Hands down, USS Excel was
the best ship I ever served in.
Aggressive Class Minesweeper
Displacement 775 tons
Length 172 ft
Speed 14 kts
Complement 8 Officers, 70 Enlisted
Propulsion, four Packard ID1700 diesel engines
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
Commissioned USS Excel (MSO-439)
February 24, 1955
Decommissioned, September 30, 1992
March 28, 1994
Laid up in the Reserve Fleet; Sold for scrap
to Crowley Marine in January 2000.
links for USS Excel:
My Duties with USS
Apr 1984 - Feb 1986
Excel was a reserve ship.
her home port was officially listed as Treasure
Island, CA, the ship was actually berthed at the Naval
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.
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,
Feb 1986 I was relieved by my good
friend QM1 Rick Burris and I was
transferred to NavSta