(Minesweeper No. 54: dp. 950; l. 187'10"; b. 35'6"; dr. 9'9-" (mean); s. 14 k.; cpl. 85; a. none; cl. Lapwing)
A large shore bird of central North America, whose name comes from its call, "pilly-will-willet."
Willet (Minesweeper No. 54) was laid down on 19 May 1919 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched on 11 September 1919; sponsored by Miss Caroline Chantry, the daughter of Comdr. A. J. Chantry, CC; and commissioned on 29 January 1920, Lt. Albion O. Larsen in command.
After brief service with the Atlantic Fleet Train, Willet was decommissioned on 29 May 1920 and simultaneously transferred, on loan, to the United States Shipping Board. She operated with the civilian firm of Merritt, Chapman, and Scott through World War II. During the 1920's and 1930's, she was based at the Merritt, Chapman, and Scott salvage depot in New York before being shifted to Key West, Fla., from which point she operated during World War II. Classified as a salvage vessel on 13 September 1941 and simultaneously redesignated ARS-12, Willet operated in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico through the end of hostilities. She assisted stranded or grounded vessels, fought fires on burning ships, and escorted coastwise convoy runs.
Declared surplus to naval needs on 1 December 1947, Willet was struck from the Navy list on 5 December 1947.
Although listed as "disposed of" as of 6 July 1948, subsequent records indicate that the ship lay berthed at the Navy Net Depot at Melville, R.I., into the late fall of 1948. She was berthed in a shallow water anchorage not normally used by active vessels and served as a breakwater protecting other ships of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet berthed at Melville. On 2 November 1948, the erstwhile minesweeper and salvage vessel was delivered to her purchaser, Joseph Demaso, of Miami, Fla., and scrapped soon thereafter.