Cormorant I (AM-40)
A genus of web-footed sea birds.
The first Cormorant (AM-40) was launched 5 February 1919 by Todd Shipbuilding Corp., New York City, N.Y.; sponsored by Miss M. E. Vellaire; and commissioned 15 May 1919, Lieutenant J. B. McKean in command.
Based on Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, Cormorant joined in the dangerous and exacting task of clearing the North Sea minefields between 22 August 1919 and 1 October. On towing duty, sha called at Devonport, Brest, Lisbon, Ponta del Gada, and Bermuda before returning to Staten Island 19 November 1919 for the Fleet Review in the North River. For the next year and a half, she operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean, joining in maneuvers and war games, as she towed targets, acted as tender, and carried mail for the Fleet. Between 23 September 1920 and 27 December 1920, she was in ordinary without a crew at Portsmouth, N.H., for repairs, returning then to full commission.
On 5 February 1921 Cormorant arrived at Washington, D.C., for experimental work under the Bureau of Ordnance. For the next 6 years she operated almost exclusively in the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay testing mine weapons and devices, on occasion going to Newport on this duty. Early in 1927 she served for a period of 2 months as station ship in the Virgin Islands, but experimental mine work continued to be her primary duty. In 1928 she again served in the Virgin Islands for 2 months, and in 1932, was at Guantanamo Bay for a month to tow targets. Several times in 1933 she steamed to Pensacola, Fla., in connection with experimental mineplanting and sweeping. Similar duty continued through 9 December 1942. On 1 June 1942 she was reclassified AT-133.
Between 18 January 1943 and 19 May, Cormorant gave tug services at Guantanamo Bay to destroyers in training there, and after calling at Charleston, S.C., for repairs in June, sailed north to Reykjavik, Iceland, for salvage duty until 13 October. On 7 December she arrived at Falmouth, England, which was to be her base during the months of training and preparation for Operation "Overlord," the invasion of Normandy. As masses of men and shipping accumulated in English ports, Cormorant gave the essential tug, towing, and salvage services that amphibious operations demand. Reclassified ATO-133 on 15 May 1944, she put to sea from Portsmouth, England, 7 June 1944 for the newly invaded Normandy coast, and served as towing and salvage ship there, expediting the landing of the great number of men and supplies to support forces ashore, until 23 July. Cormorant towed small craft and barges between Southampton, England, and France until 28 September, then had a brief overhaul at Plymouth, returning to Falmouth for salvage and towing duty until 12 November.
Cormorant operated between Plymouth and Antwerp on towing duty until 16 January 1945, and returned to New York in convoy 28 February. After overhaul at Norfolk, she cleared for the Pacific theater, arriving at San Pedro, Calif., 24 June. On towing duty, she proceeded to Guam where she served as torpedo recovery ship between 6 September and 12 December. Returning to San Pedro 24 January, Cormorant was decommissioned 29 March 1946, and sold 8 January 1947.
Cormorant received one battle star for World War II service.