USS Waxbill (MHC-50)

Last updated
USS YMS-479.jpg
History
US flag 49 stars.svgUnited States
Name: USS YMS-479
Builder:
Laid down: 28 April 1943 as PCS-1456
Reclassified: YMS-479, 27 September 1943
Launched: 30 September 1943
Commissioned: 20 July 1944
Decommissioned: 6 August 1946
Renamed: USS Waxbill (AMS-39), 18 February 1947
In service: 19 January 1949, Naval Reserve training vessel, Seattle, Washington
Recommissioned: 1 September 1950, in reserve
Recommissioned: 25 September 1950, full
Reclassified:
  • AMCU-50, 1 February 1955
  • MHC-50, 7 February 1955
Recommissioned: 1 May 1958, in reserve
Decommissioned: 30 June 1958
Struck: 1 November 1959
Honors and
awards:
Fate: Unknown
General characteristics
Class and type: YMS-446 subclass of YMS-1-class minesweepers
Displacement: 320 tons
Length: 136 ft 0 in (41.45 m)
Beam: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
Draft: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) (max.)
Propulsion:
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
Complement: 32
Armament:

USS Waxbill (MHC-50/AMCU-50/AMS-39/YMS-479/PCS-1456) was a YMS-1-class minesweeper of the YMS-446 subclass acquired by the U.S. Navy for the task of removing mines placed in the water to prevent ships from passing.

<i>YMS-1</i>-class minesweeper

The YMS-1 class of auxiliary motor minesweepers was established with the laying down of YMS-1 on 4 March 1941. Some were later transferred to the United Kingdom as part of the Second World War Lend-Lease pact between the two nations. One ship eventually made its way into the Royal Canadian Navy postwar.

Minesweeper Vessel for removing naval mines

A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to engage in minesweeping. Using various mechanisms intended to counter the threat posed by naval mines, waterways are kept clear for safe shipping.

Naval mine Explosive weapon for use in seas and waterways, triggered by the targets approach

A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel. Naval mines can be used offensively, to hamper enemy shipping movements or lock vessels into a harbour; or defensively, to protect friendly vessels and create "safe" zones.

Contents

History

The second U.S. Navy ship named for the waxbill bird, the ship was originally the wooden-hulled, unnamed motor minesweeper YMS-479. Laid down as PCS-1456 on 28 April 1943 at Tacoma, Washington, by the Mojean and Ericson Shipbuilding Corp., the ship was reclassified as a motor minesweeper, YMS-479, on 27 September 1943. Launched on 30 September 1943, YMS-479 was commissioned at the Mojean and Ericson yard on 20 July 1944, Lt. Richard A. Woods, USNR, in command.

Tacoma, Washington City in Washington, United States

Tacoma is a midsized urban port city and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, 32 miles (51 km) southwest of Seattle, 31 miles (50 km) northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and 58 miles (93 km) northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The population was 198,397, according to the 2010 census. Tacoma is the second-largest city in the Puget Sound area and the third-largest in the state. Tacoma also serves as the center of business activity for the South Sound region, which has a population around 1 million.

After fitting out at the Todd Pacific Shipyard, Tacoma, Washington, the new minecraft departed the Seattle, Washington, area on 13 August. Making port at Long Beach, California, on 17 August, she conducted shakedown out of that port until 8 September, when she shifted to San Diego, California, for training in antisubmarine warfare tactics. She departed San Diego on 25 September, when she sailed with YMS-59 as screen for tank landing ships LST-627, LST-1030, and LST-926, bound for the Hawaiian Islands.

Long Beach, California City in California, United States

Long Beach is a city on the Pacific Coast of the United States, within the Los Angeles metropolitan area of Southern California. It is the 39th most populous city in the United States and the 7th most populous in California, with a population of 462,257 in 2010. A charter city, it is the second largest city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and the third in Southern California behind Los Angeles and San Diego.

Shakedown (testing)

A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span. For example, if a bolt has a hidden flaw introduced during manufacturing, it will not be as reliable as other bolts of the same type.

USS <i>LST-926</i>

USS LST-926 was an LST-542-class tank landing ship in the United States Navy. Like many of her class, she was not named and is properly referred to by her hull designation.

After arriving at the Section Base, Pearl Harbor, on 6 October, YMS-479 had begun patrolling off Kauai by the end of the month. She operated in the Hawaiian chain through February 1945, providing local escort services for ships conducting maneuvers and exercises off Maui, Kauai, or Oahu, ranging from attack transports to LSTs. During that time, she also carried out patrols and periodically tested her sweep gear.

Pearl Harbor Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

Kauai Island of the Hawaiian Island Chain

Kauaʻi, Americanized as Kauai, is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of 562.3 square miles (1,456.4 km2), it is the fourth-largest of these islands and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle", Kauaʻi lies 105 miles (169 km) across the Kauaʻi Channel, northwest of Oʻahu. This island is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park.

Maui Island of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean

The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles (1,883 km2) and is the 17th largest island in the United States. Maui is part of the State of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County's four islands, which include Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and unpopulated Kahoʻolawe. In 2010, Maui had a population of 144,444, third-highest of the Hawaiian Islands, behind that of Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island. Kahului is the largest census-designated place (CDP) on the island with a population of 26,337 as of 2010 and is the commercial and financial hub of the island. Wailuku is the seat of Maui County and is the third-largest CDP as of 2010. Other significant places include Kīhei, Lahaina, Makawao, Pukalani, Pāʻia, Kula, Haʻikū, and Hāna.

Assigned to the United States Pacific Fleet on 6 March, the motor minesweeper departed Pearl Harbor on 23 March, bound for the Marshall Islands. She subsequently operated out of Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Majuro through the end of the Pacific War in mid-August 1945.

United States Pacific Fleet Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy

The United States Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT) is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval forces to the United States Indo-Pacific Command. Fleet headquarters is at Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Hawaii, with large secondary facilities at North Island, San Diego Bay on the Mainland.

Marshall Islands country in Oceania

The Marshall Islands, officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is an island country and a United States associated state near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country's population of 53,158 people is spread out over 29 coral atolls, comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets. The capital and largest city is Majuro.

Majuro Place in Ratak Chain, Marshall Islands

Majuro is the capital and largest city of the Marshall Islands. It is also a large coral atoll of 64 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It forms a legislative district of the Ratak (Sunrise) Chain of the Marshall Islands. The atoll has a land area of 9.7 square kilometres (3.7 sq mi) and encloses a lagoon of 295 square kilometres (114 sq mi). As with other atolls in the Marshall Islands, Majuro consists of narrow land masses.

Departing Kwajalein on 10 December, YMS-479 arrived at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Day and subsequently operated in the Hawaiian Islands into 1946. Departing Pearl Harbor on 20 February in company with USS Sheldrake (AM-62), YMS-479 arrived at San Francisco, California, on 1 March and began preparations for inactivation. YMS-479 was accordingly decommissioned on 6 August 1946 and was placed in the San Diego group of the Reserve Fleet.

Hawaiian Islands An archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean, currently administered by the US state of Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Formerly the group was known to Europeans and Americans as the Sandwich Islands, a name chosen by James Cook in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name is derived from the name of the largest island, Hawaii Island.

USS <i>Sheldrake</i> (AM-62)

USS Sheldrake (AM-62/AGS-19) was an Auk-class minesweeper built for the United States Navy during World War II. The ship was named after the sheldrake duck. The ship earned four battle stars during World War II. She was converted to a survey ship and re-designated AGS-19 in 1952 and remained in commission until 1968. She was sold for scrap in 1971.

Named USS Waxbill and reclassified as AMS-39 on 18 February 1947 while still in reserve, the minecraft was taken out of "mothballs" on 5 January 1949; and work began to ready her to resume duty. On 19 January, Waxbill was placed "in service" and, within a week, she was assigned to the 13th Naval District. She served as a U.S. Naval Reserve training ship, attached to the Navy and Marine Corps Training Center at Seattle, Washington, where she served through the spring of 1950.

With the onset of the Korean War in June and consequent American support for the United Nations intervention to aid the embattled South Koreans, the Navy expanded accordingly. Waxbill was recommissioned, albeit "in reserve," on 1 September 1950. Ultimately, she was placed in full commission on 25 September, Lt. (jg.) F. J. Crozier in command.

Duty in the inhospitable Korean waters soon beckoned Waxbill. The minecraft departed San Diego, California, on 27 February 1951, bound for the Far East. After stopovers at Pearl Harbor and the Japanese ports of Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan, Waxbill commenced her tour of Korean War service on 12 May in operation area "S". She participated in combat minesweeping operations off Wonsan, Pusan, Inchon, Kyoshin Tan, and To Jang Po into 1953. Her operations took her to both coasts of the Korean peninsula—east and west—and she swept over 40 mines, earning the Korean Presidential Unit Citation for her often hazardous and unsung mine-sweeping chores. During that time, she operated out of Sasebo and, in between deployments to Korean waters, visited such Japanese ports as Kobe, Nagasaki, Yokosuka, Moji, and Fukuoka.

Waxbill remained in the Far East even after hostilities in Korea ceased. She was reclassified as coastal minehunter AMCU-50 on 1 February 1955, and, only six days later, again reclassified MHC-50. After her conversion to a coastal minehunter, she departed Yokosuka, Japan, on 10 August, bound for the United States.

Sailing via Midway Island, Pearl Harbor, and Long Beach, California, Waxbill made port at San Francisco, California, on 8 September. She operated off the coast of southern California into 1958, visiting, in the course of that deployment, such ports as Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Placed "in commission, in reserve," status on 1 May 1958, Waxbill was placed in the Stockton, California, group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, on 16 May, and was ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, on 30 June 1958.

While exact details of the ship's ultimate fate are lacking, it is known that Waxbill was struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1959.

Awards and honors

Waxbill received six battle stars and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for Korean War service.

See also

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