holiday port visits to the northern Marianas Islands.
After completing some repairs and naval exercises at Guam, Tacoma left Apra on 13 February 1974 for a three-month cruise. In late February, she participated in exercises with the carriers Midway (CVA-41) and Oriskany (CVA-34) and the gunboat Marathon (PG-89).  In March, Tacoma visited Singapore and then steamed along the Malaysian coastline. Later that month, the ship dropped anchor at Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei on the northern coast of Borneo. After a two-day layover at Subic Bay, Tacoma visited Taiwan and then returned to Guam on 27 May.
Tacoma left Guam on 21 June 1974 and headed back to the United States. After reaching Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 3 July, Tacoma left five days later and reached San Diego on 15 July. On 1 August, Tacoma steamed south along the coast of California and Mexico, stopped at Acapulco for two days, and reached the Panama Canal Zone on 17 August. After transiting the Panama Canal on 22 August, she headed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The gunboat went on to Port Everglades, Florida, and then reached her new home port at Little Creek, Virginia, on 2 September.
From 14 April to 30 June 1975, Tacoma completed an overhaul at Norfolk, Virginia. After undergoing several weeks of refresher training, on 3 September Tacoma began her final mission, serving as a training unit for Royal Saudi Arabian naval personnel. While serving as a training ship, Tacoma sailed along the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. The gunboat continued being used as a training ship until she was decommissioned on 30 September 1981at the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek. USS Tacoma received two battle stars for her service during the Vietnam War.
On 1 May 1983, Tacoma was leased to the Colombian Navy as a fast attack craft and renamed ARC (Armada de la República de Colombia) Quitasueño (P 112). The ship was formally transferred to the government of Colombia on 20 September 1995. ARC Quitasueño was subsequently transferred to the Colombian Coast Guard where she remains in service to this day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kriegsmarine M1 Minesweeper


Figure 1:  Starboard broadside view of the Minensuchboot M1, an M35 class German minesweeper from World War II. The M35 class was the backbone of the Kriegsmarine’s minesweeper force during World War II. M1 was the lead ship in the class. This illustration is from Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 9. This book gives an excellent account of the German minesweeping forces, as well as all of the other coastal warships used by the Germans during World War II. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 2:  Overhead view of Minensuchboot M1. This overhead view shows the rails running along the afterdeck, along which mines were rolled and dropped over the stern. This illustration is also from Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 9. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 3:  Actual photograph of M1, date and place unknown. The wartime censor attempted to disguise the ship’s pennant number “1,” but the number can still be seen in the picture. The number is located on the hull just below the forward 4.1-inch gun turret. Courtesy Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 8. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 4:  German coastal vessels were almost always under the threat of being attacked by British aircraft. This is the bridge of an M35 minesweeper and it shows the number of aircraft shot down or damaged by this particular ship. There are nine plane silhouettes, all dated 1941 or 1942. Six are in solid black, three show outlines only, and two at the tips of the arc-shaped display are twin-engined aircraft. In the center of the arc is a white outline of what looks like a British motor gunboat, or MGB. Courtesy Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 11. Click on photograph for larger image.




Figure 5:  German sailors undergo training on the forward 4.1-inch gun of a minesweeper. Later versions of this gun were fitted with a protective turret. Operating an open gun mount like this one while steaming in the rough North Sea or Norwegian Sea probably took a terrible toll on the gun crews, so the addition of a protective turret must have been welcomed by the sailors on board this class of warship. Courtesy Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 7. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 6:  Three German M35 minesweepers at sea, date and place unknown. These ships not only performed mine-clearing and mine-laying duties, they also escorted small coastal convoys and were used for anti-submarine patrols as well. Note the life raft attached to the bridge of the nearest ship. Courtesy Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 11. Click on photograph for larger image. 




Figure 7:  Each German minesweeper carried a paravane (seen here on the left) which resembled a tiny aircraft or winged bomb. Paravanes were towed on cables from either side of the minesweeper, their vanes being set to steer them away from the hull of the ship on each side to form an arrowhead-shaped swept area. They were designed to snag the anchor cables of enemy mines, which slid down the tow cables into a cutting mechanism on the paravane. Once the mine popped up to the surface, it could be detonated from a safe distance by gunfire. In the above illustration on the right is a standard German mine from World War II. It was usually attached by cable to a small trolley which also acted as its anchor. Once it was dropped from the minelayer, the cable would unreel, allowing the mine to rise to just below the surface. This illustration is from Kriegsmarine Coastal Forces, by Gordon Williamson and illustrated by Ian Palmer, published by Osprey Publishing in 2009, page 9. Click on photograph for larger image.



Figure 8:  A small flotilla of German M35 minesweepers at sea, date and place unknown. German Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


The German Kriegsmarine’s 870-ton M1 was the lead ship in the M35 Minensuchboot, or minesweeper, class. M1 was built by the HC Stülcken Sohn Shipyard at Hamburg, Germany, and was commissioned on 1 September 1938. The ship was approximately 223 feet long and 28 feet wide, had a top speed of 18 knots, and had a crew of 107 officers and men. M1 was armed with two 4.1-inch guns, one 37-mm gun, two 20-mm guns, and four depth-charge launchers, and could carry 30 mines. Later on in the war, the anti-aircraft armament was increased by replacing the 20-mm flack guns on either side of the bridge with twin mounts, as well as replacing the single 37-mm gun with a quadruple 20-mm gun mount. Several light machine guns were also carried by all of these ships.

When the German Kriegsmarine was established in 1935, there was an urgent need to replace the few old minesweepers that remained in service from World War I. As a result, the M35 class of minesweepers was created that same year. They turned out to be some of the best minesweepers ever built. These tough, versatile, and very seaworthy vessels were powerfully armed for ships of this type. They were also assigned a wide variety of tasks, including coastal convoy escort, anti-submarine warfare, and mine-laying, along with their normal minesweeping duties. Their major drawbacks were that they were fairly complex and expensive to build and they had to be maintained by skilled technicians, which were hard to come by towards the end of World War II. In addition, the M35 class possessed oil-fired boilers, which was a problem due to the massive fuel shortages in Germany by the end of the war. None of these minesweepers had names, only a pennant number with the letter “M” (for “Minensuchboot” or minesweeper) before it. 

M1 was used primarily as a minesweeper and as a coastal escort vessel during World War II. M1 was built from steel (although her superstructure and bridge were made of light alloys) and she had twelve watertight compartments plus a double-hulled bottom, making her a tough little ship to sink. M1 served with the 1. Minensuchflottille and 4. Minensuchflottille during World War II and she operated in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Baltic Sea. Although her battle history is sketchy, from September to October 1939, M1 probably participated in the German invasion of Poland around Danzig Bay as a unit of the 1. Minensuchflottille. She was initially used for minesweeping and general patrol duties, but later was assigned to anti-submarine missions.
In November 1939, M1 was used as a minesweeper and escort in the North Sea.  During “Operation Weserübung,” or the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, M1’s flotilla was used to patrol the North Sea and the waters off the coasts of Holland and northern France. In February 1942, M1’s flotilla was used as a minesweeping escort for the German warships participating in the famous “Channel Dash,” where two German battleships and a heavy cruiser (along with their escorts) ran a British blockade and successfully sailed from Brest in Brittany, France, to their home bases in Germany via the English Channel. For the remainder of the war, M1 was attached to the 4. Minensuchflottille and used for minesweeping, mine-laying, and escort duties in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Eventually, M1 was based in Norway and was used as a minesweeper, mine-layer, and escort along the Norwegian coast. On 12 January 1945, M1 was attacked and sunk by Allied aircraft at Nordbyfjord, near Bergen, Norway. Twenty crew members were lost when the ship went down.
A total of 68 M35 minesweepers were built in various shipyards prior to and during World War II. Approximately 30 were lost in action during the war. Of the ships that survived the war, 17 were taken by the US Navy, 13 by the Soviet Union, and 5 by the British Royal Navy. The US Navy returned five of its M35 minesweepers to the new German Bundesmarine Navy in the mid-1950s.