(AM-426: dp. 630; 1. 172'; b. 36'; dr. 10'; s. 16 k.; cpl.
72; a. 1 40mm.; cl. Agile)
The second Conflict (AM-426) was launched 16 December 1952 by Fulton Shipyard, Antioch, Calif.; sponsored by Mrs. E. T. Aldrich wife of Captain Aldrich; commissioned 23 March 1951, Lieutenant R. Y. Scott in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.
Conflict operated on the west coast between 12 April 1954 and 4 January 1956, conducting acoustic ranging experiments, noise reduction experiments, and removing practice mine fields. She was reclassified MS0 426 on 7 February 1955. She sailed from Long Beach 4 January 1956 for Pearl Harbor, where between 15 January and 20 February, she conducted underwater photography operations. She returned to Long Beach 1 March, and during April conducted shock tests off San Clemente Island. Conflict joined harbor defense exercises at San Diego and carried out other local operations until 5 August 1957, when she sailed from Long Beach for Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Yokosuka, arriving 31 August. She operated in Japanese waters, called at Hong Kong, and joined ships of the Republic of China in minesweeping exercises off Formosa, returning to Long Beach 1 March for west coast operations during the remainder of the year. She returned to duty in the Far East 14 March 1960, calling at Maniln, Hong Kong Taiwan, and Japanese ports before sailing for the west coast 24 June. Local operations were resumed through the remainder of 1960.
Subsequently transporting passengers to Kahului and Hilo, Avocet tended VP-l at the latter port from 23 to 31 August 1937 before she returned briefly to Pearl Harbor. She sailed thence for French Frigate Shoals on 1 September, and tended, in succession, VP-8, VP-10, VP-6 and VP-4, until 19 September, at which point she returned to the Fleet Air Base. She remained at Pearl Harbor until 15 October, when she sailed for American Samoa.
Arriving at Pago Pago, Samoa, on 25 October, Avocet served as station ship at that port through February of 1938. On 11 January 1938, Pan American Airways' Sikorsky S-42B "Samoan Clipper" (NC 16734) took off from Pago Pago at 0540, on the final leg of its flight to New Zealand. At 0608, the pilot, Captain Edwin C. Musick, reported an oil leak and that he was shutting down number four engine. Musick apparently elected to jettison some of the fuel the "Clipper" was carrying, and radioed his intentions to do so at 0842.
With no word from the plane since Musick's 0842 transmission, Avocet sailed from Pago Pago at 1910 for a point 12 miles north of Tapu Tapu Point. Avocet sighted an oil slick at 0606, and wreckage at 0637. Lowering her motor launch at 0700, men from the ship soon brought on board wreckage positively identified as having come from the "Samoan Clipper.' Avocet continued the search during the forenoon watch, but found no signs of any survivors of the crew of seven. A subsequent investigation speculated that sparks from the engine exhaust had ignited the fuel Musick had reported he was jettisoning, triggering a violent expolsion that blew the Sikorsky apart in flight.
Uunderway from Samoan waters on 5 February 1938 for Pearl Harbor, Avocet sailed via Fanning Island, taking on board mail for delivery to the Honolulu post office, and ultimately reached Pearl Harbor on 18 February. Avocet-reclassified from AM-19 to AVP-4 a small seaplane tender, in March 1938-returned to French Frigate gate Shoals on 23 March 1938, supporting advanced base evolutions of VP-8; during this time she took on board gasoline from the submarine Nautilus (SS-168). Departing French Frigate Shoals on 28 March, Avocet proceeded directly to the village of Makua, on the coast of Oahu, and arrived on the 30th. The following morning she attempted the salvage of a crashed flying boat of VP-4, recovering the body of a radioman; she hoisted the wreckage of the plane on board on 1 A -I
Avocet then operated locally out of Pearl Harbor through midJuly, conducting short-range battle practice and planting bombing targets off Barbers Point, and, for a brief time, on 6 July and again on 15 to 20 July, served as flagship hi for Commander, Patrol Wing (PatWing) 2, Capt. Kenneth Whiting. Before the yea, 1938 was out, Avocet conducted two periods of advanced base operations at Midway, tending VP-6 from 25 to 27 July and VP-4 between 25 to 27 October.
Avocet spent the first six months of 1939 operating out of Pearl Harbor, interspersing the routine local evolutions with advanced base maneuvers-once at Hilo, twice at Midway, and once at French Frigate Shoals-and an inspection of Lisianski Island. During this time Capt. Whiting again flew his pennant briefly in Avocet and the ship supported P-4, 6, 8 and 10 at varying times.
Sailing from Pearl Harbor on 23 June 1939 for San Diego, Avocet arrived at her destination on Independence Day having planeguarded for VP-1 en route. Now assigned to PatWing 1, the
seaplane tender remained at San Diego until late August, at which time she shifted to San Pedro. The outbreak of war in Europe on 1 September 1939 found the ship moored alongside the submarine tender Argonne (AS-10) for upkeep. For the remainder of 1939, Avocet was based at the Naval Air Station (NAS), San Diego, occasionally sup supporting advance base operations at San Pedro and Pyramid Cove off the island of San Clemente.
Avocet operated locally from San Pedro and San Diego into the spring harbor on 29
of 1940, at which time she sailed for Pearl Harbor a 1940. Performing plane-guard duties en route, Avocet arrived at Pearl Harbor on 9 April, and got underway for French Frigate Shoals four days later, to establish an advanced base for the Consolidated PBY flying boats of VP-24 as part of the "Maroon" fleet in Part VI of Fleet Problem XXI, the last of the large-scale fleet maneuvers.
"War" had been declared on 8 April between "Maroon" and "Purple," and Part VI of Fleet Problem XXI, that phase of the war games which involved all combatant and auxiliary types of the fleet, commenced on the 19th, four days after Avocet had arrived at her advanced base site. With all of VP-24 in the air to conduct search missions on the 20th, the seaplane tender found herself alone when a formation of "Purple" cruiser-based scout planes arrived overhead.
Avocet sighted 10 planes off her starboard quarter at 1325 and went to general quarters. Four of the floatplanes attacked the ship from the starboard side two minutes later, but Avocet opened fire with her 3-inch and .30-caliber machine guns, and drove them off. Subsequently, 10 planes attacked from the port bow before flying off to the north. Soon thereafter, the seaplane tender sighted six destroyers which opened fire at 1355 but abruptly ceased four minutes later, moving off to the southeast. Departing French Frigate Shoals later the same day, Avocet arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 24th, winding up her participation in Fleet Problem XXI. She returned thence to the west coast of the United States, and operated from San Diego, San Pedro, and Coronado for the balance of the year 1940.
Avocet spent the first two months of 1941 in the San Diego area, first undergoing an overhaul at the Destroyer Base from 13 to 27 January before returning to NAS, San Die Diego, for local operations. During this latter period, she salvaged a crashed fighter from VF - 2 in Coronado Roads on 29 and 30 January, and a Douglas SBD-2 from Scouting Squadron (VS) 2 on 21 February, recovering the latter intact and hoisting it on board to transfer to a seaplane wrecking derrick (YSD) the following day.
After a docking in ARD-1 from 3 to 5 March, Avocet sailed down the west coast to Salina Cruz, Mexico, where she planeguarded for a flight of planes from VP-43 before getting underway to return to San Diego on 25 March.
While en route back to her home port, however, Avocet received a distress signal from the fishing vessel, Cape Horn. Changing course at 1558 she lay to at 1607 close aboard the fishing boat, and within a few moments was taking on board the first assistant engineer of the boat, who had suffered an injured hip in an accident. Avocet took the sailor to San Diego, transferring him to a Public Health Service launch upon arrival on 2 April 1941.
After operating out of San Diego until 26 May, Avocet sailed for Pearl Harbor, and arrived there on 9 June. In late June, she towed targets for Army bombing planes and on 1 July investigated Japanese fishing sampans apparently navigating in restricted waters, obtaining names and numbers in each case. For the rest of the summer, Avocet operated locally out of NAS, Pearl Harbor. She towed targets for Army planes in late July, and on 11 August salvaged a downed SBD-2 from VS-2, exercised first with the seaplane tender Thornton (AVD-11) and later with the seaplane tender Curtiss (AV-4), and then tended VP-22 at Hilo. Following a docking on the marine railway at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in late September, Avocet fueled, underway, from the fleet oiler Neosho (AO-23) on 2 October.
Following calibration runs in Maalea Bay, Maui, the seaplane tender proceeded out to sea from Pearl Harbor for plane guard duty from 4 to 7 November; she spent much of November at Pearl Harbor, shifting to the navy yard for a restricted availability on the 29th of that month and mooring alongside Porter (DD-356). Completing her scheduled upkeep on 5 December, the ship exercised briefly with the se lane tender McFarland (AVD-14) before returning to Pearl Harbor on the morning of 6 December 1941; at 1147 she moored port side to the NAS dock.
At about 0745 on Sunday, 7 December 1941, Avocet's security watch reported Japanese planes bombing the seaplane hangars at the south end of Ford Island, and sounded general quarters. Her crew promptly brought up ammunition to ter guns, and the ship opened fire soon thereafter. The first shot from Avocet's starboard 3-inch gun scored a direct hit on a Nakajima B5N2 carrier attack plane ("Kate") that had just scored a torpedo hit on the battleship California (BB-44), moored near by. The Nakajima, from the aircraft carrier Kaga's air group, caught fire, slanted down from the sky, and crashed on the &rounds of the naval hospital, one of five such planes lost by Kaga that
Initially firing at torpedo planes, Avocet's gunners shifted their fire to dive bombers attacking ships in the drydock area at the start of the forenoon watch. Then, sighting high altitude bombers overhead, they shifted their fire again. Soon thereafter, five bombs splashed in a nearby berth, but none exploded.
From her veritable ringside seat, Avocet then witnessed the inspiring sortie of the battleship Nevada (BB-36), the only ship of her type to get underway during the attack. Seeing the dread- after clearing her berth astern of the burning battleship Arizona (BB-39), dive-bomber pilots from Kaga singled her out for destruction, 21 planes attacking her from all points of the compass. Avocet's captain, Lt. William C. Jonson, Jr., marvelled at the Japanese precision, writing later that he had never seen "a more perfectly executed attack." Avocet's gunners added to the barrage to cover the gallant battleship's passage down the harbor.
Although the ship ceased fire at 1000, much work remained to be done in the wake of the devastating surprise attack. She had expended 144 rounds of 3-inch and 1,750 of .30 caliber in the battle against the attacking planes, and had suffered only two casualties: a box of ammunition coming up from the magazines had fallen on the foot of one man, and a piece of flying shrapnel had wounded another. Also during the course of the action, a sailor from the small seaplane tender Swan (AVP-7), unable to return to his own ship, had reported on board for duty, and was immediately assigned a station on a .30-caliber machine gun.
Oil from ruptured battleship fuel tanks had been set a ire by fires on those ships, and the wind, from the northeast, was slowly pushing it toward Avocet's berth. Accordingly, the seaplane tender got underway at 1045, and moored temporarily to the magazine island dock at 1110, awaiting further orders which were not long in coming. At 1115, she was ordered to help quell the fires still blazing on board California. Underway soon thereafter, she spent 20 minutes in company with the submarine rescue ship Widgeon (ASR-1) in fighting fires on board the battleship before Avocet was directed to proceed elsewhere.
Underway from alongside California at 1215, she reached the side of the gallant Nevada 25 minutes later, ordered to assist in beaching the battleship and fighting her fires. Mooring to Nevada's port bow at 1240, Avocet went slowly ahead, pushing her aground at channel buoy no. 19, with fire hoses led out to her forward spaces and her signal bridge. For two hours, Avocet fought Nevada's fires, and succeeded in quelling them.
The sooner had she completed that task when more work awaited her. At 1445, she got underway and steamed to the assistance of the light cruiser Raleigh (CL-7), which had been torpedoed alongside Ford Island early in the attack and was fighting doggedly to remain on an even keel. Avocet reached the stricken cruiser's side at 1547, and remained there throughout the night, providing steam and electricity.
That night, at 2105, Avocet again went to general quarters as jittery gunners throughout the area fired on aircraft overhead.
Tragically, these proved to be American, a flight of six fighters from the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6). Four were shot down; three pilots died.
Avocet operated out of Pearl Harbor through the first week of May 1942, interspersing these routine operations supporting the reforming and outfitting of new units and the extensive patrols in the Hawaiian area, with two periods of advanced base evolutions, first at Port Allen, Kauai (16 to 19 January 1942) and then at Nawiliwili (4 to 8 March 1942). Departing Pearl Harbor on 11 May 1942 in convoy 4098, Avocet arrived at Alameda on 20 May, and shifted to Hunters Point on the 23d for a major refit.
Departing Hunters Point on 17 July 1942, Avocet returned to Alameda the same day, and sailed for Seattle on 18 July. Reaching her destination on the 21st, she lingered there for only three days, as she sailed for Kodiak on the 24th, eventually pushing on thence to Woman Bay, an inlet on the Gulf of Alaska, on the east coast of Kodiak Island.
Avocet operated in Alaskan waters through late October. She supported PBY flying boats of Fleet Air Wing 4 by tending and fueling planes, and transporting people, plane parts and ordnance supplies; she also performed patrol duty and participated in survey work as required. Despite the often bad flying weather, the "Catalina"-equipped squadrons tended by Avocet carried out extensive patrols, as well as bombing and photo missions over Japanese-held Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutians. In addition, the squadrons serviced by Avocet provided "dumbo" services (rescue missions named for the Walt Disney studio's cartoon pachyderm) for all American services, and flew antisubmarine patrols as well. When the Japanese submarine RO-61 torpedoed Casco (AVP-12) in Nazan Bay, off Adak, Avocet went to the stricken seaplane tender's aid. From 2 to 4 September 1942, she assisted in salvage operations, helped to tow the ship to safety, and took on board a portion of her crew.
After an overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, which commenced on 1 November 1942, Avocet returned to Alaskan waters, reaching Atka on 20 January 1943. Sailing thence to Ogluiga, and arriving on 28 January, Avocet landed a party of Navy "Seabees" (Construction Battalion men) and Army engineers there, before she proceeded on to Nazan Bay, a month later, arriving on 28 February.
For the remainder of 1943, Avocet continued to support the operations of Fleet Air Wing 4's squadrons, operating successively out of Dutch Harbor, Adak, Amchitka, and Adak a second time, Attu and Dutch Harbor through 16 July. During this time, she escorted SS Sam Jackson, along with YMS-121, from Amchitka to Adak, and then accompanied the seaplane tender Hulbert (AVD-6) in escorting a merchantman from Adak to Attu, arriving at the latter port on 21 June. The squadrons supported by Avocet during this period continued flying antisubmarine and reconnaissance patrols, as well as provided "dumbo" services as required. Avocet spent the remainder of 1943 operating out of Dutch Harbor, Adak, and Kodiak, until shifted to Seattle, arriving on 23 December 1943.
Avocet returned to Kodiak on 6 March 1944, and steamed thence to Adak, and then Attu, where she remained until the last day of March. The small seaplane tender shifted back to Adak on 1 April, but stayed there only a short time, clearing that place on 5 April for Attu, where she arrived shortly thereafter.
During the first half of May, 1944, Avocet alternated with the destroyer escort Doneff (DE-49) on guard and rescue ship station west of Attu. While returning from one such deployment, Avocet had her second brush with enemy aircraft. At 1125 on 19 May 1944, she sighted what she identified as a Mitsubishi twin-engined "Betty" bomber two miles away, in foggy weather.
When first sighted, the "Betty" seemed to be on a course parallel to the ship's, but appeared to be begin circling when he sighted Avocet, perhaps to look her over. Avocet opened fire on the "Betty" with 3-inch and 20-millimeter guns, but scored no hits. The "Betty," for her part, strafed the ship with her tail 20-millimeter gun. Neither side suffered any damage in the encounter, and Avocet resumed her voyage back to Attu.
Operating alternately out of Attu, Massacre Bay and Kuluk Bay for the remainder of May, Avocet departed Massacre Bay on 30 May for Kiska, arriving there on 1 June to embark passengers for transportation to Amchitka. The small seaplane tender operated out of the Aleutians for the remainder of the summer, frequenting the waters at Adak, Attu, Massacre Bay, Shemya Island, and Dutch Harbor before clearing Attu on 29 July 1944 for Puget Sound and an overhaul.
Avocet remained in the northern Pacific theater for the remainder of World War 11, working out of Adak, Attu and Dutch Harbor through the end of hostilities with Japan in mid-August. Highlighting this period at the end of the war, Avocet accompanied the fast transport Harry L. Corl (APD-108) to the Kamchatka Peninsula to establish a weather station, arriving on 6 September 1945, before ultimately returning to Adak.
Slated to be relieved by the small seaplane tender Unimak (AVP-31), Avocet cleared Adak on 7 October 1945 for Seattle, and arrivd on the 16th, reporting to the Commandant, 13th Naval District, for disposal. inspected on 20 November 1945, the ship was found to be "beyond economical repair." She was accordingly decommissioned on 10 December 1945, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 3 January 1946. Sold to the Construction and Power Machine Co., Brooklyn, N. Y., on 12 December 1946 for use as a hulk, she remained listed on the American Bureau of Shipping Record until 1950, after which time her name disappeared. She was scrapped subsequently.
Avocet (AVP-4) earned one World War 11 battle star for her participation in the defense of the fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.