Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mine Sweeping Launches (MSL) in action 1950′s and 1960′s

Here are some photos of the U.S. Navy’s Mine Sweeping Launches (MSL) both at the Boeing Factory in the mid-Fifties being outfitted in a Seattle shipyard, and later underway in Sasebo and the Phillipines.

The first photo shows the 36′ MSL being tested following installation of Boeing Gas Turbine engines 502-10C and outfitted with all its gear at the Seattle shipyard in the mid-late 1950′s. Note the hull numbers have not been painted on the bow and stern yet. The photo below is a close up of the Boeing 502-10C main propulsion engine:

Sometime around 1958 twenty MSL’s were delivered to MINPAC Long Beach, CA for acceptance and eventually trans-shipped to Sasebo, Japan Mine Division 33.

Mine Division 33 was preceded by Mine Division 111 in Sasebo, Japan. Mine Division 111 in Sasebo, Japan was created on the date the Korean War ended in August 1953. Prior to the desgination as Mine Division 111 on that date, the division was designated as Mine Sweeping Boat Division ONE in Sasebo, Japan. In 1950 and into 1951 the boat division was born as COMINRON THREE Boat Division and operated in the early months of the Korean War under that designation. Originally, two 40′ Motor Launches shanghied from the U.S.S. Boxer, and fourteen LCVP’s delivered by the U.S.S. Catamount made up the complement of mine sweeping boats for most of the Korean War. 50′ motor launches that were highly modified by the Ship Repair Depot in Sasebo (decks and pilot houses added) in search of the ideal mine sweeping boat specifications, started arriving in 1953. These were designated as Mine Sweeping Motor Launch (MSML) and the hull designations were abbreviated MS.

This was edicted by the Navy brass, since BUSHIPS designed an entirely new craft 57′, in the early 1950′s designated as MSB’s and could not leave the Korean War boats, some of which actually swept as many as  84 mines in combat, with the combat earned designation of Mine Sweeping Boats! Stay tuned for the BUSHIPS debacle that was the 57′ MSB, which failed it primary mission as a Harbor and Channel Minesweeper, and failed the logistics of being carried to war on mine sweeping mother ships.

The MSL’s were delivered to Sasebo, Japan and were transported around SE Asia on LSD’s primarily, as they had been transported throughout the Korean War. Actually, early in the Korean War an LST had been modified as COMINRON THREE flagship, and carried the two motor launches and fourteen LCVP’s, but it was determined winching these in open seas up to the tank deck in the LST’s was too difficult, and next to impossible in stormy seas. So, they gravitated to using LSD’s, and hoisting them aboard with their cranes, placing the MSL’s on prefabricated wheeled skids in the well deck. The MSL’s lacked the flat bottoms of LCVP’s, and did not have skegs to protect their propellers, and therefore could not be turnbucled down directly on the well deck like the LCVP’s and motor launches were transported. BUSHPS made the same mistake with the 57′ MSB design a curved bottom.

MSL’s on wheeled skids in the well deck of U.S.S. Epping Forest. The Epping Forest, LSD-4 in Korea, re-designated MCS-7 in 1961 when she was transferred to MINPAC as Mine Countermeasures Support ship = MCS. The same mine sweeping mother ship duties that approximately17 LSD’s performed in Korea.

MSL-13 being hoisted aboard U.S.S. Epping Forest in Vietnam 1967

MSL’s maneuvering in harbor circa 1965 Sasebo or Subic Bay.

Posted in Boeing Gas Turbine, Mine Division 33, Mine Sweeping Launches 36', USS Epping Forest | 1 Comment