dp. 890; 1. 221'2'', b. 32'2 ", dr. 10'9 " (max.); s. 18.1 k.;
cpl. 105, a. 1 3", 2 40mm., 6 20mm., 2 dct., 1 dcp. (hh.); cl. Auk)
was originally laid down for the Royal Navy under the lend-lease program
as HMS Exploit (BAM-24) on 28 November 1942 at Seattle Wash., by
the Associated Shipbuilding Corp. However the United States Navy decided
to keep the ship and renamed her Vigilance (AM-324) on 23 January
1943. Launched on 5 April 1943, the minesweeper was commissioned at her
builder's yard on 28 February 1944 Lt. Comdr. William C. Hayes, USNR, in
fitting-out, radio direction finder calibration sea trials, and
minesweeping indoctrination, Vigilance departed Seattle on 21
March, bound for southern California for type training, shakedown, and
training in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) tactics.
PCS-1396 and PCS-1404, the new Auk class minecraft departed
San Diego on 4 May, bound for Hawaii. Upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor on
11 May, Vigilance delivered 111 bags of mail to the Fleet Post
Office and, three days later, got underway with Triumph (AM-323) for the
Marshall Islands. The two minesweepers screened William Ward Burrows
(AP-6), Fortune (IX-146), and Boreas (AF-8) to Majuro which
they reached on 25 May.
Majuro at 0800 on the 26th to return to Hawaii, intercepted Megrez
(AK-126) en route, and relieved PC-548 of escorting that cargo ship
for the remainder of the voyage to Oahu. After arriving at Pearl Harbor on
2 June, Vigilance underwent upkeep and maintenance before moving to
Brown's Camp Oahu, for experimental minesweeping evolutions which she
conducted into mid-June.
14 June, Vigilance weighed anchor as part of the screen for Convoy
4313-A, a group of three Navy cargo ships, three civilian merchantmen, and
refrigerator ship Arctic (AF-7). Crouter (DE-11) and Pursuit
(AM-108) joined Vigilance in escorting the convoy to Eniwetok where
they arrived on 25 June.
the second of two more round-trip runs from Pearl Harbor to the Marshalls,
Vigilance suffered an engine casualty a damaged exhaust manifold
that was beyond the capacity of the ship's force to handle. Accordingly,
she went alongside Zeus (ARB-4) at Eniwetok on 24 September for
port back at Pearl Harbor on 5 October the ship underwent more repairs and
maintenance work and tested minesweeping gear off Brown's Camp. After
getting underway for the Marshalls again on 23 October, escorting Ocelot
(IX-110), Vigilance twice picked up "doubtful" submarine
contacts on 24 and 28 October and fired hedgehog patterns on both
occasions. She made port at Eniwetok on 3 November but got underway for
Guam two days later, escorting a convoy consisting of SS Fred Lykes,
SS Cape Bon SS Cape Kildare, SS Rockland Victory, and
M. M. Patrick.
minesweeper subsequently performed local escort duty between Guam, Peleliu,
and Ulithi, arriving at the latter on 14 November. She patrolled the
approaches to Mugai channel, Ulithi, from the 17th through the 19th. Five
minutes before sunrise on 20 November while on patrol station number 4, Vigilance
sighted a small wake 700 yards broad on the starboard quarter. Southbound
on her patrol, the minesweeper had swung wide to avoid fouling the screen
of an outward-bound task group of three destroyers, a cruiser, and other
vessels when she made the sighting. She then put over full right rudder
and accelerated to full speed as her crew went to battle stations. With
depth charges set on "shallow" the minecraft bent on speed to
make an attack but, much to her chagrin, found that the wake had
completely disappeared. In the midst of all the hulls and wakes created by
the Saipan-bound task group picking up the contact proved impossible.
led the location of the wake to Cummings (DD-365). Moments later,
the cruiser in the convoy signalled that she sighted a periscope on her
starboard quarter. Case (DD-370) arrived on the scene first and
disposed of what proved to be a midget submarine by ramming and depth
that incident, Vigilance - aided by a pair of Grumman TBF's from
VMTB-232 remained on patrol off the channel entrance. At 0031 on 21
November, a TBF bore in low from astern, as if to challenge the minecraft.
Men in Vigilance thought that the plane might have been a new
arrival, unfamiliar with their ship. The plane suddenly made a sharp bank.
A wingtip caught in the water and the plane plunged into the sea about
one-half mile from Vigilance. The plane was immediately enveloped
in flame, and, shortly thereafter, the aircraft's depth charges exploded.
compound the confusion, a second TBF came in and, thinking the wreckage on
the water was a surfaced submarine, strafed the floating plane. Vigilance
launched her motor whaleboat at 0051 and picked up a survivor Corporal
Robert M. DeHart, USMC who had almost miraculously remained alive despite
the crash, the explosion and the machine gun fire. Vigilance
continued the search in the hope of picking up other survivors but found
none. At 0524, the minecraft was ordered to transfer the wounded man to
hospital facilities ashore.
let-up except for an occasional day or so of maintenance and upkeep, Vigilance
patrolled ok Ulithi's Mugai channel for the remainder of the year.
an escort mission to the Palaus from 5 to 11 January 1945, Vigilance
returned to Ulithi on the 12th, only to find a full-scale antisubmarine
alert in progress. She commenced patrolling station number 7 in company
with PC-1179 before receiving orders to patrol off the Zowariyau
and Piiriperiperi channels. Shifting to a retiring search in company with Impeccable
(AM-320) soon thereafter, Vigilance was relieved of this duty by Spangler
(DE-696) and returned to Ulithi.
local patrol operations off the Mugai channel Vigilance performed
local escort missions between Ulithi and Kossol Roads and from Kossol
Roads to Seeadler Harbor, at Manus, in the Admiralties. For the latter
part of February, the minesweeper served as submarine listening watch and
harbor entrance patrol vessel at Kossol before she returned to Ulithi.
6 to 8 March, Vigilance lay alongside Terror (CM-5)
undergoing availability in preparation for the upcoming operation against
the Ryukyus. Vigilance got underway for Nansei Shoto on 19 March
and steamed in cruising formation with Mine Division (MinDiv) 11, on the
starboard quarter of Terror.
in area V-1, about 35 miles southwest of Okinawa, on 24 March, Vigilance
and her sister minesweepers swept for moored mines until nightfall when
they retired. She cut loose one moored mine on the 26th, three on the
27th, and one on the 28th. While performing these sweep operations, she
served as MinRon 4 "destruction vessel," slated to destroy loose
mines once they reached the surface. The ship sank several drifting floats
and one moored mine with gunfire.
the morning of the 28th, Vigilance's lookouts spotted a Japanese
"Kate" torpedo bomber and two "Val" dive-bombers
attacking, and her gunners along with those of the other ships in the unit
- opened fire and blasted the "Kate'' into pieces. The ship thus
chalked up her first "sure assist" in downing the plane.
landings commenced on 1 April. During the first three days of the
invasion, Vigilance screened the unloading transports off Hagushi beach.
Then, after shifting to Kerama Retto for two days of logistics 4 and 5
April, the minesweeper alternated between sweeping and screening
operations for the ensuing week.
Vigilance was patrolling five miles south of Kerama Retto on the
afternoon of the 12th, a "flash red" alert was announced, and
the ship's lookouts soon noted the presence of many enemy planes all out
of gun range. Suddenly, at 1456, the minesweeper noted black smoke pouring
from Whitehurst (DE-634), a destroyer escort that had just been hit
by a kamikaze while patrolling an adjacent sector. Vigilance
altered course to close, accelerating to full speed as fire and rescue
parties readied emergency fire-fighting and first aid equipment.
Whitehurst circled, apparently out of control. Yet, when Vigilance
caught up with the damaged ship and came alongside at 1530, the more
serious fires on board the escort vessel had been controlled. Vigilance's
fire fighting and damage control parties helped to extinguish the
remaining blaze and made emergency repairs.
the minecraft's prompt and efficient rendering of first aid was an even
greater contribution. By 1535, 23 of the most seriously injured men from
the escort ship's company and one dead man - had been transferred to Vigilance
and taken to the minesweeper's mess hall for treatment. The ship's doctor
several officers, and enlisted men administered blood plasma and dressed
wounds. The immediate injection of plasma and the efficient handling of
the wounded saved 21 of the 23 casualties brought on board the
placing Signalman 2d Class Thomas G. Barnes on board Whitehurst for
temporary duty to handle the escort ship's communications-the destroyer
escort's bridge force had been wiped out by the kamikaze
to Gosper (APA-170) and transferred the wounded to that attack
transport. At 1854, Vigilance resumed her screening station off
on patrol off those islands over the ensuing days which seemed
comparatively quiet. However, on the morning of the 16th, alert lookouts
sighted two planes-a "Val', and a "Frances"- off the ship's
port quarter. Lt. (jg.) N. B. Norman, the officer of the deck, immediately
ordered the gun watches on the 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter guns to
commence firing, there not being time to call the ship to general
quarters. Vigilance's 20-millimeter guns commenced firing on the
"Val" when it was slightly abaft the beam, and the enemy plane
then turned toward the ship before reversing course and heading for Wilson
(DD-408). Eventually, the 20-millimeter fire from Vigilance scored;
and the "Val" splashed some 300 yards ahead of the destroyer.
the minesweeper's starboard 40-millimeter mount took the
"Frances" under fire. At a point 1,000 feet above and 100 yards
from the port quarter of the nearby Taluga (AO-62), the
"Frances" executed a wing-over and dived for the oiler. Vigilance's
Bofors continued firing until the plane was just above Taluga, at
which point she ceased firing for fear of hitting the oiler. The
"Frances" crashed Taluga's bow administering a glancing
blow to the ship and blew some of the oiler's crew overboard. Vigilance
fished three Taluga sailors from the water, who all agreed with the
minesweeper's observers that the ship's gunnery had proved accurate and
effective in deflecting the suicide plane.
the remainder of April and the first few days of May, Vigilance
screened the landing operations. On two more occasions-on 18 April and on
the 28th Vigilance took passing Japanese planes under fire. In the first
instance, she claimed to have shot down a "Jill" one of four
planes that closed the ship at night. Another of the four planes believed
to be a "Betty" bomber strafed the ship but caused no damage. In
the second case, the minesweeper shot down a snooping "Jake"
floatplane at 0130 on the 28th.
minecraft's patrol duties in May were highlighted by two incidents. The
first occurred on 4 May and the second on the 9th. In the first case, the
ship was patrolling five miles south of Kerama Retto about sunset. Five
miles to the north, five Japanese suicide planes headed for Sangamon
(CVE-26). Combat air patrol (CAP) F4U Corsair fighters downed four, but
the fifth crashed into the escort carrier at 1933. A burst of flame shot
into the darkening skies, and soon the ship became a blazing inferno,
ammunition and gasoline exploding at intervals and sending sheets of flame
into the air to a height of what looked like hundreds of feet.
ships and other vessels in the vicinity went to Sangamon's
assistance. After obtaining permission from her sector commander to do so,
Vigilance departed her patrol area at 2035 and closed Sangamon
to lend a hand. Vigilance located three swimming sailors blown
overboard from the CVE and directed a nearby LCV(P) to pick them up and
transfer them to a high-speed transport. By midnight, Sangamon's
fires were under control, and she was towed to an anchorage in Kerama
Retto. At 0335 on the 5th Vigilance formed up with Forrest (DMS-24),
Stern (DE-187), and Ringness (APD-100) to conduct a combined
search for survivors. At 1045, the search was abandoned, and Vigilance
returned to her patrol station off Kerama Retto.
6 to 8 May, Vigilance underwent an availability at the fleet
anchorage at Kerama Retto before returning to the screening line. The next
day, while steaming on station Baker 10, four miles west of Kerama Retto, Vigilance
manned her battle stations at 1845 when she received a "flash
blue" air raid alert warning. Soon thereafter, the ship sighted a
"Val" at 2,500 feet, three miles north. Vigilance opened
fire with her 3-inch and 40-millimeter battery as the dive-bomber plunged
toward the nearby England (DE-635).
station Baker 11 three miles northeast of the minecraft, had attained fame
throughout the fleet in the spring of 1944 by sinking six Japanese I-boats
and earning a Presidential Unit Citation. Upon sighting the suicider, the
destroyer escort started a hard right turn to present her beam to the
attacker while her 3-inch antiaircraft battery pounded away. Vigilance,
too, contributed to the flak above the twisting destroyer escort, gunfire
from the ships blew off one wing of the suicider but failed to deflect the
kamikaze from its one-way mission. The plane crashed into England's
starboard side, at the main deck below the bridge. A heavy explosion soon
followed, and a burst of smoke and flame engulfed the destroyer escort's
pilothouse and bridge.
full ahead and went to England's assistance. While the minecraft
was en route to the destroyer escort's side, another air battle ensued
overhead. Two Corsairs shot down a "Val" which had possibly been
attracted to the area by the burning England. As Vigilance
attempted to overtake the stricken escort ship her crew broke out fire and
rescue equipment on the main deck and made the mess hall ready to receive
wounded below. Still en route, sharp eyed lookouts noted survivors in England's
wake, and the minecraft accordingly directed YMS-98 to pick up the
swimmers. Gherardi (DMS-30) also closed the area to assist.
finally was brought under control and stopped about four miles east of
where she had been kamikazed. At 1920, Vigilance pulled alongside
the burning destroyer escort to find heavy fires blazing from the forward
mess hall, up through the wardroom, forward 20-millimeter clipping room,
radio room, pilothouse and flying bridge. A bomb, carried by the
"Val" that had crashed the ship, had exploded in the mess hall.
It wiped out the entire forward fire and rescue party, blew out the port
side of the officers' quarters, opened the main deck, and tumbled a 3-inch
gun over the side. A 3-inch, ready-service ammunition box had fallen into
burning mess hall, and ammunition was exploding.
fire and rescue party dragged on board five fire hoses, two submersible
pumps, one handy billy and a rescue breathing apparatus. Ruptured forward
water mains on board England had prevented the flooding of the
forward magazines, so three hoses from Vigilance and one found on England's
deck were trained down into the 3-inch ready box, stopping the detonation
of the ammunition. After 30 minutes of hard work, the forward 3-inch
magazine was reported to be half flooded, while the fires in the
pilothouse, radio room, and on the flying bridge were extinguished.
of the condition of England's crew- many were shocked and dazed the
men from Vigilance had to fight the fires largely themselves. Nine
seriously injured England sailors, placed on stretchers, were
transferred to the minesweeper where they were given first aid and blood
plasma. LSM-223 and PCE(R)-853 lay alongside at 2016,
sending two medical officers and three pharmacist's mates with additional
medical supplies to handle the influx of casualties.
two hours had elapsed a time when the frequent appearance of Japanese
aircraft prohibited the use of lights and made the handling of lines,
hoses, and damage control equipment difficult Vigilance finally succeeded
in extinguishing England's fires and took the destroyer escort
under tow. Underway for the northern entrance of Kerama Retto at 2135, the
two ships arrived at their destination two hours later. There, at the
harbor entrance, Gear (ARS-34) took England under tow and
pulled her inside the anchorage. At that time, the harbor was blanketed
with smoke as enemy aircraft were again in the vicinity. Vigilance
crept alongside Gosper at 0110 on 10 May and transferred England's
casualties to the transport. Gherardi and YMS-98 soon
arrived and transferred 25 more survivors to the transport.
a recommendation for a Navy Unit Commendation and her commanding officer
Lt. Jackson L. Morton, USNR, was later awarded a Silver Star for has
courage and level-headed action. Vigilance remained at anchor for
the remainder of the day, replenishing medical supplies and damage control
gear, before getting underway on the 11th to sweep for mines in the
vicinity of Tori Shima, in company with MinDiv 11. Upon completing the
sweep at 1400 that afternoon Vigilance resumed her screening
operations from 12 to 16 May.
ship received fresh provisions on the 17th at anchor at Kerama Retto and
returned to the screening line the next day. On 19 May, Vigilance got
underway for the Marianas as part of Convoy OKA -4 and arrived at Saipan
on the 24th. She shifted to Guam in company with Gladiator (AM-319)
on the 25th and commenced two weeks of availability at the minecraft
docks, Apra Harbor Guam.
the conclusion of the repairs, the minesweeper conducted ASW training
exercises with Trepang) (SS-412 early on 12 June before departing
Guam at 1755 to escort SS Fairland to Guam. Arriving at Tanapag
Harbor the next day, she returned to Kerama Retto on 16 June in company
with Greene (APD-36), Opponent (AM-269), and SS Fairland
and SS Cape
in the Ryukyus through the end of June and began July preparing for her
next major operation, the sweeping of the East China Sea.
minesweeper got underway on 4 July for area "Juneau," as part of
Task Unit 39.11.4. Between 5 and 14 July, the ship accounted for four
mines before undergoing logistics at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, from 16 to 17
July. A typhoon forced a general fleet movement to sea over the next four
days, and Vigilance did not return until the 21st. Underway again
for area "Juneau" on the 22d, the minesweeper and her sister
ships spent the next week sweeping in the East China Sea. Vigilance
contributed to the effort by locating and destroying three mines.
the first five days in August, Vigilance remained at anchor at
Buckner Bay. She got underway at 0558 on 6 August and escorted Convoy
OKI-10 to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands, arriving on 9 August.
She moored alongside Briareus (AR-12) on the 10th for availability
and, while her crew was enjoying movies on the forecastle that evening,
she received the word that Japan was ready to surrender news greeted with
great rejoicing by all hands.
alongside Briareus for 17 days before returning to Okinawa at the
end of August. By that time, the war in the Pacific was over. She remained
at Buckner Bay from 1 to 7 September and got underway at noon on the 8th,
bound for Wakayama, Japan to support the occupation of the erstwhile
enemy's home islands. At 0430 on the 11th, Vigilance arrived at the
southern entrance to Kii Suido and soon formed up in echelon formation to
commence sweeping a channel- to a 120-foot depth through Kii Suido to
Wakayama. That evening she anchored at Wakayama Ko but resumed her labors
early the following day and continued the routine for the next few days.
She swept one mine on the 15th.
weather gave all signs of an approaching typhoon; and Vigilance was
forced to anchor in various berths at Wakanoura Wan, off Honshu, between
the 16th and 19th. As the storm reached its climax before dawn on the
18th, LST-661 dragged her anchors and drifted down toward Vigilance's
berth. The minesweeper slipped her anchor and chain in an effort to avoid
a collision but the 90-knot wind pushed the LST inexorably toward the
minecraft. Soon there came the crunch of steel on steel as the landing
ship crashed into the minesweeper's starboard side, forward, bending in
the bulwarks near the bow.
Vigilance got underway and manoeuvred inside the confused harbor
before finally dropping anchor for the night to ride out the storm as it
blew itself out. The dawn revealed three LST's aground and a YMS on her
side on the rocks. After recovering her anchor and chain, Vigilance
resumed minesweeping operations in the Japanese home waters. She swept off
Honshu for the remainder of the month of September anchoring upon occasion
at Wakanoura Wan, and chalked up 16 more mines swept. Accompanying. LCI's
or PGM's sank by gunfire those mines which the sweeper cut loose. On the
24th, Vigilance herself destroyed a mine with 20-millimeter and
.30-calibre rifle fire.
engineering repairs alongside Patoka (AG-125) in early October, Vigilance
returned to the waters off Honshu to resume sweep operations, executing
magnetic mine sweeps off Bishago Se and Iseno Umi. She returned to Tsu Ko
to anchor on 12 October and there embarked passengers and loaded mail for
transfer to Wakanoura Wan. After provisioning and fueling small craft to
capacity, the minesweeper departed Tsu Ko at 1155 on 13 October and
arrived at Wakanoura Wan early the following morning. Following another
availability alongside Patoka, Vigilance tested her magnetic sweep
gear before she returned to Bishago Se and Iseno Umi to resume sweep
as pilot boat at the Yokkaichi anchorage, anchoring nightly in the Matoya
Ko, rendezvousing with vessels off the harbor and leading them through the
minefields to port. On 28 October, she shifted back to Wakanoura and
remained there until noon of the following day for repairs to her radar.
Reassigned duties as pilot ship soon thereafter, Vigilance returned
to Iseno Um; and Matoya Ko on 31 October. During the operations off
Nagoya, Vigilance had cleared the way for the evacuation of
prisoners of war and the landing of American occupation forces. After
performing similar operations in the Nagoya area through November, Vigilance
departed Japanese waters on 17 December 1945, via Eniwetok and Pearl
Harbor, bound for the United States. She operated locally out of San
Francisco between January and November 1946 and alternated between San
Diego and San Francisco into January of 1947. Decommissioned on 30 January
1947, the ship was placed in reserve on 16 April that same year. She
remained inactive into the mid-1960's. During that period, she was
reclassified as a fleet minesweeper, MSF-324, on 7 February 1955 Struck
from the Navy list on 1 December 1966, the ship was transferred to the
Government of the Philip pines under a grant-in-aid on 19 August 1967.
Renamed Quezon - in honor of the first President of the Philippine
Commonwealth, Manuel Quezon and classified as PS-70, the erstwhile
minesweeper serves with the Philippine Navy as Quezon (PS 70). into
awarded three battle stars for her World War II service.