USS Excel (MSO-439)





Aggressive Class Minesweeper

Displacement 775 tons
Length 172 ft
Beam 35ft
Draft 12ft
Speed 14 kts
Complement 8 Officers, 70 Enlisted
Propulsion, four Packard ID1700 diesel engines
Two shafts, two controllable pitch propellers.
Laid down February 9, 1953 as AM-439 at the Higgins Corp., New Orleans, LA
Launched, September 25, 1953
Reclassified as an Ocean Minesweeper (non-magnetic), MSO-439,  February 7, 1955
Commissioned USS Excel (MSO-439) February 24, 1955
Decommissioned, September 30, 1992
Stricken March 28, 1994
Laid up in the Reserve Fleet; Sold for scrap to Crowley Marine in January 2000.

Additional links for USS Excel:
http://www.navsource.org/archives/11/02439.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Excel_(MSO-439)
http://www.hullnumber.com/AM-439

My Duties with USS Excel
Apr 1984 - Feb 1986

Hands down, USS Excel was the best ship I ever served in.

Excel was a reserve ship.  Although her home port was officially listed as Treasure Island, CA, the ship was actually berthed at the Naval Supply Center, Oakland CA.   Because of her small size, when we were in home port, the crew was billeted in our own wing of the bachelors quarters on Treasure Island. 

I was the only QM aboard and cross trained other crew members to stand navigation watches.  These guys were fantastic - taking on navigation duties in addition to their regular duties.  The signalman (SM2) and I shared berthing in the IFF room just behind the bridge.  It was like having our own private state room.  The only draw back was that it was also too close to the bridge.  Often I was called to the bridge wearing nothing but my skivvies and flip-flops to solve some sort of Nav problem.

Once,
to make room for the visiting Commodore, a Junior Officer was moved out of Officer Country and was temporarily billeted with us.  The JO was bluntly informed that in this case he was the junior personnel.  This was was our berthing and I was the senior man, entitled to the senior (middle) bunk, the SM2 was second in seniority and he claimed the upper birth.  The officer was obliged to take the junior bottom bunk. (He didn't like it, but he had no say in the matter.)

The thing that frustrated me most was the lack of storage room.  The SM2 and I had a lot of charts stored under our mattresses because there was no where else to store them.

The Excel went through RefTra (Refresher Training) and MRCI (Mine Readiness Certification Inspection) in San Diego and sailed though with flying colors.  It was the first in a long time that a Minesweeper passed both inspections the first time through.

While aboard USS Durham I developed a procedure for navigation in amphibious operations and I adapted it to Mine Field navigation.  For my innovation I was awarded my first Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal from MineGru 1.

Every summer Excel and other Reserve ships set out for a summer cruise.  We went from San Francisco to Hawaii to Adak AK to Seattle and back to the Bay area, dropping off and picking up reserves every two weeks as they performed their annual AcDuTra.

Nov 1985 Excel went into overhaul at Lake Union Dry dock, Seattle, WA

Feb 1986 I
was relieved by my good friend QM1 Rick Burris and I was transferred to NavSta Puget Sound.

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