The photo below shows an MSL from Mine Division 33 during Operation Back Pack off Taiwan in February 1964. I was assigned as the second SN on MSL-14 and took this picture with my Brownie Hawkeye from the Stern Deck of MSL-14. My first mine exercise, I was being taught by Stroud SN who is on the bow communicating via semaphore with other MSL’s in the formation. The Boat Captain on the port side coxswain platform is BM2 Birchfield, and the sailor sitting on the starboard gunwale is Nelson EM3 or EM2 the boat electrician. I believe the sailor crouching forward inside, is likely the fifth crew member, an Engineman.
Stroud, the SN on the bow, is reading the signalled semaphore message indicated by his raised arm. His semaphore flags are likely in his right hand. The Element Commander of five MSL’s is likely signalling an upcoming turn. The navigation “balls” indicate we are towing gear on both port and starboard sides, a signal for civilian traffic to stay clear. The main propulsion engine, a Boeing 502-10C gas turbine is in the foreground. At full power when towing, the 502-10C generates 110-130db of noise similar to any jet engine. The power package loaded forward, is a diesel powered generator powering our acoustic minesweeping hammer, a noisemaker when towed far behind, is intended to explode acoustic mines well aft of the boat. We are also streaming moored Oropesa sweep gear.