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When I was growing up, I knew very little about my dad’s time in the Navy. Beyond seeing photos of him dressed in his Navy Blues when he married my mom, his Navy history was only a vague notion to me. I knew only two things, really: 1. that he’d helped pull some men out of the ocean; and B. that he was on a minesweeper. Of course, my adolescent brain conflated those two facts… that while he was on the minesweeper, he helped pull men from shark-infested ocean waters. (I’m pretty sure that the sharks were my idea.)
To be honest, this ignorance of his service lasted well into my thirties. OK… to really be honest, it lasted until after I’d turned 60, when I began investigating the events of 11 May 1944, when the ship he was aboard at the time, the USS Zircon (PY-16), came to the aid of a burning, exploding Navy lighter, the USS YF-415, just outside Boston Harbor. (I write about that here.)
It wasn’t until I began this research that I learned that his role in the rescue of fourteen men from the YF-415 took place when he was aboard a weather-reporting ship, the Zircon, and not a minesweeper. Of the three and a-half years he served in the Navy, his time aboard the minesweeper, the USS YMS-75, accounted for less than five months of his total duty. I find it curious that his most exciting, consequential moments in the Navy came while he was aboard the Zircon, but he chose to tell me that he worked on “a minesweeper.”
As with my research with the Zircon, I hope to find out about the ninety to a hundred men who served on the YMS-75 during its nearly three-and-a-half years as a Navy vessel. I hope to uncover photos, maybe even some of my dad.
First, the bare essentials of the YMS-75‘s history and specifications (via NavSource Online):
• Built by: Weaver Brothers Shipyards (Orange, Texas)
• Ordered: 1 April 1941
• Laid down 22 July 1941
• Launched 26 May 1942
• Commissioned 22 February 1943
• Decommissioned 18 July 1945
• Transferred to the USSR on 19 July 1945 and reclassified T-590
• Assigned to the Northern Pacific Fleet 30 July 1945
• Participated in the 11 – 25 August 1945 offensive, Yuzhno-Sakhalin, Japan
• Placed out of service 1 September 1955 and laid up
• Struck from the Soviet Navy list 25 June 1956
• Sunk in the Tartar Strait between 28 – 30 June 1956 (in agreement with the United States)
• Struck from the Naval Registry 29 October 1956
The ship’s specifications…
Displacement: 270 tons
Length: 136 feet (41.4528 meters)
Beam: 24.5 feet (7.47 meters)
Draft: 8 feet (2.4 meters)
Speed: 15 knots
Armament: One 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount, two 20mm mounts, and two depth charge projectors
Propulsion: Two 880bhp General Motors 8-268A diesel engines, Snow and Knobstedt single reduction gear, two shafts.
Minesweepers with hull numbers YMS-66 through YMS-75 were built at Weaver Brothers Shipyards in Orange, Texas, just across the Sabine River from Louisiana. Likely, the ships were identical or very close to it. Below are the YMS-72, YMS-71, and YMS-74.
As best as I can tell, the YMS-75’s Commanding Officer at the time it was commissioned was Lieutenant Richard Rex Parkin, USNR.