The sweepers Pelican 1917-2007, and no, that is not a bar of soap

The name “Pelican” in honor of the large and rather dopey seabird, has always been carried by a mine warfare vessel in the U.S. Navy.

USS PELICAN (AM-27) Caption: With PN-9 #1 on her fantail, after the unsuccessful San Francisco to Hawaii flight in early September 1925. The ship is going to Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Description: Catalog #: NH 44902

The first, AM-27/AVP-6, was a Lapwing-class minesweeper laid down 10 November 1917 at Gas Engine and Power Co., Morris Heights, New York. Commissioned a month prior to Armistice Day, she helped with the sweeping of the North Sea Mine Barrage and was almost blown sky high when a chain of six British mines exploded all around her on 9 July 1919. Heroically saved by her crew and responding ships, the beaten Pelican limped to Scapa and was repaired. Later converted to a seaplane tender, she served in both the Atlantic and Pacific in WWII (including work as a “Tuna boat” Q-ship) before being sold for scrap in November 1946 after 29 years service.

USS Pelican via Navsource

The second Pelican, (MSC(O)-32/AMS-32/YMS-441) was a YMS-1-class minesweeper built at Robert Jacob Inc. City Island, New York. Commisoned with a hull number only in 1945, she assumed Pelican‘s vacant moniker 18 February 1947. She supported the Eniwetok atomic bomb tests and then saw extensive service in the Korean War, including helping to clear the heavily mined port of Chinnampo. Taken out of service in 1955, she was loaned to Japan as the JDS Ogishima (MSC-659) for 13 years before striking in 1968.

The third Pelican, MHC-53, is an Osprey-class coastal minehunter built at the now-defunct Avondale Shipyard, Gulfport, Mississippi, launched 24 October 1992 and commisoned 18 November 1995. Based on the 164-foot Italian Lerici-class minehunters designed by Intermarine SpA in the early 1980s, and built in variants for Algeria, Finland, Malaysia, Nigeria, Australian and Thailand, the Osprey‘s were a good bit larger, at 188-feet overall but could float in just seven feet of water, enabling them to perform littoral sweeping and clear mines from inland waterways.

Below is a slice of her hull sandwich that I have, a two-inch-thick piece of green soap-colored carbon fiber-reinforced polymer resin that has the consistancy of a brick– and is non-magnetic.

The Osprey-class were the largest vessels built at the time, save for the eight-foot longer HMS Hunt-class minehunters, to have fiberglass hulls. This may have been surpassed since then by a mega yacht or two, but I doubt it as most of those are steel hulled.

While most countries still use their Lerci-class vessels (31 are afloat worldwide and Taiwan is building six more by 2023) the 12 Ospreys, after spending their time in the Reserves, were decommissoned 2006-2007 while still relatively young. Eight low-mileage Ospreys had either been transferred to or marked for transfer to other navies: two each to the Hellenic (Greek) Navy, Lithuanian Navy, Egyptian Navy, and Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy, anf four scrapped (!)

Pelican, struck from the Naval Register 16 March 2007, was commisoned by the Greeks as HS Evniki (M61) the same day, and she continues in active service.

Evinki, in the Corinth Canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. The rock walls, which rise 300 ft. above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle.

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.