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USS Pirate

Selected documents on the Salvage of USS Pirate and USS Pledge



Serial 0003               
Jan 26 1951              

From: Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force
(Commander Task Force NINETY-FIVE)
To: Commander Naval Forces, Far East

Subj: Security Salvage, USS PIRATE (AM 275) and USS PLEDGE (AM 277)

Encl: (1) CominRon 3 TS ltr Ser 00028/L8 of 13 Dec 1950 with ComPhibGru ONE 
        (2) CominRon 3 Sec ltr Ser 0027/L8 of 11 Dec 1950 with ComPhibGru ONE 

1. Enclosures (1) and (2), reporting the security salvage operations conducted on the hulks of PIRATE and PLEDGE, are forwarded herewith.

2. Commander Task Force NINETY-FIVE is of the opinion that all possible measures have been taken to prevent compromise of classified matter and that such compromise is extremely unlikely. 

3. Steps have been taken by higher authority to provide for periodic aerial reconnaissance of the spot where the ships were sunk, in order that possible salvage operations by the enemy may be detected.



Serial: 00028      
13 DEC 1950     

From: Commander Task Group 95.6
To: Commander Task Force 95
Via: Commander Task Force 90

Subj: Security salvage, PIRATE - PLEDGE

Ref: (a) CTF 7 secret despatch 230450z of October 1950.
       (b) CTF 95.6 secret ltr serial 0027 of 11 December 1950.

1. The diving and destruction, made hazardous by many days of rough water, freezing winds, thick mud and torn, jagged metal structures, has been accomplished in a highly efficient manner reflecting special credit on the personnel of the CONSERVER and DIACHENKO plus the four divers from the JASON and DIXIE.

2. Ships structures have been well demolished into small sections spread over a considerable area and effectively buried in the thick mud of the bottom. Recovery of any considerable amount of the fragments would require a major salvage and dredging operation covering many months of operating.

3. It is not considered possible that there has been any compromise of classified materials.

4. In the strewn and buried wreckage are undoubtedly items which will take several more months for deterioration to the point where if recovered they would not reveal any classified information to the enemy.

5. In order to make impossible such a major salvage operation which could be undertaken immediately by the enemy to recover items which are susceptible to compromise, it is recommended that the area either be mined or subjected to daily surveillance by search planes for a period of six months.



Serial: 0027       
11 DEC 1950    

From: Commander Task Group 95.6
To: Commander Task Force 95
Via: Commander Task Force 90

Subj: Security salvage, USS PIRATE (AM-275) and USS PLEDGE (AM-277).

Encl: (1) CTF 7 secret despatch 230450Z of October 1950. (missing)
        (2) Mine clearance in vicinity of wrecks during minesweeping assault Wonsan.
        (3) - (12) are despatches missing from report
        (13) Report by ENS W. B. FARNSWORTH, Jr., USN - UDT-3.
        (14) CTF 95.6 secret despatch 110558Z of December 1950. (missing)

1. This report submitted in compliance with Enclosure (1).

2. The subject ships were mined 12 October 1950 at Wonsan Korea in about 16 fathoms of water.

3. Minesweeping commitment at Wonsan, Hungnam and Songjin were carried out as directed, expediting all possible. These operations were continuous. While at Wonsan it was possible to initiate clearance of area around wrecks as outlined in Enclosure (1). No minesweeping boats were available to continue salvage at Wonsan during Hungnam and Songjin sweeping. Status of subject salvage upon departure from Wonsan was reported to Commander Task Force 95, info all commands concerned, by Enclosure (3).

4. Songjin sweep conducted in compliance with Enclosure (4) was completed 19 November, and group sailed same day for Wonsan arriving 20 November. On 21 November the remaining eight mines were swept away from the vicinity of the wrecks.

5. CONSERVER reported operational control of Commander Task Group 95.6 on 27 November. On 28-30 November she overhauled and repaired diving equipment. During this period divers were given familiarization on board the INCREDIBLE.

6. CONSERVER moored over PIRATE stern at 1600 on 1 December but weather conditions prevented dive this date. Enclosures (5) through (9) outline progress of salvage operations through 4 December. On 3 December, Commander Task Group 95.6 directed CONSERVER to obtain explosives for use if directed. On 4 December, Commander Task Group 95.6 requested assignment of Underwater Demolition Team personnel to assist destruction on PIRATE wreck. On 5 December, Lieutenant THEBE from the DIACHENKO with extensive UDC experience was assigned by Commander Task Force 90 to provide technical advice and assistance. The Commanding Officer, USS DIACHENKO was assigned command of security salvage by Commander Task Force 90, Enclosure (10), at 051756 item. Enclosure (11) reports progress on 5 December.

7. Enclosures (12) and (13) provide additional information. The publications recovered by Ensign FARNSWORTH were as follows:

CSP 734         
JALAP 118 (B)
JALAP 125      

8. To date, bow of PIRATE has not been identified by divers.

9. By Enclosure (14) it was requested that Commanding Officer, USS DIACHENKO complete the report to Commander Task Force 95 in compliance with Enclosure (1).


Enclosure (2)


11 December 1950      

Subj: Mine Clearance in vicinity of wrecks during mine sweeping assault, Wonsan.

1. On 13 October 1950, helicopter counted 27 mines in PIRATE line. Pilot stated that there might be more mines.

2. On 16 October, Mine Division 31 swept 11 mines from the Rei To end of the PIRATE line, and on 17 October, six additional mines. From this time remaining mines were bypassed and main efforts were directed to complete sweeping to Wonsan objectives. No minesweeping boats were available at this time.

3. On 20 October, commenced rigging size 5 O-type gear for two boats, partially by improvision. Previous efforts had been unsuccessful because wire available was too heavy. The proper wire was received by shipment from Sassaby.

4. On 20 October, the INCREDIBLE was directed to sweep out remaining mines from the PIRATE line between the wrecks and Rei To. She swept out three mines on 21 October to accomplish this task.

5. On 23 October, 16 mines were sighted remaining in the PIRATE line. The DIACHENKO assisted by helicopter plotted 11 of these mines. On 24 October, all of these mines were buoyed.

6. On 24 October, the boat sweepers had been satisfactorily rigged and tested and commenced sweeping objective areas; this was completed on 28 October. Poor visibility prevented work around wrecks on 30 October. On 31 October, the boats swept six mines from the vicinity of the wrecks. Minesweeping gear of both boats fouled in mines and two days were required for clearance and recovery. On 3 November, gear and was recovered and one additional mine swept. Boat sweeping on 3 November over wrecks obtained negative results. On 4 November, repairs were commenced on minesweeping motor launch and unseaworthy minesweeping L.C.V.P. replacement by L.C.V.P. from DIACHENKO was initiated in preparation for Hungnam sweep. Task group sailed for Hungnam on 6 November. Because of small composition of group no units could be left behind to complete PIRATE line sweeping.

7. About noon on 20 November, the LIPAN with sweep boats arrived Wonsan from the Songjin sweep. Boats were unloaded and preparations made for operations. Assisted by the MASSEY and ROCHESTER helicopter the boats swept the remaining eight mines the following day.

8. Moored and magnetic check sweeps were made while waiting for availability of the CONSERVER in order to guarantee safety of her operations in wreck area. All results were negative; one mine of the 16 reported in paragraph 5 above apparently came adrift and was sunk during the interim period when several drifting mines were sunk in the general area. The CONSERVER was able to proceed with diving immediately when her work on THOMASON and BUCK was completed and diving equipment overhauled and repaired. 

Enclosure (13)

Report by ENS. W.B. FARNSWORTH, Jr., attached to UDT-3

The following is an account of the destruction of crypto aids on board U.S.S. Pledge on the day of her sinking, 12 October 1950:

Shortly after boarding the Pledge, Sylvia, J.T., AN, and I proceeded to the Coding room where we accomplished the following destruction of the ECM machine:

Face and some inner parts of the machine bent and smashed by slows of a large piece of steel pipe. This destruction was not too effective as the smashing was carried out in almost total darkness and the space in which we found the machine was too confining to properly swing an instrument of this sort.

Wheels found in the machine and others found in boxes under water and oil on deck nearby were taken out of the main deck, removed from the wheel racks, and pounded with a large piece of steel pipe until little or no Bakelite casing or copper contacts remained intact, then the remains were thrown over the side as far as possible from the wreck, and as diversely as was possible under the circumstances. The wheel racks were smashed also and thrown over the side, as were the boxes in which the wheels were found.

The machine was evidently jarred open by concussion but we were unable to find written crypto aids in the darkness, and were prevented from further investigation and destruction by lack of time. The Commanding Officer, then still on the starboard gun tub, gave me to understand that most of the other crypto aids were in the Communications Officer's stateroom, below decks and forward of the wardroom, which we found we were unable to reach due to the flooding and general destruction forward.

/s/ William B. Farnsworth, Jr.
William B. FARNSWORTH, Jr.
Ensign, U. S. Navy.

Source: UNBLOCK&ESCORT Force Report, Serial 003 January 26, 1951 , Box 745, Post 46 Reports, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC.

CominRon -- Commander Mine Squadron
TS -- Top Secret
ComPhibGru Commander Amphibious Group
Sec -- Secret
Com7thFlt Commander 7th Fleet
CTF -- Commander Task Force
CTF -- Commander Task Group
CTF -- Commander Joint Task Force
ComNavFE -- Commander Naval Forces, Far East
AM -- Minesweeper
Z -- Zulu Time, or Greenwich Mean Time (Found in the Activity Summary of Salvage in the enclosure listing.)
CTF -- Commander Task Element
END -- Ensign
UDC -- Underwater Demolition Team
CSP -- Communication Security Publication
JALAP -- Joint Army-Navy Publication
L.C.V.P. -- Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel


Published: Wed Apr 29 06:29:43 EDT 2015