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USS Terror (CM-5) on 9 August 1945
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Class: TERROR (CM-5)
Design: Navy CM-5
Displacement (tons): 5,277 light, 8,640 full
Dimensions (feet): 453.8' oa, 440.0' wl x 60.2' e x 19.6' mx
Original Armament: 4-5"/38 2-1.1"Q 11-20mm
Later armaments: 4-5"/38 4-40mmQ 14-20mm (1943);
4-5"/38 6-40mmQ 1-40mmT 8-20mmT (1945)
Complement: 461 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 20.3
Propulsion (HP): 11,000
Machinery: G.E. turbines, 2 screws
||4 Apr 39
||3 Sep 40
||6 Jun 41
||15 Jul 42
||1 Dec 47
||1 Nov 70
||17 Nov 71
FY 1939. On 11 Sep 36 CNO wrote to the Secretary of the Navy that the Navy's only mine layer then in service (OGLALA, CM-3) was not in a satisfactory condition to continue in commission much longer without a large expenditure of funds and then would not be entirely satisfactory. Noting that there was a lack of vessels on the Navy list suitable for conversion as mine layers, he requested that SecNav direct the General Board to recommend the military characteristics for mine layers. Six days later the General Board asked the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet for his recommendations and those of mine warfare commands and experts. CNO's War Plans and Fleet Training Division recommended that the main purpose of the vessel be to accompany the fleet in order to mine advance bases, either herself or acting as a depot and mine assembly ship for the smaller mine layers of the Mine Force. The ship was also to carry out mining in areas controlled by the U.S. fleet, but tactical mining in a fleet battle and mining in enemy-controlled waters were excluded. These recommended missions were accepted but the recommended characteristics for the ship varied widely, with speeds ranging from 18 to 25 knots, mine capacity from 350 to 600, and displacement from 4,000 to 8,000 tons. After holding a preliminary hearing on 9 Feb 37 the General Board requested two design studies from the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R), one of a mine layer of 20 knots carrying 800 mines and with good space for assembling mines, and the other of a vessel of 25 knots carrying 600 mines with assembly space desirable but not to increase the size of the vessel. BuC&R supplied the two studies on 26 Feb 37, both for ships measuring 440 by 58 feet and with full load displacements of 7,720 tons (25 knot design) and 7,460 tons. In response to a question from a Board member the Bureau reported on 1 Jul 37 that increasing the cruising radius of the 20 knot design from 6,000 to 10,000 miles at 15 knots would increase the full load displacement to 8,300 tons and the dimensions of the ship to 452 by 60 feet. On 11 Nov 37 the General Board delivered to SecNav its final recommendation, calling for a ship not to exceed 7,000 tons (standard displacement, probably equivalent to 8,300 tons full load), carrying 600 assembled mines on at least four under-cover tracks plus not less than 300 unassembled mines stowed in holds with assembly space for these. The Board opted for a speed of at least 18 knots sustained (the speed of the fastest of the new auxiliaries, the AV-4 class) with an endurance of at least 10,000 miles at 15 knots and an armament of 4-5"/38 double purpose guns with director control. SecNav approved this recommendation on 17 Nov 37.
At this time it was generally expected that the Navy would build only one of these ships, to replace OGLALA in the functions of carrying on training and development in mining and serving as the nucleus for expansion of the mining branch of the Navy. On 20 Jul 38 SecNav directed the construction of this vessel in the annual shipbuilding program for 1939. Also included in this program were three large tenders (AD-15, AS-11, and AV-5) and five smaller auxiliaries (AT 64-66 and AVP 10-11). Construction of TERROR (CM-5) was allocated to the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 4 Apr 39 although the construction contract was subsequently dated 1 Sep 39. Among the subsequent changes to the design was the addition of ballistic protection (30-pound S.T.S. plating) against 50-caliber aircraft strafing attacks for portions of the ship including the mine stowage areas. This was recommended by Commander Battle Force on 24 Jan 38, rejected by the General Board on 9 Mar 38 based on information from BuC&R that it would cost 300 to 400 tons of additional weight, but incorporated by BuC&R most likely because of experience with aircraft strafing during the Italian campaign in Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War and the realization that a mine layer without protection was little more than a latent volcano. The General Board approved a general arrangement drawing of the ship on 24 Jul 39. For two sister ships (CM 6-7) ordered later with FY 1941 funds but not completed as minelayers see LSV 1-2.
TERROR was laid down at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 3 Sep 40 on a slipway just vacated by the seaplane catapult lighter AVC-1 (q.v.) and was declared complete on 16 Sep 42 after sea trials and post-trial shipyard work. After participating in the Casablanca operation in November 1942 she returned to the East Coast where, in around April 1943, four 40mm quad mounts were installed at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Otherwise the ship remained largely idle in the Atlantic theater, and after she was left out of plans for invasion operations in the Mediterranean and English Channel she was sent in October 1943 to the Pacific and used to transport mines, conduct defensive mining, and assist in cargo and personnel movements. In December 1944 TERROR was fitted as flagship for Commander, Minecraft Pacific Fleet, and during the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasion in February-May 1945 she served as flagship and support ship for all the minecraft in the operations. She carried a large amount of minesweeping, radio, radar, sonar, and diesel spare parts as well as fresh and dry provisions to assist small craft that came alongside but found that her improvised facilities made it difficult to account for and distribute these items as well as carry out her flagship duties. She suffered severe topside damage from a kamikaze attack on 1 May 45, and while she was under repair the Navy rejected a proposal to expand her capabilities as a spares issue ship and disapproved a plan to procure tender spares and have stowage for them installed. In early 1945 forces afloat fitted two single 40mm Army AA guns to the ship without previous authorization from the Navy Department; these do not appear in the ordnance records maintained in Washington and were removed when the ship's anti-aircraft armament was augmented following the kamikaze attack.
Inactivated in 1947 the ship was placed In Service in Reserve on 22 Jun 51 as a reserve fleet accommodation vessel at Charleston, S.C. She returned to Out of Commission in Reserve status on 6 Aug 56. In 1957 and 1958 she was considered for reactivation and conversion to a Middle East Force flagship (SCB Project No. 191) but the project was not implemented. She was moved to the reserve fleet at Philadelphia in 1960 and finally surveyed for disposal in 1970.
A more extensive design history and a very detailed technical description of this ship were presented in Warship International
, Vol. 48 no. 4 (December 2011) pages 317-348. Subsequent articles in this series, all by the late Robert S. Egan, will provide more information on TERROR and also cover her two sisters and the four ships of the related MONITOR (AN-1) class. These six ships finally entered service as LSV 1-6 (q.v.).
||In USN reserve 1947-70 (in service in reserve at Charleston, S.C. 1952-56). To MM-5 7 Feb 55, MMF-5 27 Oct 55. To buyer 15 Dec 71
Compiled: 29 Dec 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008