Lt. David T Ayers Jr.  European Theatre Command  4/1944 to 6/1945

AM-60 Nuthatch sketch

AM-60 USS Nuthatch

Raven/Auk Class Minesweeper Specs:

(the following is from Hazegray.org)

 

Nuthatch (AM-60) was laid down by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Mich., 22 May 1941, launched 16 September 1942, sponsored by Mrs. Charles D. Swain, and commissioned 19 November 1942, Comdr. D. D. Humphreys in command.

Nuthatch then crossed the Great Lakes steamed down the St. Lawrence into the Atlantic and proceeded along the east coast for shakedown. Between January 1943 and April 1944 Nuthatch served in the Atlantic Fleet Convoy Escort Group, operating on the "Sugar" runs. Homeported at Norfolk, she operated to and from Santiago, Cuba, Curaao, N.W.I.; Bermuda; St. Thomas, V.I.; San Juan, P.R.; Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas, and other small ports in the Caribbean Gulf area. Convoy organization on these runs consisted of one to three Naval or Merchant Marine cargo vessels and tankers escorted by two or three AMs.

Nuthatch departed the United States with her division, MinDiv 21, on 7 April 1944 and headed east to Falmouth England. There she staged for the much awaited invasion of France, scheduled for early June. The division sailed from Torquay, 5 June, and, before it began sweeping operations lost one of its units, Osprey Early on the 6th, the division started sweeping the coast of France in assault and check sweeps to assure safe passage channels for the landing craft. Sweeping continued after D. Day and on the 15th, in the Bay of the Seine, a mine exploded close aboard Nuthatch on the port side forward. While no personnel injuries were incurred, the force of the explosion damaged the hull, stopped the engines, and made all electric gear inoperative. However, within two hours, she was underway again and soon pulled out of range of German shore batteries.

Repairs completed in England, Nuthatch was soon back on the French side of the Channel. On the 25th as a unit of TF 129, she participated in sweeping operations for the bombardment of Cherbourg. Sweep operations in the area continued until 1 August when, with her entire squadron, MinRon 7, she headed for Gibraltar and duty with the 8th Fleet. Until 31 May 1945, Nuthatch, with MinDiv 21, swept mines and escorted ships in the western Mediterranean; Marseilles, Oran, Naples, Bizerte, Valletta, Palermo, and Maddalena being only a few of her stops. On 31 May, Nuthatch hoisted her homeward bound pennant and got underway for the United States.

Arriving Hampton Roads 15 June, Nuthatch underwent repairs and, on 18 September, sailed for Panama and duty, with the Pacific Fleet. She arrived at Pearl Harbor 4 November only to receive orders to return to the United States for inactivation. Arriving at San Diego 31 December, she decommissioned 3 June 1946 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Redesignated MSF-60, 7 February 1955, Nuthatch remained in the Reserve Fleet at San Diego until struck from the Navy List 1 December 1966 and sunk as a target for the Pacific Fleet.

The Nuthatch earned two battle stars during World War II.


USS Nuthatch sidebars:

It is family lore, that in the mine explosion in the Bay of the Seine on 6/15/1944, all the ships heads (toilets) were broken along with other damage. I imagine that it also shook the confidence of a few sailors aboard, although they must have done their jobs well to have the ship back underway in only a few hours.
Dave Ayers III

"Prior to my service on the Whitehurst I was in a bad storm off Cape Hatteras on a 220 foot minesweeper, the USS Nuthatch. That flat bottomed stinker would pound its way through the waves even in a modest sea but in this storm the stanchions in the crews quarters which were at least 6 to 8 inch in diameter were bent after the pounding. This was not too much fun for a guy who had a tendency for seasickness. For the first 24 to 36 hours after leaving a port I would have my head in a bucket and then after that I would be OK until after the next time ashore. I can't imagine why I don't fancy a pleasure cruise at this time in my life."
Syd Calish DE 634

http://home.usaa.net/~crowmax/storm.htm

"In the months that followed, Terror, the minelayer CM-5, operated out of Yorktown, making frequent voyages to the Chesapeake Bay for exercises and occasionally stopping at Norfolk for repairs or overhaul. Often students from the Mine Warfare Training Facility came on board for instruction tours. Meanwhile, members of Terror's crew, when not attending classes ashore, participated in drills, training, and exercises in gunnery, mine warfare, and damage control. In February (1943), the minelayer assisted Nuthatch (AM-60) as that vessel tested the Mark 10 "hedgehog" off Yorktown. After receiving additional antiaircraft guns in May, Terror participated in tactical exercises in the Chesapeake Bay through the summer."
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/dafs/CM/cm5.html

 

AM class minesweeper at sea

The Nuthatch (or another AUK class AM) at sea. - Official U.S. navy Photo of an AM Auk/Raven class Minesweeper, from H.G. Nelson, Norfolk VA. Place and date unknown. Could be a shake down cruise before official commissioning, as no numbers are visible. From family collection.

Nuthatch's mascot 'Joe' the Nuthatch's mascot on the fantail.