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The hard-serving Bangor-class and the last Canadian loss of WWII

An unsung class of warship during WWII was the 59-vessel Bangor/Blyth/Ardrossan-class oceangoing minesweepers.

08.04. 1 Bangor Class Minesweeper 2

Despite their designation, these 600-ton/162-foot vessels carried a decent main gun (3-inch in RN service, 4-inch in the RCN) as well as ASW kit to include depth charges and listening gear to bust subs, making them something of a multi-purpose coastal escort that could also sweep mines.

They spent much of their time in harm’s way, with nearly a quarter of the class never seeing the end of the war.

Several were lost in their primary tasking, including HMS Clacton (J151), HMS Cromer (J128), HMS Felixstowe (J126) and HMS Cromarty (J09) all struck mines during clearing efforts in the Med in 1942-43, pointing out just how dangerous the mission was. Off Normandy, class member HMS Peterhead (J59) was similarly lost just two days after D-Day while HMCS Mulgrave (J313), who struck a mine off Le Havre, was so badly damaged she was never repaired.

When it came to fighting subs, HMCS Clayoquot (J174), HMCS Clayoquot (J174) and HMS Hythe (J194) were torpedoed and lost. Meanwhile, three whose names shall not be mentioned were captured by the Japanese when Hong Kong fell.

Post-War, they continued to serve in RN and Commonwealth service, as well as in the Turkish and French fleets well into the 1970s, in all, giving excellent service for such a humble maritime figure.

Which brings us to the subject today.

HMCS Esquimalt (J272) was a Bangor-class minesweeper that was sunk by U-190, a German U-Boat on 16 April 1945, making her the last Canadian warship lost to enemy action during the Second World War (or since, for that matter).

HMCS Esquimalt J272 Via Canada Archives

Note her splinter mats, forward 12 pounder (76mm gun) and HF/DF radio gear

Tragically, she was lost just three weeks before VE-Day, proof that the Battle of the Atlantic remained very hot right until the end of the conflict– and then some.

Every year on the anniversary of her sinking, the 35-member Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, accompanied by a Guard of Honour from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt pay tribute to the crew of the lost minesweeper and the 39 souls still at sea with a moment of silence and wreath-laying in Esquimalt Memorial Park, where a cairn to the ship and crew has long been established.

This year’s ceremony will be held at 5:45 pm and is open to the public.

As for what became of U-190, that’s another story.

Salty Mineman says to the Master Chief…

And the kicker: everyone warned him beforehand…

Gold stripes are overrated, anyway. Oh, wait…

Warship Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2019: Putting the Yeoman back into the Einmann-Torpedo

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2019: Putting the Yeoman back into the Einmann-Torpedo

Photos: Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe, Poland, unless otherwise noted

Here we see one Walther Gerhold, a smiling young sailor just past his 23rd birthday in August 1944. Note his Marine-Schreiber (yeoman) rate, Matrosenobergefreiter rank (roughly equivalent to E4 or Petty Officer Third Class) Zerstörerkriegsabzeichen (Destroyer War Badge issued 24.12.42 along with his original Iron Cross II. Class) and, around his neck, a newly-awarded Knight’s Cross. Our good Schreibobergefreiter had just been decorated for single-handedly depriving the Allies of one, albeit well-used, light cruiser off the Normandy coast, a feat that led to his Ritterkreuz.

This is his ride:

Gerhold joined the Kriegsmarine on 16 October 1940 and served as a yeoman in administrative tasks in various torpedo boat units, seeing a share of hot action on T 111 and T 20 which resulted in an EAK as well as a bonus fractured collarbone that sidelined him to shore duty in late 1943 at the Baltic seacoast base at Heiligenhafen. Ready to get back into something other than pushing paper, in early 1944 he volunteered for a new force then being assembled from across the German Navy, the Kleinkampfverbänden der Kriegsmarine (Small Combat Units of the Navy). The group was to contain some 794 officers and 16,608 NCOs and men, although throughout 1944-45 fewer than 10,000 passed through the ranks of the organization.

With Germany largely out of the large surface combatant business, these men would take a page from the operations of the Italians and Japanese and become combat divers and operate such desperate weapons as midget submarines (Seehund, Hecht, Biber, Molch); motorboats filled with explosives (Linse), and manned torpedoes.

To inspire the troops, a series of Kampfabzeichen der Kleinkampfmittel badges were created in seven different grades and clasps for service in the unit, all featuring a sawfish.

The first such German-produced manned torpedo was inventor Richard Mohr’s’ idea to take a pair of electrically driven G7e torpedoes and make a stand-alone weapon system from them. The 533mm G7e could run at a speed of 30 knots for 7.5kms on its Siemens AEG-AV 76 9 kW DC electric motor and 52-cell battery. By using one “war shot” torp filled with 616-pounds of Schießwolle 36 high explosive, the top-mounted fish of the pair ditched the warhead for a tiny cockpit for a human operator who could squeeze into the body of the 21-inch-wide torpedo.

Our trusty yeoman being unbolted from inside his manned torpedo. Note the Draeger rebreather and the *tight* fit

With the motor of the top “mother” torpedo adjusted to run at a more economical rate, the battery would last long enough to give the contraption a theoretical 40-ish mile range at 3.2- to 4.5-knots.

The device, branded the Neger (partially a racist take on Mohr’s last name and partially because the craft were painted in a matte black finish), the volunteer pilot would be shoehorned into the driver’s seat of his one-man semi-submersible (the vessel would run awash and could not fully submerge on purpose) and a plexiglass dome bolted closed over his head from the outside.

Note the trolly. These could be launched from a dock, a small vessel, or even a beachfront

21-inches wide, 24-feet long, and 5-feet high, you are looking at 2.7-tons of batteries, sheet metal, man and explosives

Effectively trapped inside their bubble with no way to get out, it was estimated that as much as 80 percent of Negerpiloten were lost in missions, mostly due to suffocation. Navigation instruments were nil other than a compass, and the weapon was aimed by lining up a mark on the tip of the craft with the general direction of the target. Due to their low vantage point in the water, operators could typically see less than two miles.

Note the “aiming” post on the front of the short craft

The concept of their use, owing to their low-speed, poor operator visibility and total lack of protection, was that the weapons were to be used in large flotillas– with several dozen common in one mission– and at night, which further reduced the range of the pilot’s Mark I eyeballs. Once lined up on target, a mechanical lever would (hopefully) release the underslung war shot G7e for its moment and book it for home before the sun came up.

In March 1944, the first trial copy of Mohr’s double-torpedo was ready for trials carried out by veteran U-boat ace Oberleutnant Johann Otto Krieg who was not impressed. Nonetheless, the device was put into rapid production and the first combat unit– to be commanded by the unfortunate Krieg– was stood up as K-Flottille 361. Consisting largely of desk types (see Gerhold) and some rear echelon Army troops, 40 volunteer pilots and some 160 support crew were hastily trained.

On the night of 19/20 April, a group of 37 Neger operating from Nettuno on the Italian coast was released to attack Allied ships at the Anzio beachhead.

It was crap.

None of the Negerpiloten in the sortie released his torpedo. Three of the devices were lost. Worse, a fully-intact model washed up to fall into American hands.

Shifting operations to Favrol Woods (west of Honfleur) in Normandy by train just after the D-Day invasion, on the night of 5/6 July a force of 24 Negers sortied out against the Mulberry Harbors defense line. The result was much better than at Anzio.

The 1,400-ton Captain-class frigate HMS Trollope (K575) has hit near Arromanches at about 0130 on 6 July and later written off. Some sources put this on Gerhold while others attribute the attack to a German E-boat. What is known for sure is that about an hour later the manned torpedoes sank the two Catherine/Auk-class minesweepers HMS Magic (J 400) and HMS Cato (J 16), with Cato stricken while responding to Magic‘s distress.

Not to be outdone, on the clear moonlit night of July 7/8, K-Flottille 361 managed to muster 21 Neger boats for a repeat attack. During the action, the Auk-class minesweeper HMS Pylades (J 401) was sunk and 4,300-ton Free Polish cruiser ORP Dragon (D 46)-– formerly the RN’s Danae-class cruiser HMS Dragon, launched in 1917– so extensively damaged that she was written off and used as a breakwater for Mulberry.

HMS DRAGON (British Cruiser, 1917) NH 60926

While Gerhold was given credit for the destruction of Dragon at the time by the Germans, 19-year-old Midshipman Karl-Heinz Potthast, captured in the aftermath of the attack and placed in a British POW camp, has subsequently been credited by most with the damage inflicted to the aging warship.

On the way back to their base, the Negers, running high in the water without their torpedoes, bumped into a group of well-armed and much more maneuverable British Motor Torpedo Boats. In the light of the cloudless full moon, their plastic bubble cockpits glowed like a beacon on the surface of the sea and it was easy pickings. Although the HMC MTB-463 was lost to what was thought to be a mine during the brawl, just nine manned torpedoes made it back to be recovered by Germans.

Gerhold, tossed around by the explosions and in a leaky craft filled with stale air, sea water, oil slick, toxic battery fumes and human waste (there was no head on board, after all), was picked up from the water near Honfleur by ‘Heer soldiers, his device’s power supply exhausted.

Note the rubber outer suit, wool inner suit, headgear and Draeger rebreather. The later Marder type human torpedo allowed the pilot to open his own canopy from inside. How innovative!

There were a few other, less spectacular victories, chalked up to Herr Krieg’s manned torpedo suicide squad:

-Some sources attribute the sinking of the 1,800-ton I-class destroyer HMS Isis (D87) on 20 July off Normandy to K-Flottille 361 torpedoes, although it was more likely to have come from a mine.

-The 1,300-ton Hunt-class destroyer HMS Quorn (L66), sunk 3 August, succumbed to a human torpedo during a combined attack on the lone British tin can by a determined force of E-boats, Linse explosive motorboats, Einmann-torpedoes, and aircraft.

-On the same night, the 7,000-ton British EC2-S-C1 class Liberty ship SS Samlong was hit by a torpedo purposed to have been fired by KF-361 pilot Oberfernschreibmeister (telegraph operator) Herbert Berrer. German records say “Berrer sank on 3.8.44 in the Seine Bay with a one-man torpedo despite strong enemy security a fully loaded 10,000-ton freighter. Already on 20.4.44 Berrer sunk in front of the landing head in Nettuno another enemy ship [which was false].” Samlong was written off as the victim of a mine.

-Further up the coast, off Ostend, the Isles-class armed trawler HMS Colsay (T 384) met with a Neger on 2 November and was sent to the bottom.

For the survivors, in a Germany faced with the prospect of the Allies just months away from Berlin and no news to report, it was decoration time.

Most of the pilots were given the EAK II, while two– “cruiser killer” Gerhold “freighter buster” Berrer– were given Knights’ Crosses in a ceremony attended by none other than K-Verbande commander VADM Hellmuth Heye and Kriegsmarine boss Adm. Karl Dönitz himself in August. Oberleutnant Johann Krieg, 361’s skipper, was also given a Knights Cross.

The presentation of the Knight’s Cross was made by Konteradmiral Hellmuth Heye.

Adm Karl Donitz 7th in the second row and a glum Adm Hellmuth Heye 1st from the left second row, surrounded by German K-fighters. Note Walther Gerhold to Donitz’s left.

The awards were important in the terms of recognition for the downright insane task the manned torpedo pilots accepted.

Less than 600 Ritterkreuz were issued by the Germans in WWII, many posthumously. Only 318 of these went to the Kriegsmarine, almost all successful U-boat/destroyer/S-boat commanders and senior officers killed in battle. In fact, just three enlisted sailors picked up the decoration besides Berrer and Gerhold– Bootsmannsmaat Karl Jörß who commanded a flak team on a bunch of crazy F-lighter ops in the Med in 1943 and had already received two iron crosses, lead machinist Heinrich Praßdorf who saved submarine U-1203, and Oberbootsmannsmaat Rudolf Mühlbauer who did the same on U-123.

As such, the decorations and deeds of K.361 spread wide across what was left of the Reich.

The covers of The Hanburger Illustrierte – 22.Juli 1944 and The Berliner Illustrierte 8.3 1944

In all, just 200~ Negers were made, and most that got operational did so on one-way trips. An advanced version, the upgraded Marder (Marten), capable of diving to 90 feet, was produced to replace the more beta version of a human torpedo that was the Neger, was fielded. Two Marder-equipped K-Verband units in the Med, K-Flottille 363 and 364, tried to give the Allies grief from August- December 1944 but wound up losing almost all their craft with nothing to show for it.

The Marder’s controls were luxurious compared to the Neger. Still, not even enough room for a sandwich and a dual purpose bottle of schnapps. Good thing a few tabs of Pervitin or “Panzerschokolade” doesn’t take up a lot of space!

A Marten. Note how much longer the vessel was than the Neger. An easy way to tell them apart is to remember that the Negers look like two torpedoes sistered together– because they were. Martens had an actual mini-sub carrier, complete with trim and ballast tanks, attached to a torpedo. NH 85993

K-Verbande attacks got even more desperate in the final months of the war, with victories even slimmer. While midget subs like the Molch and Seehund were built in larger numbers, they never had much luck operationally. Overall, it could be argued that the Einmann boots of K.361 were the most effective fielded by the force. Of the five K-fighters who received Knights Crosses, three were part of Kleinkampf-flottille 361.

In the end, these naval commandos and their all-guts David vs Goliath style operations earned the Kriegsmarine, long the redheaded stepchild to the Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht, and Waffen-SS as seen by the Chancellery, a bit of redemption. In one of the final acts of the war, Hitler ordered Donitz to form a bodyguard for him drawn from K-units due to his distrust of the SS Leibstandarte. The company-sized force never made it to the bunker in Berlin as there was no safe place for them to land. They later surrendered with Donitz, who had inherited the role of President of Germany, at the Naval Academy at Mürwik in May.

Post-war, dozens of the German human torpedoes were captured, but few retained.

Marders and Molch onshore at Lynes, Denmark. Via The Illustrated London News of 11 August 1945

One on display at the Verkehrsmuseum in Speyer, Germany.

Further, the craft have been the subject of numerous scale models.

Of the men behind the devices, K.361 commander Johann Krieg was wounded in the last days of the war and captured by the British. He later joined the West German federal navy (Bundesmarine) in 1956 and retired from the Ministry of Defense in 1975 with the rank of Fregattenkapitän. He died in 1999.

Midshipman Karl-Heinz Potthast, the battered young man who is today usually credited with the hit on ORP/HMS Dragon, made numerous connections in England while a POW and returned to his studies in Germany post-war. Later, he became a noted historian and educational theorist, earning the Bundesverdienstkreuz from the Bonn government in 1985 for special achievements in the spiritual field. He died in 2011.

Gerhold, after he picked up his Knights Cross, managed a transfer to Norway and resumed his life as a yeoman with a promotion to Schreibermaat, having had enough of the torpedo biz. He was repatriated home in June 1945 and later, living in Westphalia, became a police officer. He often autographed a number of period “Einmann-Torpedo!” postcards and magazine articles for collectors and was active in veteran’s groups. As for the debate between whether he crippled Dragon or it was the work of Potthast, camps are divided and Gerhold largely took credit for sinking HMS Trollope. He died in 2013.

As far as a legacy, today Germany’s Minensuchgeschwader/Minentaucher, coastal mine warfare units, still carry the swordfish logo of the K-Verbande units. With the thousands of mines still bobbing around in the Baltic and the North Sea, they are very active. Likewise, Draeger-equipped Kampfschwimmer frogmen of the German Navy’s Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine (KSM) carry the lineage of the old K-fighters as well—and still get lots of work with mini-subs and the like.

Specs:


Displacement: 2.7-tons FL
Length: 24-feet
Beam: 533mm
Draft: 533mm x 2 plus a bubble
Complement: Einmann
Machinery: AEG-AV 76 Electric motor 9kW, 52-cell battery.
Range: 40~ nm at 4 knots.
Armament: One G7e electric torpedo, aimed via eyeball

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Navy gives LCS’s minesniffer a thumb’s up (finally)

The Navy last week announced the completion of developmental testing for Raytheon’s AN/AQS-20C mine-hunting sonar system at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division.

This thing:

For these things:

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 27, 2019) The Independence variant littoral combat ships USS Independence (LCS 2), left, USS Manchester (LCS 14), and USS Tulsa (LCS 16) are underway in formation in the eastern Pacific. Littoral combat ships are high-speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface combatants designed for operations in the littoral environment, yet fully capable of open ocean operations. As part of the surface fleet, LCS has the ability to counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 27, 2019) The Independence variant littoral combat ships USS Independence (LCS 2), left, USS Manchester (LCS 14), and USS Tulsa (LCS 16) are underway in formation in the eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe/Released)

The presser:

The AQS-20C is the next generation of the AN/AQS-20 system designed to be incorporated into the Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package. The system consists of four sonar arrays: two side-looking arrays; a gap-filler sonar array; and a forward-looking sonar array providing simultaneous detection, localization, and classification of bottom mines, close-tethered moored mines, and volume-moored mines.

The system delivers high-definition images of bottom mines, providing the operator with both range and contrast data that combine to form a three-dimensional image during post-mission analysis to aid in mine identification.

Developmental testing verifies that a system’s design meets all technical specifications and that all contract requirements have been met. During testing the Raytheon-developed towed sonar sensor conducted 12 underway missions in various operational modes and at different depths at four separate NSWC PCD test ranges. The missions were conducted aboard the test vessel M/V Patriot.

The AQS-20C will now be integrated with and deployed from the Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV), a long-endurance, semi-autonomous, diesel-powered, all-aluminum surface craft that supports the employment of various mine countermeasure payloads. The MCM USV can be launched and recovered by the LCS, from other vessels of opportunity or from shore sites to provide minesweeping, mine-hunting, and mine neutralization capabilities. The MCM USV is currently undergoing developmental testing as a component of the Unmanned Influence Sweep System at the South Florida Test Facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Test results will now undergo scoring and performance assessment leading up to a final developmental testing report that is expected to be completed in the spring. Findings from this report will be used for future performance improvements of the system.

Meanwhile, on Cape Hatteras

From the National Park Service:

On the morning of Sunday, November 25, a training mine containing no ordnance was discovered south of Salvo, near off-road vehicle ramp 23. The training mine was anchored in place by National Park Service Rangers until a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from Norfolk, Virginia arrived for retrieval. The training mine was safely removed from the beach shortly after 2:00 pm.

Good deal on slightly used minesweepers, some assembly required

If you are in the market for some pre-owned warships, the Royal Australian Navy wants to make a deal. Working through a commercial service, the Navy advertised the HMAS Hawkesbury and HMAS Norman for sale “Sold As Is Where Is.”

The 172-foot long mine hunters have composite hulls designed to “flex inwards if an undersea explosion occurs nearby,” which is always a good thing.

HMAS Hawkesbury left, and HMAS Norman are Huon-class coastal mine hunters commissioned in 2000. They have been in reserve for the past seven years. (Photo: Royal Australian Navy)

Built in 2000 as part of a six-ship class to an Italian design (Lerici-class, the same as the U.S. Navy’s short-lived Osprey-class MHCs) both Hawkesbury and Norman were laid up in 2011 and have been in storage ever since while the other four ships have remained with the fleet.

Sadly, it looks like their DS30B 30mm Bushmaster cannons and M2 .50-cal machine guns have been removed, but the vendor offering them for sale suggests they could be turned into luxury yachts or charter vessels.

The vendor suggests they could be converted to charter vessels or yachts. (Photo: Grey Online)

Not mentioned is a Jacques Cousteau/Steve Zissou-style recycle.

No price is listed but the vendor, Grays Online, does caution that the ships have had their shafts and propellers removed and would have to be towed off by the buyer, saying, “inspection is highly recommended.”

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018: The surprisingly long-lasting ghosts of the fleet

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off 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. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018: The surprisingly long-lasting ghosts of the fleet

USS Specter’s hull number blotted out for wartime security via Navsource

With it being Halloween today, I couldn’t resist taking a stab at a spooktastic WW. While the tale of the USS Water Witch is a long and interesting one, I think I’ve done a lot of Civil War stuff lately and I have a big post (spoiler) coming up on the USS Cairo, so I skipped ahead to the 20th Century. Although the U.S. Navy has, by and large, stuck to names associated with naval heroes, states, cities, battles, and lawmakers, Interestingly enough, a pair of WWII minesweepers made it into service with the names USS Phantom and USS Specter, and both have interesting backstories.

So how could I resist?

In early 1941, the Navy set its sights on a hybrid class of new steel-hulled oceangoing sweepers built with lessons learned from their previous designs, that of a 180-foot, 750-ton vessel that could both clear mines and, by nature of their forward and aft 3″/50 guns, provide a modicum of escort support. Since they could float in 9’9″ of water, they were deemed coastal minesweepers at first.

Preliminary design plan, probably prepared during consideration of what became the Admirable (AM-136) class. This drawing, dated 2 May 1941, is for a 750-ton (full load displacement) vessel with a length of 180 feet. The scale of the original drawing is 1/8″ = 1′. The original plan is in the 1939-1944 “Spring Styles Book” held by the Naval Historical Center U.S. Navy photo S-511-34

First of the class of what would eventually turn into orders for 147 ships (of which 123 were completed) was USS Admirable laid down as AMc-113, 8 April 1942 in Tampa, Florida.

The twin subjects of our tale today: Phantom (AM-273) was laid down by the Gulf Shipbuilding Co., Chickasaw, Ala., and commissioned 17 May 1944; while Specter (AM-306)–which was ironically supposed to be named “Spector”– was laid down by Associated Shipbuilders, Seattle, Wash. and commissioned on 30 August 1944. Phantom spent the rest of 1944 doing coastal patrol off the East Coast while Specter soon set off for the Pacific as the war.

By 1945, both were active in the West Pac, with Phantom picking up three battle stars while Specter won four, seeing service off Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan, and the Japanese Home Islands.

Both were busy clearing minefields, patrolling, and performing escort duty, looking for submarines, suicide boats and Japanese kamikaze (Specter shot down one off le Shima on 25 May). Specter notably swept mines post-war at Nagasaki, Sasebo, Bungo Suido, and Tsushima while Phantom did the same off Okinawa and the China coast, remaining hard at work into the next year.

USS NIMBLE (AM-266) Caption: End ship in a nest of nine minesweepers and LCIS, at San Diego, California, circa 1945-46. Other ships in nest include PIVOT (AM-276), PHANTOM (AM-273), LCI-633. Description: Courtesy of Ted Stone 1979. Catalog #: NH 89284

The mines thinning, Phantom was decommissioned 10 October 1946 at Subic Bay while Specter was sent stateside, joining the mothball fleet at Orange, Texas after decommissioning 26 February 1947.

In the interest of propping up Chiang Kai-shek and his flagging KMT– as well as drawing down surplus– Phantom was stricken and transferred to the Nationalist Chinese Navy 15 June 1948. There, she served briefly as ROCS Yung Ming until scrapped in 1951.

As for Specter, she remained at Orange where she was duly redesignated from AM-306 to Fleet Minesweeper (Steel Hull). MSF-306, on 7 February 1955 while in reserve.

On 1 July 1972, after 26 years gathering red rust in Texas, she was struck and transferred the next year to the Armada de México to join a gaggle of other sisters used as patrol boats in an effort to keep out the “red menace” from Cuba. She became first ARM DM-04 and was later renamed ARM General Manuel E. Rincón (C-52).

For reference, the first of a score of Admirables to go south of the border was ex-USS Jubilant (AM/MSF-255)

Photo caption: National Defense Reserve Fleet, Orange, Texas (6 Dec 1962) – The former Admirable-Class Minesweeper USS Jubilant (AM 255) is being transferred to the Mexican Navy as DM-01 (D 1). She is the first five out of twenty U.S. Navy minesweepers being sold to Mexico from the World War II “mothball fleet.” U.S. Navy Commander A.F. Holzapfel said the vessels are destined for Mexico’s Yucatan patrol area to guard against Cuban infiltration. She will be renamed and reclassified as the ARM Riva Palacio (C 50) United Press International photo

The 20 Mexican Admirables, if you are curious:

ARM DM-01 (ex USS Jubilant MSF 255) (renamed General Vicente Riva Palacio C -50)
ARM DM-02 (ex USS Hilarity MSF 241)
ARM DM-03 (ex USS Execute MSF-232) (renamed ARM General Juan N. Méndez C-51).
ARM DM-04 (ex USS Facility MSF 233).
ARM DM-04 (ex USS Specter MSF 306) (renamed ARM General Manuel E. Rincón C-52), transferred in 1973 and also first registered as ARM DM-04.
ARM DM-05 (ex USS Scuffle MSF 298) (renamed ARM General Felipe Xicotencatl C-53).
ARM DM-06 (ex USS Eager MSF 224).
ARM DM-07 (ex USS Recruit MSF 285).
ARM DM-08 (ex USS Success MSF 310).
ARM DM-09 (ex USS Scout MSF-296).
ARM DM-10 (ex USS Instill MSF 252).
ARM DM-11 (ex USS Device MSF 220) (renamed E-1) (renamed at the end ARM Cadet Agustín Melgar C-54).
ARM DM-12 (ex USS Ransom MSF 283) (renamed ARM Lieutenant Juan de la Barrera C-55).
ARM DM-13 (ex USS Knave MSF 256) (renamed ARM Cadet Juan Escutia C-56).
ARM DM-14 (ex USS Rebel MSF 284) (renamed ARM Cadet Fernando Montes de Oca (C-57)
ARM DM-15 (ex USS Crag MSF 214)
ARM DM-16 (ex USS Dour MSF 223) ) (apparently re-registered E-6)
ARM DM-17 (ex USS Diploma MSF 221) (renamed ARM Cadet Francisco Márquez (C-59)
ARM DM-18 (ex USS Invade MSF 254) (renamed ARM General Ignacio Zaragoza C-60)
ARM DM-19 (ex USS Intrigue MSF 253) (renamed ARM Vicente Suárez C-61)
ARM DM-20 (ex USS Harlequin MSF 365) (converted to ARM Oceanographic, research H-02, later renamed ARM General Pedro María Anaya A-08 and finally ARM Aldebaran BE-02)

ARM DM-17 (ex USS Diploma MSF 221) 20 November 1988, Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico, via Navsource

Most of the class would be stricken in Mexican service by the mid-1980s, with the exception of the 11 above that were redesignated corvettes (hence the C-designation) and continued to serve as offshore patrol craft for another decade or more. Specter/DM-04/Rincón survived until 2001.

The last Admirable in Mexican service, ex-USS Harlequin (AM 365)/Oceanográfico/Anaya/Aldebaran was still operational until 2007 when she was sunk as a reef.

The 11 old C-designated Admirables would be replaced in their patrol role by Auk-class minesweepers converted in the 1990s to install a helicopter pad for a German-made MBB BO 105CB helicopter. They looked wacky. Almost like a minesweeper dressed up as a frigate for Halloween.

Former AUK class minesweeper in Mexican navy note helicopter pad for BO105. Photo by Armada de Mexico (SEMAR)

Former AUK class minesweeper in Mexican navy note helicopter pad for BO105. Photo by Armada de Mexico (SEMAR)

These, in turn, were all replaced in by the 2000s by the domestically-built Holzinger-, Durango-, and Oaxaca-class offshore patrol vessels, 1,500-ton ships of a much more modern design.

the Admirable-class sweepers have been a very popular model over the years:

lindberg-1-130-uss-sentry-am-299-admirable-class-wwii-us-navy-minesweeper

As for Phantom/Specter’s Admirable-class sisters, 24 were given to the Soviets in 1945 and never returned, others remained in use by the Navy through the Korean War era, and some, along with their PCE-gunboat sisters, were later passed on to the South Korea, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Dominican, Myanmar, and Philippine navies. The latter still uses a few, now with 80 years on their hulls.

Since 1993, the only Admirable-class vessel left above water in the U.S. is USS Hazard (AM-240).

Now a National Historic Landmark, she was retired in 1971 and, put up for sale on the cheap:

1971-newspaper-ad-for-the-disposal-of-uss-hazard-msf-240-an-admirable-class-minesweeper-of-the-wwii-us-navy

Hazard was installed on dry land at Freedom Park on the Missouri River waterfront in East Omaha where she is open to the public.

Please visit her, see if she has any treats.

hazard-buried-in-freedom-park

According to the NPS:

The ship was transferred to Omaha with all of her spare parts and equipment intact. The only equipment missing from USS Hazard is the minesweeping cable. All equipment (radio, engines, ovens, electrical systems, plumbing) is fully operational. USS Hazard still retains its original dishes, kitchen utensils, and stationery. USS Hazard is one of the best preserved and intact warships remaining from World War II. USS Hazard is a virtual time capsule dating from 1945.

Specs:

Image by shipbucket

Image by shipbucket

Displacement: 945 t (fl)
Length: 184 ft. 6 in (56.24 m)
Beam: 33 ft. (10 m)
Draft: 9 ft. 9 in (2.97 m)
Propulsion:
2 × Cooper Bessemer GSB-8 diesel engines
National Supply Co. single reduction gear
2 shafts
Speed: 14.8 knots
Complement: 104
Armament:
1 × 3″/50 caliber gun
1 × twin Bofors 40 mm guns
6 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
1 × Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar
4 × Depth charge projectors (K-guns)
2 × Depth charge tracks

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