Epping Forest Unit Awards and Campaign Medals

Attached is information from OPNAV NOTICE 1650 Master List Of Unit Awards And Campaign Medals on the USS Epping Forest MCS-7. As 60′s and 70′s sailors know, the former LSD-4 was transferred from the Amphibious Forces to Mine Flotilla One in 1962, and homeported in Sasebo, Japan to serve as Flagship for the Commander Mine Flotilla ONE/COMINRON THREE. Our Commodore wore both hats from 1962 until 1970 when Mine Forces Pacific reorganized following the de-commissioning of the USS Epping Forest MCS-7, and the USS Catskill MCS-1 that replaced it.



Posted in Mine Division 33, OPNAV NOTICE 1650, Unit Awards, USS Catskill MCS-1, USS Epping Forest | Leave a comment

MSL Video 1959

MSL Video 1959

View MSL video here produced by the USN in 1959. this is one of a series of four videos produced by the Navy covering 36′ Mine Sweeping Launches for assault minesweeping in Rivers, 57′ Mine Sweeping Boats as Harbor and Channel Minesweepers, 145′ Mine Sweeper Coastal, and 172′ Mine Sweeper Ocean. These are all wooden hulled vessels specifically designed from experiences in the Korean War losing steel-hulled minesweepers to Russian magnetic mines.

Posted in Boeing Gas Turbine, Mine Division 33, Mine Sweeping Launches 36', USS Epping Forest, Vietnam | 2 Comments

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

History of Small Boat Minesweeping In The U.S. Navy

After writing a short history of the USS Epping Forest supporting mine sweeping boats I decided that the “History of Small Boat Minesweeping in the US Navy” was something I wanted to continue researching. I had hoped to document their history for posterity, so that these shipmates would not be relegated to the “dustbin of history”. Smaller USN units, particularly those involved with boats, do not meet the priority assigned to Naval Vessels in the historical community – no matter how many thousands of sailors served in these organizations over the years. In my resulting 10+ years of research, I have now interviewed >460 veterans, assembled >3,300 photos, nine movies, thousands of documents, books, magazine articles, and memorabilia associated with small boat minesweeping. I have discovered that the Mine Countermeasures Support (MCS) concept of the “minesweeping mother ship” was invented by Germany in WWI. This is a concept that the US Navy did not formalize until 1950, and did not make permanent until 1962 with the re-designation of the Epping Forest to MCS-7.

Since two brutal recessions have interfered with my ability to finish researching and writing more of the book (I needed to find employment as a result) the book research and writing have been limited, but I am still gaining more information as people read this article. I am planning on starting with a website which gives me the ability to share thousands of items that cannot be included in a book.

I may be contacted for information, or unique contributions of photos, memorabilia, documents, or any anecdotes you would feel worthy – in telling the history of small boat minesweeping.

Ed Sinclair – 2011

Posted in Epping Forest Boat Division, Mine Division 33, Mine Sweeping Launches 36', USN EOD, USS Epping Forest | Leave a comment