Warship Wednesday, April 17, Bring your Red Cap

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday,  April 17

Minesweeper blow-filtered

Here we see that most ignored class of naval warship, the humble minesweeper. This particular one had more of a history that others. With a war coming in 1941, the US Navy designed and ordered built a huge class of auxiliary minesweepers to help keep the harbors, coasts, and sea lanes clear from those infernal devices. Dubbed the YMS-1 (Yard Mine Sweeper) class, they were simple 136-foot long boats with twin GM disels, sweep gear, and a 3″ gun for those special moments. A 32-man crew of bluejackets would man the rails. In all some 481 of these boats would be ordered from 1941-45 from 35 different yacht makers around the country.  Eighty YMS minesweepers were ordered from US yards for transfer under lend-lease to the UK as the BYMS-class minesweeper, and one of these is the subject of this article.

The simple wooden hulled ship was ordered in 1941 from Ballard Marine Railway Co., Inc., Seattle, WA. Commissioned as HM J-826 in February 1943, she served in the Royal Navy. Renamed HM BYMS-2026 in 1944, she finished the war in the Med before being decommissioned in 1946 and laid up at Malta. Struck from the Royal Navy Register 10 June 1947, she was returned to U.S. custody 1 August 1947. The US Navy disarmed her and removed her sweeping and communication gear then sold her to a British businessman the same year.  I mean Uncle Sam already had hundreds of these wooden boats, why bring back another one?

Her sistership, USS YMS-328, one of the few YMS ships still around  was bought after the war by a fellow named John Wayne who is considered to be something of a classic actor or sorts. Rechristened the Wild Goose, she still plies the California coastline.

Her sistership, USS YMS-328, one of the few YMS ships still around was bought after the war by a fellow named John Wayne who is considered to be something of a classic actor or sorts. Rechristened the Wild Goose, she still plies the California coastline.

The businessman named her Calypso and after use as a ferry in the Malta area, leased her to a former French Naval officer named Jacques-Yves Cousteau for one British pound per year in 1950. Over the next 47 years Cousteau made several improvements to the minesweeper including changing the accommodations to include 27 in Captain’s Quarters, Six Staterooms & Crew Quarters, adding Photo & Science Labs, an underwater observation chamber, a small helicopter landing pad (on a 136 foot ship!), a Yumbo 3-ton hydraulic crane, and waterscooter and minisub storage holds.



cousteau-calypso 2281761453383755362931453340255367282538217949683n calypso
After decades of wandering the world’s oceans in Cousteau’s real life aquatic, Calypso was sunk in a January 1996  accident in Singapore where she lay on the harbor floor for 8 days before being raised and salvaged. Sadly she has not sailed under her own power since then.


Jacques Cousteau speaking about life on Calypso, the search for on Atlantis and cognac in a great Blank-on-Blank 1978 interview by Roy Leonard on WGN Radio, from the Roy Leonard Audio Archive.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on 25 June 1997 and for the past 16 years the Calypso has been in turns neglected and then restored, then neglected again while legal battles over which group owned the ship ensued. Currently it is owned by the Equipe Cousteau Association  who is raising money for a restoration and conversion to a museum ship.


The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed. – Jacques Cousteau

original plans, YMS class sweepers

original plans, YMS class sweepers


Displacement 270 t.
Length 136′
Beam 24′ 6″
Draft 8′
Speed 15 kts.
Complement 32
Armament: One 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount, two 20mm mounts and two depth charge projectors (removed in 1947) (Post 1950- Spearguns and swagger)
Propulsion: (as designed) Two 800bhp General Motors 8-268A diesel engines, Snow and Knobstedt single reduction gear, two shafts.

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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