A general word classification.
(AM-239: displacement 945 (limiting); length 184'6"; beam 33'; draft 9'9"; speed 14.8 knots; complement 104; armament 1 3-inch, 4 40 millimeter; class Admirable)
Gayety (AM-239) was laid down on 14 November 1943 by the Winslow Marine Railway & Shipbuilding Co. of Winslow, Wash.; launched 19 March 1944; sponsored by Miss Janice Morgan; and commissioned 23 September 1945, Lt. Cmdr. John R. Row in command.
After shakedown out of San Pedro and San Diego, Gayety arrived Pearl Harbor 4 January 1945. Following training and escort duty she sailed west for the invasion of Okinawa via Eniwetok, Saipan, and Ulithi. She sortied from Saipan 25 March with a convoy bound for Okinawa and arrived off Okinawa 1 April in time for the first amphibious assault on that strategic island, the doorway to Japan. In the ensuing weeks, Gayety swept minefields and made ASW patrols in the Ryukyus. On 14 April she was attacked by a Japanese torpedo bomber coming in low and fast to starboard. The plane launched a torpedo which Gayety left astern, but she was shaken from bow to stern when it exploded 150 yards away.
On 4 May, following a kamikaze attack on nearby Hopkins, another plane made a suicide run on Gayety, coming in from starboard. Her automatic weapons riddled the plane that passed close over her fantail before crashing into the sea 30 yards off the port quarter. Later in the same day the ship was attacked by a Japanese "Baka" bomb, a 4,700-pound bomb propelled by a rocket and guided by a human pilot at speeds up to 600 miles per hour. One of these deadly weapons thundered in at an estimated 400 knots, made a low altitude run oil several of the smaller minesweepers Gayety was shepherding, and then turned toward Gayety for a suicide crash. The ship's gunners, unflinchingly manning their weapons, sent up an umbrella of automatic fire which blew off the Baka's cowling; seconds later it disintegrated rapidly, tumbling end over end through the air, and crashed into the sea 15 yards off Gayety's port bow. Shrapnel rained on her decks, knocking out the port 40mm gun and wounding three men, but the ship continued her duties undaunted.
On 27 May, while continuing to support the Okinawa campaign, she suffered a near-miss from a 500-pound bomb which exploded just astern. Five men were killed and two wounded by flying debris, and the fantail burst into flames. Quick damage control, however, followed by repairs at Kerama Retto, soon put her back in fighting shape; and she resumed minesweeping off Okinawa and, subsequently, shifted operations to the approaches of the Japanese home islands.
After Japan surrendered and occupation forces had taken control of the conquered Empire, Gayety stood out from Japan 20 November for the United States via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor, reaching San Diego 19 December 1945 and thence sailing via the Panama Canal to Orange. Tex., where she decommissioned 7 June 1946 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Gayety recommissioned 11 May 1951, Lt. Percy W. Rairden, Jr., in command, and moored at Charleston, N.C., 29 May. Until 1954 she was based at either Charleston or Norfolk, Va., as a training ship, with a visit to Vieques Island, P.R., in the fall of 1951 for exercises. She returned to Orange, Tex., 3 January 1954 and decommissioned 1 March 1954, reentering the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Gayety was reclassified MSF-239, 7 February 1955 and was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam 17 April 1962. She served the Vietnamese Navy as Chi Lang II (HQ-8).
Robert J. Cressman
12 August 2016