UNITED STATES SHIP

USS CONSTANT

MSO - 427 

FIRM OR STEADFAST

Commissioning Crew of the Constant - 1954
Courtesy of Robert Williams

 

From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

AM 427: dp.620, 172 b.36 dr. 10s. 15 k. cpl. 74a 1 X 40mm. cl.Agile

The second Constant (AM-427) was launched 14 February 1953 by Fulton shipyard, Antioch, Calif.; 427 sponsored by Mrs. D. A. Webster; commissioned 8 September 1954, Lieutenant Commander R. M. Weymer in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

Reclassified MSO-427 on 7 February 1955, CONSTANT operated on the west coast until she cleared Long Beach 4 January 1956 for Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka, arriving 4 February. She joined in amphibious exercises at Iwo-Jima, made repairs to cables and conducted minesweeping and local operations from her base in Sasebo until 28 March.  Between 2 April and 19 May, she sailed in training exercises with naval forces of the Republic of china based on Kaosiung, Taiwan. She returned to Sasebo 20 April to resume operations in Japanese waters until 19 May, when she cleared Yokosuka for Long Beach, arriving 15 June. After overhaul and west coast operations, CONSTANT sailed from Long Beach 2 Jun 1958, for Sasebo and duty in minesweeping off Okinawa, as well as other local operations, from 3 July to 30 August. She stood by at Taiwan from 2 September until 27 October during the Quemoy Crisis, then called at Hong Kong, before returning to Japan. She cleared Yokosuka 12 December for Long Beach arriving 6 January 1959. Through the remainder of 1959, and the first half of 1960, she operated locally from Long Beach. On 31 August CONSTANT sailed for duty in the Far East, where she remained into 1961.

On 4 October 1965, CONSTANT commenced a two month overhaul.  Dock and sea trials were conducted 19-22 November and the yard overhaul was completed on 3 December 1965.  CONSTANT was assigned to the ready force of the First Fleet.  CONSTANT entered Fellows and Stewarts Shipyard on 18 April 1966 for installation of air conditioning.  With this accomplishment 8 May 1966, final preparations were made for the forthcoming Westpac deployment.

CONSTANT departed Long Beach on 16 May 1966 for what was to be her sixth and longest deployment to the Western Pacific via Pearl Harbor, Johnston Is., Kwajalein and Guam.  CONSTANT completed the transit to Westpac and departed Subic Bay, P.I. on 5 July 1966 for her first of four Market Time patrols.  CONSTANT spent a total of 121 days in the waters adjacent to South Vietnam while assigned to this force.  The Westpac itinerary included an interim dry dock availability in Sasebo, Japan and a six day R & R visit to Hong Kong, B. C. C.   CONSTANT departed Subic Bay, P. I., on 22 February 1967 for the reverse transit to the United States, arriving Long Beach to a most warm homecoming on 4 April 1967.  In July 1972, CONSTANT was transferred to the Naval Reserve Force and has been home-ported in San Diego, California since September 1980 as a unit of Mine Division 54.  To avoid detonation of magnetic influences mines, CONSTANT and her sister ships are constructed entirely of wood and non-magnetic metals.  Her solid construction includes eight-inch, laminated white oak framing, a twelve-inch douglas fir keel, and hull planking of douglas fir four to eight inches thick.  Fastened and caulked for water-tightness, she is one of the largest wooden vessels afloat.  During her history, CONSTANT participated in extensive wartime operations along the Viet Nam coast and minesweeping exercises along our western coastline.  Recently CONSTANT took part in the Rim of the Pacific exercise conducted in 1984 where she teamed in company with seven other MSO's from San Francisco, Calif. to the Hawaiian Islands, the first minesweepers to do so in over ten years.  In May 1985, CONSTANT departed San Diego on an extended deployment to the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Island chain where she operated in various multi-ship mine-warfare exercises.  CONSTANT visited Seattle, WA., prior to her return to San Diego in August.  Commencing in the fall of 1987, she began training personnel in minesweeping operation for the Persian Gulf, until the three MSO's returned to Seattle in 1990.  She received the Viet Nam Medal and 4 stars.

 

Creation of Minesweep Names

World War I sparked unprecedented naval ship construction, principally in destroyers and submarines, to protect a massive sealift effort--the "bridge of ships"--across the Atlantic to Europe. Additionally, the development of mine warfare necessitated the introduction of a new type of ship, the minesweeper. A new type of ship required a new name source. The then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, took a keen interest in amateur ornithology. This led him to select bird names as the name source for these new ships, and "F.D.R." signed the General Order assigning names to the first 36 ships of the Lapwing class. The ships that bore these colorful names served as the backbone of the Navy's mine force for the next quarter century; many earned honors in World War II.

As World War II approached, and ship construction programs began to include new types of ships, these required new name sources; others required a modification of existing name sources to meet a perceived shortage of "appropriate" names. Minesweepers were now being built and converted in large numbers. Perhaps fearing an exhaustion of suitable bird names, the Navy also used "general word classification" names such as Adept, Bold, and Agile, for new sweepers. This began a dual naming tradition that extended beyond World War II. Modern mine countermeasures ships are intended to detect and destroy all types of mines; they bear such names as Avenger, Guardian, and Dextrous. Coastal minehunters, similar in concept but designed for use in coastal waters, carry bird names (Osprey, Raven). Some hundreds of small seagoing minesweepers, built during World War II, were at first known only by their hull numbers. After the war, those remaining in the Fleet were reclassified and given bird names; thus, the wartime YMS 311 became Robin (AMS 53).

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