Beyond the usual carriers, submarines, cruisers, and destroyers, the U.S. Navy has deployed over the years a vast flotilla of vessels to serve in specialized roles and unusual missions. These uncommon warriors, called auxiliary (AG) and miscellaneous (IX) vessels, are the subject of this study. It provides individual histories, specifications, and illustrations of more than forty vessels and concise directory listings for another four hundred vessels. Some began their careers as powerful warships with impressive pedigrees and achievements. Others started out as prosaic commercial vessels, but after joining the fleet helped the Navy to win a war.
From battleships to tugs, the “navy within the Navy” includes such historic men-of-war as the USS Constitution—“Old Ironsides”—the oldest commissioned warship in the world still afloat, as well as the Hartford, a Civil War celebrity, Farragut’s flagship at the battle of Mobile Bay, and Norman Rockwell’s floating studio in 1918. Other unique ships include the Glomar Explorer, a super-secret CIA ship that raised part of a Soviet ballistic missile submarine from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and the Deal, a cargo ship that later became a pirate radio station, and much, much more.
This book furnishes for the first time a comprehensive account of some of the most interesting—but often little-known—naval ships and boats spanning more than two centuries of U.S. history. Providing a fulsome directory of vessels, appendices, abbreviations, special terms, detailed bibliography, and index, no other book rivals the comprehensiveness presented in Uncommon Warriors.
Ken W. Sayers is a former Navy officer who served on board a Pacific Fleet destroyer escort and on the staff of the assistant secretary of defense (public affairs). Sayers retired from IBM in 2007 and now writes about naval history and ships, and enjoys cruising on his boat in Long Island Sound.
~ Praise for Uncommon Warriors ~
“Provide[s] an unusual perspective on the history of the U.S. Navy.”
— Naval Books of the Year column in Warship, 2013
“Uncommon Warriors is indispensable as a reference guide to some of the most interesting naval vessels in American history. Both professionals and hobbyists will find this book captivating and useful. Sayers does an excellent job at uncovering the history behind these often overlooked, yet important, naval structures…Author Ken Sayers has successfully executed a remarkable research project in Uncommon Warriors: 200 Years of the Most Unusual American Naval Vessels. His writing style is professional yet inviting. I only wish, though, that the project would have demanded a larger budget so as to include greater, colorful photographs in a more substantial hardback format. Nonetheless, Uncommon Warriors is well researched and factually presented.”
—Naval Historical Foundation
“…A well written, exhaustively researched, comprehensive encyclopedia...”
— Nautical Research Journal
“Fascinating stories…This is a very good book… I think that you will definitely enjoy reading Uncommon Warriors.”
— Powerships, Winter 2013
“Considering the vast amount of information it contains, this is a very reasonably priced book. It also pulls together a wide range of facts about many ships that often get only a slight mention in most naval reference books. The narratives are well written and read easily, making this a good book for browsing by the naval historian.”
— Warship International, March 2013
“Ken Sayers has assembled a very valuable book. This is fun, informative, and suitable reading for anyone interested in naval history or, for that matter, an important part of American history.”
— Marine Technology, January 2013
“Handsomely illustrated with photographs and charts of specifications [AG and IX], this book by Sayers brings into one anchorage all the vessels of these two classifications. This book will stand as the definitive study of these little-known and unheralded workhorses of the fleet. Summing Up: Recommended.”
— Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January 2013
“…a captivating look at the U.S. Navy’s most unusual vessels, designed expressly to serve specialized roles and atypical missions…excellent and thoroughly accessible glimpse of a little-known side of the U.S. Navy.”
— Midwest Book Review, August 2012
“No other book rivals the comprehensiveness of this Naval reference work.”
— Ocean News & Technology, July 2012
“If your tastes run to quirky history or you are a ship buff, you will find it absorbing.”
— Galveston Daily News, August 5, 2012
“Uncommon Warriors is an excellent and unique introduction to a too-little-known and remarkably diverse collection of naval vessels that, while few ever fired a shot in anger, nonetheless have made a vital contribution to the success of the U.S. Navy in peace and war. Ken Sayers has provided well-crafted histories for a large number of these fascinating ships, well-researched tables listing the hundreds of ships in the AG/IX categories, a fine selection of photography, and a comprehensive bibliography.”
—A. D. Baker III edited Combat Fleets of the World for the U.S. Naval Institute from 1977 to 2003 and is widely known for his columns, articles, and detailed illustrations about naval developments around the world
“They were the kind of ship that could provoke a hearty, ‘what is THAT?!?’ when spied upon in harbor. Often they were once–proud warships now in a decidedly secondary role. Sometimes they were unique vessels handling chores no other ship could. Often overlooked, upon closer examination they could turn out to be quite interesting in their own right. Ken Sayers has produced a work that at long last sheds light on the unclassified, the miscellaneous, and at times the truly weird sort of working ship that once filled out and supported a great Navy. Barely footnotes in many references, the ships here are given the sort of historical treatment that many truly deserve.”
—Christopher P. Cavas, naval correspondent for Defense News
“Ken Sayers gives us a unique and fascinating look at the hundreds of U.S. Navy ships that—except for some of our most famous warships—never fought a battle and some never really left port. Still, these ships had important roles in building America's naval strength. An important book for buffs and for historians.”
—Norman Polmar, analyst, consultant, and award-winning author of The Naval Institute Guide to Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet