USS Improve (AM-247)
Minesweeper / Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Vessel
USS Improve, a minesweeper in U.S. Navy service, managed to survive World War 2 fighting at both fronts.
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World War 2 (1939-1945) required all manner of naval firepower - from aircraft carriers and battleships to submarines and fast-attack platforms. One of the more critical categories of ship became the minesweeper, these vessels charged with clearing out potential dangers for the main fleet, shipping or amphibious assaults - the primary threat being naval mines. The new Admirable-class was formed for this purpose and 147 vessels were planned for the group which eventually served with the United States, the Soviet Union, China and many others. 123 were completed with 24 being cancelled.
The vessels displaced 625 tons and featured a length of 184 feet, a beam of 33 feet and draught of 10 feet. Its propulsion scheme involved 2 x ALCO 539 series diesel engines developing 1,710 horsepower each and driving 2 x shafts. In ideal conditions, the design could hope to make 15 knots. Her crew complement numbered 104 officers and enlisted personnel and onboard armament was led by 1 x 3" /50 caliber "Dual-Purpose" trainable deck gun, 2 to 4 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns (in two, twin-gunned emplacements) and 8 x 20mm Oerlikon AA autocannons (in four, twin-gunned emplacements). For antisubmarine work, USS Improve relied on a "Mousetrap" rocket launcher or "Hedgehog" anti-submarine mortar, a pair of depth charge racks and 2 x "K-Gun" depth charge projectors.
USS Improve (AM-247) was a notable entry to the class and managed a career from 1944 to 1945 with the Atlantic Fleet and from 1945 to 1946 with the Pacific Fleet. She earned two Battle Stars for her service. Her hull was laid down by Savannah Machine and Foundry Company on June 1st, 1943 and the vessel launched on September 26th of that year. She was formally commissioned for service on February 29th, 1944. Her first duties were in training and, later, convoy support.
USS Improve arrived in time to support the Allied landings in Southern France ("Operation Dragoon"; August 15 - September 14th, 1944). She and five of her sisters were teamed with six auxiliary boats and a pair of British Royal Navy vessels to sweep for naval mines (Mine Squadron 11). They also pioneered a blimp technique which proved useful in spotting and identifying potential floating dangers at range. Their guns were also used against enemy shoreline positions as needed. In March of 1944, USS Improve took part in the Anzio Landings.
The vessel remained on station in Mediterranean waters prior to returning home in April of 1945. She then sailed for the Pacific Theater by way of the Panama Canal and arrived in California in July. She trained until the end of the war - which came in August with the Japanese surrender.
USS Improve conducted more minesweeping operations even after the war as many areas remained dangerous to military and commercial ships alike. She then saw decommissioning on November 6th, 1946 and served out the rest of her days in merchant service (1949 onwards) as MV Ecuador. With her usefulness over, she was sunk in 1953.