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Agile / Aggressive Class Ocean Minesweepers (MSO)
Model featured: MSO-448 USS Illusive
- circa Korean War -
As a result of the Korean war experience, the United States
undertook large scale construction of a new series of minesweepers. During the
1950s sixty-five new minesweepers were built Designated MSO (Minesweeper, Ocean),
consisted of three major classes of ships:
In contrast to the steel-hulled minesweepers of WWII, (designated AM, later MSF) the new minesweepers were built mostly of wood with bronze and stainless steel fittings to minimize their magnetic signature.
All of the 1950 era MSOs had UQS-1 mine-locating sonar which was later updated with SQQ-14 sonar. MSOs were capable of sweeping for moored, bottom contact, magnetic and acoustic mines.
In the early 1970s, MSOs were modernized by replacing UQS-1 sonar with SQQ-14 sonar. Additional space on the foc'sle was needed for installation of the SQQ-14 cabling so the 40mm Bofors bow gun was replaced with a mount for a 20mm MG. Two PAP-104 cable-guided undersea tools were added to the already vast array of mechanical equipment. Also, two 40hp Zodiacs were carried for the purpose of mooring the new sonar reflectors. Finally a team of Mine Clearance Divers was added.
All United States ships of this class have now been disposed of. Four ships are still in service with Taiwan and possibly one with Italy.
AM / MSO-448 "USS Illusive"
Launched in July 1952 and commissioned 14 November 1953 as AM-448, USS Illusive was one of the new class of wooden hulled minesweepers designed by Philip L. Rhodes to counter the new magnetic and acoustic influence mines. After doing shake-down cruises during 1954, she entered Long Beach shipyard for extensive modifications. Reclassified as MSO-448 in 1955 (Ocean Minesweeper), she continued to operate out of Long Beach until again entering the yard in November 1956 - this time to replace her engines with experimental Packards. She was engaged in engineering evaluation trials until May 1957 - after which the Packards were replaced with Waukasha diesels.
In August 1957 she sailed for her first deployment to the Far East and, with the 7th Fleet, took part in joint exercises with Japanese naval units and later the Chinese Nationalist Navy. The following year she took part in a large amphibious exercise off Camp Pendleton, USA.
In 1960 Illusive did a second deployment to the Western Pacific where she was involved in maneuvers off Japan, the Philippines and Okinawa. In 1961 the ship again returned to the Far East where she was particularly active in training South Vietnamese Navy personnel.
In 1963 she took part in 7th fleet training with Korean, Nationalist Chinese and Japanese minesweepers. 1964 was spent with more overhaul - which was followed by refresher training off California's southern coast.
In 1965 Illusive stood out of Subic Bay to join "Market Time Patrol" which attempted to stop the coastal flow of contraband by junks and boats to the Vietcong along the full length of Vietnam's 1,000 mile coastline.
In 1987-88 USS Illusive was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of "Operation Earnest Will", which was designed to escort oil tankers that had been re-flagged as belonging to Kuwait. There she joined mine sweeping operations with MSO-437 USS Enhance, MSO-438 USS Esteem, MSO-442 USS Fearless, MSO-456 USS Inflict, MSO-488 USS Conquest and the Belgian minesweepers M906 Breydel and M909 Francois Bovesse. The crews performed extremely well in very demanding conditions and cleared hundreds of mines from the international waterway. Illusive was decommissioned in 1990 and sold for scrapping to Sea Witch Salvage for $12,000 in 1993.
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