Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Frequently Asked Questions page.

WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

USS Pirate; Navy Department Press Release of October 17, 1950:
Two U.S. Navy Minesweepers Sink After Striking Mines Off Korea

Related Documents: USS Pirate: Loss of

Washington 25, D.C. No. 1278-50

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       OCTOBER 17, 1950                        LI 5-6700 Ext. 76161


Twelve U.S. Navy personnel are missing and one is dead, as a result of two minesweepers, the USS PIRATE and USS PLEDGE, striking mines almost simultaneously and sinking off Wonsan harbor on the east coast of Korea on October 12.

The two 185-foot, steel-hulled minesweepers struck separate mines within a period of six minutes shortly before noon (Korean time) while engaged in minesweeping operations with other vessels within three miles of the enemy-held island of Sin-do.

The PIRATE sank in about five minutes, and the PLEDGE within an hour.

Enemy coastal guns on Sin-do island opened fire on survivors in the water and on vessels which proceeded to their rescue. Other U.S. Navy surface ships and carrier-based planes in the area attacked and silenced the shore batteries before any survivors or rescue vessels were hit.

The high-speed minesweeper USS ENDICOTT and the minesweeper USS INCREDIBLE picked up the survivors. All were later transferred to the ENDICOTT and carried to hospital facilities at Pusan.

The next of kin of the 12 missing and one dead have been notified.

One other U.S. Navy minesweeper, the USS MAGPIE, was sunk; and two destroyers, the USS BRUSH and USS MANSFIELD, were damaged in recent weeks by striking mines off the east coast of Korea. The MAGPIE listed her casualties as 21 missing; the BRUSH as 11 dead, three missing and 10 injured; and the MANSFIELD, which first reported seven injured, later added 19 others as slightly injured.

The PIRATE was commanded by Lieutenant Cornelius E. McMullen, USN, of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Also aboard the PIRATE was Lieutenant Commander Bruce M. Hyatt, USNR, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Commander of Mine Division 32.

The PLEDGE was commanded by Lieutenant Richard O. Young, USN, whose mother, Mrs. Mary W. Young, lives in Inverness, Florida.

The dead (USS PLEDGE):

Martin Joseph Nowak, Radarman, Second Class, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Nowak, Niagra Falls, New York.

The missing (USS PLEDGE):

Richard Thomas McCoy, Radarman, First Class, USN, brother of Mrs. Cozette E. Bassett, Los Angeles, California.

Kenneth Eugene Galley, Fireman, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles John Galley, North Irwin, Pennsylvania.

Bernice Cauthen, Engineman, Third Class, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roach Cauthen, Monroe, North Carolina.

Vern Harris Fuller, Engineman, Second Class, USN, husband of Mrs. Ardythe Lorraine Fuller, Yokosuka, Japan.

Robert William Turner, Chief Engineman, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Francis Turner, Juniata, Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Marcel Albert Smith, Damage Controlman, Third Class, USN, husband of Mrs. Esther Lalena Smith, Bell Gardens, California.

The missing (USS PIRATE):

Earl Joseph Mocklin, Commissaryman, First Class, USN, son of Mrs. John Mocklin, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Robert John Nelson, Fireman Apprentice, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Nelson, San Francisco, California.

John Norman Thomson, Electrician's Mate, Third Class, USN, son of Mr. & Mrs. John Thomson, Dundalk, Maryland.

Adrian Warren Johnson, Machinist's Mate, First Class, USN, husband of Mrs. Ophelia Ann Johnson, Houston, Texas.

Gerald George Smith, Fireman, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Raymond Smith, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Alfred Lewis Coleman, Fireman, USN, son of Mrs. Lillie Bernice Taylor Coleman, Lucedale, Mississippi.

Source: DOD Office of Public Information Immediate Release, 17 October 1950, USS Pirate File, Box 474, Ships History Division, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.
10 April 2001