Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Support Ships
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Defender (MCM-2)


A general word classification.

(MCM-2; displacement 1,254 (light), 1,367 (full load); length 224'; beam 39'; draft 12'; speed 13.5 knots; armament 2 M-2 .50 caliber machine guns; 2 M-60 7.62 millimeter machine guns and 2 Mk.19 grenade launchers; class Avenger)

Defender (MCM-2) was laid down on 1 December 1983 at Marinette, Wisc., by Marinette Marine; launched 4 April 1987 sponsored by Mrs. Thomas J. Hughes; delivered on 8 September 1989; and commissioned on 30 September 1989, Lt. Cmdr. Charles S. Johnson, in command.


Secure the Course

On 18 July 1990 Defender departed Little Creek, Va., for Savannah, GA. On 21 July she arrived at Savannah and entered dry dock at the Intermarine Shipyard for hull repairs. Upon completion of that work, she departed Savannah on 18 August and returned to Little Creek on 20 August. The ship spent the remainder of 1990 operating in the waters off the southeast including a lengthy visit to Panama City, Fla.

On 11 February 1991 Defender commenced a Restricted Availability at Little Creek that lasted into December when the ship conducted sea trials on 4 December.

Defender began 1993 in port at Ingleside, Texas, then then spent much of January and February underway off Corpus Christi. From 16 to 22 February, the ship was underway to Charleston, S.C. then lay in port there undergoing degaussing checks and conducting limited training until 3 March when she sailed for Little Creek. She spent 4–8 March at Little Creek, then got underway for training off the Virginia capes (8–10 March). The ship returned to Little Creek where she remained until 16 March, getting underway for Oostende, Belgium, proceeding via Bermuda. Defender arrived at Oostende on 8 April and remained in port there until 15 April when she departed for Kiel, Germany, where she refueled on 17 April before departing that same day for Aarhus, Denmark, where she arrived on 18 April. She departed Aarhus on 19 April and from 22-30 April participated in Exercise Blue Harrier '93 from 22 through 30 April. Upon completion of that exercise, the ship called at Aarhus; Brest, France; Lisbon, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Vigo, Spain; LaPallice, France; Rouen, France; and Gibraltar. On 19 July the ship began her passage to the U.S., making arrival at Key West, Fla. on 7 August. She returned to Ingleside on 13 August. Upon reaching her homeport, the ship stood down from 13August to 31 October. The ship then spent most of November in training off Corpus Christi.

Defender spent much of 1994 undergoing maintenance and certifications. The ship conducted mine countermeasures integrated operations training, GOMEX 95-1 from 1 through 9 December.

After the crew returned from Christmas leave, Defender continued preparations for her Mine Readiness Certification Inspection (MRCI) and deployment. Defender became the first ship

in months to complete MRCI in only one week. With deployment preparations complete, the crew had a well-deserved break before heading to Europe. On 24 February 1995, in company with Gladiator (MCM-11), Warrior (MCM-10), and Pioneer (MCM-9), Defender left Ingleside for a six-month deployment. With a brief stop in Key West for fuel on 28 February and a longer stop in Charleston to degauss (3–16 March) Defender and company were soon crossing the Atlantic. After a rendezvous with the destroyer Caron (DD-970), five astern underway replenishments, and 18 days, the ship arrived off the coast of France. The English Channel gave way to the Portsmouth Channel and Defender was soon tied up after a two-week voyage for repairs and sightseeing. Leaving Portsmouth on 18 April, the mine countermeasures ships continued up the English Channel, cut across Germany to the Baltic via the Kiel Canal, and joined Caron at Aarhus on 21 April before beginning Exercise Blue Harrier '95 on 25 April.

For the duration of Blue Harrier, Defender was assigned to Royal Navy Squadron MCM 1 (CTG 420.02). Defender had a 24-hour port visit in Aalborg, Denmark, on 29 April 1995, before being assigned to help British mine countermeasures ship Ledbury (M.30) clear a minefield. After initial efforts proved unavailing, necessitating new tactics, Defender deployed her variable depth sonar in the shallow waters to get below the sound channel layer, successfully clearing the field and completing the exercise with a perfect record. After a short debrief in Aarhus on 3 May to complete Blue Harrier '95, Defender headed to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, arriving on 8 May. The ship next visited Brest on 15 May, joining Warrior. Upon leaving Brest on 29 May, Defender and Warrior visited Lisbon, Portugal before continuing for a week of Intermediate Maintenance Availability alongside the submarine tender Simon Lake (AS-33) at Cartagena, Spain, on 6 June. Leaving Cartagena, Defender and Warrior joined up with Commander, Standing Naval Forces Channel at Palma de Mallorca on 13 June for Exercise Alcudra '95, training that began with team minesweeping. That proved a new -- but successful -- experience for the crew, who swept all three of the moored mines in the assigned area before they focused their efforts on hunting bottom mines. Defender set course for La Maddalena, Italy, upon the completion of that evolution, where, on 24 June, Defender joined Simon Lake and changed out a damaged engine block, getting underway again in four days. The ship rejoined the other three mine countermeasures ships at Rota, Spain, on 6 July for the transit back across the Atlantic on which they departed on 10 July. They arrived at Key West on 29 July, where they fueled before beginning the final leg of the journey home on 30 July. On 3 August, Defender tied up at Naval Station Ingleside.

On 10 0ctober 1995, Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron Two, Capt. O’Donnell, came onboard and Defender became the flagship as the entire Mine Countermeasures fleet sortied to avoid Hurricane Roxanne. On 12 October, the storm headed north to Louisiana and the fleet returned to Ingleside. On 1 November Defender went into a Planned Maintenance Availability (PMA) at Braswell Shipyard, where she stayed for the remainder of the year.

In January 1996, Defender went into her yard period, upon completion of which she returned to Ingleside on 2 February. On 18 March, while underway off Corpus Christi, Defender received a U.S. Coast Guard request to respond to a distress call. Defender located a small craft, filling with water, and quickly brought the eight passengers -- men, women, and children -- on board. The following week, on 26 March, as the ship was preparing to get underway for training operations, a call came that a T-44 aircraft had gone down off Corpus Christi. Using sonar, the ship was able to locate the parts of the downed plane but once her assistance was no longer needed she returned to port. Back in port, Defender returned to preparations for an upcoming INSURV on 1 April.

Later that month on 29 April 1996, Defender got underway en route to the Corpus Christi Operating Area to conduct general mine warfare training. Early in May she began her Logistics Management Assessment (LMA) Inspection. During the inspection, Defender earned the Blue "E". By the end of May, the ship had entered dry dock at Gulf Copper, where she would stay for the next two and a half months. On 8 June 1996, Defender's Rescue and Assist Team responded to a fire on board the coastal minehunter Heron (MHC-52).

On 16 August 1996, Defender went into Tailored Shipboard Training Availability I (TSTA I) with only limited minesweeping capability but still demonstrated an intact training program. She then completed her Engineering Certification (ECERT) in September. During the month of November, Defender’s underway periods focused on performing mechanical and combination influence sweeps to train her people in the Corpus Christi Operating Area. In December, the ship passed her Command Control Communication Inspection. The ship completed the year on a holiday stand-down.

After her holiday upkeep period, Defender began 1997 in her pre-deployment cycle. As part of this, the ship conducted mine countermeasures operations and mine recovery training. 3 February. After the installation of some new equipment, the ship transited to Key West on 4 April en route to Charleston for degaussing. The ship arrived at Charleston on 14 April and then transited to Mayport, Fla. on 21 April. Departing Mayport for Ingleside via West Palm Beach, Fla., the ship returned to her homeport at Ingleside in May. On 19 May she participated in GOMEX 97-2. On 18 August the ship was moved to the South West Marine Shipyard, Channelview, Texas for a Planned Maintenance Availability (PMA). Defender was undergoing PMA until she got underway for Ingleside on 20 November. After passing her Logistics and Management Assessment on 3 December, the ship began her Holiday/Upkeep periods on 19 December.

Like she did in preceding years, Defender began the new year of 1998 on holiday leave/upkeep. The first major event of the year was the Final Evaluation Problem which was conducted on 22 January. On 16 February the ship conducted Squadron Exercise 98-1. Having completed hull cleaning on 9 March, the ship conducted Mine Recovery ’98 on 30 March. Later, on 19 May, 

Defender participated in GOMEX 98-1. The ship then transited to Brownsville, Texas, on 21 March and conducted a port visit the next day, 22 May. Having stayed a few days in Brownsville, the ship returned to Ingleside on 25 May. The Technical Assessment Repair Groom and Evaluation Team (TARGET)/Combat Systems Readiness Review (CSRR) was conducted beginning on 1 June and after its completion, Defender sailed for Little Creek on 19 June.

Defender left the Corpus Christi Operating Area to participate as a member of Standing Naval Forces Channel ‘98 Exercise and the NATO OCEANLANT '98 Exercise in Little Creek with other Mine Countermeasures ships from England, Germany, Holland, and Belgium. Leaving Little Creek, Defender transited to Newport, R.I. The ship left Newport on 27 July 1998 and sailed to Rockland, Maine, for the annual Lobsterfest where before leaving the ship negotiated the purchase of over 90 of the tasty crustaceans that were served the first night underway on 3 August. The next stop on Defender’s east coast deployment was the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. where over 2,500 people toured the ship on 7 August. Defender then left Annapolis on 10 August bound for a complete magnetic offload and degaussing in Charleston. The degaussing runs went well. Leaving Charleston on 19 August, Defender was bound for Ingleside, but hurricane warnings delayed her arrival by over two weeks. Diversions included stops in Mayport, Kings Bay, Ga., and Key West, but once back home on 8 September, additional hurricane warnings caused Defender to be placed in a heavy weather mooring arrangement in the Ingleside basin with other mine countermeasure ships and coastal mine hunters on 10 September. The ship finished out the year by conducting successful Shipboard Explosive Safety Inspection and Command Assessment Readiness Training II on 26 October. Defender went into her Holiday Stand-Down period on 17 December.

During calendar year 1999, Defender (MCM-2) conducted local area operations pursuant to the Interdeployment Training Cycle Basic and Intermediate Phases. Inspections completed included: LMA, SMI, and FEP. A scheduled drydocking at Gulf Copper Ship Repair and Drydocking was undertaken from 5 May through 2 July. During this time the installation of the ANISQQ-32v3 sonar system was undertaken without significant issue. A subsequent port visit was conducted at Panama City, Fla. in conjunction with an Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) for the ANISQQ-32v3 sonar system. The year’s operations culminated in the Squadron Exercise (RONEX) 00-1 for Mine Warfare Readiness Group One from 13–19 November. On 29 November she commenced a Fleet Maintenance Availability which completed on 10 December. Shortly afterward, on 17 December the ship commenced the holiday leave periods which lasted through the end of 1999.

Defender spent January 2000 largely in port conducting holiday leave, and pre-deployment inspection. On 31 January she got underway for Gulf of Mexico Exercise (GOMEX 00-1). The exercise continued through 10 February. The ship then underwent a pre-deployment and stand down period until she got underway on 16 March as a component of the Mine Warfare readiness Group One (MIWRG-1). From 21–22 March she was underway off Pensacola in support of the George Washington (CVN-73) Battle Group COMPTEX 00-1. The ship was also underway in the Puerto Rican Operating Area in support Exercise UNITAS 41-00. Afterward, the ship participated in the Great Lakes Domestic Outreach Recruiting Cruise 2000 through the summer visiting cities along the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes. The ship returned to Ingleside on 31 August, where she remained in port until 11 October. Between 12 October and 24 October the ship conducted underway training in the Corpus Christi Operating Area. From 25 October through the end of the year the ship was in port conducting maintenance and training before beginning her Holiday Leave and Upkeep periods.

Coming off the leave and upkeep periods the ship transited to the South West Marine Shipyard on 5 January 2001. The ship then underwent a Planned Maintenance Availability until 9 April. In the succeeding months the ship spent short-term instances underway conducting training with longer periods of time spent in port at Ingleside. Defender was underway for RONEX 02-1 from 24–29 November and was also underway for GOMEX 02-1 on 13–14 December. Upon completing the Gulf of Mexico exercise, Defender was back in port in Ingleside and began her holiday leave and upkeep periods on 17 December.In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that made landfall in Louisiana on 29 August 2005, Defender, in conjunction with the mine countermeasures ships Gladiator and Scout (MCM-8), the coastal minehunter Falcon (MHC-59), and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, completed a survey of 938 nautical miles along the coast of Louisiana beginning on 10 September and ending on 15 September. U.S. Coast Guard District 8 provided the ships with a list of priorities for their search. Among these was a list of nearly 50 oil platforms of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a tanker offloading and temporary storage facility for crude oil.

On 3 June 2009 Defender was off-loaded from the heavy-lift ship, Condock IV, at Fleet Activities Sasebo's India Basin during a float-on/float-off operation. The mine countermeasures ship arrived in Yakushima, a small island located 225 miles south of the Japanese mainland, for a three-day port call, on 18 October. While there, the ship hosted a reception and sailors helped clean Maehama Beach, a vital hatchery for loggerhead sea turtles. In November the mine countermeasures ships Defender, Guardian (MCM-5), Patriot (MCM-7) and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 participated in Exercise Clear Horizon, an annual, bilateral, mine counter-measures exercise conducted with the Republic of Korea.

On 3 August 2010 Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, the commander of Task Force 76 arrived in Sasebo to assess the condition of his ships in preparation for their fall 2010 patrol. During his visit, he met with the commanding officers of Denver (LPD-9), Tortuga (LSD-46), Harpers Ferry (LSD-49), Patriot and Defender to discuss task force commitments and to become cognizant of ship-level operations.

Defender successfully completed her Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) at Sasebo on 14 January 2011. On 21 June, the ship conducted her Unit Level Training Assessment-Engineering certifications in the western Pacific. On 18 August, she conducted operations in the Seventh Fleet Area of Responsibility after leaving Sasebo.

The Bangladesh Navy Band performs as Defender arrives in Chittagong, Bangladesh on 18 September 2011. The ship was in port for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh 2011, a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance force readiness. CARAT Bangladesh 2011 marks the first time the Bangladesh navy has participated in the exercise series. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Lowell Whitman, U.S. Navy Photograph 110918-N-HA376-084, Photos).
The Bangladesh Navy Band performs as Defender arrives in Chittagong, Bangladesh on 18 September 2011. The ship was in port for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh 2011, a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance force readiness. CARAT Bangladesh 2011 marks the first time the Bangladesh navy has participated in the exercise series. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Lowell Whitman, U.S. Navy Photograph 110918-N-HA376-084, Photos).

Defender was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 October 2014 at San Diego, Calif. and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The vessel was disposed of by scrapping on 13 May 2015; demilitarized and dismantled by Whillock Contracting Inc.

 Defender is prepared for her decommissioning ceremony at San Diego, 1 October 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Conor Minto, U.S. Navy Photograph 141001-N-VO234-037, Photos).
Defender is prepared for her decommissioning ceremony at San Diego, 1 October 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Conor Minto, U.S. Navy Photograph 141001-N-VO234-037, Photos).

Defender earned four Battle 'E' awards and two Secretary of the Navy Letters of Commendation.

Commanding Officers

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Scott Johnson                    30 September 1989–10 May 1991

Cmdr. David William Prothero                       10 May 1991–28 May 1993

Lt. Cmdr. John Joseph Muldoon                    28 May 1993–24 January 1995

Lt. Cmdr. James Douglas Bradford               24 January 1995–9 August 1996

Cmdr. Andrew Bruce Fuller                           9 August 1996–21 July 1998

Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Martin Negus                    21 July 1998–19 February 2000

Cmdr. Aaron Charles Jacobs                          19 February 2000–12 October 2001

Lt. Cmdr. Karl Allan Hilberg                         12 October 2001–25 June 2003

Cmdr. Paul Herbert Hogue, Jr.                       25 June 2003–30 July 2005

Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Tyler Britt                          30 July 2005–11 August 2006

Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin R. Nicholson                  11 August 2006–1 May 2007

Lt. Cmdr. Mark Raymond Rios                      1 May 2007–4 December 2007

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Enrique Morera                4 December 2007–1 October 2008

Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Henry O'Mahoney             1 October 2008–10 March 2010

Lt. Cmdr. Andria Lee Slough                         10 March 2010–15 April 2011

Lt. Cmdr. Todd Spooner Levant                    15 April 2011–21 July 2012

Lt. Cmdr. Gordon Scott Wells                       21 July 2012–31 January 2014

Lt. Cmdr. James L. Correia                            31 January 2014–15 July 2014

Lt. Cmdr. James J. Sordi, Jr.                           15 July 2014–1 October 2014


Christopher B. Havern Sr.

5 July 2016

Published: Thu Jul 14 12:49:54 EDT 2016