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Vixen

 

A female fox.

 

VI

 

(PG-53: dp. 3,097; 1. 333'2"; b. 46'7"; dr. 16'0"; s. 15 k.; cpl. 279; a. 4 3", 7 .50-cal. mg., 2 .30-cal. mg., 2 dct.)

 

Orion—a steel-hulled yacht built in 1929 at Kiel, Germany, by Krupp Germania Werft—was purchased from woolen manufacturer Julius Forstmann on 13 November 1940. Converted to a gunboat at Brooklyn, N.Y., by the Sullivan Drydock and Repair Co., the erstwhile pleasure craft was renamed Vixen and designated PG-53. Commissioned at her conversion yard on 25 February, with Comdr. Pal L. Meadows in command, Vixen got underway for the Caribbean on 5 March 1941.

 

During her shakedown cruise, the gunboat called at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before heading north for Norfolk. She then cruised up the eastern seaboard to New London, Conn., and back to Norfolk again before she returned to New London on 23 May to assume duties as flagship for Commander, Submarines, Atlantic Fleet, Rear Admiral Richard S. Edwards.

 

The graceful gunboat served Admiral Edwards through the spring, summer, and fall months of the critical year, 1941. During this time, she participated in ceremonies off the Isle of Shoals, New Hampshire, on 22 June, honoring the deceased crew of 0-9—a training submarine which had gone down during practice diving tests on 20 June and had failed to surface. From 30 July to 13 August, she took part in Fleet maneuvers off New River, N.C.; voyaged to Bermuda in October; and cruised to Argentia, Newfoundland; and Casco Bay, Maine, before returning to New London on 6 December—the day before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

Vixen remained at New London until 20 December, when Commander, Submarines, Atlantic, hauled down his flag. That day, the gunboat got underway for Newport, R.I., where she went alongside the recently vacated flagship Augusta (CA-31) to pick up Admiral Ernest J. King's papers and belongings for transportation to the Washington Navy Yard. Earlier that day, King had flown from Quonset Point, R.I., to Washington to commence his tour of duty as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. Vixen got underway on the day after Christmas and arrived at the nation's capital on the 28th. Two days later, on 30 December, Admiral King broke his four-starred flag at Vixen's main. The gunboat served as his flagship, berthed at the Washington Navy Yard, until 17 June 1942 when she was relieved by Dauntless (PG-61).

 

While Vixen was undergoing the refit which followed, Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, was laying plans for the yacht's future deployment. "I hope to get the Vixen in mid-July," he wrote an acquaintance on 10 June. "I will then be able to move to spots where there is more activity than here, and where I can see people, without their having to come to the 'mountain.' "

 

Vixen embarked Admiral Ingersoll at Newport on 21 July and got underway for Boston in company with Charles F. Hughes (DD-428). Over the subsequent months, the ship ranged up and down the eastern seaboard from Maine to the Caribbean isles. Calling at Portland, Maine; New London; Philadelphia; New York; Norfolk; Portsmouth, N.H.; Bermuda; the Dominican Republic; Trinidad; Curacao—the ship's itinerary showed clearly that Ingersoll had mobility and was utilizing it to the fullest. From this base of operations, Ingersoll kept his finger on the pulse of German U-boat activity and the problems confronting the officers and ships under his command. Under his sagacious leadership, the Atlantic Fleet slowly, but surely, turned the tide against the dreaded Nazi submarines. His close contact with his commanders enabled Ingersoll to know local conditions and thus to deploy his forces where they could be most useful.

 

On 15 November 1944, Admiral Jonas H. Ingram relieved Ingersoll as Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, and broke his flag in Vixen. Ingram, who had so successfully conducted United States-Brazilian relations during the period when he commanded American naval forces in the South Atlantic, would fly his flag in the gunboat through the end of hostilities, as the Atlantic Fleet continued to wear down the U-boat offensive. Vixen was decommissioned on 24 May 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 3 July 1946. Transferred to the War Shipping Administration, Vixen was sold on 21 January 1947.

 

__________

 

On 16 June 1943, PC-826—formerly Vixen—was renamed Venture (q.v.) and redesignated PYc-51.

 

 


Vixen (PG-53) at Philadelphia, 11 April 1944.