Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content
Topic
  • Boats-Ships--Support Ships
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
  • Cold War
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Capable I (AM-155)

1943–1983

A general word classification.

I

(AM-155: displacement 630; length 184'6"; beam 33'; draft 10'; speed 15 knots; complement 104; armament 1 3-inch; 2 40-millimeter; 2 20-millimeter; 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog), 2 depth charge tracks; class Admirable)

The first Capable (AM-155) was laid down on 12 May 1942 at Portland, Ore., by the Willamette Iron & Steel Corp.; launched on 16 November 1942; and commissioned on 5 December 1943, Lt. Cmdr. Wilbert C. Kunz, USNR, in command.

Attached to Mine Division (MinDiv) 29 Mine Squadron (MinRon) 10, serving under Commander, Pacific Fleet (ComServPac), Capable steamed out from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Calif. (16–22 December 1943), for the Columbia River Deperming Station, Swan Island, Portland, for deperming, degaussing, and compass compensation, upon completion of which she devoted three days to minesweeping doctrine and trials in the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The minesweeping exercises were conducted under the supervision of the Minesweeping Trial Board, Northwestern Sea Frontier, Seattle, Wash. During this period, Capable fueled and provisioned to capacity with ammunition, minus depth charges.

On 22 December 1943, Capable got underway at 0938 for Astoria, Ore. She proceeded down the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, arriving at the naval station at 1825. The next day, she received her allotment of depth charges. At 1540, she got underway for San Pedro, Calif., arriving there on 27 December, two days after Christmas. Shakedown officers arrived on board at 1558 and made an arrival inspection of Capable. On 28 December, she got underway at 1041 for Los Angeles Harbor’s firing range for gunnery practice. The crew conducted structural firing tests of her 3-inch/50-caliber gun and 20-millimeter machine guns before returning to Los Angeles at 1710.

As part of her shakedown period, Capable got underway from Santa Barbara at 0920 on 29 December 1943 for a minesweeping exercise and returned to Santa Barbara at 1736. From 30 December 1943–9 January 1944, Capable continued to conduct her busy shakedown. On 10 January 1944, she steamed out at 2127 as the only ship in Task Unit (TU) 14.2.2, headed for San Clemente Island. She arrived at Wilson Cove, San Clemente, at 0749, where all officers and crew went ashore for small arms qualifications at the Marine Corps firing range. After the crew returned on board, Capable shoved off at 1704 and arrived at Los Angeles at 2144.

Capable got underway on 12 January 1944 at 1000 for drydocking at Craig Shipbuilding Company, Long Beach, Calif., for replacement of the port strut bearing as it had “developed a bad ’hum.’” She remained in dry dock until 1500 on 20 January, at which time she was undocked with her stern tubes plugged. She went back into dry dock on 25 January at 1600, however, due to the sound projector dome having been crushed by a misplaced block. No damage to the sound lead was found, and she was undocked and moored at 1553 on 27 January. During the repair period, the yard workmen accomplished several smaller items of work and alterations in addition to correcting the misalignment of her port and starboard shafts. Due to the damage to her sound dome, it became necessary to replace, rather than repair, it. She departed Long Beach on 29 January, and reached San Diego at 1620.

Capable got underway at 0635 on 1 February 1944 for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) training during her shakedown period (1–4 February), and conducted ASW exercises with submarines during daylight hours each day. On 4 February, she made nine attacks with partial patterns of Mk.10 projectiles fired from her hedgehog, on a “tame” submarine.  At 1520, she laid a structural test pattern of seven Mk.6 depth charges, with no casualties sustained. At 1753, Capable returned to San Diego, where she underwent her final post-shakedown inspection on 5 February, before she got underway to San Francisco as the lone ship of TU 14.1.2.

Moored at North Pier, Treasure Island, on 7 February 1944, Capable got underway at 1114 the next morning as the sole ship in TU 16.1.2 as the ocean escort for Convoy 2357, composed of the freighters Maunalei, Manukai, and Tjisadane, steaming to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii (T.H.), with Lt. Cmdr. Colwell, the convoy commodore in Maunalei. The convoy rendezvoused off the Farallones and set course for Hawaii without Manukai, which failed to make the meeting point. While the freighters kept a base speed of 13 knots, Capable made 13.8 knots. The convoy stood in to Honolulu Bay at 1150 on 15 February 1944, and lay moored there until 24 February. Capable got underway at 1207 the next day for Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands.

With Capable as the sole escort for TU 16.14.1, the convoy consisted of net layer Papaya (AN-49); rescue tug ATR-46; motor mine sweepers YMS-301 and YF-385; non-self-propelled covered lighter YF-412, harbor tugs YT-468, YT-469, and YT-314; district patrol vessel YP-42; and floating workshop YR-30, all under ComTaskUnit 16 in Papaya. The ships formed up off Pearl Harbor at 1748 and set out with a base speed of six knots for Majuro.

On 9 March 1944, the convoy sighted Majuro at 1435. The entire group entered Majuro Lagoon at 1600 with the exception of ATR-46 and the covered lighters YF-385 and YF-412. Capable continued screening ATR-46 as she attempted repairs to her towing gear. Darkness prevented the rescue tug from entering the lagoon at night, so Capable continued screening her and her tows until they were able to enter the lagoon at 1012 the next morning.

Capable sailed at 0956 for Pearl Harbor on 12 March 1944, escorting provision storeship Boreas (AF-8) and U.S. freighter Francis Parkman as she passed through the entrance to Majuro Lagoon at 1055. The convoy arrived at Oahu on 19 March at 0545, after which, Capable underwent minor repairs and awaited orders while moored at Pearl Harbor (20–27 March). On 28 March, Capable got underway from Pearl for minesweeping and gunnery exercises in company with her sistership Captivate (AM-156). The two minesweepers streamed and tested magnetic sweep gear and test-fired 3-inch/50-caliber guns at towed surface and air targets. Capable expended 76 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition from her 3-inch/50-caliber mount, as well as 500 rounds from her 20-millimeter gun. After the exercises concluded, Capable and Captivate returned to Pearl Harbor before sunset.

On 29 March 1944, the two minesweepers steamed out of Oahu with S-28 (SS-133) in company for sonar training and making practice runs depth charging a submarine. Capable, acting as escort commander, made way for Majuro Atoll alongside Captivate. As TU 16.16.6, the minesweepers escorted a convoy that included cargo ship Giansar (AK-111) and the freighters Pacific Sun, Eastern Sun, and Admiral Nulton. The convoy entered Majuro Lagoon on 10 April. Capable took on fuel and supplies the next day, before getting underway again on 12 April. Alongside destroyer Phelps (DD-360) and fleet tug Tekesta (AT-93), the convoy consisted of provision storeship Pastores (AF-16), and the freighters Pennsylvania Sun, Fort Sumter, and White Oak. Capable, Phelps and Tekesta received orders to escort the convoy as far as the 180th meridian. At 0550 on 16 April, the convoy entered Majuro Lagoon. Capable took on fuel and water, and anchored in berth X-1 at 1223 until 19 April.


Capable, off Seattle, Wash., 6 July 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-86282, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Capable, off Seattle, Wash., 6 July 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-86282, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

At 1250 on 21 April 1944, Capable got underway shortly after Lt. Cmdr. Kunz received a secret mailgram from CTU 57.7.3, to act as the only escort for the freighters Samoa and Admiral Nulton en route to Kwajalein. Passing through the channel entrance at 1358, the convoy formed up at 1508 and made way. At 0830, the convoy steamed through the channel entrance at Gea Pass, and anchored in the lagoon at 0950.

Capable conducted a quick turnaround, receiving orders to escort U.S. Army Transport (USAT) Jaffray and ATR-44 (towing the open lighter YC-1066), from Kwajalein back to Majuro in company with destroyer escort Bangust (DE-739). The convoy made it into the lagoon at Majuro on 23 April 1944, and Capable got underway two days later at 1327 to pick up pilots from Prairie (AD-15). She then assumed the harbor entrance patrol off Majuro, relieving Captivate at 1515. Capable steamed out of Majuro on 28 April at 1038, escorting Jaffray to the 180th Meridian. The convoy arrived to the 180th Meridian on 1 May at 2230. Her mission complete, Capable reversed course and steamed back to Majuro, arriving on 3 May.

Anchored in Majuro on 6 May 1944, Capable steamed to the harbor entrance at 1402 to conduct a routine patrol until she was relieved at 1500 by the submarine chaser PC-1135. She got underway at 1500 on 8 May as the only escort for Admiral Nulton to Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, arriving on 11 May. Capable immediately turned around to make way for Majuro, entering the lagoon there at 0725 on 13 May. After conducting routine patrols for the next seven days, she received orders to escort the general stores-issue ship Luna (AKS-7) (a converted “Liberty”) to Kwajalein.

Getting underway at 0852 on 21 May 1944, Capable arrived at Kwajalein the next day, entering berth K-1. At 1120 on 23 May, she steamed back to Majuro, arriving at 1214. Capable, acting as escort commander, got underway at 1545 on 27 May with CTU 57.7.3, relieving submarine chaser SC-1272 as one of the escorts for a convoy bound for Eniwetok. After joining the convoy at 1759, she proceeded towards the Marshalls alongside rescue and salvage ship Preserver (ARS-8) (towing gasoline bargeYOG-24); gasoline barge YO-103 and YOGL-9; fleet tug Arapaho (AT-68) (towing water barge YW-76, YOGL-4, and covered lighter YF-696); Chickasaw (AT-83) (towing gasoline barges YOG-27, YOG-28, and water barge YW-77); Mataco (AT-86) (towing water barge YW-68 and YOGL-7); water barge YW-94 towing YW-82; and YW-88 towing YW-69. After safely escorting the convoy and arriving in Eniwetok on 1 June, Capable received a secret dispatch to begin new convoy duties for Preserver, Gear (ARS-34), Arapaho, Chickasaw and Mataco, and escort them back to Majuro. The convoy got underway at 1645, and arrived back in Majuro at 1805 on 3 June.

At 1425 on 7 June 1944, Capable got underway to assume entrance patrol duty in Majuro Lagoon. At 1717, as garbage lighter YG-30 approached the entrance, her engines broke down. Capable took her in tow at 1820 into the channel to the lagoon, before handing her off to Pinola (ATO-33) at 1957. Underway for convoy duties on 10 June 1944 to Eniwetok, the busy minesweeper acted as convoy commander for a group that included submarine chaser PC-560, as well as freighters Willard M. Hayes, Kohala, and R. S. Carey. Capable entered the channel at Eniwetok at 0746, and anchored in the lagoon at 0814. She got underway and steamed for the 175th East Meridian on 15 June 1944, escorting oiler Ocklawaha (AO-84) alongside the motor minesweeper YMS-90.

Capable was relieved on 18 June 1944 at 1108 by the Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) on board Ocklawaha and reversed course for Majuro. She arrived at her destination at 0517, and was underway once more as the only escort for the cargo ships Southern Sun and Skandinavia, en route to Eniwetok. Capable was relieved of escort duty by the destroyer escort Steele (DE-8) at 1555 on 20 June. Arriving on 21 June at Majuro and anchoring at 1422, Capable proceeded to Eniwetok at 1256 on 22 June as the only escort for replenishment oiler Mascoma (AO-83) and floating oil storage ship Manileno (IX-141). On 23 June, Capable proceeded to Majuro, anchoring in the lagoon on 24 June. A day later, after receiving a secret mailgram from CTU 57.7.3, she escorted freighter Hillman and fuel oil barge YO-79, both with tows, to Eniwetok. Relieved of escort duty by PC-548 on 27 June, capable entered Gea Pass, Kwajalein, at 1100. After taking on fuel and some supplies, she was underway at 1725 to Majuro, proceeding singly. On 30 June, Capable got underway at 1403, escorting auxiliary ocean tug ATA-122 and Keosanqua (ATO-38) to Eniwetok.

On 2 July 1944, submarine chaser PC-1138 relieved Capable of her escort duties by at 0745. Setting a course to return to Majuro, she proceeded alone. Capable conducted minesweeping drills and streamed all sweeping gear before resuming course for Majuro. She anchored in the harbor at 0928. Three days later, on 5 July, she got underway to act as escort for submarine Balao (SS-285), an assignment that called on her to escort that boat to the entrance of the Safety Lane, where she rendezvoused with Seawolf (SS-197), then led both submarines back to Majuro. At 1412 on 6 July, Balao was detached to proceed alone, while the rendezvous with Seawolf occurred at 1416. Capable escorted Seawolf the rest of the way to Majuro, anchoring in the harbor.

Two days after successfully escorting Seawolf, the minesweeper received orders to rendezvous with Stingray (SS-186) at 1500, and bring her back to Majuro.  On 11 July 1944, the reliable Capable received orders to rendezvous with Snapper (SS-185) at 1500 on 12 July, and bring her to Majuro. Both ships arrived into the meeting area earlier than anticipated and set course for Majuro at 1347. After arriving back to Majuro, Lt. Cmdr. Kunz became CTU 57.7.3 at 1200, with Capable his flagship. For the rest of the month, from 15–31 July 1944, the new flagship for TU 57.7.3 remained anchored at Majuro Island.

For most of the month of August (1–29 August 1944), Capable remained anchored in Majuro. On 12 August, the designation of CTU 57.7.3 was changed to CTU 57.6.3. At noon on 29 August, Lt. Cmdr. Kunz was relieved by Lt. E. J. Bradley, commanding officer of YMS-301, as CTU 57.6.3. On 30 August, Capable got underway escorting freighter Fort Donelson to Kwajalein, arriving in the lagoon at 1550 the next day. Capable continued her escort duties into the month of September 1944, sailing back to Majuro on 1 September. At 1438, she commenced practice streaming of her Orapesa-type minesweeping gear. A sweep with her magnetic gear was conducted for an hour before the crew recovered all equipment by 1715.

After anchoring in Majuro at 1035 and taking on stores, Capable got underway at 1808 to escort freighter Blandensburg to Kwajalein, arriving there on 3 September 1944 at 1510. Underway again immediately, she steamed again for Majuro and assumed entrance patrol duties off Lucille Channel. From 4–6 September, Capable resumed patrol duties and suffered a casualty to steering when her steering cable parted at 1717 on 6 September. She steered into Majuro with her main engines until she rigged emergency steering, and anchored in the lagoon at 1742.

Repairs were made to Capable’s steering cable on 7 September 1944. Able to get underway the next day, she escorted replenishment oiler Mascoma (AO-83) to Manus Island. Relieved on 12 September by HMAS Gascoyne, Capable reversed course for Eniwetok, proceeding independently.  At 0637 on 16 September, Capable entered Deep Entrance, Eniwetok, and reported to TG 57.6 for duty. Two days later, she got underway at 0909 as escort for troop transport Gemini (AP-75) and freighter Arickaree to Majuro and Makin. On 21 September, Capable escorted Arickaree into Majuro Lagoon, and then proceeded with Gemini to Makin Island, arriving at 1709 the following day. Capable then proceeded to Majuro while escorting Gemini on 23 September. Arriving into Majuro on 25 September, Capable spent the next few days anchored out in the lagoon before departing on 28 September for Kwajalein to pick up freight to distribute to other ships of the task group. She spent the rest of September 1944 anchored in the lagoon of Kwajalein.

On 1 October 1944, TG 57.6 became TG 96.3. Capable got underway at 1135 as escort for water barge YW-94, en route to Eniwetok. At 1653, she transferred freight to fellow minesweeper Salute (AM-294) while underway, completing the transfer at 1712. At 0908 on 3 October, Capable moored at Eniwetok alongside battle damage repair ship Zeus (ARB-4) at 1508 for emergency repairs to her starboard main engine muffler, after which, Capable made way for Saipan on 10 October 1944, arriving in Tanapag Harbor at 0729 on 15 October. At 1316 on 17 October, she relieved minesweeper Buoyant (AM-153) as patrol vessel on station to the west of Tinian Island. At 1425, two Japanese men were sighted swimming with the aid of a life jacket and an automobile inner-tube. Capable plucked both men from the sea, and confined them under guard, before resuming her patrol duties. Her sailors turned the two prisoners over to marines just off the entrance of Tinian Harbor at 0700 on 18 October, before resuming her patrol.

On 10 October 1944, Capable steamed for Saipan and between 15 October and 8 November patrolled the waters off Saipan, Tinian, and Aquijan. On 7 November, while anchored in Tanapag Harbor, Capable fired 18 rounds of 20-millimeter antiaircraft fire at a low flying Japanese Mitsubishi G4M Type 1 land attack plane [Betty]. With visibility poor, only two guns fired short bursts before the Betty flew out of range and escaped unscathed.  Capable acted as escort for convoy SE-34 (8–20 November), steaming for Eniwetok, and returned to Saipan escorting convoy ES-32. She got underway on 28 November to rendezvous with submarine Kingfish (SS-234) setting a course for Guam. A day later, Capable acted as escort for Buoyant and arrived in Saipan at 0750 the next morning.

Capable spent most of December 1944 acting as escort ship for convoys steaming between Saipan and Guam. On 26 December, she went to general quarters at 1955 while enemy bombers raided Saipan airfields. One stick of bombs struck the beach near Tanapag Harbor causing no damage to any of the ships in the area. Capable escorted convoy SE-52 from Saipan to Eniwetok (28 December 1944–2 January 1945). Steaming back to Saipan (4–7 January), she escorted convoy ES-48 to Apra Harbor and anchored at 1720. Capable also performed routine patrol and escort duties off Saipan for the remainder of January.

Continuing in her capacity to perform routine patrols and duties during the month of February 1945, Capable completed an escort mission between Eniwetok, the Palau Islands, and Ulithi as part of the preparations for the invasion of Iwo Jima. The V Amphibious Corps, composed of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions, made the landings on 19 February. Supported by Fifth Fleet, the battle proved to be the deadliest for American forces thus far. After ferocious fighting, the marines secured the volcanic island on 26 March. Almost 7,000 marines and approximately 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. During the attempt to secure a foothold in Japan’s home islands, Capable provided escort duties for ships steaming between Saipan and Iwo Jima. With the island firmly in Allied hands, Capable steamed for Ulithi. She escorted Compel (AM-162), Candid (AM-154), and Change (AM-159) from Ulithi to Eniwetok (1–5 March), then spent the remainder of the month at the advanced base at Eniwetok before getting underway for Pearl Harbor on 21 March. Steaming for Seattle on 30 March, she arrived at Port Angeles at 1200 for quarantine inspection. A civilian doctor went on board, found Capable in good order, and quickly deemed the inspection unnecessary. After unloading her depth charges at Port Angeles, she got underway at 1629 for the Naval Ammunition Depot, Puget Sound, to unload the rest of her ammunition stores in anticipation of a scheduled overhaul.

From 1 April – 30 June 1945, Capable underwent an extended overhaul at Pacific Electrical and Mechanical Co., in Seattle. From 1–5 July 1945, post repair adjustments and completing logistics were made. Getting underway on 6 July, Capable served as flagship for Task Unit 06.13.43, consisting of minesweepers Bond (AM-152), Candid, Captivate, Caravan (AM-157), and Caution (AM-158). The task unit steamed for Cold Bay, Territory of Alaska, anchoring there from 11 to 31 July.

Designated one of 250 vessels transferred to the Soviets, Capable became part of a down payment for Stalin’s joining the war effort against Imperial Japan. Project Hula, the name of the secret program developed to transfer U.S. Navy ships and equipment to the Soviets, was led by Maj. Gen. John R. Deane, U.S. Army. Rear Adm. Clarence E. Olsen served as Deane’s deputy.

On 18 January 1945, Fleet Adm. Ernest J. King personally approved the transfer of the naval vessels and craft. The immediate stockpiling of equipment for the Soviets, under the codename Milepost, began in earnest during the spring and summer of 1945. Project Hula quickly became the largest and most ambitious transfer program during the war.


Four of Capable’s sailors toil topside on 6 July 1945, as she steams for Cold Bay, before her transfer to the Soviet Navy on 16 August 1945, as part of Project Hula. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-86285, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Four of Capable’s sailors toil topside on 6 July 1945, as she steams for Cold Bay, before her transfer to the Soviet Navy on 16 August 1945, as part of Project Hula. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS-86285, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Arriving at Fort Randall, Cold Bay, on 1 August 1945, Capable’s sailors were astonished to learn that not only were they to train a Russian crew on board, but that she was to be turned over to the Soviets. The Americans grudgingly began training the Russian crew in the operation of the Admirable-class minesweeper. Although unfamiliar with radar and sonar technology, the Soviet sailors proved adept at engineering and gunnery. Eventually, 51 Soviet sailors (50 enlisted plus one officer) were taught emergency steering drills and other general drills. At 1345, the prospective Soviet commanding officer came on board and toured Capable, accompanied by Lt. Cmdr. Kunz.

The American crew demonstrated to their Soviet counterparts “O”-type, acoustic and magnetic minesweeping, towing and fueling at sea, gunnery, and formation steering (7–8 August 1945), after which time. Capable’s crew was reduced to a small nucleus of only 18 enlisted men and four officers (9 August), while the full complement of Soviet sailors moved on board. The Soviet sailors then demonstrated minesweeping, ship handling, gunnery, formation steaming, ASW ordnance firing, ASW sonar attacks, towing and fueling at sea, and general drills under the guidance of the American crew and officers (10–13 August). Soon thereafter, (14–15 August), Capable was prepared for transfer to the Soviet Navy, fueling to capacity and final decommissioning reports were made and sent.

Decommissioned from the U.S. Navy at 1700 on 16 August 1945, Capable was quickly commissioned into the Soviet Navy (possibly as early as the next day), and designated a tralshik (“minesweeper”), renamed T-339. Steaming from Cold Bay, T-339 began service in the Soviet Far East, bound for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

With the deterioration of relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R, and the arrival of the Cold War, Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal informed the State Department that the Department of the Navy wanted 480 of the 585 combatant ships it had transferred to the Soviet Union, returned. Negotiations to bring these ships back to the U.S. Navy proved exceedingly long and drawn out. By the mid-1950s, it became clear to the negotiators and other U.S. officials that the expense to bring these older ships home was not worth the effort.  

Capable was never returned to the U.S. Navy, although she was reclassified in absentia on 7 February 1955 as a fleet minesweeper, redesignating her from AM-155 to MSF-155.

The Soviets scrapped T-339 in 1960, but the U.S. Navy, unaware of her fate due to continued tensions of the Cold War, kept Capable on the Naval Vessel Register until she was stricken on 1 January 1983.

 

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Lt. Cmdr. Wilbert C. Kunz 5 December 1943–16 August 1945

 

Guy J. Nasuti
13 November 2018

Published: Wed Nov 21 12:38:10 EST 2018