USS Triumph (AM-323)

USS "Triumph" (AM-323) was an , USS|Hopewell|DD-681|2, and Coast Guard cutter USCGC|Spencer. "Triumph" reached recently invaded Leyte on the morning of 30 November and began preparations for the flanking landings at Ormoc Bay on the western shore of the island.

Attacked by Japanese fighter planes

After five days patrolling the San Pedro Bay anchorage against enemy submarine incursions, the ship got underway as a unit of task unit TU 78.3.6. En route, "Triumph" and her traveling companions suffered a kamikaze attack when three "Zekes" dove on the unit. The first tried to crash USS|Requisite|AM-109|2 but missed and splashed down between that ship and "Triumph". The second fighter tried a bombing run but was brought down by the combined antiaircraft fire of the task unit. The pilot of the third plane prudently declined to attack. Later that day, a group of medium bombers overflew the unit but made no attack. Just before noon, the minesweeper and her mates reached Ormoc Bay and streamed their sweep gear to complete their mission. Unmolested, the group of minesweepers completed their sweeping by 2125 that night and took up station in the screen of the Ormoc Bay attack force. The following morning, the Army 77th Division landed unopposed just south of Ormoc town and in the enemy's rear area. The only Japanese attempt to oppose the operation consisted of aerial attacks—both conventional and kamikaze. Though the attacks cost the American naval forces two warships sunk, USS|Mahan|DD-364|2 and USS|Ward|APD-16|2, two more severely damaged, USS|Liddle|APD-60|2 and USS|Lamson|DD-367|2, and an LSM abandoned; they failed to impede the landings and the progress of the troops ashore. "Triumph" departed Ormoc Bay late on the morning of the 7th and headed back to San Pedro Bay. Though her task unit occasionally engaged enemy aircraft during the intermittent air attacks, she concentrated on her role as a part of the antisubmarine screen while the destroyers of the outer screen bore the brunt of the attack. The raids ceased at dark; and, early the next morning, task unit TU 78.3.6 reentered San Pedro Bay.

Supporting landings at Mindoro

"Triumph" remained at San Pedro Bay until the afternoon of 12 December when she got underway to participate in the occupation of Mindoro. On the second day out, the task organization came under aerial attack. Just after midday, a kamikaze crashed the flagship USS|Nashville|CL-43|2, and the light cruiser was forced to drop out of formation and return to San Pedro Bay with USS|Stanly|DD-478|2. Additional raids occurred that afternoon, but they caused no damage. By the morning of 14 December, the unit was passing Negros Island; and "Triumph", along with the rest of the minesweepers, received orders to sweep the waters ahead of the force. During that sweep, the unit was attacked by a formation of three "Oscars". The enemy planes dropped three bombs off "Triumph's" port quarter but caused no damage. An American combat air patrol drove the raiders off, and the minesweepers completed their mission by late afternoon. Just after midnight on 15 December, "Triumph" and her mates reached the beaches on the southwestern coast of Mindoro. At 0225, they began sweeping the invasion approaches. They completed their task less than three hours later and moved out while the invasion force moved in. Later, she joined in sweeps of Pandarochan Bay; then returned to Mindoro Strait to form up for the return to Leyte. At 1830, she departed Mindoro and, after a brief but intense aerial attack at dusk, voyaged peacefully back to the anchorage at San Pedro Bay, anchoring there a little after 0800 on the 18th. For the remainder of the month, she remained at San Pedro Bay and conducted antisubmarine patrols in Leyte Gulf.

Supporting the Luzon invasion

On 2 January 1945, the minesweeper once again departed San Pedro Bay—this time to participate in the initial invasion of Luzon. The four-day voyage to the beaches at Lingayen Gulf was punctuated by a number of Japanese air assaults. An inconclusive air-to-surface battle on the night of 2 January was followed by the first attack in earnest on the 3d. Shortly after dawn, a formation of "Zekes" pounced on the convoy. One near-miss of the oiler USS|Cowanesque|AO-79|2 caused a fire amidships. All ships joined in a withering fire that discouraged suicide runs; and, consequently, no ship suffered a direct hit. The next morning, enemy planes approached the formation, but combat air patrol downed some and chased others away. On the 5th, general quarters sounded five times before noon, but "Triumph" observed no planes. Later, three warships peeled off to chase two Japanese destroyers sighted off the convoy's quarter. The enemy ships, however, managed to escape. At 1700, a formation of "Vals" hit the task force. Six of them attempted suicide crashes, but only one came close to its target—an LCI—which lost its mast in the encounter. Early the next morning, the force reached its destination off the beaches at Lingayen Gulf. Between 6 and 9 January, "Triumph" conducted pre-invasion sweeps of the assault areas in Lingayen Gulf. Though the main task force was subjected to incessant enemy air attacks, the minesweeper continued her mine-sweeping almost unmolested. Each night, she retired from Lingayen Gulf and took up screening station for the transports and cargo ships. On the 9th, the ground troops stormed ashore at Lingayen, and "Triumph" kept a close watch for enemy submarines and suicide boats. She remained in Lingayen Gulf until the 14th—riding at anchor during the last three days of that period — and then got underway with a Leyte-bound convoy of LST's and LCI's. After transiting the Sulu Sea, the Mindanao Sea, Surigao Strait, and Leyte Gulf, the Allied ships arrived in San Pedro Bay on the 19th. She remained there until 25 January when she headed out to resume action off Luzon. She reached Subic Bay and swept its coastal waters. On 4 February, she departed and headed back to Leyte, stopped at San Pedro Bay from 8 to 13 February, then put to sea once again on her way to the Marianas.

Duty with the Fifth Fleet

"Triumph" entered Apra Harbor, Guam, and reported for duty with the U.S. 5th Fleet. Two days later, she set a course for Ulithi, the staging area for Operation Iceberg, the invasion and occupation of the Ryūkyūs. She arrived at Ulithi the following day and began a period of rest, repairs, and rehearsals. Early in the afternoon of 19 March, "Triumph" sailed put of the lagoon at Ulithi with the Ryukyu Islands invasion force. When she arrived at her destination early on the morning of the 24th, "Triumph" and her division mates joined USS|Shea|DM-30|2 and a patrol craft in minesweeping operations. On the 26th, destroyer USS|Halligan|DD-584|2 struck a mine, and it caused explosions in her forward magazine which ripped off most of her forward section. Two ships of "Triumph's" unit proceeded to assist the stricken warship but managed to rescue only 172 members of "Halligan's" 325-man complement. The following day, the division swept 15 mines of which total "Triumph" claimed three. On the 28th, her formation endured its first air raid of the campaign when three enemy planes dived in to attack. The formation responded with a lively fusillade which splashed all three. The minesweeper continued sweeping operations through the end of the month. She and her colleagues concluded their mission on the eve of the landings, 31 March, and began duty with the task force's antisubmarine screen. At 0600 the following morning—April Fool's Day and Easter Sunday rolled into one—landing craft started their move shoreward; and, soon thereafter, the first wave of U.S. Marines and soldiers hit the beaches on Okinawa.

Screening for kamikazes

During the ensuing four months, "Triumph" alternated screening duties with minesweeping operations. On several occasions during that time, she became directly involved in the incessant air attacks launched by the Japanese against the invasion force. On 16 April, when USS|Taluga|AO-62|2 received a kamikaze hit, "Triumph" was soon at hand to rescue three men blown overboard in the action. The minesweeper herself almost required such assistance on the 18th when a "Kate" torpedo bomber apparently tried to crash into her. Near sunset, he came in from astern up the port side, passed under her port yardarm, and splashed down not far from "Triumph". The air raids continued, but their primary targets remained the radar picket destroyers. Consequently, "Triumph" experienced few actual surface-to-air engagements. On 11 May, while she patrolled off Ie Shima, she brought two enemy planes under fire but could not definitely claim credit for the one splashed by antiaircraft fire. Combat air patrol accounted for the other one. Between mid-May and mid-June, she executed her patrols and sweeps under relatively calm circumstances.

Under attack by a torpedo plane

On 15 June, however, she experienced another potentially fatal adventure. At dusk, "Triumph" was patrolling north of Kerama Retto when an enemy torpedo bomber executed a near-perfect run on her. Initially, the plane was thought to be friendly, though the radarman continued to track the unidentified aircraft just in case. The pilot lined his plane up with the moon, made a well-executed approach, and launched his torpedo. Two sharp-eyed sailors on board "Triumph" spied the torpedo splash, raised the alarm, and the warship immediately went hard to starboard to evade the torpedo. It passed in her wake, a scant 30 yards astern. Darkness precluded any real antiaircraft response, so "Triumph" resumed her patrols. Three days after that attack, the minesweeper put into Kerama Retto for supplies and upkeep. "Triumph" remained in Kerama Retto through the end of June. On the 30th, she got underway to rehearse for sweeps into the East China Sea. Those preparations continued until Independence Day when she sortied with Task Unit TU 39.11.6. She arrived in the assigned area with the rest of her unit on the 5th and conducted a highly productive, eight-day sweep unimpaired by Japanese air activity. She returned to Buckner Bay, located on the western coast of Okinawa, on Bastille Day. There she replenished and refueled over a three-day period before returning to the East China Sea to resume mine-sweeping operations. However, just before beginning that mission, she was detached from the East China Sea minesweeping force and was ordered to report to task force TF 39 for further orders. On 17 July, she was forced to leave the anchorage at Buckner Bay to evade a typhoon. After serving in the antisubmarine screen of the ships forced out of the anchorage, the warship returned to Buckner Bay on 21 July and remained there, awaiting orders, until 5 August. On that day, she stood out of the bay as a unit in the screen of a convoy of tank landing ships.

Japan capitulates

Two days later, she took "PGM-11" in tow after the latter ship suffered an engine casualty. On the llth, "Triumph" parted company with the convoy to tow "PGM-11" into Apra Harbor, Guam. With USS|Pledge|AM-277|2 and "YMS-341" in escort, the minesweeper entered Apra Harbor on the morning of 12 August. Three days later, she received word of the Japanese capitulation. "Triumph" remained at Guam for a month undergoing repairs. She departed on 12 September to participate in the occupation of Japan and former Japanese possessions. She served her entire tour of occupation duty at Okinawa, arriving there on 18 September and departing again on 19 October.

Stateside overhaul and ecommissioning

After stops at Guam and Hawaii, she returned to the United States at San Francisco, California, on 15 December. She underwent an extensive overhaul at the Kaiser shipyard at Richmond, California, from 19 January to 12 June 1946 and then began operations along the west coast. That duty continued until "Triumph" was placed out of commission at San Diego, California on 30 January 1947.

Peacetime operations

"Triumph" remained in reserve at San Diego until early 1952. After extensive preparations during the late fall of 1951 and the winter of 1952, she was recommissioned at San Diego on 28 February 1952. The warship reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet early in April and ultimately to the Atlantic Fleet on 19 May. Operating out of Charleston, South Carolina, the minesweeper served along the southern portion of the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean until mid-September when she deployed to the Mediterranean for service with the U.S. 6th Fleet. Following another tour of duty in the western Atlantic early in 1954 and a second deployment to the Mediterranean during the winter of 1954 and 1955, "Triumph" began preparations for deactivation in the spring of 1955. On 7 February 1955 she was redesignated MSF-323. On 29 August 1955, "Triumph" was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Green Cove Springs, Florida.

Final disposition

There, she remained until late in 1959. During that period, she changed designations again on 4 December 1959 when she became MMC-3. Late in 1959, the decision was made to transfer her to Norway under the Foreign Military Assistance Program. On 27 January 1961, she was transferred to the Norwegian Navy. Her name was struck from the Navy List on 1 March 1961. She served the Norwegian Navy as "Brage" until 1978.

Awards

"Triumph" was awarded six battle stars for World War II service.

References

See also

* List of United States Navy ships
* Minesweeping

External links

* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/#Anchor-Editoria-14954 Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-t/am323.htm USS "Triumph" (AM-323, later MSF-323 & MMC-3), 1944-1961]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/wn-ar993.htm What's new? - 1999 Archive # 3]
* [http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/AM/AM-323_Triumph.html Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945 AM-323 USS "Triumph"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/11/02323.htm NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive - USS "Triumph" (MMC-3) - ex-MSF-323 - ex-AM-323 - ex-HMS "Espoir" (BAM 23)]
* [http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/5250.html USS "Triumph" (AM 323)]
* [http://uboat.net/allies/warships/class.html?ID=226 uboat.net - Allied Warships - Auk class Minesweepers]


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