8 November 2011.
from the Dictionary
of American Naval Fighting Ships,
discussion of Army Coast Artillery and Signal Corps cable ships
complete list of the ARC designation.
(ARC-1) had a predecessor with an
interesting history as a motor
torpedo boat tender down
in the Southwest Pacific. The DNAFS entry for that ship, Portunus
is well worth reading.
The second ship, Portunus
started as LSM-275
6 October 1944 in
time to get into the last stages of the war, landing troops in
Okinawa. It wasn't until 1952 that she became the leader of the ARC
ships. That year saw the birth of post war antisubmarine activity and
the early test stages of what was to become an extensive surveillance
system. It is probable that this ship participated in at least some
of that activity.
See more on these two ships at NavSource:
Coast Guard vessel Yamacraw
ex-Navy vessel Trapper
ex-Army AMPS Maj.
Gen. Arthur Murray
brief appearance at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a
geophysical research vessel
Brooklyn Navy Yard,
Brooklyn N.Y. circa 1964
Photo provided by three brothers who
sailed aboard Yamacraw:
Victor, Darrell and Barnie Edens
(ARC-5) has an interesting history
and something in common with Neptune
J. Myer. She started life in
She was originally built to plant and tend controlled defensive
minefields for the Army Coast Artillery Corps' Army
Mine Planter Service (AMPS). The AMPS was responsible for the
coastal defense mine fields until the function was transferred to the
Navy in 1949. The ships bore the designation U.S.A.M.P. for U.S. Army
Mine Planter and flew a special mine planter flag. This is the only
one of those vessels that became an actual Navy cable repair ship.
The vessel was built as one of the
sixteen WW II planters at the Marietta Manufacturing Co., Point
Pleasant, West Virginia as hull number 482. With the exception of the
single construction in
1937 of U.S.A.M.P. Lieutenant
Colonel Ellery W. Niles, (later the F.V.
mine planters had been built since 1919. The war in Europe was well
underway and the Coast Artillery Corps needed new ships for the
coastal fortification mine fields. Thus the requirement resulting in
the Office of the Quartermaster General's Marine Design and
Construction Division task of designing new ships to specifications
laid out by the Coast Artillery Corps Submarine Mine Depot. The
result was the wartime M1 mine
planter, all sixteen built by Marietta Manufacturing in West
Improvements and features of
this design were discussed in a short article, "Increase in the
CAC'S Navy," in the Coast Artillery Journal, Volume
LXXXIV, No. 6 of November-December 1941; published December first
after the first ship, U.S.A.M.P. General Henry Knox MP 1, had
been launched on 4 November. The following extract give an idea of
the design's features.
- The new vessels will, it is believed,
be excellent sea boats, because of their high flaring Normandy
type bows and the smooth flow of their lines. The main deckhouse has
been reduced in size to the minimum needed thereby allowing a much
larger and increased deck area for the stowage of mines, anchors and
cables. When the new vessel is fully loaded she can carry normally
two full and complete groups of mines, and should the need arise,
the main hold has been so arranged that another full and complete
group can be stowed.
On the forecastle head a large vertical
reel will be installed for handling large communication cables. As a
departure from usual practice, this reel is removable, and when not
required may be stored ashore. This “King” or Cable Reel will
have a capacity of fifty tons of cable when fully loaded and will be
steam operated. With the exception of the King reel and the hoisting
engine for the foremast cargo boom, all of the deck machinery will
be electrically operated.
On the stern of the vessel, which has been
increased in deck area by approximately five feet in breadth and
eighteen feet in length over the Baird type, a large electric
docking winch is installed. On the main mast is a three-ton boom
normally carried snugged into the main mast but available as desired
for the lifting of figure eights from ship to shore or vice versa.
The vangs, topping lifts and hoists for this boom all work from a
winch placed on the boat deck aft. A docking telegraph, engine room
telegraphs and Sperry steering control are also mounted on the boat
deck aft, which will increase the ease of operation when special
conditions make it desirable to control the ship from this aft
The pilot house has been made large and
roomy and will be equipped with equipment such as gyro compass
repeaters, Iron Mike steering, R. C. A. direction finder and a
fathometer. A large searchlight of an approved type, electrically
controlled from the wheelhouse, will be mounted on the mast. The
vessels will also be equipped with units of guided radio talkback
equipment. The peloruses mounted in each bridge wing will also have
gyro repeaters mounted within them. At present it is contemplated
installing two dual-purpose searchlights on top of the Pilot House,
which will have built-in shutters, enabling them to be used either
as searchlights or as signaling lamps. These vessels will be
equipped with an automatic telephone system. Auxiliary sound powered
telephones will also be installed.
The mine and anchor davits are of a new and
improved design capable of handling a heavier load than heretofore
and will each be equipped with an electric hoist capable of lifting
two tons at thirteen feet a minute and of lowering the same weight
at a speed of not less than fourteen feet a minute. These will be
push-button operated with the buttons mounted upon the davit
pedestals. In case of electrical failure these hoists are arranged
for manual operation.
A blower ventilating system is contemplated
for all living spaces and also for the cargo and machinery spaces.
The old type steam heaters for hot water have been eliminated and
hot water may be obtained from a central plant by turning a tap in
the various compartments. Another difference in design from the
older types, and a welcome one to most of the engineers in the Mine
Planting Service, is the relocation of the steering engine in the
lazarette, with a door cut from the engine space for easy access.
The ship's galley will be a mess sergeant's
dream. It is a well designed, complete electrical kitchen comprising
in part an electric range, electric fry kettle, electric griddle,
dough mixer, a potato peeler and an electric ice box for the galley
proper. All of the fittings are of stainless steel.
The main refrigerator or cooling room is
well arranged with separate compartments, accessible from outside of
the room, for ice cubes, butter, eggs, fruits, and a special
compartment for meat storage.
The engine and power plant space is also a
departure from former mine planter construction. The entire
machinery space and boiler room are in one compartment making it
possible for the Watch Engineer to observe all that goes on in his
department from his post at the throttle controls on the upper
gratings. The vessels will be equipped with two 600 H.P. Units of
the latest type Skinner Unaflow Marine Engines. The boilers will be
marine type watertube designed for 210 pounds gauge pressure and 100
degrees Fahrenheit super heat. This type of power plant has proven
not only economical in operation but also efficient in fast
handling. Many of the new and larger type steam ferry boats and tugs
of late design are so equipped. The vessels are twin screw and are a
departure from the older types in that they are of welded
The general statistical data on the new
vessels is as follows:
- Length over all
- 188' 2"
- Mean Draft (full load)
- 11' 6"
- Speed per hour
Hull number 482 with the name of Major
General Arthur Murray and designated Mine Planter 9 became
U.S.A.M.P. Major General Arthur Murray MP 9,
launched in 1942. The ship was named for the first Chief of the Coast
Artillery Corps, shown in this photograph from the same issue of the
Coast Artillery Journal.
June 1925 issue of the Journal published his
obituary with the following:
- The death of Major General Arthur
Murray, at his home in Washington on May 12th, meant the
loss to many army officers of a sincere friend; to the Coast.
Artillery Corps of a staunch supporter; and to the country at large
of a distinguished, influential, and highly respected citizen.
Upon graduating from West Point in 1874,
General Murray entered the 1st Artillery and served in
that regiment for many years. He advanced in grade step by step
until in 1906 he was appointed a Brigadier General and Chief of
Artillery. Upon the separation of the Field Artillery from the Coast
Artillery in 1907, he became the First Chief of Coast Artillery,
holding that position until 1911, when he was promoted to the grade
of Major General. He was retired for age in 1915. At the time of the
war with Spain he acted as Judge Advocate General of the First
Corps; and later, during the Philippine Insurrection, although then
only a Captain, became Colonel of the 43rd United States
General Murray's name is inseparable from
that of the Coast Artillery Corps. He was influential in shaping
artillery policy during its formative period after the
Spanish-American War; he was instrumental in creating our present
system of submarine mine defense; he was largely responsible for the
separation of the Coast from the Field Artillery in 1907, and for
the creation of a separate Coast Artillery Corps; and as the First
Chief of Coast Artillery he not only increased and strengthened our
system of harbor defenses, but in addition established the Corps on
a sound and lasting basis.
His was an enviable record. He excelled in
all he undertook. He was cheerful, kind-hearted, of sound judgment,
highly intelligent, and diplomatic. With these qualities his long
career was of inestimable value to his country. The greatest tribute
that can be paid to the memory of General Murray by officers of the
present day is for them to strive to reach his attainments and to
perform as useful services as did he for the Corps, the Army and the
The ship served almost to the end of the
war building and maintaining the defensive controlled mine fields.
Wartime secrecy and suspension of the Coast Artillery Journal's
publication of quarterly postings make details difficult to
determine. Pearl Harbor had already called into serious question the
utility of the great coastal forts and their fixed, controlled
mines. In short order coast artillerymen would be converting to
anti-aircraft artillery roles and the forts would be stripped of
personnel fit for overseas duty in artillery and even infantry.
Details on where the ship went and just what she did are not readily
available. I have one report and it indicates an assignment at Fort
Monroe at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, the headquarters of
the Corps. A reader of this page reports an interesting sidelight
not recorded in DANFS:
The Murray was sunk
off Cape Henry on 1 Feb 1944 after striking a mine, was raised by
the USN and repaired (I do not think that she returned to Army
service before being taken over by the Navy as Trapper.
(David Asprey in e-mail on 10 Jan. 2000).
In any event, on 2 January 1945, with war
in the Pacific still active and an end uncertain and the
coastal forts known to be obsolete she became a Navy acquisition
from this group of Army ships as an Auxiliary Minelayer (ACM) with
her newer sister, U.S.A.M.P. Colonel Charles W. Bundy
MP 15 preceding her as the lead ship of the class, USS Chimo.
The final transfers to Navy of this group would come when Navy
began taking over the coastal defense role in 1949-1950. Some went
directly from Army service into the boneyards.
The Navy converted the ship at the
Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina to the naval
specifications, including for the first time armament:
Ship characteristics from DANFS on Trapper
(ACM-9) are: dp. 1,320; l. 188'2"; b. 37'0"; dr. 12'6";
s. 12.5 k (tl.); cpl. 69; a. 1 40mm.; cl. Chimo.
U.S.A.M.P. Major General Arthur
Murray MP 9 had become the USS Trapper
with the designation of ACM-9 when commissioned 15 March 1945
with Lt. Richard E. Lewis, USNR, in command. Her naval career was
summed in two paragraphs in the Dictionary of American
Naval Fighting Ships:
After shakedown training in the Chesapeake
Bay area during April, Trapper got underway on 11 June and
proceeded-via Manzanillo, the Panama Canal, and San Diego the
Pacific war zone. In mid-August, while the minelayer was en route to
Hawaii, Japan capitulated. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21
August and was routed westward, via Eniwetok, Saipan, and Okinawa,
Trapper arrived at Kobe on 26
November 1946 and operated out of that port repairing minesweeping
gear until 1 February 1946 when she shifted her base of operations
to Wakayama for a month. On 11 March the minelayer got underway for
the United States. En route, she called at Saipan, Eniwetok
Kwajalein, Johnston, and Hawaii before arriving at San Francisco on
2 May. Trapper was decommissioned and transferred to the
United States Coast Guard on 20 June 1946 and struck from the Navy
list on 19 July 1946.
Thus ended the ship's first naval career,
one involving mine clearance rather than laying, and her start of a
longer and probably more interesting U.S. Coast Guard life as a real
cable ship, if a rather small one.
The Coast Guard gave the ship a new name,
after the 1909
cutter of that name. The Coast Guard's history of the ship is
essentially the DANFS entry and information is a bit scarce.
some clues. In October 2001 BMCM Charles A. Cheverie (ret)
YAMACRAW WARC-333… How many remember this hard working “Cable
Layer” out of Boston, MA that sailed the entire Atlantic Coast
from Downeast Maine to Key West, Florida including the waters of the
Bahamas and even the Great Lakes. The Mission? Repair, Recover
and/or lay new large underwater communications cable between the
mainland and off-shore islands. This was my first tour of duty in
the CG. Reporting aboard in December 1948 fresh out of Boot Camp as
an SA serving on her until June 1952 leaving as a BM2. A long hard
dirty tour of duty, but a time in my CG life that I would not give
up for anything. Anyone else remember the YAMACRAW during those
the April 2002 Evening Colors, A Newsletter for Coast
Guard and NOAA Retirees, has responses:
Note: In our October 2001 issue BMCM (Ret.) Charles A. Cheverie was
asking if anyone remembered a tour on the USCGC YAMACRAW (WARC-333).
Below is a few of responses I received. Also a lot of interest in
the Loran duties in the South Pacific:
noted with interest BMCM Cheverie’s comments about duty on the CGC
YAMACRAW. I too have found fond memories of the old ship. I reported
aboard in the spring of 1951 as an Ensign, only two years out of the
Academy and departing in the spring of 1953 for Loran Duty. During
those two years I served in every position except CO, XO, AND EO –
even had to be my own radioman on one trip. I gained far more
experience in basic seamanship and small boat handling than in two
years of weather patrol. Underway OOD watches were busy and
sometimes exciting. I remember Cheverie and Perkins as being two of
our best boat handlers. It was a great tour of duty and one I
wouldn’t swap for anything. Maybe a reunion is in order??” LCDR
R. A. Lewis, USCG (Ret.):
served aboard the YAMACRAW from March 1955 till she was returned to
the Navy in December 1958 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During this
period we not only worked cable but worked on oceanographic research
with the Navy and several civilian research organizations. During
research we traveled to Havana Cuba (before Castro), Newfoundland,
Iceland, Gibraltar, the Balearic Islands, Spain, Italy, and
boarded the YAMACRAW as an EM1 and left as an EMC. In my years of
service, Army 1943-1949 and Coast Guard from 1949-1966. I have never
served with a more able crew, no matter how large or small a job
was, it got done. What also amazed me was being at sea for long
periods of time with over a crew of 30, on a 189 foot vessel, and
everyone got along very well.” EMC Frank C. Pagliuca, USCG (Ret.)
but then there is something else as the ship has a connection with
the well known Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Woods Hole
web site shows the Yamacraw
a brief life as a leased geophysical research vessel that made
eleven North Atlantic and Mediterranean cruises. This web page
contains a small but clear photograph of the ship as WARC-333. Then
a search of "Yamacraw" and various survey terms begins to
find results. For example this:
CHARTS, BATHYMETRY, AND LOCATION OF OBSERVATIONS, YAMACRAW CRUISE
NO. 3, AUGUST 9-AUGUST 26, 1957; YAMACRAW CRUISE NO. 6, NOVEMBER
4-NOVEMBER 10, 1957, NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN.
W. M. Dunkle; K. G. Bumpus; WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION
Abstract: The report contains charts of
YAMACRAW Cruise Nos. 3 and
6 in the North Atlantic Ocean. There are 25 (Cruise No. 3) and 8
(Cruise No. 6) charts plotted on a Mercator Projection (Scale 1
degree longitude equals 4 inches) showing the track of the entire
cruise. All types of observations made during the cruise are noted
by suitable symbols or legends along the ship's track. The location
of special observations are shown on Charts I and II (Cruise No. 3)
and Chart I (Cruise No. 6). Soundings are read at equal time
intervals, usually every ten minutes, and at each break in slope.
They are written along the ship's track as often as space permits.
All soundings are based on a sound velocity of 800 fathoms/sec. And
are corrected only for depth of transducer. (Author)
has a cite for Cruise 10, of 1958, with:
This report contains charts of Cruise 10 of
the YAMACRAW in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. There are
62 charts (approx. scale 1:972, 600) showing the track of the entire
cruise except for special surveys. All types of observations made
during the cruise are noted by suitable symbols or legends along the
ship's track. The locations of special surveys are shown. (Author)
The ship's career with Woods Hole research
span 1957-1958 and the institution's best page on the ship gives
confirmation for David Asprey's e-mail note:
In 1944, as the Murray, this ship struck a
mine and sank. The vessel was raised by the Navy, repaired, renamed
Trapper, and used as an auxiliary mine layer. In 1955, the vessel
was transferred to the Coast Guard for use as a cable ship and
renamed Yamacraw (WARC 333).
WHOI leased Yamacraw during 1957-1958 and
made 11 cruises in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean with the
vessel. Yamacraw was used mainly for geophysical work and towing the
thermistor chain shown on the after deck. WHOI returned the vessel
to the Navy in 1959 and in 1969 Yamacraw was sold for scrap.
It is speculation on my part, but it
appears the Coast Guard found the ship somewhat in surplus by 1956
and the ocean research demands, largely driven by Navy's
Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) requirements and the expansion of the
Sound Surveillance System, were pressing. Geophysical work and ocean
temperature structure, that thermistor chain, was all part of
And then the Navy needed a cable ship. Both
operational and experimental ASW surveillance systems were expanding
at a rapid rate in this time frame. She was reacquired by the Navy,
17 May 1959, designated a Cable Repair Ship, ARC, and commissioned.
Thus the second naval career for the ship as USS Yamacraw
(ARC-5). The DANFS entry for that
has a nice photo of the vessel as
WARC-333 and largely points back to Trapper.
In sum, this little ship had five lives
with the research/survey role plugged in between a regular Coast
Guard and Navy cable ship career. For more photographs of the full
blown small cable ship Yamacraw
see the NavSource page for ARC-5
for other photos.
The following Army ship has an even closer
common origin with Myer and Neptune in being a Signal
* * *
is the ship with most in
common with Albert
J. Myer and
G. Bullard origins
-- she was built as the Army
Signal Corps cable layer William
In addition to the DANFS
entry for Nashawena
there is a very small
bit of additional information. She never carried an "ARC"
1966/1967 mentions "The
cable repair ship of the wooden type, Nashawena,
YAG 35 (ex-AG 142) was stricken in 1960."
She then apparently had a
continuing role in cable work as the Omega
(U.S. Undersea Cable
Corp.). See the following for more on Nashawena's
"of the wooden type"
Army self propelled barge cable vessels.
The Army operated a
considerable fleet of cable ships. One type supported the Coast
Artillery Corps controlled mine fields and was a small, coastal
design under the Coast Artillery. Another type, associated with the
Signal Corps, was generally larger and supported communications. The
Pacific areas had fewer commercial cables and military cables were
more common than in the Atlantic. In the Pacific these ships were
engaged in linking the islands sprinkled between the West Coast and
the Philippines. U.S.
Army ships and Watercraft of World War II
lists eleven of these
communication cable ships (See under Signal
Corps on the Army Ships
The list includes Albert J.
Myer and William H. G. Bullard (later Neptune) --
the last of these ships to be built (1946). The Col. Wm. A.
Glassford, later Nashawena (above) was
one of two wooden hulled self propelled barges converted to Army
cable ships. The other was the Col. Basil O. Lenoir. Both
apparently worked largely in Alaskan waters on the Alaskan military
cables. Lenoir stayed in Alaska doing cable work as an Air
Force vessel when the Air Force Communications Service took over the
cables. So now we have a case of the Army cable layer becoming an
Air Force cable layer!
Lenoir were interesting conversions from self propelled barge
(Army class "BSP") into wooden hull, triple screwed, very
shallow draft cable vessels. Their continued use after the war
emergency may be partly due to these unusual features. Cable ships
are typically deep draft and the connection between the deep ocean
cable and shore has to be accomplished by various inventive means,
very often using barges of some type.
I can only speculate, but it
seems that little self propelled barge/ships equipped with cable
machinery drawing only six or seven feet could be very useful in
island chains in general and elsewhere in filling the gap between the
deep ocean end and shore. That draft would get them in close enough
to easily float the shore end in and then run out to splice into a
buoyed sea end or make a full run to a nearby island to repeat the
shore tie without intermediate splices.
The following e-mail from
Duane McEwen confirms the usefulness of Col. Basil O. Lenoir's
barge hull. He, along with the ship, was Army and then Air Force,
apparently for the same reason--ACS was transferred from Army to Air
Force. He was "in the Army ACS from 1961 to 1963, and then got
out of the Army and became a civilian employee of the US Air Force,
still working for the ACS in Alaska." He describes the Lenoir
in a shore landing application that really did not occur to me, but
is very sensible if hull, shore and tides are right:
Your thoughts on the
advantages of using a barge type ship in coastal Alaskan waters
is right on the money. The Lenoir was reportedly
deliberately run aground (on a rising tide) at Lena Point
Alaska, when submarine communication cable was laid from there
to a light house at Seninel Island. The cable was brought ashore
and tied to a large spruce tree, and the ship backed slowly off.
I was in Juneau a year ago, and the end of the cable is still
tied to the spruce tree in what is now a borough (Alaska has
boroughs instead of counties) park.
There were many submarine
communication cables in Alaska during the first part of the last
century (1900 - 1950). Many of these were put in during WWII, and
were never publicized. Even though I worked in the communications
field, there were many that I did not know anything about. Marine
charts showed submarine cable areas, but little else was known. For
instance, there was a cable that was laid from Gustavus to Hawk
Inlet, and across a narrow stretch of land from there to Youngs Bay,
and from there to the Juneau area. A military air field [thus
Army Air Forces at the time] was built at Gustavus during WW II,
so I assume that the cable was built then. I walked part of the on
shore cable route from Hawk Inlet to Youngs Bay during a hunting
trip in the 60s. The cable was laid on the ground thru the woods (a
wilderness area). It appeared to be a standard submarine type cable.
I do not know when that cable was used, or when it fell into disuse.
He further mentions that the ship
operated out of Seattle, going to Alaska for the cable work and then
returning and was "reportedly sent to the ship breakers in
Bellingham, Washington in about 1975."
The Army's fleet was pretty
much disbanded or converted to Navy by 1950 as the postwar drive
toward integrated services and the Department of Defense accelerated
and became final. Unfortunately it appears the Army then decided to
really dispense with ships and discarded most of the records for its
ships, including the individual ship histories.
In the table below the ARC #
link is to the NavSource page that will have specifications and
photographs. Names link to the ship's DANFS entry. Two additional
links on name are to pages at this site that will have my more
personal view of a ship I knew.
Back to Neptune
Page style and original text
copyright. Text from Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
is in the public domain.
Copyright © 1999, 2001,
2011 by Ramon