The second U.S. Navy ship named for the general word classification.
(MSO-509: displacement 750; length 173'; beam 36'; draft 14'; speed 14 knots; complement 78; armament 1 40 millimeter, 2 .50-caliber machine guns; class Acme)
The unnamed minesweeper AM-509 was laid down on 18 November 1954 at Boothbay Harbor, Maine, by Frank L. Sample Jr., Inc.; redesignated MSO-509 on 7 February 1955; named Adroit on 17 May 1955; launched on 20 August 1955; sponsored by Mrs. Alice G. Olsen, the wife of Capt. Eliot Olsen; and commissioned on 4 March 1957, Lt. Cmdr. Joseph G. Nemetz in command.
Adroit’s primary mission was to detect, localize, and neutralize two principal types of mines: influence and contact. Influence mines were detonated by the magnetic, acoustic, or pressure influences caused by a ship moving through the water, while contact mines were detonated by contacting ships. Enemy forces could deploy both types of mines on the bottom, floating on the surface, or moored at depth. Adroit used her variable depth sonar to detect and classify mines, and swept those mines using mechanical cutters, influence gear, or a combination of both. In addition, EOD teams or the ship’s crewmen could neutralize submerged mines using a “Z-Bird” motorized boat and an explosive charge. They normally destroyed surfaced mines by .50-cal. machine gun fire. Because of her small size and design, Adroit was not known for her smooth ride and pitched and rolled heavily.
The small size of the crew of the crew made for a tight-knit organization where many of the men shared duties not normally associated with their ratings. For example, cooks and storekeepers often stood watches on the helm or radar. In addition, the ship was constructed primarily of wood, principally white oak, red oak, Douglas fir, and laminated plywood, and non-magnetic materials, and regulations prohibited the men from bringing magnetic materials on board.
Following commissioning, Adroit completed fitting out and then moved south to Charleston, S.C. From that port, she conducted shakedown training in the West Indies and in the local operating area. The minesweeper then began a period of almost 17 years of service with the Atlantic Fleet Mine Force.
During her tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the summer of 1958, Adroit patrolled off the coast of strife-torn Lebanon. In that year, factions that favored Egyptian President Gamal A. Nasser stirred unrest in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. On 15 May, the Lebanese government informed the U.S. of the likelihood of their need for assistance when Syrian troops infiltrated into Lebanon. The Sixth Fleet subsequently deployed three carriers to the Eastern Mediterranean. On 1 July, the Lebanese indicated the stabilization of the crisis and the ships afterward came about. Rebellion meanwhile broke-out in Lebanon, followed by the assassination of the Iraqi king and the consolidation of power in that country by the Ba’aths. The Jordanian and Lebanese governments requested assistance, and the U.S. and United Kingdom launched Operation Bluebat—to restore order and to protect Americans and Britons in the area. On 15 July aircraft from attack aircraft carriers Essex (CVA-9) and Saratoga (CVA-60) covered about 1,800 marines as they landed on a beach near Beirut. Marine helicopters from antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Wasp (CVS-18) flew reconnaissance missions and evacuated the sick and injured from Beirut International Airport. A composite Air Strike Force deployed to Turkey to sustain the northern flank of the landings. By 3 August the dispatch of reinforcements to the area stabilized the situation. The U.S. forces withdrew by 25 October and the British by 2 November. Naval aircraft flew about 11,000 sorties during Bluebat, and Adroit joined a total of 81 other vessels that sailed with the Sixth Fleet at times during the crisis. Following the crisis, Lt. Cmdr. W.E. Lindsey assumed command of the ship.
Adroit carried out a fleet service mine test, in which sailors and technicians randomly selected mines from various ammunition depots for service-ability testing, off the coast of Rhode Island (5 May–15 June 1960). Lt. Cmdr. John J. Mingo relieved Lindsey on 9 July 1960. The ship then (5 September–19 November) deployed to the Caribbean. Adroit completed a shipyard overhaul and local operations during the first half of 1961, and then participated in joint U.S.-Canadian mine countermeasures exercise Sweep Clear IV (2–10 May). The ship next took part in amphibious exercise Axle-Grease in the Caribbean (3–22 June), following which she carried out a brief cruise for midshipmen (29 June–22 July). Adroit deployed to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean (27 September 1961–March 1962). During January and February she participated in MedSweepEx 30, a minesweeping exercise with the British, French, and Italian navies off the coast of Toulon, France. The ship also tested minesweeping techniques on an Italian minesweeping range at La Spezia, Italy. After she returned from her deployment, Adroit took part in Quick Kick, a large scale amphibious exercise. Cmdr. Joseph L. Pecore, Commander Mine Division (MineDiv) 44, broke his pennant in the ship during this period, and Lt. Cmdr. Walter R. Shafer relieved Mingo on 20 July. Adroit then completed an overhaul and repairs at Savannah Machinery & Foundry Co. Following the minesweeper’s return to the fleet on 22 October, she helped guard several ports in the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As the confrontation between the superpowers gradually concluded, the ship completed refresher training (RefTra) under the guidance of Amphibious Operational Training Unit at Little Creek, Va. (26 November–7 December).
The ship started 1963 by departing her home port shortly after the holidays (9 January) to provide services for the Naval Mine Defense Laboratory (after 1971, the Naval Coastal Systems Laboratory) at Panama City Fla., while technicians tested experimental minesweeping equipment. On 9 February, Adroit stood out of Panama City and made for the Bahamas, British West Indies, where, together with civilian research vessel G.W. Pierce -- under contract to the USAF -- she helped in the unsuccessful search for equipment lost during Air Force operations in that area.
Marine Sulphur Queen, a T-2 tanker converted to carry molten sulphur, disappeared sometime after she sailed from Beaumont, Texas, on 2 February 1963. On 6 March, Adroit received orders to steam to Key West, Fla., where she worked with other minesweepers and aircraft in the search for Marine Sulphur Queen, primarily in the Straits of Florida. The searchers recovered some life preservers and debris but failed to locate the ship or any of the crew of 39 souls, and Adroit came about on 13 March. Adroit completed refresher minesweeping training and then provided services for the Naval School of Mine Warfare, training officer and enlisted students in the use of minesweeping equipment.
Adroit participated in the space program when she sailed for Cape Canaveral, Fla., on 11 May 1963. The ship took station with other ships as part of the recover force along the route of Capt. L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., USAF, when he piloted space capsule Faith 7 during the launch of Mercury-Atlas-9 from Cape Canaveral on 16 May. Faith 7 splashed down in the Pacific about 80 miles southeast of Midway Island near 27°20’N, 176°26’W.
The minesweeper deployed to the Caribbean (29 May–18 October 1963), spending much of her voyage operating out of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The ship’s historian reported that she steamed in “the sensitive areas surrounding that Island,” but added that Adroit also took part in amphibious exercises, training, and liberty visits in “the more care-free waters near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.” The ship also rode out Hurricanes Edith and Flora when they tore a path of destruction across parts of Cuba. She then (16 November–3 December 1963) accomplished a restricted availability at Charleston Drydock & Ship Building Co.
Following training with the Naval School for Mine Warfare, the ship celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah (16–18 March 1964). During Quick Kick 5 (3–15 April) Adroit and the other ships of MineDiv 44 lay the minefield for the amphibious exercise, and then worked with ships of MineDiv 83 to clear it. In addition, Adroit acted as one of the merchant traffic control ships. The ship reported that at one point she swept continuously for more than 26 hours. On 23 May Cmdr. George T. Ragon relieved Pecore in command of the mine division during a ceremony held on board the ship. Throughout the year Ragon and Cmdr. Thomas D. Shearer, who led MineDiv 44, broke their pennants consecutively in Adroit and mine countermeasures support ship Ozark (MCS-2).
On 8 June 1964 the ship stood out for unusual tasking. Local fishermen at Georgetown, S.C., had established a fishing haven offshore by sinking more than 60 derelict school buses and some 300 junked automobiles to form an artificial reef. They marked the reef with a buoy, but a storm swept away the marker. Unforeseen equipment difficulties, however, prevented Adroit from providing re-locating services during what her men nicknamed the “School-Bus Hunt.” The minesweeper accomplished maintenance and training until she spent the 4th of July weekend in the Sea Island resort area near Brunswick, Ga., hosting more than 1,000 visitors. She then (10–24 July) took part in LantNarMidlEx 1-64, a familiarization exercise for midshipmen and students from NRCTC universities. Fleet Service Mine Test 3-64, a mine exercise under operational conditions, took the ship, with divers of EOD Unit 2 embarked and in company with net laying ship Nahant (AN-83), to Canadian waters off Argentia, Newfoundland. Adroit and her sister ships laid 46 operational mines during the exercise, and on 7 September Lt. Compton E. Ward relieved Shafer while Adroit visited Argentia, the latter moving on to become the executive officer of guided missile frigate Belknap (DLG-26). Adroit evaded Hurricane Gladys, returned to Charleston on 28 September, and completed an overhaul at Key West (2 October–10 December 1964). Three days before Christmas the ship calibrated degaussing.
The ship accomplished her post overhaul RefTra (mid-January–19 March 1965), and during the first two weeks of April supported the Naval Ordnance Laboratory Test Facility. Adroit took part in two NATO and one U.S. amphibious and minesweeping exercises when she deployed to the Sixth Fleet (15 June–8 November 1965). The ship also visited a number of ports, including a rare sojourn to the Maltese island of Gozo. Early in the New Year, the minesweeper participated in Mine Countermeasures Operation 18 in the waters off Morehead City, N.C. (18 January–5 February 1966). Icy wind and what the ship succinctly noted as “a good share of inclement weather” impeded the exercise. Landing craft repair ship Pandemus (ARL-18) operated as a support ship and enabled Adroit to prepare for her impending deployment by providing her the most up to date magnetic and acoustic minesweeping cables. Adroit then (28 March–8 September) deployed to the Caribbean. During the first two months of her voyage the ship often operated in company with coastal minesweeper Sturdy (MSC-494), training, touring various islands, and on 20 April carrying out an operational readiness inspection. Unrest on the island of Hispaniola drew the ship to those waters and she patrolled south of the island (12–17 April). She then (10–12 May) took part in a mine countermeasures exercise near Vieques Island, P.R. The ship also visited San Juan, P.R., and Cap-Haitien, Haiti, during her deployment, and some crewmen enjoyed a muleback ride to the former citadel at the latter port. Adroit’s historian noted that his ship carried out a “lonely patrol” of the Windward Passage (30 May–22 August). “Unexpectedly” on 3 July, the ship came about and assisted in an “arduous” recovery operation near Vieques Island. While the vessel anchored on 4 August, Lt. Cmdr. John D. Holland relieved Ward as the commanding officer. Upon completing that operation, the warship visited Charlotte Amalie in the Virgin Islands, again to San Juan, and finally to Guantánamo Bay, before returning home. She completed an overhaul at Detyens Shipyards, Inc., Wando, S.C. (16 December 1966–20 March 1967).
Adroit accomplished demanding RefTra under the direction of Fleet Training Center Charleston (10–28 April 1967), followed (15–26 May) by minesweeping RefTra under the direction of Commander Mine Division (MineDiv) 44. During the latter voyage, she also spent a weekend in New York City. The ship completed a tender availability alongside Pandemus and then (10–30 July) participated in minesweeping Operation Plumb Bob III off the Virginia capes. A pitch casualty compelled her to come about and return to Charleston for repairs, but the minesweeper resumed her voyage on 15 July for the remainder of the exercise.
The ship stood down the channel for the Gasparilla Festival at Tampa, Fla., and minesweeper RefTra in Panama City on 16 February 1968. Generator and main propulsion problems, however, forced her to accomplish engineering repairs at Key West (21–28 February) and she thus missed the festival. Shearer served as the officer in tactical command while Adroit, Swerve (MSO-495), and Valor (MSO-472) completed six days of “rigorous” RefTra off Panama City. The ship completed maintenance and training while preparing for her impending deployment, including two weeks of work at Detyens.
Adroit, Swerve, and Valor deployed to the Mediterranean (15 April–28 August 1968). The trio broke their voyage across the Atlantic by stopping at Bermuda, where Swerve fell behind because of engineering problems. Adroit and Valor rendezvoused with tank landing ship Tallahatchie County (LST-1156) off the south coast of Bermuda, and resumed their journey, reaching Valletta, Malta, on 10 May. Adroit relieved Skill (MSO-471) during four days at Malta, and then sailed in company with Valor for the Aegean Sea, where the pair of minesweepers carried out an extensive intelligence survey of Soviet ships anchored at the Greek isle of Kythira north of Crete. Adroit took part in NATO exercise MedSweepEx 68 in the second and third weeks of June. The ship also visited Piraeus and Poros, Greece, and came about upon the conclusion of the exercise on 17 June and made for Naples, Italy. Nimble (MSO-459) and Pinnacle (MSO-462) joined the division during the voyage and the ships then visited Naples (19 June–1 July), breaking their sojourn by participating in a fleet service mine test. Adroit continued her summer cruise alongside a tender at Valletta (3–15 July), followed by running the degaussing range at Augusta Bay, Sicily. The ship visited Barcelona, Spain (23–31 July), where Lt. Jesse H. DeLoach relieved Holland on 27 July. She followed that visit by putting into Tangier, Morocco (3–6 August), where the European community warmly welcomed her crewmen. Adroit visited her final port during the deployment when Ability (MSO-519) relieved the ship at Rota, Spain (8–12 August). Adroit, Pinnacle, and Valor then returned to Charleston. The ship reported that during the deployment she investigated 11 Soviet vessels “ranging from common fish factory trawlers to a little-known satellite tracker.”
The ship provided services to the Naval Mine Defense Laboratory in the familiar waters off Panama City early in the New Year (2 January–6 February 1969). Technicians gathered data that enabled them to more accurately determine their mine countermeasures parameters for future operations. This time she made the Gasparilla Festival (10–12 February), sailing from St. Petersburg, Fla., with 75 members and guests of the Krewe of Venus on board, and joining the water parade for the invasion of Tampa by the ghost of Jose Gaspar. She then came about for home, but the Atlantic Fleet diverted the ship to help search for a missing aircraft off the Florida Keys. Adroit laid 17 mini buoys to mark possible contacts for divers and on 16 February returned to Charleston.
During an overhaul at Detyens (14 March–26 August 1969), she received the AN/SQQ-14 minehunting sonar, which was capable of classifying as well as detecting underwater contacts. The ship completed her sea trials on 22 and 23 August, but on 2 September encountered a strong current following a heavy rain while proceeding to the lower Charleston harbor for degaussing tests, and collided with one of the degaussing pylons during a northerly run. Adroit suffered minimal structural damage with no effect on her watertight integrity, but the Navy temporary closed the degaussing range while making repairs. The ship completed RefTra at Charleston (8 September–10 October). She then set course to rendezvous with MSS-1, the former Liberty ship Harry L. Glucksman converted into a special pressure minesweeper (device) off the coast of Port Everglades, Fla., but came about and made an unscheduled stop at Mayport to transfer two officers ashore for hospitalization, during the mid watch on 12 October. Adroit rendezvoused with MSS-1 the next day but experienced casualties in her main propulsion engines on the port shaft and to the master gyro, and finally reached the coast off Charleston on magnetic compass and one shaft by the evening of 15 October. To compound the situation, the radar failed as the ship commenced standing into the harbor, but a tug assisted the warship and she moored two and a half hours later. The ship replaced one main propulsion engine and repaired another during a three-week restricted availability, and subsequent at sea testing proved all of the work sound. Just after midnight on 2 November, motor towing vessel Marjorie McCallister and all six of her crewmen disappeared while battling heavy seas approximately 17 miles south of Cape Lookout, N.C. Adroit took part in the unsuccessful search for survivors. She rounded out the year by completing minesweeper RefTra off Charleston (17 November–5 December).
Adroit spent the first three weeks of January 1970 providing RefTra to MSS-1, Dominant (MSO-431) and Sturdy (MSO-494). She supported the Naval School of Mine Warfare, completed a tender availability through 15 March, and then helped the Naval Oceanographic Office conduct a test off Edisto Island, S.C. Swerve meanwhile relieved Dominant when she switched from MineDiv 43 to 44, and Dominant then shifted to the former division. During four days in early April, Adroit used her AN/SQQ-14 sonar to fruitlessly search for a missing utility landing craft (LCU) near Onslow Beach, N.C. Adroit, Sturdy, and Swerve carried out minesweeping and surveillance duties during multi-threat exercise Exotic Dancer III off Onslow Beach (13 May–4 June), and Adroit then visited Little Creek, Va., for the weekend. Adroit, Sturdy, and Swerve then (31 August–9 September) took part in a nine day sweeping exercise and port visit to Mayport. Adroit repaired her sonar at Detyens and in early October accomplished an emergency variable depth sonar operation. In company with Exploit (MSO-440), which had joined the division while Adroit completed repairs in the shipyard, the two ships set sail for StaffEx 15, a semi-annual exercise executed under the supervision of the Naval School of Mine Warfare, on 12 November. Three days later Adroit suffered a casualty to her starboard propeller, and came about for Detyens. Lt. Cmdr. John F. Doyle relieved DeLoach on 27 November, and DeLoach then deployed to the Vietnam War.
The ship spent five days in early January 1971 in company with MSS-1 and Exploit training at sea, following which, she departed with Exploit for several weeks of additional training. The pair carried out minesweeping practice off northern Florida for two days and then visited Mayport. They then provided services to the Naval Ordnance Laboratory at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Both ships departed on 6 February for Tampa, where they took part in the Gasparilla Festival, Adroit embarking about 90 people of the Mystical Krewe of Venus for the “hectic” parade. The ship next completed upkeep until 15 March, and then provided helicopter support services and limited air control in order to effect mine countermeasures operations by helicopters during an exercise. On 1 April, Adroit began a new chapter in her history when MineDiv 44 was disestablished and she joined MineDiv 21, Cmdr. George E. Biles in command. The division also comprised ocean minesweepers Assurance (MSO-521), Venture (MSO-496), Vigor (MSO-473), and Vital (MSO-474). Adroit carried out brief training underway on 12 April), and then (28 April–15 May) took part with Exploit, Vigor, and Vital in Exotic Dancer IV off Onslow Beach.
The ship next escorted Indonesian coastal minesweepers Pulau Aqua and Pulau Alor to the Panama Canal via Guantánamo Bay. After a brief visit to Cristóbal, Adroit made an additional visit to Porta de Haina, just outside of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. From there, she sailed to West Palm Beach, Fla., where she provided services to the Navy Ordnance Laboratory at Fort Lauderdale, before returning home to Charleston in early July. Lindsay broke his flag in command of Mobile Mine Countermeasures in the ship for five days in August to witness the advantages and disadvantages of supporting helicopters during mine countermeasures operations. The ship completed an interim dry dock period at Detyens during most of September. Adroit trained nearly continuously during the busy year, and while bringing in the moored sweep cables during one such mine exercise in heavy seas on 15 October, the minesweeping wench suffered a casualty. Crewmen struggled against eight to ten foot swells for five hours while retrieving the gear by hand.
Adroit’s work year began on 24 January 1972 when she set out for Panama City. Upon arriving there four days later, she began 16 days of magnetic minesweeping service for the Naval Coastal Systems Laboratory. Adroit enjoyed a brief respite when she sailed down to Tampa and again joined in the Gasparilla Festival (5–8 February). After hauling down the Jolly Roger, the ship returned to Panama City and completed her training before shaping course for Charleston. She took part in various training exercises and yard work throughout the year, assisting MSS-1 during speed trials on 6 March, and participating with the other ships of the division in a mine warfare exercise (3–14 April). Unseasonably cold, high winds coupled with dense fog prevented her from completing tasking with the Operational Test and Evaluation Forces in Chesapeake Bay (22 May–1 June). The ship then (18–30 June) took part in a fleet service mine test.
MineRon 21 was disestablished on 1 July 1972, and Adroit shifted to MineRon 24, Cmdr. Daniel G. Powell in command. The warship often operated in company with the other vessels of the squadron, which comprised ocean minesweepers Affray (MSO-511), Alacrity (MSO-520), Assurance, Fearless (MSO-442), and Fidelity (MSO-443). Lt. Walter G. Strong Jr., relieved Doyle on 4 August. She continued to train and worked with Alacrity, Assurance, and HM-12 in MinEX 5-72 (14–26 August). Adroit sailed from Charleston on 13 November for Panama City. Following an overnight call at Key West, she arrived at her destination four days later, where the ship provided sonar services to the Naval Coastal Systems Laboratory. After a joyous Thanksgiving in Panama City, Adroit departed on 29 November, her mission complete, for Port Canaveral.
The minesweeper joined the other ships and aircraft of Task Force 140, the manned spacecraft recovery force, to provide sonic boom test support during the launch of Apollo 17. On 7 December 1972, the ship’s crewmen witnessed what her historian recorded as the “spectacular launch from a V.I.P. vantage point thirty miles downrange” as Capt. Eugene A. Cernan, Cmdr. Ronald E. Evans, and geologist Harrison H. Schmidt lifted off in Apollo 17 from John F. Kennedy Space Center. On 11 December Cernan and Schmitt in Lunar Module 12 Challenger landed on the moon. On 19 December Challenger slashed down in the mid-Pacific. Apollo 17 achieved all the primary mission objectives on this final Apollo manned lunar mission. Naval aviation squadrons and ships performed all the recovery operations for the 11 Apollo missions, and 22 of the 33 astronauts involved in the Apollo program had Navy backgrounds.
Adroit carried out brief training underway (5–7 March 1973), and helped train mine warfare students (13–14 March). She then (26 March–7 April) took part in Exotic Dancer V off Onslow Beach, operating with Affray, Dash (MSO-428), Detector (MSO-429), Direct (MSO-430), Fidelity as part of Task Unit 124.3.1, the minesweepers assembled for the exercise. Adroit spent the first three days of her next period underway conducting tests and evaluations for the Naval Coastal Systems Laboratory off Panama City (21–24 May), before pointing her bow south to take part in the annual “Anchor in Georgia” ceremonies at Savannah. She stood out to sea on the morning of 29 May for additional tests for the laboratory, and returned to Charleston in the waning hours of May. During June the ship spent four days at Pier Yankee in Charleston carrying out tests for stray magnetic fields, and then (18–25 June) served in Task Group 66.1 for a fleet service mine test.
The character of Adroit's Navy career changed significantly midway through 1973. That summer, she received word of her reassignment to naval reserve training duty and of a change of home ports from Charleston to Naval Education and Training Center, Newport, R.I. On 30 June she shifted from MineRon 24 to MineRon 12. Supervisor of Shipbuilding 1 representatives inspected the ship’s hull while she entered (non self-propelled) medium auxiliary repair dry dock Alamogordo (ARDM-2) later that summer (27–30 August). On 30 September she shifted to MineRon 121, and thus departed Charleston in company with Affray on 24 September, reaching Newport four days later. The minesweeper spent the remainder of her career training naval reservists, the first of whom arrived during the initial weekend of October. She rounded out the year completing an overhaul at Munro Drydock, Inc., Chelsea, Mass. (28 October 1973–27 February 1974). Workers installed a new aqueous foam (light water) firefighting system, replaced both shafts, remodeled the mess decks, and recaulked the decks. In May she changed out Main Engine No. 1.
Adroit steamed into multi-threat scenario Solid Shield 1974 off Onslow Beach that spring, sweeping those waters for the other ships until 4 June, when she came about for home. The ship commemorated Independence Day during a brief visit to Bristol, R.I. Lt. Frank F. Hewitt relieved Strong on 29 August. Shortly thereafter, the ship returned to Munro for an overhaul, returning to Newport on 20 February 1975. She completed RefTra at Little Creek in mid-March, and took part in Solid Shield 1975 in May.
On 12 June 1975, frigate Aylwin (FF-1081) set out from Norfolk for Newport to train midshipmen. Embarking the “middies” the following day at Newport, she spent the next week carrying out gun shoots, ship handling, coordinated antisubmarine warfare exercises, antisubmarine weapon firings, and basic seamanship. On 19 June, Aircraft 37, a Kaman S2F Seasprite (BuNo. 149745) manned by 27-year-old Lt. (j.g.) Timothy Stone (pilot), 35-year-old Lt. Cmdr. Harold Guinn (copilot), 33-year-old Lt. (j.g.) Phillip Hannaford (passenger), and 38-year-old AW2 Lawrence J. Kamas of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 34 Detachment 3, launched for a routine training flight but struck the radio antenna mounted above the frigate’s helo hangar and crashed off the starboard side, about two miles east of Brenton Reef Light, approximately six miles off the coast. The bridge watch launched the motor whaleboat and recovered Stone and Hannaford and returned them to the ship within seven minutes. Stone suffered some injuries but returned to service two days later. Guinn and Kamas, however, failed to clear the sinking Seasprite and died. A force including frigate Ainsworth (FF-1090), Adroit, Raytheon vessel Subsig, and divers from the Naval Underwater Systems Command searched for the helo, locating the wreckage in 110 feet of water. Aylwin meanwhile came about for Newport and resumed training midshipmen. The squadron held a memorial service for Guinn and Kamas at the Chapel by the Woods at Naval Air Station (NAS) Norfolk on 23 June. Some of their shipmates also attended funerals held in the men’s home towns of Williamsport and Ford City, Pa., respectively.
Adroit continued her operations and celebrate Independence Day 1975 at Bristol, R.I., and took part in the Navy Bicentennial weekend at Boston and then New Haven, Conn., in September. The following month she completed degaussing at Charleston, and in November participated in an operational evaluation of a helicopter towed mine countermeasures sled.
The ship accomplished an interim drydocking at Munro (27 January–25 February 1976), followed by RefTra at Little Creek (5–21 March). On 8 April she helped the Naval Underwater Systems Command locate and retrieve a valuable piece of underwater equipment, and then calibrated degaussing at Charleston. Adroit provided rake data and recovery services to aircraft carrier Forrestal (CV-59) during MinEx 17 (19–30 April). The ship again celebrated July 4th at Bristol, and in September took part in MineRon 12’s warfare certification, as well as degaussing and stray mine checks. She carried out “special” minesweeping operations off Port Everglades in November, visited Freeport in the Bahamas, and returned to Newport on Thanksgiving Day.
Early in the New Year (8 February–14 March 1977) the ship completed an underway material inspection in the Atlantic. Lt. Cmdr. David Van Saun relieved Hewitt on 26 March. Adroit accomplished an overhaul at Munro (5 April–20 July). On 1 August 1977, her home port was changed to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, N.H., whence she operated for more than four years. That day the ship consequently set sail for Naval Weapons Station Earle, N.J., where she onloaded ammunition. The minesweeper then made for Little Creek, where she crossdecked men from Detector on 12 August. Lt. Cmdr. Douglas B. Quelch assumed command of Adroit, and Van Saun took command of Detector. Ens. Carl T. Simpson, the Chief Engineer, and seven sailors of the Engineering Department remained on board Adroit. The crew underwent a week-long selected RefTra to help the new men assimilate into the ship. Adroit set sail for Portsmouth on 26 August. Lt. Cmdr. Robert E. Rankin relieved Quelch on 29 October. On 29 November Adroit returned to sea, this time heading once more for Little Creek for a two-week modified RefTra, on her way aiding in the search and rescue of a fishing trawler off New York.
Adroit completed yard work at Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity Charleston (22 January–21 February 1978). She put to sea for a second period of maintenance at Charleston, but en route was directed to rendezvous with salvage ship Hoist (ARS-40) and locate and salvage an anchor and several shots of chain lost off the Virginia capes. Adroit’s mine hunting sonar discovered the anchor, but Hoist failed to recover the device despite repeated attempts. Then on 6 May, Adroit embarked reservists for their annual active duty training, in company with Engage (MSO-433). The ship refueled in Morehead City and disembarked her reservists at Little Creek, and returned to Portsmouth. She carried out upkeep and training there and the following month at Charleston, where the warship began a mine readiness certification inspection (MRCI) on 29 July. The Coast Guard requested help in the search for a small pleasure craft off Charleston, temporarily curtailing the inspection while the ship took part in the search. The searchers found the boat and Adroit stood by to render assistance. The ship continued training and maintenance into the New Year.
On 21 March 1979, Adroit departed Portsmouth for Charleston to take part in an MRCI and Solid Shield 79. She began the inspection on 20 April, but two days later a series of engineering casualties coupled with the necessity of offloading the reservists for return to Portsmouth, curtailed the inspection prior to its completion, and the minesweeper completed the inspection the following weekend. Cmdr. Charles S. Davis, Commander MineDiv 21, broke his pennant in the ship during the exercise (5–20 May). In addition to engaging in various conventional and experimental minesweeping and minehunting operations, Adroit refueled underway by the stern method. The ship returned the reservists to Little Creek. She sailed for repairs at Newport on 28 June, but upon reaching that port discovered that her scheduled reservists had not arrived. The reserve sailors arrived on 2 July and the ship only completed a week of repairs before coming about for home. She returned to Newport for an overhaul (22 August 1979–13 January 1980), where Lt. Cmdr. William C. Fillmann relieved Rankin on 1 December.
After the ship departed the yard she completed a modified RefTra at Little Creek in early March. Adroit underwent upkeep at Little Creek and then Charleston, leaving for home on 10 April. She then (3–18 May) took part in Solid Shield 80 with 14 other minesweepers, conducting extensive minehunting and sweeping in Charleston Harbor and points seaward, with the ultimate goal being the safe leadout of ships from the port. Adroit spent 13 days underway, carried out a team sweep with Dominant on 11 and 12 May, and twice refueled at sea. Following that exercise, she returned home briefly before joining Direct and Impervious (MSO-449) for more minehunting and “channel conditioning” during ReadiEx 2-80 (7–10 July). The highlights of the training included a double “0” mechanical sweep with Direct, and a subsequent combination sweep with her. Adroit changed out her 185 SSDG engine at Golten Shipyard, Portland, Maine (19–29 August). Inspectors discovered major discrepancies in the ship’s engineering equipment the following month, however, and declared her unfit to get underway. Sailors and technicians worked on the issues and on 17 October inspectors cleared her and she returned to sea.
Adroit helped John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and guided missile cruiser Mississippi (CGN-40) “break out” during ReadiEx 1-81 off the Virginia capes in late January and early February 1981. The minesweeper changed out her No. 1 main engine at Newport (16 March–17 April), and then (28 April–12 May) embarked reservists for Solid Shield 81. She conducted extensive independent minehunting, as well as at sea astern refueling with Hoist and an independent deep sweep while Dominant vectored her toward the (potential) mines.
An F-14A Tomcat crashed during flight testing about 18 miles off the coast of New York, near Shinnecock, before Grumman delivered the jet to the Navy, during the spring of 1981. Both crewmen ejected and survived, but the Navy decided to recover the Tomcat because of its sensitive equipment, and to provide technicians the opportunity to investigate the cause of the loss. On 8 July the Navy tasked Adroit to assist with the hunt for the stricken jet. She teamed with Opportune (ARS-41), Lt. Cmdr. Robert J. Gray in command, and located and marked the area of the crash during her first pass. Divers from Opportune and Harbor Clearance Unit 2 then used the Mark 12 deep sea diving system to inspect the wreck. Working at a depth of about 160 feet, the divers discovered that the jet had hit with such force that only a few sections survived the impact, but they nonetheless determinedly recovered most of the wreckage. Despite the divers’ efforts, however, they could not locate the small electronic components necessary to establish the exact cause of the crash. They therefore utilized deep search underwater recovery vehicle Deep Drone, which the men dubbed “Spot.” Deep Drone enabled them to retrieve the required parts over the next week, and the ships came about for home. Adroit meanwhile came about for home, and then (20 July–18 September) completed work at South Portland Shipyard. On 1 October, Adroit changed home ports once again, this time to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. Lt. Cmdr. Thomas J. Dougherty relieved Fillmann on 14 November 1981.
The ship hosted a rare visit by a senior leader when Vice Adm. John D. Johnson Jr., Commander Naval Surface Force, Atlantic Fleet, toured her on 25 January 1982. Adroit then (2 February–5 May) accomplished upkeep and an availability at Charleston, during which her crewmen overhauled the main propulsion diesel engine and a minesweeping diesel engine without civilian contractors to assist them. Uniquely, additional flag officers visited the ship when Vice Adm. Wesley L. McDonald, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Air Warfare arrived on 11 February, and Rear Adm. Charles F. Horne III, Commander Mine Warfare Command, did five days later. The ship completed an interim drydocking at Allied Repair at Norfolk (15 July–26 August). Adroit participated in MarCot-82, a joint U.S.-Canadian mine countermeasures exercise that took her to Canadian waters (17 October–17 November). Adroit conducted extensive minehunting, and refueled from Coast Guard icebreaker Westwind (WAGB-281). The ship also visited Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New London, Conn., and passed through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal en route to Baltimore, Md.
Adroit completed degaussing at Norfolk (17–19 January 1983), and then (6 February–17 March) the administrative portion of an MRCI at Charleston, engineering casualties preventing her from accomplishing the at sea evaluation. The minesweeper utilized her AN/SQQ-14 sonar to search for a crashed Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight in the vicinity of Chesapeake Light (21–28 March), returning to Little Creek for engine repairs and then resuming the unsuccessful search (29–31 March). She again assisted other ships when they broke out of Norfolk during composite training unit exercise CompTuEx 2-83 (5–8 April). In the midst of the exercise on 6 April, the crew conducted a burial at sea for STCS Walter A. Zuhars, ADC Joseph R. Thibodeau, and SH2 Willie R. Gallahan, consigning their shipmates to the deep at 36°54ˈN, 74°36.5ˈW. During Solid Shield 83 (16 April–7 May) the ship hunted and neutralized exercise mines in the waters off Morehead City, locating and recovering several of the devices with her embarked EOD sailors assisting. She also visited Wilmington, N.C. (2–4 May), as well as the Washington [D.C.] Navy Yard (22-28 June), and Cambridge, Md. (24–26 June). The minesweeper returned to northern waters when she passed through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the East River to Bridgeport, Conn. (29 June–5 July), retracing the same route on her return voyage and visiting Baltimore (8–10 July) and reaching her home port the following day. The warship continued her busy round of visits that summer by returning to the Washington Navy Yard (19–21 July) and the Norfolk “Waterside” (23–24 July). She then embarked some marines, who practiced rubber boat reconnaissance exercises with the ship (26–28 July). Adroit completed an overhaul at Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp. (1 August–30 November), where Cmdr. William R. Graner relieved Dougherty on 10 September. The man of war accomplished her sea trials on 16 December 1983.
Adroit began 1984 with a training readiness evaluation on 17 January, followed by a series of inspections, training exercises, and upkeep — including engine repairs. The ship then (9–29 May) stood out for Charleston, where she embarked EOD for mine clearance operations. Adroit enabled some EOD sailors to complete their MRCI (11–15 June) and then (23 July–15 August) completed her own. The minesweeper operated as the lead ship for the break out during ReadiEx 2-84 (20–21 August), and more than 3,200 people toured the Adroit when she visited Norfolk’s Waterside (7–9 September). The ship rounded out the year with additional training and upkeep.
Early in 1985, Adroit completed a preventive maintenance inspection (17–18 January), underway countermeasures training with reservists embarked (19–20 January), and on 24 January turned her bow southward. The ship refueled in Charleston two days later, and conducted minesweeping practice and a special project for the office of the Chief of Naval Operations out of Fort Lauderdale (29 January–2 February). The crew took a welcome break from their training cycle when the ship visited Nassau in the Bahamas (3–8 February). Adroit took part in aviation mine countermeasures operations off Charleston (11–16 February) before returning home two days later. The Atlantic Fleet redesignated Mine Group 2 to MineRon 2 on 1 March 1985, and Adroit shifted from MineDiv 123 to Service Squadron (ServRon) 8. The administrative directive noted that the change afforded “the ships the constant and direct support which has proved invaluable elsewhere in the force in terms of enhanced material and training readiness.” The warship meanwhile participated in ReadiEx 1-85 (11–12 March), and as the lead ship for a CompTuEx at Norfolk (20 April). Upon completing the latter, she took part in the search for a downed aircraft off the North Carolina coast. Adroit located the missing aircraft on 24 April, and four days later embarked reservists at Moorhead City for Solid Shield 85. The minesweeper changed out two main engines in June and July, and then completed an intermediate drydocking at Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock’s Brambleton Shipyard (13 August 1985–21 January 1986).
Lt. Cmdr. David E. Myers relieved Graner on 31 January 1986. The ship completed training and inspections during the subsequent months, beginning RefTra at Little Creek on 7 April but incurred trouble in the four Packard main engines that compelled her to cancel the training. Following a couple of months of inspections, training, and upkeep, she took part in a fleet exercise, carrying out a Q-route survey -- a system of pre-planned shipping lanes in mined or potentially mined waters used to minimize the area the mine countermeasures commander must keep clear of mines -- on the approaches to Chesapeake Bay and leading out the battle group on 15 July. The minesweeper helped search for a torpedo thrown by an RUR-5 antisubmarine rocket (ASROC) off the Virginia capes (31 July–5 August). A precise navigation system, and the Integrated Shipboard System, a computerized mine countermeasures system, were installed the following month. Adroit then (4–18 October 1986) participated in CastEx 1-87 off Charleston.
Adroit carried out degaussing at Norfolk’s Lambert Point range (20–21 January 1987), and spent most of the following month training. She conducted minehunting and a Q-route lead out for FleetEx 1-87 on 10 February. Four days later she got underway from Little Creek, stopping to fuel at Mayport on 16 February, but foul weather kept her in port for two days, and she reached Key West on 20 February. There, she embarked EODMU 4 and returned to sea and streamed both mechanical and magnetic influence gear (21–22 February). The ship took the EOD team back to sea for daily minesweeping exercises over the next four days, and sailed from Key West on 1 March for a brief visit to Freeport (2–6 March), returning home on 9 March. Adroit served as the officer in tactical command and executed a three-ship formation steam with additional reservists embarked (21–22 March). In April the ship onloaded a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to be utilized in mine identification and neutralization, employing the device during Solid Shield 87 (23 April–5 May). The ship used the ROV to effectively clear the approaches to Chesapeake Bay, and the approaches to the amphibious landing area near Morehead City. She also conducted several Q-route lead outs and laid buoys to make the channels for the marines when they landed. Adroit completed strayfields testing at Pier Yankee Charleston and ran the degaussing range there (7–18 June). On 12 August the ship conducted two Q-route lead outs for FleetEx 4-87 and commenced a transit to Mayport to participate in Ocean Safari 87. The starboard reduction gear lube oil caused problems en route, and she diverted to Charleston for repairs. While there (14–19 August) she onloaded another ROV and then took part in the exercise off Mayport, locating all of the laid practice mines along the Q-route and all but one of the devices laid in an anchorage area (20–31 August). Adroit changed out her main propulsion system from Packard to Waukesha main engines during an overhaul at Brambleton Shipyard (21 September 1987–29 August 1988).
Heightened tensions in the Middle East accelerated naval deployments during this period, and Adroit’s crewmen trained Silver and Gold Crews for duty in the Persian Gulf. The ship was refloated on 13 January 1988 but continued her yard work, and on 19 February the Silver Crew departed for Fortify (MSO-446) and Lt. Cmdr. K. L. Vanourney relieved Myers. A caretaker crew remained on board until the Blue Crew returned from their deployment on board Inflict (MSO-456). Cmdr. F. D. DeMasi of that crew assumed command on 29 February. Vanourney relieved DeMasi on 5 May as the Blue Crew departed for Fortify. A caretaker crew again maintained the ship until the Gold Crew returned from their deployment on 10 June. Following light off, the ship kept busy training and on 17 November MineRon 2 certified her ready to deploy. Adroit visited Baltimore (19–22 November). The Silver Crew relieved the Gold Crew and Lt. Cmdr. Timothy R. Hanley relieved Vanourney toward the end of the year (19–22 December 1988).
While the ship carried out mechanical minesweeping in Chesapeake Bay she encountered AN/SQQ-14 sonar issues because of an inoperative search console (4–6 January 1989). Following repairs to the system, she set out again three days later to test the repairs, only to discover a degradation in sonar performance that precluded correcting the problem. The ship carried out drills for the rest of the month but her port minesweeping wire parted while the vessel swept mechanically in the bay (17–20 January). Her crewmen recovered the gear for repairs. Adroit steamed to Mayport for mine countermeasures mobile team training (20–24 January), but heave seas en route compelled her to anchor at Charleston (22–23 January). Multiple engineering casualties delayed her participation but she completed the exercise in phases (30 January–3 February). The ships company vectored a Z-Bird during mine clearance operations, carried out Q-route surveys and sonar conditioning checks. A new port minesweeping wire was installed while the ship moored at Little Creek (20 February). The ship used an ROV during mine countermeasures mobile team training (13–22 March), also visiting the Washington Navy Yard (17–18 March).
Ongoing problems with the seasoned ship taxed the crew’s ingenuity, but her men cannibalized parts from the T-6 minesweeping generator, rendering it temporarily inoperative, in order to repair the No. 2 main propulsion diesel engine while at Little Creek (12–21 April 1989). The crew installed replacement parts while the ship made for NAS Bermuda (19–23 May). Adroit moored at the station’s annex, and then (30 May–2 June) visited Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, P.R. The vessel next put into Frederiksted, St. Croix, V.I. (3–7 June), before joining mine countermeasures ship Avenger (MCM-1) for Improved Deep Moored Sweep in those waters. Adroit’s starboard minesweeping wire parted while she swept and lost all the attached sweeping gear. The ship consequently came about and visited Nassau (14–19 June) before returning to Little Creek on 22 June.
Adroit set out on 17 July 1989 on northerly courses, her historian noting that a “scenic transit” through New York harbor and up the Hudson River “highlighted” their voyage. The ship took part in PortFest 89 at Albany, N.Y. (21–23 July), and came about and steamed downriver and through Hell’s Gate into Long Island Sound. She twice conducted pulsing of the magnetic minesweeping cable for inspectors, and then visited Stamford, Conn. (27–31 July), where the Stamford Navy League treated her men to dinner at the Sheraton Hotel. Following a visit to Newport (1–3 August), Adroit passed through the Cape Cod Canal and dropped anchor in Cape Cod Bay to check the anchor windless in preparation for an inspection. She then participated in the Neptune Festival at Rockland, Maine (4–7 August), where 20 crewmen escorted contestants of the Neptune Princess Beauty Pageant. Upon returning to sea, heavy fog required her sailors to man the low visibility detail for a grueling 16 hours before she arrived at Earle and offloaded ammunition on 9 August. The ship experienced problems with the wiring and alignment of the degaussing coils that reduced her magnetic signature to acceptable limits while degaussing at Lambert’s Point (14–16 August). EOD Detachment 44 embarked and the ship utilized a temporarily global positioning satellite navigation system during FleetEx 4-89 (18–24 August). Adroit reassuringly streamed her gear without serious incidents, and her degaussing coils worked correctly. The ship again led the other vessels out on the final day of the exercise. Adroit completed an overhaul at Brambleton Shipyard from 12 September 1989 into 1990.
Adroit deployed to the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991. Tugboats pulled Avenger and Impervious and Leader (MSO-490) onto Dutch heavy lift ship Super Servant 3 at Norfolk on 19 August 1990. Super Servant 3 transported the mine warfare ships to the war, thus saving them from damage from the rigors of the voyage, offloading Adroit in the Middle East on 5 October 1990.