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Updated: 8 November 2011.

ARC-1, Yamacraw (ARC-5) & Nashawena (AG-142)
Extracts from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,
Coast Artillery Journal,
and
Short discussion of Army Coast Artillery and Signal Corps cable ships
with complete list of the ARC designation.


Portunus (ARC-1)

Portunus (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 (AGP-4), is well worth reading.

The second ship, Portunus (ARC-1), started as LSM-275 commissioned 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:

Yamacraw (ARC-5)

ex-U.S. Coast Guard vessel Yamacraw (WARC-333)
ex-Navy vessel
Trapper (ACM-9)
ex-Army AMPS
Maj. Gen. Arthur Murray
with a brief appearance at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a geophysical research vessel

USS Yamacraw (ARC-5)
Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn N.Y. circa 1964
Photo provided by three brothers who sailed aboard
Yamacraw: Victor, Darrell and Barnie Edens

Yamacraw (ARC-5) has an interesting history and something in common with Neptune and Albert J. Myer. She started life in the Army. 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. Hunt), no 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 Virginia.

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 station.

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 construction throughout.



The general statistical data on the new vessels is as follows:

Length over all
188' 2"
Beam
37'
Mean Draft (full load)
11' 6"
Speed per hour
13.5



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.

The 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 Volunteers.

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 Nation.

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, to Japan.



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, Yamacraw, 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. The U.S. Coast Guard Retiree Newsletter offers some clues. In October 2001 BMCM Charles A. Cheverie (ret) wrote:


USCGC 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 years?


Then the April 2002 Evening Colors, A Newsletter for Coast Guard and NOAA Retirees, has responses:


Editors 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:

I 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.):

and

I 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 Portugal.

I 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.)

Interesting, 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 had 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:

TRACK 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.

Authors: W. M. Dunkle; K. G. Bumpus; WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION MASS



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)

DTIC 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 the picture.

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 Yamacraw 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 Corps vessel.



* * * *

Nashawena (AG-142)

Nashawena is the ship with most in common with Albert J. Myer and William H. G. Bullard origins -- she was built as the Army Signal Corps cable layer William A. Glassford.
In addition to the DANFS entry for Nashawena there is a very small bit of additional information. She never carried an "ARC" designation. Jane's 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.

*******

Army Cable Ships

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 pages).
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!
Glassford and 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:

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.

ARC List

# linked to NavSource

Names with link to Naval Historical Center's DANFS

ARC-1

Portunus

ex LSM-275

ARC-2

Neptune (Also see Neptune page at this web site.)

ex-Army cable ship William H. G. Bullard

ARC-3

Aeolus

ex-Turandot ex-AKA 47

ARC-4

Thor

ex-Vanadis, ex-AKA 49

ARC-5

Yamacraw

ex-Trapper (ACM-9); ex-Army mine planter Maj. Gen. Arthur Murray

ARC-6

Albert J Myer (Also see Albert J. Myer page at this web site.)

ex-Army cable ship Albert J. Myer

ARC-7

Zeus

First ship built as a Navy cable ship - active, but obsolescent. Commercial firms use pure stern layers. See Cable Innovator. In particular see the stern view photo. It is a bit disorienting! No, that is not the bow.



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