USS Caravan (AM-157)

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Career (United States)
Name: USS Caravan (AMc-134)
Builder: Willamette Iron and Steel Works, Portland, Oregon
Reclassified: AM-157, 21 February 1942
Laid down: 16 May 1942
Launched: 27 October 1942
Commissioned: 21 January 1944
Decommissioned: 17 August 1945[1]
Fate: Transferred to Soviet Navy, 17 August 1945[1]
Reclassified: MSF-157, 7 February 1955
Struck: 1 January 1983
Career (Soviet Union)
Name: T-337[2]
Acquired: 17 August 1945[1]
Fate: Scrapped 1960[3]
General characteristics
Class and type: Admirable-class minesweeper
Displacement: 650 tons
Length: 184 ft 6 in (56.24 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 9 ft 9 in (2.97 m)
Propulsion: 2 × ALCO 539 diesel engines, 1,710 shp (1.3 MW)
Farrel-Birmingham single reduction gear
2 shafts
Speed: 14.8 knots (27.4 km/h)
Complement: 104
Armament: 1 × 3"/50 caliber gun DP
2 × twin Bofors 40 mm guns
1 × Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar
2 × depth charge tracks
Service record
Part of: U.S. Pacific Fleet (1944-1945)
Soviet Pacific Ocean Fleet (1945-1960)

USS Caravan (AM-157) was an Admirable-class minesweeper built for the United States Navy during World War II and in commission from 1944 to 1945. In 1945, she was transferred to the Soviet Union and after that served in the Soviet Navy as T-337.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Originally classified as a "coastal minesweeper," AMc-134, Caravan was reclassified as a "minesweeper," AM-157, on 21 February 1942. She was launched on 27 October 1942 at Portland, Oregon, by Willamette Iron and Steel Works and commissioned on 21 January 1944 with Lieutenant C. E. Walden, USNR, in command.

Service history[edit]

U.S. Navy, World War II, 1944-1945[edit]

Caravan stood out of San Francisco, California, on 25 March 1944, bound for Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii and Majuro and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. She arrived at Eniwetok on 25 April 1944 and began operations as a patrol vessel, lifeguard for aviators downed during aircraft carrier strikes, and convoy escort. Her escort duties took her throughout the Mariana Islands, and in September 1944 she was rebased there at Guam. She moved to Ulithi in October 1944 – riding out a severe typhoon en route – to begin operations in the Palau Islands as well as the Marianas.

Selected for transfer to the Soviet Navy in Project Hula – a secret program for the transfer of U.S. Navy ships to the Soviet Navy at Cold Bay, Territory of Alaska, in anticipation of the Soviet Union joining the war against JapanCaravan arrived at Portland, Oregon, in May 1945 for a pre-transfer overhaul. In July 1945 she arrived at Cold Bay to train her new Soviet crew.[4]

Soviet Navy, 1945-1960[edit]

Following the completion of training for her Soviet crew, Caravan was decommissioned on 17 August 1945[1] at Cold Bay and transferred to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease immediately.[1] Also commissioned into the Soviet Navy immediately,[1] she was designated as a tralshik ("minesweeper") and renamed T-337[2] in Soviet service. She soon departed Cold Bay bound for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Soviet Union, where she served in the Soviet Far East.[4]

In February 1946, the United States began negotiations for the return of ships loaned to the Soviet Union for use during World War II, and on 8 May 1947, United States Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal informed the United States Department of State that the United States Department of the Navy wanted 480 of the 585 combatant ships it had transferred to the Soviet Union for World War II use returned. Deteriorating relations between the two countries as the Cold War broke out led to protracted negotiations over the ships, and by the mid-1950s the U.S. Navy found it too expensive to bring home ships that had become worthless to it anyway. Many ex-American ships were merely administratively "returned" to the United States and instead sold for scrap in the Soviet Union, while the U.S. Navy did not seriously pursue the return of others because it viewed them as no longer worth the cost of recovery.[5] The Soviet Union never returned Caravan to the United States, although the U.S. Navy reclassified her as a "fleet minesweeper" (MSF) and redesignated her MSF-157 on 7 February 1955.

Disposal[edit]

T-337 was scrapped in 1960.[3] Unaware of her fate, the U.S. Navy kept Caravan on its Naval Vessel Register until finally striking her on 1 January 1983.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Caravan article states that the U.S. Navy decommissioned Caravan on 16 August 1945 and transferred her to the Soviet Navy, and NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive Caravan (MSF 157) ex-AM-157 ex-AMc-134 and hazegray.org Caravan repeat this. However, more recent research in Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, p. 39, which includes access to Soviet-era records unavailable during the Cold War, reports that the transfer date was 17 August 1945. As sources, Russell cites Department of the Navy, Ships Data: U.S. Naval Vessels Volume II, 1 January 1949, (NAVSHIPS 250-012), Washington, DC: Bureau of Ships, 1949; and Berezhnoi, S. S., Flot SSSR: Korabli i suda lendliza: Spravochnik ("The Soviet Navy: Lend-Lease Ships and Vessels: A Reference"), St. Petersburg, Russia: Belen, 1994. According to Russell, Project Hula ships were decommissioned by the U.S. Navy simultaneously with their transfer to and commissioning by the Soviet Navy – see photo captions on p. 24 regarding the transfers of various large infantry landing craft (LCI(L)s) and information on p. 27 about the transfer of USS Coronado (PF-38), which Russell says typified the transfer process – indicating that Caravan‍ '​s U.S. Navy decommissioning, transfer, and Soviet Navy commissioning all occurred simultaneously in a single ceremony on 17 August 1945.
  2. ^ a b NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive Caravan (MSF 157) ex-AM-157 ex-AMc-134 and hazegray.org Caravan state that Caravn was named T-597 in Soviet service, but more recent research in Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, pp. 39-40, which includes access to Soviet-era records unavailable during the Cold War, finds that the ship's Soviet name was T-337, while an auxiliary motor minesweeper, the former USS YMS-272, also transferred in 1945, had the Soviet name T-597. As sources, Russell cites Department of the Navy, Ships Data: U.S. Naval Vessels Volume II, 1 January 1949, (NAVSHIPS 250-012), Washington, DC: Bureau of Ships, 1949; and Berezhnoi, S. S., Flot SSSR: Korabli i suda lendliza: Spravochnik ("The Soviet Navy: Lend-Lease Ships and Vessels: A Reference"), St. Petersburg, Russia: Belen, 1994.
  3. ^ a b NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive Caravan (MSF 157) ex-AM-157 ex-AMc-134 and hazegray.org Caravan state that the ship, which they identify as T-597, probably was scrapped in 1956, but more recent research in Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, p. 39, reports that the ship's Soviet name was T-337 and states that T-337 was scrapped in 1960. As sources, Russell cites Department of the Navy, Ships Data: U.S. Naval Vessels Volume II, 1 January 1949, (NAVSHIPS 250-012), Washington, DC: Bureau of Ships, 1949; and Berezhnoi, S. S., Flot SSSR: Korabli i suda lendliza: Spravochnik ("The Soviet Navy: Lend-Lease Ships and Vessels: A Reference"), St. Petersburg, Russia: Belen, 1994. Russell, p. 40., also states that T-597 – a Soviet name previously attributed to Caravan but now identified as belonging to the former USS YMS-272 – was destroyed by mutual agreement between the two countries in 1956, and this confusion over the identity of the two ships may have led to the confusion over their fates.
  4. ^ a b Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, p. 39.
  5. ^ Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, pp. 37-38, 39.

External links[edit]