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USS LSM 398 after conversion to a trials ship during an inclining experiment on 5 April 1954. USS Mississippi (AG 129) is in the left background.
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Class: HUNTING (EAG 398, ex AG 156)
Design: Navy LSM 1
Displacement (tons): 570 light, 1,090 full
Dimensions (feet): 204' oa, 197' wl x 35' e, 34' wl x 10' max nav
Accommodations: (1956) 5 officers, 54 enlisted
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 2,880
Machinery: Diesel (direct), 2 screws
|398||HUNTING||6 Jan 1957||NSY Charleston||18 Dec 1944||6 Jan 1945||COM/SRV|
|398||HUNTING||23 Nov 1962||1 Nov 1962||30 Jul 1963||Navy sale||--|
LSM 398 was one of around ten LSMs that remained active in January 1950 before the Korean War led to the reactivation of others. She was used as a utility craft in the Norfolk area, assisted in 1952 in Operation Blue Jay in the Arctic (the construction of the Thule, Greenland air base), and at some point was assigned to support the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
In the early 1950s NRL's Sonar Systems Branch began work on low frequency transducers that were to be towed in the deep sound channel at a depth of about 1,000 m (3,280 ft). Low frequency meant large, and the transducer weighed 30,000 pounds and measured 28 ft long, 9 ft wide, and 10 ft high, putting it beyond the means of conventional over the side or stern launching. The solution was to modify the LSM assigned to NRL, LSM 398, so that the transducer could be launched and towed through a center well. Conversion began in June 1953 at NSY Norfolk according to plans developed by BUSHIPS. A well 30 ft long by 12 ft wide was cut through the centerline forward with a gantry or bridge rising 18 ft above the main deck to handle the device. After conversion LSM 398 reported to Operational Development Force on 1 October 1954 to begin operations with NRL. She was reclassified EAG 398 effective 6 Jan 1957 (she was to have been AG 156 but the LSM number was retained) and, since AGs had names, the name HUNTING for an island in South Carolina was assigned effective 13 July 1957. (The "E" was a prefix and not part of the ship's classification, in this case AG, and did not appear in listings in the Naval Vessel Register.)
The ship's testing and evaluation activities took her from the Naval Research Laboratory near Washington into the Chesapeake Bay, the coastal waters off the Virginia Capes, and the Caribbean. She played a vital part in the development of new and better Navy sonar equipment. However engine failure too expensive to repair after a mistake during shipyard repairs led to the premature decommissioning of the ship in 1962. Another issue contributing to early retirement was corrosion of the hull under the engine compartment due to electrical currents in the water and incompatibility of World War II steel with more modern steel, leading to cracking during attempted repairs. The experience with the well contributed to the design of the improved well installed in USNS MIZAR (T-AK 272), a small cargo ship that became T-AGOR 11 on 15 April 1964, and later to the design of USNS HAYES (T-AGOR 16).
|398||HUNTING||EAG 398 (ex-LSM 398, completed 6 Aug 1945). Converted April 1954, reclassified EAG 398 effective 6 Jan 1957, named HUNTING effective 13 July 1957. Decommissioned 23 November 1962 at Portsmouth, Virginia, sold 30 July 1963 to Commercial Manufacturing Corp., Kansas City, Missouri. Became dredge WESTERN SQUAW, out of documentation 1983.|
Compiled: 18 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021