In last month's blog I took a break from the day to day war journal account and looked at a story my grandfather had always told, but further research proved him not to be present for the events of which he spoke. This month we pick back up with the USS Sway (AM-120) conducting mine sweeping operations off of the coast of France following the landings of Operation Dragoon the month prior. All entries are from the War Diary of the Sway unless otherwise noted.
3 October 1944
00: Moored Marseille, France. 0927: Got underway in company of USS Pheasant, USS Sway proceeded via swept channels to Toulon France. 1625: Moored port side to USS Pheasant Toulon, France, in Channel between Minessy Basin and New Basin. Acting as Flagship Mine Division Eighteen.
4–6 October 1944
Moored Toulon, France. 0901, 6 October 1944: In route to Bizerte, Tunisia, compliance with orders Commander Task Unit 88.4.3
7–8 October 1944
En route from Toulon to Bizerte. 0753, 7 October 1944: Took on deck load of minesweeping gear in Ajaccio for Bizerte.
1525, 8 October 1944. Moored Bizerte, Tunisia.
9–21 October 1944
Moored in Bizerte, Tunisia, for routine maintenance and overhaul.
Bizerte,Tunisia, served as the Sway's base of operations throughout its time in the Mediterranean.
21–22 October 1944
0750, 21 October 1944: Underway from Bizerte. 0800–0904: Conducted AA firing practice at sleeve in company with USS Symbol (AM-123). 1514, 22 October 1944: Anchored in Golfe Juan, France. Conducting Mine watch. Acting as Flagship Mine Division Eighteen.
Report of Ammunition Expensed
3"/50: 10 Rounds
40 MM: 240 rounds
20 MM: 1611 rounds
Orders received and decisions reached
21 October 1944: Orders received AATB Bizerte sailing Sway and Symbol to Golfe Juan in compliance with dispatch CTG 81.4.
23–24 October 1944
Anchored in Golfe Juan, France. Maintaining Minewatch. Acting as flagship Mine Division Eighteen. 0800, 24 October 1944: Under way proceeding on visual mine sweep in company with USS Swift, USS Threat, USS Chickadee, and USS Raven. No mines sighted.
25–31 October 1944
Force to which assigned Eighth Fleet. Ship's position—Area of Golfe Juan and Golfe de la Napoule, France.
Day's operations—Anchored as flag ship Mine Division Eighteen who is commander, task unit 86.6. Conducting mine watch.
The ship would remain anchored here until 16 November when she again got under way.
16 November 1944
0630: Under way in company of USS Threat (AM-124) to conduct a visual mine sweep of the coast of Italy in the vicinity of San Remo. 1324: Anchored in Golfe San Juan. 1640: Under way to take night patrol of Golfe of Napoule, France.
Mine Division Eighteen relieved as SOPA (86.6) by commander Mine Squadron Seven.
17 November 1944
00: On patrol 3 Cannes, France. 0001: Under way to point 35 miles 200*T from Cape Angtilsis to search for pilots reported in distress. Accompanied by USS Threat (AM-124) and two P.T.'s. 1630: Returned and anchored Golfe of Napoule, France, search unsuccessful.
Report of ammunition expended: 10 rounds starshells
Pertinent remarks not included in action report: Sunk one floater mine.
Despite their name, floater mines were not free floating. They were required to be moored to the bottom of the ocean. Germany employed a number of different types, the EMC KE for example, which was designed to detonate when their mooring cable was cut. Based on the war journal entry it sounds like the type of mine mentioned here was likely an EM series, although it is not made clear. The only one that could be eliminated would be the previously mentioned EMC KE.
18 November 1944
00: Anchored Golfe of Napoule, France. 1000: Under way for Toulon, France, speed 15 1/2 knots. Moored to portside USS Barricade (ACM-3) Old port Toulon, France. Orders received and decisions made. Orders received from Commander Task Group 86 to proceed to Toulon, France, for outward routing.
The USS Barricade was a Chimo–class auxiliary mine layer. The Sway had the job of finding and destroying enemy mines whereas the Barricade's job was to lay down mines to counter Axis shipping.
19 November 1944
00: Moored alongside USS Barricade (ACM-3) Toulon, France. 1630: Under way en route to Bizerte, Tunisia, escorting USS Barricade and USS Achelous. Speed: 8.5 Knots, B/C 140*T.
21 November 1944
00: Under way independently en route to Bizerte, Tunisia. Speed: 12 knots. 1047: Moored to mooring buoy #6 AATB , Bizerte, Tunisia, for routine availability and repairs.
The Sway would remain in Bizerte through the end of November for routine maintenance. She would again get under way, traversing back and forth between Southern France and North Africa for most of December. The Sway would then set sail for the United States for refitting and maintenance.