USS Penetrate (AM-271)
|Name:||USS Penetrate (AM-271)|
|Builder:||Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation, Chickasaw, Alabama|
|Laid down:||5 January 1943|
|Launched:||11 September 1943|
|Sponsored by:||Miss Frances M. Moyer|
|Commissioned:||31 March 1944|
|Decommissioned:||22 May 1945|
|Fate:||Transferred to Soviet Union, 22 May 1945|
|Reclassified:||MSF-271, 7 February 1955|
|Struck:||1 January 1983|
|Acquired:||22 May 1945|
|Commissioned:||22 May 1945|
|Refit:||Converted to naval trawler, 1948|
|Renamed:||Taifun, 1948|
|Class and type:||Admirable-class minesweeper|
|Length:||184 ft 6 in (56.24 m)|
|Beam:||33 ft (10 m)|
|Draft:||9 ft 9 in (2.97 m)|
|Speed:||14.8 knots (27.4 km/h)|
USS Penetrate (AM-271) 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-280. The Soviets converted her into a naval trawler in 1948 and renamed her Taifun.
Construction and commissioning
Penetrate was laid down at Chickasaw, Alabama, by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation on 5 January 1943. She was launched on 11 September 1943, sponsored by Miss Frances M. Moyer, and commissioned on 31 March 1944 with Lieutenant M. S. Lazaron, Jr., in command.
On 14 April 1944, Penetrate stood downriver from Chickasaw to the Gulf of Mexico and from there proceeded to the United States East Coast and shakedown in the Chesapeake Bay. By late May 1944, she was undergoing training in Casco Bay, Maine, and, on 1 June 1944, she steamed north to Naval Station Argentia in the Dominion of Newfoundland, where she was converted to a weather ship. For the next six months she patrolled on weather reporting duties in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Canada to track and record changes in the polar maritime air masses affecting the European battlefronts and the transatlantic air routes.
In early January 1945, Penetrate's meteorological instruments were removed and minesweeping gear was reinstalled. On 31 January 1945 she headed south to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arriving there on 7 February 1945 for an abbreviated overhaul.
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 Japan – Penetrate departed Philadelphia on 27 February 1945, transited the Panama Canal, and proceeded to Cold Bay, where she arrived on 15 April 1945 and began familiarization training for her new Soviet crew.
Following the completion of training for her Soviet crew, Penetrate was decommissioned on 22 May 1945 at Cold Bay and transferred to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease immediately. Also commissioned into the Soviet Navy immediately, she was designated as a tralshik ("minesweeper") and renamed T-280 in Soviet service. She soon departed Cold Bay bound for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Soviet Union, where she entered service with the Soviet Pacific Ocean Fleet.
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. The Soviet Union never returned Penetrate to the United States, instead converting her into a naval trawler in 1948 and renaming her Taifun. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy reclassified her as a "fleet minesweeper" (MSF) and redesignated her MSF-271 on 7 February 1955.
- "Penetrate". Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive. NavSource Online. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Penetrate article states that the U.S. Navy decommissioned Penetrate on 21 May 1945 and transferred her to the Soviet Navy the same day, and hazegray.org Penetrate repeats this, while NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive Penetrate (MSF 271) ex-AM-271 says that she was decommissioned on 21 May 1946 (obviously a typographical error for "21 May 1945") and transferred on 22 May 1945. 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 22 May 1945. 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 Penetrate's U.S. Navy decommissioning, transfer, and Soviet Navy commissioning all occurred simultaneously in a single ceremony on 22 May 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.
- 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.
- 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.