USS Whitewood (AN-63)

Last updated
US flag 48 stars.svgUnited States
Builder: Snow Shipyard Incorporated
Laid down: 24 October 1942
Launched: 21 April 1944
Commissioned: 17 July 1944
Decommissioned: 1 April 1949
Struck: 7 June 1949
Fate: Sold for scrap, 3 March 1950
General characteristics
Class and type: Ailanthus-class net laying ship
Displacement: 1,275 long tons (1,295 t)
Length: 194 ft 6.5 in (59.296 m)
Beam: 34 ft 7 in (10.54 m)
Draft: 11 ft 8.5 in (3.569 m)
Speed: 12.1 knots (13.9 mph; 22.4 km/h)
Complement: 57
Armament: 1 × 3"/50 caliber gun

USS Whitewood (YN-84/AN-63/AG-129), a wooden-hulled Ailanthus-class net laying ship of the United States Navy was laid down on 24 October 1942 at Rockland, Maine, by the Snow Shipyard, Inc.; named Whitewood on 5 July 1943; re-classified a net laying ship, AN-63, on 1 January 1944; launched on 21 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Eben Kenney; and commissioned on 17 July 1944, Lt. John I. Beam, USNR, in command.

<i>Ailanthus</i>-class net laying ship

The Ailanthus class were a group of 40 wooden-hulled net laying ships of the United States Navy built during World War II as part of the huge building programs of late 1941 and early 1942 for small patrol and mine warfare vessels. Five of the class were transferred to the British Royal Navy under Lend-Lease, and another five were converted while at their shipyards into Auxiliary Fleet Tugs, the ATA-214-class.

A net laying ship, also known as a net layer, net tender, gate ship or boom defence vessel was a type of small auxiliary ship.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.


Service history

World War II

Whitewood tended and laid nets and buoys at Boston, Mass., and at Newport and Melville, R.I., through the remainder of 1944 and into 1945. After a drydocking which began at the Boston Navy Yard in March 1945, the net layer shifted to Portland, Maine, in July. There she worked out of the Navy Net Depot at Little Diamond Island through the end of World War II in August 1945. After shifting to Newport, R.I., at the end of the month, she provided services for the naval net depot there and assisted in laying experimental net installations off Block Island.

Boston Navy Yard shipbuilding facility in the United States Navy

The Boston Navy Yard, originally called the Charlestown Navy Yard and later Boston Naval Shipyard, was one of the oldest shipbuilding facilities in the United States Navy. It was established in 1801 as part of the recent establishment of the new U.S. Department of the Navy in 1798. After 175 years of military service, it was decommissioned as a naval installation on 1 July 1974.

Little Diamond Island is an island in Casco Bay, Maine. It is part of the city of Portland, Maine. As of the 2000 census, the island had a year-round population of 5. Most of the island is private property. It is served by the Casco Bay Lines ferry service.

Block Island Island in Rhode Island, United States

Block Island is located off the coast of Rhode Island, approximately 14 miles (23 km) east of Montauk Point, Long Island, and 13 miles (21 km) south from mainland Rhode Island, from which it is separated by Block Island Sound. It was named after Dutch explorer Adriaen Block.

Operation Nanook

Although apparently slated for inactivation on 22 October 1945, Whitewood apparently remained in commission through the end of the year. Early in 1946, the ship was placed in "deferred disposal" status pending possible future use. On 11 April, she was selected to participate in Operation Nanook, Arctic exercises slated to take place in the summer of 1946. Taken to the Boston Naval Shipyard, the ship was under conversion for the rest of the spring and into the summer. During this time, on 20 May, a fire broke out on board the ship in one of her after storerooms and caused "Nanook's" planners to fear that the wooden-hulled ship's services would be lost to the pending operation. Fortunately, the fire was put out before major damage occurred; and the shipyard was able to repair the ship enabling her to take part in "Nanook" as scheduled.

Operation Nanook (1946) Arctic expedition by the US Navy in 1946

Operation Nanook was an Arctic expedition undertaken by the United States Navy in 1946. It consisted of USS Norton Sound (AV-11), USS Atule (SS-403), USCGC Northwind (WAG-282), USS Alcona (AK-157), USS Beltrami (AK-162), and USS Whitewood (AN-63). The mission is mostly documented as cartographic in nature.

The nucleus of the "Nanook" force, Task Force (TF) 68, consisted of Norton Sound (AVM-1), Atule (SS-403), USCGC Northwind (WAGB-282), Alcona (AK-157), Beltrami (AK-162) and Whitewood. On 3 July, Whitewood departed Boston to rendezvous with Northwind off Greenland.

USS <i>Norton Sound</i> (AVM-1)

USS Norton Sound (AV-11/AVM-1) was originally built as a Currituck-class seaplane tender by Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, San Pedro, California. She was named for Norton Sound, a large inlet in West Alaska, between the Seward Peninsula and the mouths of the Yukon, north-east of the Bering Sea.

USS <i>Atule</i> (SS-403) Balao-class submarine

USS Atule (SS/AGSS-403), a Balao-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the atule.

USCGC <i>Northwind</i> (WAGB-282) Wind class icebreaker

USCGC Northwind (WAG/WAGB-282), The Grand Old Lady of the North, was a Wind-class icebreaker, the second United States Coast Guard Cutter of her class to bear the name. She was built to replace USCGC Northwind/Staten Island (WAG-278) which was in U.S.S.R. lend-lease service.

For the remainder of July and into August, Whitewood operated in the Canadian Arctic, off western Greenland. She transited the Davis Strait to the northern part of Baffin Bay in company with Northwind and Atule and conducted exercises en route. All ships in TF 68 except the two AK's eventually rendezvoused at Melville Bight, Baffin Bay, on 20 July. Whitewood and Atule subsequently accompanied Norton Sound to Thule harbor to recover a PBM Mariner forced down with engine trouble.

Davis Strait A northern arm of the Labrador Sea that lies between mid-western Greenland and Nunavut, Canadas Baffin Island

Davis Strait is a northern arm of the Labrador Sea. It lies between mid-western Greenland and Nunavut, Canada's Baffin Island. To the north is Baffin Bay. The strait was named for the English explorer John Davis (1550–1605), who explored the area while seeking a Northwest Passage. By the 1650s it was used for whale hunting.

Baffin Bay A marginal sea between Greenland and Baffin Island, Canada

Baffin Bay, located between Baffin Island and the west coast of Greenland, is a marginal sea of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is connected to the Atlantic via Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea. The narrower Nares Strait connects Baffin Bay with the Arctic Ocean. The bay is not navigable most of the year because of the ice cover and high density of floating ice and icebergs in the open areas. However, a polynya of about 80,000 km2 (31,000 sq mi), known as the North Water, opens in summer on the north near Smith Sound. Most of the aquatic life of the bay is concentrated near that region.

From 22 July to 5 August, all activities in "Nanook" centered around Thule; Norton Sound remained at anchor there, in North Star Bay, servicing her two PBM's. Meanwhile, Whitewood and Atule operated from North Star Bay as they conducted exercises and tests in the Smith Sound Kane Basin area. On 5 August, Norton Sound and Whitewood headed for Dundas Harbor, Devon Island, to attempt air and surface operations there. Unfortunately, the ships found the harbor iced over, with a belt of pack ice extending out three miles down the coast. Northwind later joined the two ships in the vicinity of Dundas Harbor, searching for a suitable anchorage that could accommodate the ships and their attached aircraft. Whitewood succeeded in finding a small, ice-free anchorage at Tay Bay, off northwestern Bylot Island.

North Star Bay bay in Greenland

North Star Bay, also known as Thule Harbor and Wolstenholme Bay, is a bay off the mouth of Wolstenholme Fjord, Greenland.

Smith Sound

Smith Sound is an uninhabited Arctic sea passage between Greenland and Canada's northernmost island, Ellesmere Island. It links Baffin Bay with Kane Basin and forms part of the Nares Strait.

Devon Island Island in Baffin Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada

Devon Island is an island in Canada and the largest uninhabited island on Earth. It is located in Baffin Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is one of the larger members of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the second-largest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Canada's sixth-largest island, and the 27th-largest island in the world. It comprises 55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi) of Precambrian gneiss and Paleozoic siltstones and shales. The highest point is the Devon Ice Cap at 1,920 m (6,300 ft) which is part of the Arctic Cordillera. Devon Island contains several small mountain ranges, such as the Treuter Mountains, Haddington Range and the Cunningham Mountains. The notable similarity of its surface to that of Mars has attracted interest from scientists.

In the ensuing weeks, Whitewood reconnoitered the coastal areas in Lancaster, Eclipse, and Jones Sounds, and Prince Regent, Admiralty, and Navy Board Inlets. Operating on this duty in company with Northwind, Whitewood landed shore parties that set up positions ashore to obtain terrestrial navigation "fixes" to dovetail with the photographic coverage obtained from the ships and planes of the project's task force.

Eventually, the summer Arctic weather deteriorated to the point where it hindered Whitewood's surveying efforts — especially her terrestrial fixes. Released from the expedition in early September, Whitewood received her sailing orders on 6 September and soon set her course for Boston. She arrived there on 19 September for repairs.

Reclassified as (AG)

While at Boston, Whitewood was reclassified a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG) on 14 January 1947 and was given the alphanumeric hull number AG-129. She conducted refresher training in Chesapeake Bay soon thereafter and returned to Boston on 9 July to prepare for the next round of Arctic operations.

Return to the Arctic

She sailed for the Canadian Arctic in company with the Navy's newest icebreaker, Edisto, to participate in the successor to Operation "Nanook." The basic missions for TF 68 in this Arctic stint were the resupply of existing weather stations and the establishment of a new one at Melville Harbor, Ville Island.

Whitewood performed reconnaissance and survey work during the expedition, while Wyandot (AKA-92) completed her assigned task, supplying the weather station at Thule. When Whitewood and Edisto tried to force their way through the ice to deliver needed supplies to the station at Slidre Fjord, the heavy pack ice damaged Whitewood's bow sheathing, steering engine, and propeller, necessitating her return to Boston for repairs. After transferring her cargo to Edisto — which eventually forced her way through the pack ice to Slidre Fjord — Whitewood headed home.

Whitewood underwent repairs at Boston between 1 September and 18 October before sailing for Bayonne, N.J., for an overhaul that lasted through the end of October. She headed back northward and operated out of Argentia, Newfoundland; and Grondal and Søndre Strømfjord, Greenland; into late 1948 supporting the International Ice Patrol. During the tour, she touched at such ports as Narsarssuak, Grondal, Argentia, and Breton.

On 6 December 1948, while the ship was operating in heavy pack ice, a shifting floe sprung a leak in her port chain locker. A seam opened there, and the ship began to fill uncontrollably. In order to save the ship, her commanding officer, Lt. Cpmdr. F. E. Clark, ordered her beached. Meanwhile, Edisto, which had just completed refresher training in Narragansett Bay, was summoned to join Hoist (ARS-40) in assisting Whitewood out of her predicament. Eventually, with a patch applied to her side, Whitewood made Boston on 8 January 1949 — exactly one month after her serious accident.

Subsequently cleared for disposal on 12 March, she was decommissioned at Newport on 1 April and struck from the Navy list on 7 June. She was then sold to Walter H. Wimms of Los Angeles, Calif., on 3 March 1950 and scrapped.


Related Research Articles

George W. De Long American polar explorer

George Washington De Long was an American Navy officer and explorer who led the ill-fated Jeannette Expedition of 1879–1881, in search of the Open Polar Sea.

USS <i>Advance</i> (1847) brigantine in the United States Navy

The first USS Advance was a brigantine in the United States Navy which participated in an arctic rescue expedition. Advance was built in 1847 as Augusta in New Kent County, Virginia and loaned to the Navy on 7 May 1850 by Mr. Henry Grinnell to participate in the search for Sir John Franklin's arctic expedition which had been stranded in the frozen north since 1846. After last-minute preparations, the ship, under the command of Lieutenant Edwin J. De Haven and in company with Rescue, put to sea from New York on 23 May 1850.

USS <i>Jeannette</i> (1878)

USS Jeannette was a naval exploration vessel which, commanded by George W. De Long, undertook the Jeannette expedition of 1879–1881 to the Arctic. After being trapped in the ice and drifting for almost two years, the ship and its crew of 33 were released from the ice, then trapped again, crushed and sunk some 300 nautical miles north of the Siberian coast. The entire crew survived the sinking, but 11 died while sailing towards land in a small cutter. The others reached Siberia, but nine subsequently perished in the Lena Delta, including De Long.

USCGC <i>Edisto</i> (WAGB-284) Wind class icebreaker

USS Edisto (AGB-2) was a Wind-class icebreaker in the service of the United States Navy and was later transferred to the United States Coast Guard as USCGC Edisto (WAGB-284). She was named after Edisto Island, South Carolina. The island is named after the Native American Edisto Band who inhabited the island and the surrounding area. As of 2011 there is a namesake cutter USCGC Edisto (WPB-1313). The newer Edisto is a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat and is stationed in San Diego County, California.

USS <i>Glacier</i> (AGB-4)

USS Glacier (AGB-4) was a U.S. Navy, then U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker which served in the first through fifteenth Operation Deep Freeze expeditions. Glacier was first icebreaker to make her way through the frozen Bellingshausen Sea, and most of the topography in the area is named for her crewmembers. When built, Glacier had the largest capacity single armature DC motors ever installed on a ship. Glacier was capable of breaking ice up to 20 feet (6.1 m) thick, and of continuous breaking of 4-foot (1.2 m) thick ice at 3 knots.

USS <i>Rescue</i> (1850)

The first USS Rescue was a brig in service with the United States Navy.

Wind-class icebreaker class of United States icebreakers

The Wind-class icebreakers were a line of diesel electric-powered icebreakers in service with the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and Soviet Navy from 1944 through the late 1970s. They were very effective ships: all except Eastwind served at least thirty years, and Northwind served in the USCG continuously for forty-four years. Considered the most technologically advanced icebreakers in the world when first built, the Wind-class icebreakers were also heavily armed; the first operator of the class was the United States Coast Guard, which used the vessels for much-needed coastal patrol off Greenland during World War II. Three of the vessels of the class, Westwind, Southwind, and the first Northwind all went on to serve temporarily for the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program, while two others were built for the United States Navy and another was built for the Royal Canadian Navy; all eight vessels were eventually transferred to the United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard.

USS <i>Wyandot</i> (AKA-92) Andromeda-class attack cargo ship

USS Wyandot (AKA-92) was an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship named after Wyandot County, Ohio. She served as a commissioned ship for 20 years and 1 month.

USS <i>Arneb</i> (AKA-56) Andromeda-class attack cargo ship

USS Arneb (AKA-56/LKA-56) was an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship named after Arneb, the brightest star in the southern constellation Lepus. She served as a commissioned ship for 27 years and 3 months, the longest time in commission of any AKA.

USCGC <i>Staten Island</i> (WAGB-278) Wind class icebreaker

USCGC Staten Island (WAGB-278) was a United States Coast Guard Wind-class icebreaker. Laid down on 9 June 1942 and launched on 28 December 1942, the ship was commissioned on 26 February 1944, and almost immediately afterward transferred to the Soviet Union, under the Lend Lease program, under the name Severny Veter, which loosely translates as Northwind, until 19 December 1951. When returned to the United States Navy, she was designated USS Northwind until 15 April 1952, when she was renamed Staten Island to distinguish her from her successor USCGC Northwind (WAGB-282) which had been laid down shortly after she was lent to the Soviet Union. The ship was transferred to the US Coast Guard as USCGC Staten Island in February 1965, and served until November 1974, before being scrapped.

USS <i>Alcona</i> (AK-157)

USS Alcona (AK-157) was an Alamosa-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

USS <i>Beltrami</i> (AK-162)

USS Beltrami (AK-162) was an Alamosa-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

USS <i>Tigress</i> (1871)

The third USS Tigress was a screw steamer of the United States Navy, chartered during 1873 to mount an Arctic rescue mission.

HMS <i>Alert</i> (1856) 17-gun wooden screw sloop of the Cruizer class of the Royal Navy

HMS Alert was a 17-gun wooden screw sloop of the Cruizer class of the Royal Navy, launched in 1856 and broken up in 1894. It was the eleventh ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name, and was noted for her Arctic exploration work; in 1876 it reached a record latitude of 82° North. Alert briefly served with the US Navy, and ended her career with the Canadian Marine Service as a lighthouse tender and buoy ship.

Wolstenholme Island

Wolstenholme Island, is an island in Baffin Bay, in the Qaasuitsup municipality, off northwestern Greenland.