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Whippoorwill

 

A small nocturnal bird common to the eastern United States, so-called for its reiterated cry

 

II

 

(MSC-207: dp. 412; l. 145'; b. 28'; dr. 12'; s. 12.8 k.; cpl. 40; a. 1 20mm., 2 .50-cal. nig., 1 81mm. M.; cl. Redwing)

 

The second Whippoorwill (MSC-207) was laid down on 7 January 1954 at Bellingham, Wash., by the Bell-ingham Shipyards Co. as AMS-207; launched on 13 August 1954; sponsored by Mrs. Walter A. Yatch; reclassified MSC-207 on 7 February 1955; and commissioned at Tacoma, Wash., on 20 October 1955, Lt. (jg.) Tom I. Kolstad in command.

 

On 7 November, the mine countermeasures ship reported for duty with the Commander, Mine Force, Pacific Fleet. Over the next 10 months, she first conducted shakedown training along the west coast and then began normal duty with the Mine Force out of Long Beach, Calif. That duty lasted until 1 August 1956, when she departed Long Beach for her new home port, Sasebo, Japan. After stops at Oahu and Midway, the coastal minesweeper arrived at Sasebo on 21 August and reported for duty to the Commander, Mine Flotilla 1.

 

Whippoorwill was based in Japan for the next 14 years; and, during the first eight of those years, her duties centered upon training. She participated in numerous 7th Fleet mine exercises as well as many multinational mine exercises with units of the South Korean, Royal Thai, Japanese, Philippine, and Nationalist Chinese Navies. She also participated in several large amphibous training exercises conducted in Korea, the Philippines, and at Okinawa in the Ryukyus.

 

Her one brush with less than peaceful duty came in the fall of 1958 when the Chinese communists began and continued their bombardment of Nationalist-held islands—Quemoy, Little Quemoy, and Matsu—located just off the mainland. Whippoorwill earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for her service in the Taiwan Strait during the crisis there that fall. Her service in the Taiwan Strait lasted from 10 September until 4 November when tension in the area finally began to cool. Upon concluding her servce in the Taiwan Strait, she resumed her more peaceful employment in training missions with the 7th Fleet and units of Allied navies.

 

The year 1964 brought the ship still closer to actual "hot war" operations. From 16 July to 2 August 1964, Whippoorwill joined a barrier patrol established in the South China Sea off the coast of South Vietnam to assist the South Vietnamese Navy in preventing water-borne infiltrators and logistics from North Vietnam from reaching the Viet Cong rebels in the south. During that phase of American involvement, the Navy's role remained essentially passive in nature. While American ships such as Whippoorwill stopped no craft themselves, they vectored South Vietnamese ships in on suspicious contacts.

 

Though the barrier patrols were dissolved on 2 August, and Whippoorwill resumed her familiar training schedule, events occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin that same day which increased American involvement in the Vietnamese civil war and eventually brought Whippoorwill into intimate association with that conflict over the next six years. After nine months of normal 7th Fleet operations, the minesweeper returned to Vietnamese waters on 18 April 1965 as one of the American ships assigned to Operation "Market Time." That operation consisted of continuous patrols along South Vietnamese coasts in an effort to interdict the increasing volume of arms and supplies being smuggled from the north into South Vietnam in support of Viet Cong guerrillas.

 

In many respects, Whippoorwill's "Market Time" duties resembled the barrier patrols she had conducted the previous summer. However, they differed from those patrols in two major respects. First, as a result of the increasingly direct involvement of American forces in the Vietnam conflict, ships on "Market Time" station actively participated in stop-and-seizure operations rather than limiting themselves to surveillance and passive assistance to the South Vietnamese Navy. Secondly, as a result of the increased communist logistic effort from north to south, "Market Time" operations became a continuous and intensive assignment. Until she returned to the United States in the fall of 1970, Whippoorwill's sole mission in the Vietnam conflict consisted of "Market Time" patrols. She alternated month-long tours on station in Vietnamese waters with assignments of variable duration at other points in the Orient. Most often these missions away from Vietnam consisted of mine warfare exercises, upkeep and liberty calls in Japanese ports, and periodic overhauls. Less frequently, they consisted of port calls at other places in the Far East.

 

On 1 September 1970, Whippoorwill concluded her final tour of duty along the coast of Vietnam. She steamed home—via Sasebo, Subic Bay, and Pearl Harbor—and arrived in Long Beach, Calif., on 12 November. After voyage repairs, she moved to San Francisco where she was decommissioned on 15 December 1970. Decommissioning, however, did not end her active naval service, for she joined Thrasher (MSC-203) and Reaper (MSO-467) as a reserve training ship in Reserve Mine Division 52. For almost five years, she operated out of Treasure Island Naval Station training naval reservists during their annual active duty periods. On 2 May 1975, Whippoorwill moved from San Francisco to the Inactive Ship Facility at Vallejo, Calif., where she was deactivated completely by 30 June 1975. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1975, and she was sold to the Republic of Singapore. As of August 1979, she served the Republic of Singapore Navy as RSS Jupiter.

 

Whippoorwill received six battle stars and the Meritorious Unit Commendation for Vietnam service.