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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Thomas Laundry

 

(Tr: t. 269; 1. 125'4"; b. 22'5"; dr. 12'2";  s. 10 k.; cl. "Castle")

 

Thomas Laundry—a steel-hulled screw steam trawler built in 1918 at Beverley, England, by Cook, Welton, and Gemmell, Ltd., for the British Admiralty—was leased by the United States Navy for service with the North Sea Minesweeping Detachment. Taken over at Falmouth, England, on 16 May 1919, Thomas Laundry was commissioned the same day, Lt. (jg.) Franz O. Willenbucher in command.

 

Arriving at Kirkwall, Scotland, the base for the detachment, on 27 May, via Plymouth, England, Thomas Laundry operated locally through June. On 7 July, the trawler departed Kirkwall for the minefields of the North Sea Mine Barrage and joined in the fourth phase of the extensive operations launched to clear the barrage that had once menaced German warships. While sweeping together with Thomas Buckley, a sister-ship, Thomas Laundry exploded a mine 75 yards astern at 2005 that evening. From the 8th through the 12th, the trawlers swept mines despite rough weather and frequently parting sweep wires.

 

Later that month, Thomas Laundry's duties assumed a support role as she delivered sweep wire, kites, and weights to minesweepers based at Kirkwall. The trawler also transported men and materiel between the Scottish ports of Inverness and Kirkwall in August before assuming local duties at the latter port again in September, delivering ammunition, guns, sweep wire, and lubricating oil to the ships engaged in the last of the sweeping operations to clear the barrage from the North Sea.

 

Eventually, Thomas Laundry shifted to Brighton, England, where she supported the deactivation of some of her sister ships. She transported the crews of William Caldwell and Thomas Blackhorne to Harwich on 6 October and that of Thomas Buckley to that same port on the 7th. At 1535 on 8 October 1919, Thomas Laundry was decommissioned at Brighton and returned to the Admiralty.