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Owl I (Minesweeper No. 2)

A nocturnal bird of prey.


(Minesweeper No. 2: displacement 1,009 (full load); length 187'10"; beam 35'6"; draft 10'4"; speed 14 knots; complement 78; armament 2 3-inch; class Lapwing)

The first Owl (Minesweeper No. 2) was laid down on 25 October 1917 at Brooklyn, N.Y., by the Todd Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 4 March 1918; sponsored by Miss Ruth R. Dodd; and commissioned on 11 July 1918, Lt. (j.g.) Charles B. Babson in command.

Following a New York to Charleston towing assignment, Owl reported to the Fifth Naval District at Norfolk on 22 August 1918. Employed as a minesweeper for the remaining months of World War I, she then served as a light ship in the inner approaches to Chesapeake Bay until 10 July 1919. On 17 July 1920, she was reclassified from Minesweeper No. 2 to AM-2.

From that time until 1936, Owl was primarily engaged in providing towing services along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean. Between June 1936 and January 1941, she operated with units of the Aircraft Division, Base Force, providing plane guard, seaplane tender, and target and mooring buoy planting services from New England to the Caribbean. Then, temporarily attached to Train, Patrol Force, at Culebra, P.R., she steamed to Bermuda in May for towing and servicing duties with MinDiv 14.

Redesignated AT-137 on 1 June 1942, Owl  was based at Bermuda until June 1943. During that time, towing and escort duties frequently took her to the east coast, while numerous salvage and rescue missions, including aid to the submarine R-1 and torpedoed Argentine tanker Victoria, kept her busy at Bermuda and in nearby convoy lanes.

Detached from Bermudan duty in June, Owl spent the last six months of 1943 with DesRon 30 operating out of Guantanamo Bay. She then steamed back to Norfolk for overhaul, and sailed for Europe. She arrived at Falmouth, U.K., on 14 March 1944 to join the Allied forces gathering for the invasion of France. Redesignated ATO-137 on 15 May 1944, she arrived off the Normandy coast two days after "D-Day" [6 June 1944]. As ground forces pushed inland, she towed port and road construction materials to the French coast, thus aiding the all important flow of men and equipment to the front.

Availability at Falmouth early in the new year, 1945, preceded her return to the United States on 27 February, and mid-Atlantic coast towing assignments. Transferred to the Pacific Fleet, she sailed from Newport on 5 May with YNG-11 in tow, and arrived at San Diego on 23 June, to join ServRon 2. In August she continued on to Pearl Harbor for four months of target towing duty, returning to the west coast on 2 January 1946. Owl then provided towing services for the 19th (Reserve) Fleet until beginning inactivation in April. She was decommissioned in the Thirteenth Naval District on 26 July 1946 and on 27 June 1947 was sold for scrapping to the Pacific Metal & Salvage Co. at Port of Nordland, Wash.

Owl received one battle star for her World War II service.

Published: Sat Jan 27 11:41:57 EST 2018