MSC-208 General Specifications
Class: Redwing-class minesweeper
Complement: 40 Officers and Enlisted
Displacement: 412 tons
Length: 145 feet
Beam: 28 feet
Draft: 12 feet
Final Disposition: Sold for scrap January 1974
USS WIDGEON (MSC-208)
The second Widgeon (AMS-208) was laid down on 3 May 1954 at Bellingham
by the Bellingham Shipyards
launched on 15 October 1954; sponsored by Mrs. John F. Cushing
the wife of the treasurer of the Bellingham Shipyards; reclassified MSC-208 on 7 February 1955; and commissioned at the naval station at Tacoma
on 16 November 1955
Lt. Bruce G. Stone in command.
Ready for sea on 15 December 1955
Widgeon a unit of the Pacific Fleet Mine Force sailed on 3 January 1956 for visits to San Francisco and Long Beach
Calif. The new minesweeper operated out of the latter port until 29 January at which time she shifted to San Diego to undergo shakedown training. Upon completion of shakedown
the ship underwent a four-week availability at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
The ship underwent further trials and alterations before she sailed to the Western Pacific (WestPac) on 1 October 1956. Proceeding in company with Mine Division (MinDiv) 95
Widgeon reported to Commander Naval Forces
Far East (ComNavFE) for duty and was assigned to MinDiv 32
Mine Squadron 3
Mine Flotilla 1.
Homeported at Sasebo
Widgeon operated in the Far East for the next 13 years. During that time
she participated in local operations in Japanese waters
as well as voyages to Korea and Okinawa for exercises. She conducted joint minesweeping operations and exercises with units of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces
the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy
Chinese Nationalist Navy
and visited ports such as Kobe
Japan; Hong Kong; Buckner Bay; Subic Bay
and Pohang and Koje Do
Korea. Interspersed with her active training evolutions
the minesweeper underwent routine periods of upkeep and alterations and repairs at her home port of Sasebo.
Participation in the increasing American involvement in the war in Vietnam
highlighted the minesweeper's lengthy WestPac deployment. From the mid-1960's
the ship commenced a regular schedule of deployments on "Market Time" patrol stations in the coastal waters off South Vietnam
on patrol and interdiction to cut off the seaborne flow of supplies to the communist Viet Cong forces inside South Vietnam. During one such cruise in January 1967 while being diverted from a "Market Time" patrol to conduct classified operations in the Gulf of Tonkin the ship made the national news when she was rammed by a swordfish. Later during that same cruise' while the ship was crossing the South China Sea
she sighted a McDonnell F4-C Phantom crash into the sea. Widgeon altered course in time to rescue one man of the two-man crew. The other flier
died in the crash. Commander
later cited Widgeon for her outstanding performance of duty during the rescue.
Widgeon returned to Sasebo on 17 February 1967
worn and beaten from heavy seas
and was under repairs during March and April. On 1 May
a Navy P-3 Orion patrol plane
with a crew of 12 men on board
crashed in the Tsushima Strait off the southern coast of Korea Widgeon headed for the scene of the crash transiting the hazardous Hirado Strait for search and rescue (SAR) operations. She searched for two days and recovered numerous bits of debris but was unable to locate any survivors or the fuselage of the plane. The minesweeper ultimately returned to Sasebo on 5 May to commence refresher training.
Widgeon spent the months of July through September on her sixth "Market Time" patrol and a cruise in the South China Sea. Departing Sasebo on 3 July
the minesweeper arrived at Bangkok
on the 15th. She later operated with mine countermeasures units of the Royal Thai Navy in the Gulf of Thailand in a SEATO exercise
before she operated on "Market Time" stations from 27 July to 12 September. When she arrived at Kaohsiung
on 16 September
the ship's crew had not touched land in 60 days. Widgeon subsequently spent the rest of the year engaged in local operations out of Sasebo and Buckner Bay
and made a visit to Hong Kong for rest and recreation.
Over the next two years
Widgeon continued her operations in the Far East and Southeast Asian waters. During that time
she conducted two "Market Time" patrols for which she later received the Meritorious Unit Commendation. The award
given the ship on 16 August 1970 was for the period from 1 June 1968 to 13 September 1969. During that time
Widgeon served with the Mine Countermeasures Ready Group and Coastal Surveillance Forces in combat operations off the coast of South Vietnam. She maintained a consistently high standard of readiness that enabled her to assume assigned duties early or on very short notice
and she completed three stints on "Market Time" patrol stations. She not only inspected or boarded over 1
100 vessels but
fire from shore and conducted underwater searches. Throughout the repeated patrol extensions
"the continually outstanding performance
high state of morale
and ingenuity of the officers and men of Widgeon attested to their exceptional team spirit and professionalism. By their exemplary courage and dedication
they contributed significantly to the success of anti-infiltration efforts in the Republic of Vietnam and enhanced the reputation of the Mine Countermeasures Ready Group
thereby reflecting credit upon themselves and the United sates Naval Service".
after 13 years of continuous service in WestPac operating areas
Widgeon sailed for the United States on 17 August 1969
in company with Catskill (MCS-1)
and Warbler (MSC-206). Proceeding via Pearl Harbor
she arrived at Long Beach exactly one month later. Later that autumn
on 1 October 1969
Widgeon was decommissioned and placed in reserve; she got underway the next day for her new home port
For the next three years Widgeon operated as a Group II Naval Reserve training (NET) ship. She operated primarily in the San Diego area but twice visited Ensenada
once in 1972 and once in 1973. Struck from the Navy list on 2 July 1973
Widgeon was sold in January 1974.
Widgeon (MSC-208) earned six engagement stars for her Vietnam service and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.