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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Woodcock

 

A game bird that frequents wooded areas.

 

(Minesweeper No. 14: dp. 950 (n.) ; l. 187'10"; b. 35'6"; dr. 9'9½ " (mean); s. 14.0 k.; cpl. 85; a. 2 3"; cl. Lapwing)

 

Woodcock (Minesweeper No. 14) was laid down on 19 October 1917 at Chester, Pa., by the Chester Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 12 May 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Lewis T. Kniskern; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 19 February 1919, Lt. (jg-) W. J. Fanger in command.

 

After performing experimental minesweeping work at Newport, R.I., and tending lightships at New York, Woodcock sailed for the Orkney Islands and reached Kirkwall, Scotland, on 10 July 1919. Over the ensuing months, the ship operated in the North Sea on mine-sweeping duties with the Atlantic Fleet's minesweeping detachment. During that time, Woodcock spent 54 days in the minefields and 28 in port for needed upkeep and voyage repairs occasioned by the heavy weather often encountered by the ships of the detachment.

 

Upon conclusion of the sweeping operations, the ship returned to the east coast of the United States and operated with Mine Squadron 1, Mine Division 5, Atlantic Fleet, until she was decommissioned at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 5 May 1922. Meanwhile, she had been classified as AM-14 on 17 July 1920.

 

Woodcock remained in reserve at Portsmouth until recommissioned there on 21 February 1924. She then became station ship at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to support Marine Corps peace-keeping forces there. As such, Woodcock was one of the three Lapwing-class ships re-commissioned for service as gunboats. Her sisterships, Penguin (AM-33) and Pigeon (AM-47), were sent to the Asiatic Fleet for duty with the Yangtze Patrol.

 

Outside of yearly return voyages to a navy yard in the United States such as that of Charleston, S.C., for repairs and alterations, Woodcock remained in Haitian waters, based on Port-au-Prince, through the spring of 1934. That summer, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to pull the Marine Corps occupation force —a veritable fixture in Haitian history since August 1916—out of Haiti, Woodcock took part in that important troop lift. On 15 August 1934, amidst impressive shoreside ceremonies and "most friendly feelings displayed by the populace," Woodcock—in company with Bridge (AF-1), Argonne (AS-10), and Army transport Chateau Thierry—embarked 79 officers and 747 enlisted men of the 1st Marine Brigade, the last of the occupation troops, and eventually took them back to the United States, thus closing a colorful chapter in Marine Corps history.

 

Soon thereafter, the minesweeper—or quasi-gunboat —shifted to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She served as a district craft—occasionally exercising with the fleet during its winter maneuvers and participating in some of the Fleet's amphibious exercises under the aegis of the Commandant, 15th Naval District, through the outbreak of war in Europe in the autumn of 1939.

 

During World War II, Woodcock operated under the auspices of the Panama Sea Frontier command, working between the Canal Zone and New Orleans. While performing towing, salvage, and local escort duties, she assisted vessels in distress and stood by to protect them until help arrived. During her service in gulf waters, the ship was twice reclassified—first becoming an ocean-going tug, AT-145, on 1 June 1942; then an ocean-going tug (old), ATO-145, on 15 May 1944.

 

Following the war, Woodcock continued local operations out of Cristobal and called at the Galapagos Islands in the spring of 1946. Retained until the arrival of Recovery (ARS-43), Woodcock performed her final towing service that summer. She took YR-64 from Cristobal to New York, reaching the latter port on 27 August 1946. After getting underway the following day, Woodcock headed south; arrived at Charleston on 31 August; and reported to Commandant, 6th Naval District, for disposition.

 

Decommissioned at Charleston on 30 September 1946, Woodcock was struck from the Navy list on 23 April 1947 and transferred to the Maritime Commission on 4 August of the same year. She was sold to the Potomac Shipwrecking Co., Inc., of Pope's Creek, Md., on 19 December 1947.