USS Defense

Minesweeper Defense Saw Action In Two Wars

By James Donahue

The USS Defense was an Auk Class minesweeper launched in 1943 in the midst of the Second World War. It was a small, 221-foot steel ship that not only found itself in the midst of the Pacific campaign against the Japanese, but also the Korean conflict.

During the Second World War, Defense survived two hits by kamikaze off Okinawa and was awarded battle stars for action.

During a massive suicide plane attack off Okinawa, Defense took four of the aircraft under fire. She shot one down, drove one off, but was hit by the other two. Both had been severely damaged by the ship's antiaircraft fire but could not be stopped.

In spite of the damage, Defense remained an operational fighting ship. She was able to go to the aid of two other stricken ships and rescue 50 men from the Destroyer Newcomb. She also took the crippled destroyer Leutze under tow and brought it into safe mooring.

The ship also participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima and performed escort duty for ships of the Pacific fleet.

After the war, Defense was laid up for a few years until the Korean War, and then was commissioned for duty again, sweeping the waters off Korea for mines.

Strangely, the Defense was to have three names during its career. It was originally named the Amity when launched, but the name was changed to Defense when it was commissioned the following year.

After Korea, the Defense remained in the Navy's Reserve Fleet until 1973 when it was sold to Mexico. It served in the Mexican Navy under the name Manuel Doblado.

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