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USS Chief (MCM-14)

USS Chief (MCM-14) is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. The first, AMC-67, was renamed Bold in 1941; the second, AM-315, was commissioned on 09 October 1943 and earned five battle stars for World War II service and two for Korean War service. Placed out of commission on 7 February 1955, the ship was sold to Mexico and is currently serving in the Mexican Navy as Jesus Gonzalez Ortega (C83).

The vessels were named for the "head or leader of a group," but not specifically for the chief petty officer rank or grade. Many World War II minesweepers were given the names of positive qualities or words denoting accomplishments.

More than 4,000 people, including a host of chief petty officers, both active and retired, were on hand to note the coincidence of the new ship's name and watch as USS Chief begin her active Navy career Nov. 5, 1995, at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Va. The ship is the last of 14 Avenger-class ships.

Chiefs weren't just in the audience, though. They played an active role throughout the planning and execution of the ceremony.

There were several chiefs, active and retired, on the commissioning committee. There was an all-CPO color guard. The ushers were all chiefs. The courtesy vehicles were all driven by chiefs. The band consisted of 52 CPO musicians from all over the world. Most of them travelled at their own expense, just for the chance to participate in the event.

There was also a strong CPO presence on the speaker's platform. Joining other distinguished guests and speakers were
every living previous Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) and the current MCPON, Master Chief Electronics Technician (Surface Warfare) John Hagen.

"Chief. What a great name for a ship," said ADM Mike Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations and principal speaker at the ceremony. "The very name says it all. The best, number one, a winner in every way. Everyone knows the word leadership and the title of chief go together."

Mine Countermeasures Ships - MCM

Description: Ships designed to clear mines from vital waterways.

Background: In the early 1980s, the U.S. Navy began development of a new mine countermeasures (MCM) force, which included two new classes of ships and minesweeping helicopters. The vital importance of a state-of-the-art mine countermeasures force was strongly underscored in the Persian Gulf during the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war, and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991 when the Avenger (MCM 1) and Guardian (MCM 5) ships conducted MCM operations.

Avenger class ships are designed as mine hunter-killers capable of finding, classifying and destroying moored and bottom mines. The last three MCM ships were purchased in 1990, bringing the total to 14 fully deployable, oceangoing Avenger class ships.

These ships use sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control. They are also capable of conventional sweeping measures. The ships are of fiberglass sheathed, wooden hull construction. They are the first large mine countermeasures ships built in the United States in nearly 27 years.

Osprey (MHC 51) class ships are also designed as mine hunter-killers. The MHC 51 has a 15-day endurance and depends on a support ship or shore based facilities for resupply.

General Characteristics, Avenger class

Peterson Shipbuilders, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.; Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wis.

Power Plant: Four diesels (600 horsepower each), two shafts with controllable pitch propellers

Length: 224 feet (68.28 meters)

Beam: 39 feet (11.89 meters)

Displacement: 1,312 tons (1,180.8 metric tons) full load

Speed: 14 knots (16.1 mph, 25.76 kmph)

Units: (All MCM-1 class ships are based in Ingleside, Tex.)

USS Avenger (MCM 1)
USS Defender (MCM 2)
USS Sentry (MCM 3)
USS Champion (MCM 4)
USS Guardian (MCM 5)
USS Devastator (MCM 6)
USS Patriot (MCM 7)
USS Scout (MCM 8)
USS Pioneer (MCM 9)
USS Warrior (MCM 10)
USS Gladiator (MCM 11)
USS Ardent (MCM 12)
USS Dextrous (MCM 13)
USS Chief (MCM 14)

Crew: 8 officers, 76 enlisted

Armament: Mine neutralization system. Two .50 caliber machine guns

Date Deployed: Sept. 12, 1987 (USS Avenger)

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30 November 1996