USS SHELDRAKE (AGS-19)
Sheldrake, an auxiliary minesweeper, was
laid down on 24 June 1941 by General Engineering and Dry Dock Co.,
Alameda, Calif.; launched on 12 February 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Helen
Nicolini; and commissioned on 14 October 1942, Lt. Comdr. W. F. Porter, USNR, in
After fitting out at Alameda and making a short shakedown
cruise in the San Francisco Bay area, Sheldrake departed
to join a convoy bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She arrived there on the first
anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack and remained for three weeks. On
28 December, she got underway for Suva Island, Fiji, where she stopped
from 7 to 12 January 1943, before heading on to the Allied base at
Noumea, New Caledonia. After a trip to Efate in the New Hebrides
and back, from 17 to 27 January 1943, she departed Noumea to join the escort
of the first of many convoys, this one bound for Espiritu Santo. For the next 15
months, the auxiliary minesweeper crisscrossed tb/j South
Pacific shepherding convoys between bases in the New Hebrides, Solomons.
New Caledonia; also making-occasional runs to New Zealand, Samoa, and Fiji. Sheldrake also
participated intermittently in patrols off Guadalcanal.
On 4 May 1944, she departed Espiritu Santo bound for
Florida Island in the Solomons. She arrived off' Koli Point, Guadalcanal,
two days later, then moved on to Purvis Bay, Florida Island. Her operations
were centered in the Solomons for the next month, after which,
on 4 June, she departed the vicinity of Tassafaronga bound for
Kwajalein and staging for the Marianas invasion.
Sheldrake arrived at Kwajalein on 8 June
and departed four days later for the Saipan area. She cruised around
in the waters near Saipan until 2 July, ready to reinforce the assault
force if necessary. On that date, she departed the area for
Eniwetok Atoll, where she remained from 13 to 17 July. The auxiliary minesweeper
went from Eniwetok to Guam with Task Group 53.2. For the next two months,
she stayed in the vicinity of Guam screening and engaging in hunter-killer
antisubmarine operations, and putting in at Apra Harbor
periodically for logistics. On 19 September. Sheldrake cleared the
Marianas again on the first leg of a voyage to San Francisco.
After stops at Eniwetok, 24 to 25 September, and at Pearl
Harbor. 5 to 7 October, she entered San Francisco on 14 October. She shifted to
the yards of theGeneral Engineering and Dry Dock Co. on the next day and
commenced a 14-week overhaul. On 22 January1945, Sheldrake departed
San Francisco. After stops at San Pedro and San Diego, she got underway for Pearl
Harbor on 1 February. She laid over at Pearl Harbor from 9 to 19
February and entered Eniwetok lagoon on the 27th. She stood but of the lagoon
on the 28th to rejoin the fleet. However, a damaged port shaft in her
engine caused her to proceed independently to Ulithi Atoll for repairs.
She entered Ulithi Atoll on 6 March and went into drydock on the 14th. Sheldrake
undocked two days later, but returned to drydock on the 21st.
On 23 March, she undocked again and, on the 24th, got underway to escort survey
ship, Bowditch (AG-30), to Okinawa.
Upon arrival at Okinawa, five days later, she and Bowditch separated
and Sheldrake joined Sweep Unit 7. The sweep unit headed for Nago
Wan, Okinawa, and arrived the next day. S_heldrake was detached soon thereafter
to become a unit of Sweep Unit 6. From 1 to 25 April, she did screening duty
with Sweep Unit 6. On the 16th, an enemy Val attempted to crash Sheldrake,
but her gunners cut his suicide dive short 20 yards astern of
Sheldrake. On 25 April, she escorted a convoy of LST's
to Saipan, arriving on 1 May. From Saipan, she moved to Guam. She arrived on
5 May and, for the next two weeks, remained in that area, conducting
sweep exercises, screening operations, and docking for six days,
from 11 to 17 May.
On 23 June, she exited Apra Harbor and arrived at Nakagasuku
Wan (Buckner Bay), Okinawa, late on 1 July. For the next two months,
she swept mines in the vicinity of Okinawa, putting in periodically at Buckner Bay.
She exited Buckner Bay on 5 September to join minesweeping operations off
the Chinese, coast in the area of the Yangtze River. She arrived there on
the 7th and cleared mines until 23 September, when she moored at
Shanghai. In October, she swept mines from Chefoo Harbor and in the area of
She returned to Shanghai on 16 October, swept mines there
until 6 November, then headed for Takao, Formosa. Sheldrake's commanding
officer directed minesweeping operations out of Takao until 21 December, and she
reentered Shanghai on the 22d. On 3 January1946, Sheldrake weighed
anchor to return to the United States. On her way back, she stopped at Wakayama, Japan;
Saipan; Eniwetok; and Pearl Harbor, before entering San Diego, Calif., on 1
March. Decommissioned on 31 May 1946, Sheldrake joined the Pacific
Reserve Fleet, berthed at San Diego.
Sheldrake recommissioned at San Diego,
Calif., on 14 April 1952 and sailed to New York for conversion to an
oceanographic survey ship. Over the next 16 years, she
plied the waters of the western Atlantic and the Caribbean, from
Newfoundland to Cuba, conducting over 25 separate surveys. On three
occasions, Sheldrake left her normal area of operations to
conduct surveys. Two of these cruises were to the Mediterranean,
February to April
1958 and November 1965 to March 1966. The third departure from normal Atlantic operations came in July 1966 when she changed homeports, from New York to Pearl Harbor. Hawaii. Departing Bayonne, N.J., on 7 July, she laid over at Norfolk until 12
July; then got underway with Towhee
(AGS-28) for the Panama Canal.
They transited the canal on the 19th, visited
Mazatlan, Mexico, on the 29th, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 12 August. After almost three months in Hawaii, Sheldrake deployed to the western
Pacific on 9 November. For almost a
year and one-half, she and Tanner (AGS-15) and Towhee surveyed in the western
Pacific, in the Philippines, and along the Southeast Asian coast. On 9 April,
she returned to Pearl Harbor. She remained
in Hawaii until struck from the Navy list on 30 June 1968 and
decommissioned on 1 August. She was turned
over to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor until sold to Flynn-Learner of Honolulu on 2 November 1971 for scrapping.
Sheldrake earned four battle stars for
World War II.
[Note: The above USS SHELDRAKE (AGS-19) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS SHELDRAKE (AGS-19), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]