Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The U.S. Navy’s Ocean Minesweepers, 1953-1994 and
Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The U.S. Navy’s Coastal and Motor Minesweepers, 1941-1953

By Cdr. David D. Bruhn, USN (Ret.)

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Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The U.S. Navy’s Ocean Minesweepers, 1953-1994 – David Bruhn

From 1953-1994, sixty-five U.S. Navy ocean minesweepers (MSOs) swept mines; searched the seafloor for downed aircraft, sunken ships, and lost munitions; showed the flag throughout the world, even sailing up the Congo and Mekong Rivers, calling at dozens of the world’s seaports; and carried out patrols and special tasks off strife-torn or hostile countries. Some participated in the 1962 nuclear test program in the Pacific and in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. Others, as part of a U.S. armada of military and civilian research ships at Palomares, located a nuclear bomb lost on the seafloor off Spain as a result of a midair collision between two U.S. Air Force aircraft. Iron men in wooden ships were with the Fleet in hotspots around the world, including Lebanon and the Quemoy-Matsu Islands of Taiwan in 1958; the Dominican Republic in 1961 and 1965; and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Haiti in 1962. During the Vietnam War, minesweepers participated in Operation Market Time, to prevent the infiltration of North Vietnamese soldiers and munitions into South Vietnam. Leader received the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in Operation Sea Lords; Endurance engaged in close gun action with and helped destroy an enemy armed coastal freighter in a sea battle; and MSOs cleared mines in Haiphong Harbor, which aided in the negotiations in progress for the return of U.S. prisoners of war. During the twilight of their service in the late 1980s and early 1990s, aging sweeps cleared Iranian”and Iraqi”laid mines in the Persian Gulf.

NOW AVAILABLE:
ISBN 978-0-7884-3260-6
5½” x 8½”, paperback, 416 pp, 41 photos, 34 maps

$37.50 plus $7.00 shipping.
Phone (800) 876-6103 or (213) 537-4021
Fax: (410) 558-6574

Now available from Heritage Books at:
www.heritagebooks.com
Or send Visa/MC/Check to Heritage Books, Inc.,
100 Railroad Ave, Suite 104, Westminster, MD 21157

You may also read more about the book at my author’s website:
www.davidbruhn.com

Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The U.S. Navy’s Coastal and Motor Minesweepers, 1941-1953 – David Bruhn

Possessing insufficient minesweepers to protect U.S. harbors and bays as the threat of war in Europe spread, in the winter of 1939-40 the Navy began purchasing fishing vessels and modifying them to combat mines. One of them, Condor (AMc-14), first sighted the Japanese Type-A midget submarine that destroyer Ward (DD-139) sank on December 7, 1941 with the first shots fired by American forces during World War II. She would be one of six coastal minesweepers to receive a battle star. From boat- and shipyards across America came the largest production run of any World War II warship, 561 scrappy little 136-foot wooden-hulled vessels characterized by Arnold Lott in Most Dangerous Sea as “belligerent-looking yachts wearing grey paint.” Although their designers envisioned that they would operate primarily in the vicinity of yards or bases, the YMSs (too numerous to be given names) would see action in every theater of war, earning almost 700 battle stars, twenty-one Presidential Unit Citations, and fifteen Navy Unit Commendations. YMSs were present in the North African campaign, in Sicily, at Anzio, Salerno, and elsewhere in Italy, and swept ahead of invasion forces at Normandy and in Southern France. In the Pacific, they operated in the Marshall Islands, New Guinea, Solomons, Treasury Island, Gilbert Islands, New Britain, Admiralty Islands, Guam, Palau, Leyte, Luzon, Manila Bay, Iwo Jima, Southern Philippines, Okinawa, and Borneo. Following the war, they cleared mines from the East China Sea, Yangtze River approaches, and throughout Japanese waters, and their activities gave rise to the proud slogan of the mine force: “Where the Fleet Goes, We’ve Been.” During the Korean War, a mere sixteen auxiliary motor minesweepers (former YMSs) performed the bulk of mine clearance, often while inside the range of enemy coastal artillery, necessary for larger naval vessels to close the coast to support operations ashore. Garnering collectively 124 battle stars, seven Presidential Unit Citations, and seven Navy Unit Commendations, the men aboard these ships were then, and remain to date, the most highly decorated crews of minesweepers in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Book Dedication: To the “iron men” who have served since 1941in wooden-hulled minesweepers, and particularly those sweep sailors, many of them reservists, who went in harm’s way during World War II and the Korean War. I enjoyed researching and writing this book, and hope that readers and especially former minesweep sailors and their family members and friends enjoy it as much.

Sincerely,
David Bruhn

ISBN: 0788449095
2009, 5½x8½, paper, index, 368 pp.

$32.00 plus $7.00 shipping.
Phone (800) 876-6103 or (213) 537-4021
Fax: (410) 558-6574

Now available from Heritage Books at:
www.heritagebooks.com
Or send Visa/MC/Check to Heritage Books, Inc.,
100 Railroad Ave, Suite 104, Westminster, MD 21157

You may also read more about the book at my author’s website:
www.davidbruhn.com

Here are three photographs of the many paintings by Richard DeRosset used in the book: “Hidden Menace at Sin-Do Island” (the cover art), “Moonlit Assault in the Aegean” (depicting the German Luftwaffe attack on British Yard Minesweeper 72) and “Sea Battle off the Cua Co Chien River Mouth.” The latter event depicted by Richard is particularly significant in that it was the last occurrence in U.S. naval history in which a wooden ship engaged in a sea battle, the actions of the captain and crew were heroic, and it’s an event of which few people were aware.