USS Terror Returns to Duty
Taken directly from a communication to the crew of the USS Terror on their return to Japan after repairs and the end of World War Two. This was provided by William Ringleib Jr.
THE TERROR COMES BACK
BUCKNER BAY, OKINAWA, Sept. 15, 1945. The U.S.S. TERROR; with a proud record of service to her country already behind her, has a new mission.
For some, the war is over, but the minefleet cannot write finis to its task until the waters of the once arrogant Jap- anese Empire are cleared of mines and open again to, the Allied world.
You have read of the thousands of aerial mines sown in Japanese ports and sea lanes by giant fleets of Superfortresses. These were new type of mines, developed by the Navy, which also developed the techniques for accurately placing them in vital waters and assisted in training of Army Air Forces per- sonnel for the job of immobilizing Nipponese seapower by aerial mine blockade.
The job was done. The Rising Sun has set. Now it is the Navy’s task to remove those mines, and in that job the TERROR, as Flagship of the United States Pacific Minefleet, is playing an important part.
The mines, containing an explosive charge capable of breaking a ship in two, were launched by parachute to protect their delicate and intricate mechanisms on impact with the water. As they sank to, the bottom of the sea, these sub—sea charges armed themselves to explode, from any one of a number of physical causes, whenever a ship passed nearby.
As they differ from the conventional type of anchored mine in important respects, the job of neutralizing them also involves new techniques. It will be a job of destroying mines, and of destroying them by methods which are still in the “secret” class.
The TERROR, a stronger and more efficient ship by virtue of her repairs and improvements following a bout with a Jap- anese kamikaze plane a few miles from here, has a two—fold task: To direct the gallant little “splinter fleet” in the sweeping of infested waters, and as a “mother ship” bring to them some or the “luxuries and needs” of the sea so lacking on these small ships, such as fuel, general stores, clothing, fresh water, food, laundry and “gedunks.” (means Ice Cream and Candy)
That is the task we are now engaged in. We will fulfill our mission carrying with us the past record of the TERROR. We remember that she moved into Casablanca harbor, through heavily—mined waters, a few days after the initial Allied landings in November, 1942, and laid a defensive minefield around that vital port. Later, in the Pacific, she carried out urgent supply missions from Tarawa to the East China Sea, and played her part in the conquest of the Marianas Islands, bloody Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
In the latter campaign, after fighting off frenzied Jap- anese suicide planes around the clock for 39 days, the TERROR was crashed amidships at 4 o’clock in the morning by a Kamikaze plane laden with explosives. You know the rest of that story, from having lived through it or heard it told and re—told since. We are proud of our ship, and we are determined to execute this and future missions with courage and spirit.
This is in the tradition of the minefleet, which has grown during the war to a fleet of more than 500 minesweeping and minelaying units. The European beginning of World War II found the United States with a mine force consisting of the U.S.S. OGLALA as flagship, one division or four-stacker des- troyer-minelayers and a division of Bird Class minesweepers.
Three types of mine were in general use then: An improved version of the anchored mine used in the North Sea barrage, a drifting mine laid from surface vessels, and an anchored mine laid from submarines. The Naval Ordnance Lab- oratory at Washington, charged with development of mines employed a few men working on mines and depth charges. Only a few officers had extended experience with mines, and there was no specialized enlisted rate.
In the months that followed Germany's attempt to block- ade Britain by aerial mining, mine personnel at the Naval Ord- nance Laboratory increased over a hundred-fold, the Naval Mine Warfare School at Yorktown, Va., was organized, and the Naval Mine Warfare Test Station was set up at Solomons, Maryland, for the proving of new mines.
The OGLALA, one of the first ships sunk at Pearl Harbor, was replaced in 1943 as flagship of the minefleet by the TERROR. This ship, commissioned in July, 1942, is slight- ly smaller than a light cruiser, with fire power slightly superior to the average destroyer. She is equipped to carry a large number of mines, as well as the minecraft flag officer and his staff of over 160 officers and men.