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History of USS Captor

Related Resource: History of Q-ships


(PYc-40: displacement 314 tons (gross); length 133'; beam 26'; speed 12.5 knots; complement 47; armament one 4-inch gun, two .50-caliber machine guns, four depth charge projectors)

Harvard--a steel-hulled trawler--was built in 1938 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Massachusetts, handed over to General Sea Foods Corporation, Boston, and put into service with the name Wave assigned.

The fishing trawler served in that capacity until 1 January 1942 when she was acquired by the Navy as part of the Auxiliary Vessels Act. Reporting to the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Navy Yard, the trawler began conversion to war service as a minesweeper on the 8th. With the work complete on 28 February, she was named Eagle, designated AM-132, and placed in commission 5 March 1942, Lt. Comdr. Leroy E. Rogers, USNR, in command.

Along with Atik (AK-101) and Asterion (AK-100), Eagle was selected early to participate in a secret "Q-ship" program. The intention was to disguise the ship as a defenseless civilian vessel and, after luring an enemy submarine into close quarters on the surface, open fire with hidden guns and sink the unsuspecting U-boat. For this reason, Eagle remained at Portsmouth, where she underwent further conversion into a Q-ship and received weapons and sonar gear. During this second conversion, the minesweeper was renamed Captor and redesignated PYc-40 on 18 April. With alterations complete on 19 May, the vessel reported for duty with the 1st Naval District at Boston.

Unlike the other four ships eventually in the Q-ship program, Captor did not sail in convoys or along coastal shipping routes. Instead, she operated in the waters near Boston--in Massachusetts Bay, north to Casco Bay, east to the Georges Bank, and south to Nantucket and Rhode Island Sounds. While at sea, the disguised Q-ship also helped cover the coastal convoy routes coming north from New York. As growing air and sea patrols had driven most U-boats away from the New England coast in May 1942, Captor had little chance to spot an enemy submarine and ended her wartime career without a single sighting.

With the decline in the U-boat threat to the east coast of the United States late in the war, Captor was decommissioned at Boston on 4 October 1944. Stricken from the Navy list on 14 October 1944, the trawler was transferred to the War Shipping Administration and sold on 21 February 1945. The ultimate fate of the ship is unknown.

30 July 2001