The briefly loved Grand Rapids, on the block

The U.S. Navy has always had a weird love-hate relationship with gunboats. Over the past two centuries, they crank them out for use in littoral operations that do not warrant a destroyer or cruiser, then quickly shed them while almost new to buy a couple more destroyers or cruisers that they can’t use in littoral situations.

One such example was the 17 Asheville-class gunboats built in the 1960s. Just 244-tons, the 164-foot ships were fast due to their CODOG hybrid gas turbine/diesel plant, could float in 10 feet of water, and packed a 76mm gun as well as other assorted party favors.

Builder’s model of the design that became USS ASHEVILLE (PG-84). Photographed circa the mid-1960s. NH 95837

However, once Vietnam wrapped up and they lacked much of an immediate mission (never mind that Iran would implode in 1979 and leave the Persian Gulf as a chokepoint nightmare for a half-century), most of the class was pulled from the fleet and given to Third World allies who it was thought could better use them. A few stuck around in niche (non gunboat) roles into the 1980s and 90s, but they were the exception to the rule.

USS Grand Rapids (PGM-98/PG-98), Tacoma Boat Building Co. photo 33218, via Navsource

One of the last in such a niche was USS Grand Rapids (PGM-98/PG-98). After just seven years with the fleet, she was decommissioned on 1 October 1977 and transferred to the same day to the Naval Sea Systems Command where she was used as the disarmed research vessel Athena II (165NS762) for another 40 years.

Liquidated by the Navy in 2017, she is now docked in the Mobile, Alabama area in private hands and is for sale for $350K, should you be interested.

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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, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, 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 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.

One response to “The briefly loved Grand Rapids, on the block”

  1. FTB1(SS) says :

    Had a friend who was on the Defiance. Passed a few years back… He always said that they were fun to drive!

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