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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Menemsha

 

A bight in Gay Head, Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts.

 

(AG‑39: dp. 2,580; l. 261'; b. 43'6"; dr. 20'3"; s. 10 k.; a. 14", 4 .50 cal. mg., 4 .30 cal. mg., 2 dcp.)

 

Menemsha (AG‑39) was built as Lake Orange by McDougall‑Duluth Co., Duluth, Minn., in 1918; purchased as John Gehm by the Maritime Commission from her owners, Bison Steamship Corp., Buffalo, N.Y., in 1941; acquired by the Navy 19 September 1941; renamed Menemsha and classified AG‑39 on 15 October 1941; converted from a lake cargo hauler to a weather patrol ship by Maryland Drydock Co.. Baltimore, Md.; and commissioned under loan to the U.S. Coast Guard 20 January 1942.

 

Assigned to duty with the North Atlantic Weather Patrol, Menemsha patrolled various at‑sea weather stations out of Boston and Argentia, Newfoundland. Averaging about 3 weeks a patrol, she braved the perils of the storm‑tossed Atlantic and the menace of German U‑boats to gather valuable weather data from her isolated positions.

 

In addition, Menemsha maintained a constant alert for the enemy undersea raiders as well as for survivors from torpedoed ships. While patrolling south of Newfoundland 20 August 1942, she rescued the only five survivors from the British merchant ship Arletta, torpedoed by U‑458 on 4 August while a straggler from convoy ON 115. Menemsha returned the survivors to Boston 25 August.

 

Almost 1‑year later Menemsha, on a weather patrol, sighted a German submarine. As she steamed about midway between the Virginia Capes and the Azores on the moonlit night of 11 August 1943, her lookout spotted a surfaced sub, U‑760, about 6,000 yards off her starboard bow. She closed for attack and began shelling the U‑boat with 4‑inch gunfire. During the next half hour she chased the enemy which responded with “incoherent recognition signals” rather than with torpedoes or return fire. The determined weather patrol ship fired 20 rounds, one of which struck close aboard the fleeing sub’s conning tower.

 

Menemsha broke off attack after suspecting the presence of other enemy U‑boats in the area. She rendezvoused with a hunter‑killer group, headed by Croatan (CVE‑25), at noon the 12th; however, patrolling aircraft and escorting destroyers failed to flush U‑760 who interned herself on the Spanish coast 8 September.

 

The Navy transferred Menemsha to the Coast Guard 22 October 1943 and she was commissioned as USCGC Menemsha (WAG‑274). Her name was struck from the Navy list 30 October 1943. After long and valuable service in the Coast Guard, she was scrapped in 1951.