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USS CORMORANT MSC 122

History

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Photos

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COMMANDING OFFICERS

LT Frank A.Mitchell
Aug 1953-Jan 1955
LT Daniel A.Lewis
Jan 1955-Dec 1955
LT William H.Rowden
Dec 1955-May 1957
LT R.Logan Sharrah
May 1957-Aug 1959
LT Joseph J.Wachtel
Aug 1959-Sep 1961
LT Paul G.Crawford
Sep 1961-Aug 1963
LT S.A.Tish
Aug 1963-Dec 1963
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LT Harmon
1968
LCDR Scott Laidlaw
1970
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The second Cormorant (AMS-122) was launched 8 June 1953 by Mare Island Naval Shipyard; sponsored by Mrs. I. H. Whitthorne, and commissioned 14 August 1953, Lieutenant F. A. Mitchell, USNR, in command. She was reclassified MSC-122, 7 February 1955.
 
For the rest of the year Cormorant conducted mine sweeping, sonar school, and other operations on the west coast except for a brief cruise to Pearl Harbor for duty with the Naval Reserve Training Center.
 
Sailing to the Far East, Cormorant arrived at her new home port Sasebo 22 February. She remained in the western Pacific conducting minesweeping exercises in Korean and Japanese waters and voyaging to Formosa, Okinawa, and the Philippines for training through 1960.
 
The coastal minesweeper USS Cormorant (MSC 122) joined  MinDiv 93 on 26 August for transit to the United States. The division arrived on 30 August at Kaohsiung, Taiwan to take part in a combined U.S.-GRC mine exercise. The exercise was postponed on 4 September by the advent of Typhoon Faye, requiring the MSOs and Cormorant to evade south to the northern tip of Luzon. Following passage of the eye of the storm to the north, all ships returned to the operating area for mine recovery, departing on 7 September for a visit to Hong Kong.
 
After visiting Hong Kong from 10 to 16 September, MinDiv 93 entered the naval station at Subic Bay to make final preparations for the voyage home. The division and Cormorant left Subic Bay on 23 September, transiting the San Bernardino Straits and arriving in Guam a week later. Departing Guam on 8 October, the ships almost immediately headed into strong winds and heavy seas from the northwest that slowed speed over ground to as little as four-and-one-half knots on occasion. When the usually marginal fuel situation, on this leg of the journey home, became critical, Excel was detached on the 17th to make port, refuel, and return to replenish the other ships. The remaining ships were detached the following day, Leader to attempt to reach Midway as a back-up for Excel: Lucid and Cormorant to proceed as far as possible along the track, and Enhance and Guide to maintain steerageway in twenty-five knot winds and fifteen-to-twenty-foot sea conditions. The abatement of these wind-sea conditions late in the evening on the 18th allowed the arrival of Leader, Excel, Lucid, and Cormorant in port unaided. Meanwhile, Commander, Hawaiian Sea Frontier assumed operational control, detaching the radar picket escort ship USS Lansing (DER 388) and the oiler Ashtabula (AO 51) to rendezvous with and refuel Guide and Enhance. The division, less Enhance, departed Guam for Pearl Harbor on 20 October, arriving on the 25th. Due to her distance from Guam after receiving fuel, Enhance sailed directly for Pearl Harbor. The division and the MSC were joined upon their arrival in Hawaii by the inshore minesweepers USS Cape (MSI 1) and USS Cove (MSI 2), for the final leg of the transit to Long Beach. Departing on 26 October, the group of mine warfare ships arrived home on 5 November 1963

"During my time in Cormorant she changed home port from Long Beach, California to Sasebo. Japan. We left Long Beach on January 6th 1956 in company with USS Peacock (MSC-198) and a mine Division of five MSO's bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was the first extended cruise  that  the MSC class had undertaken. Cormorant had plastic fuel tanks which was an experiment in that for of tank construction and she carried the least amount of fuel of any ship in the deployment group. So fuel was critical. I watched the fuel and water reports and
concluded after a few days at sea, that, if we kept the consumption under 45 gallons per hour we would be OK on fuel for the voyage. We were able to make this fuel consumption if we operated on one generator. In order to do this we had to manage the electrical load
which amounted to employing either the electric still for fresh water or the galley range, the biggest users of electricity, one-at-a-time. This was done and we maintained water levels and cooked our food for
the entire voyage. We arrived in Pearl with no problems and after a short visit we pushed on to Midway for our last fuel stop before the longest leg of the voyage to Yokosuka, Japan. I still remember
pushing that little ship up the 12 mile channel into the mooring at Midway with 20 knots of wind on the starboard bow, running at full power of 12 knots and steering 15 to 20 degrees right of the channel in order to maintain the course. We left Midway for Yokosuka. Because one of the MSOs had an engine casualty we tarried around Midway for about 12 hours undeerway before departing for Yokosuka. This would be the longest leg of our journey and the movement commander was concerned about Cormorant's fuel situation. As it turned out, Cormorant did not become the problem, it was one of the MSOs that nearly ran out of fuel. An oiler was sortied out of Yokosuka to
rescue our struggling little band of wooden ships on the last several days of the journey. After voyage repairs and some rest we all took off for Iwo Jima and a minesweeping exercise before we went on to
our final destination in Japan of Sasebo. We arrived in Sasebo on February 22nd 1956.
 
One other addition to your very nice account of our operations in the Far East, would that we visited Hong Kong as well as ports in Japan and Korea. In fact, I married my wife in Japan in April 1956 and we
spent our honeymoon in Hong Kong. I, of course took the ship there and she flew down.
 
Anyway, these are wonderful memories of my first command, at 25 years old, which I shall always cherish as a major part of my life."
 
Vice Adimral William H.Rowden USN Ret.
 

Members of the minesweeping community; The Lucid MSO-458 Foundation was formed by a group of minesweeper crewmen who served aboard US Navy MSO's. MSO's are a class of wooden hull oceangoing minesweepers that are now decommissioned and fading from public memory. The group has obtained the USS Lucid MSO-458 and has her docked at Bradford Island, California. Work has begun! The organization is restoring her and a public museum is established. The MSO is a little known and poorly documented, extremely interesting facet of Naval history. The USS Lucid Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the minesweeping men and their wooden ships, the last all wooden US Naval ships, to navigate the oceans. We will be telling the stories of Mine Recovery and UDT teams, Floating Pigs, Hammer Boxes, Magtails, Aluminum Engines and Towed Sonar. The little known stories of Contact, Magnetic and Acoustic minesweeping as well as the mystery of Magnetic Countermeasures will be told through the displays, narratives and museum media. Typhoons, tiny ships and ice-clad superstructures are only a small part of the "Wooden Ships and Iron Men" story. From sweeping the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam, observing the final Nuclear blasts on Johnston Island to sweeping the Persian Gulf, "Where the Fleet Goes, We've Been" will be clearly illustrated. Since there is no other Naval Museum that even attempts to tell the story of the MSO the USS Lucid is an important and living detail of US Naval History. First, Lucid must undergo a restoration. Previous civilian owners for commercial use have modified her. She needs hull repairs and painting and re-outfitting to be brought back to her former Naval dignity and glory. The Lucid MSO-458 Foundation has a workforce of planners, engineers and volunteer manpower who are vested and committed to this grand and worthy project. Bringing her to life is a large financial undertaking. We’re looking for tax-exempt gifts from the Military Industrial sector and individuals to help with this extremely valuable endeavor. Of course, all donors will be properly and prominently acknowledged aboard the vessel. Your donation will help preserve this vital part of Naval History. Please join us in telling the MSO story by sending a tax-exempt gift to Lucid MSO-458 Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation through our website. http://www.usslucid.org
W.W."Mike"Warren EN2

Cormorant Unit Page

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