USS Gallant  MSO-489


No, it’s not the Starship Gallant….Sheesh!
(Dilithium crystals are magnetic BTW)

I had the good “fortune” to serve aboard the USS Gallant during the time it was home ported in Oakland CA in the mid 1980’s. We performed a lot of training both in the Bay and outside the Golden Gate, practicing the art of mine hunting, mine sweeping, mine neutralization and bottom surveys. I was the senior Navy Reservist aboard along with the mixed active and reserve crew of 80 men.  The Gallant was then commanded by LCDR Mike Bahnmiller and later, LCDR Greg Ostrowski.  We had a good crew and a capable, although old ship.  Launched in 1954, her hull was built entirely of wood with other non-magnetic materials utilized to the maximum extent possible.  That included a bronze anchor and chain, aluminum block Packard diesels (then), aluminum doors and hatches and brass, bronze, non-magnetic stainless steel or wood everywhere else possible.

Wooden Ships and Iron Titanium (non magnetic) Men.

During my tour we made trips to San Diego and trained in Alaskan waters, stopping in Kodiak and Anchorage, streaming our gear in the Gulf of Alaska and the Cook Inlet.  Talk about the “Deadliest Catch” HA! We also used our mine hunting sonar to detect the lair of the giant Halibut and King Crab after hours as we anchored out for the night.  Carrying fresh food for the crew is always problematic aboard ship and canned food was also an additional problem for us.  “Tin” cans are actually made of steel – therefore magnetic and a threat to the safety of the ship and crew when in a minefield.  There is minimal canned food aboard so fresh fish and crab saved the day.  That’s our story…

Small ship, tight crew, lots of cross-training, independent Ops, great duty…..

USS Gallant MSO 489

Fortune Favors the Bold. Motto of the USS Gallant, an Aggressive class Minesweeper.

Minesweepers at Kodiak Alaska – N6CC.COM

Four minesweepers moored in Kodiak harbor, Alaska, July 1985. Here the USS Enhance MSO 437 (inboard), USS Excel MSO 439 (outboard), USS Gallant MSO 489 (inboard-aft) and unidentified fourth minesweeper (outboard-aft). A vast difference between here and the Gulf of Alaska! Authors Photo:

Fun: I flew with the Navy reservists into Kodiak to meet the ship there. We arrived at the pier at Zero Dark Thirty and found that the ship had anchored out for the night, rather than pulling in. There she was, about 3 miles offshore in the early morning Nautical Twilight. We were in a rental van so I did what any good sailor would do (and this was before Cell Phones don’tcha know). So I parked the van, aiming it at the ship – and blinked “AA489 AA489 USNR standing by at the pier” using the headlight switch.

An alert bridge watch, not normally expecting flashing light signals from ashore, responded back with their flashing light. “Roger, arriving 0800”.

USS Gallant Underway Transfer

Official U.S. Navy photo

Underway during a transfer evolution. The messenger line has already been passed between the Gallant and the USS Constant, another MSO.

USs Gallant Antenna

What a great shot of our AS-2815/SSR-1 Satellite comms antenna – Don’t you think?

USS Gallant MSO 489

Official U.S. Navy photo.  Looks like Point Loma in the background.

The USS Gallant was decommissioned in 1994 and then sold to the Republic of China. She sailed as the Yung Ku, M-1308, protecting the Taiwan straits and sea lanes until she was decommissioned in 2013. With the Chicoms still threatening to attack and seize Taiwan, minesweepers will still be needed.

That “bent” HF whip antenna is tilted forward to facilitate Helo ops off the fantail when/if needed. As a bonus, that tilt also helped improve HF communications at close and medium range distances due to NVIS propagation. It would radiate a lot of the signal at very high angles and reflect downward filling in the “skip zone” out to several hundred miles. Does look odd on a Navy ship though!

More to follow – Under Construction – Stay Tuned.