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USS Grouse

Find information on this shipwreck and dive site managed by the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR).

BUAR classifies certain shipwrecks and other underwater archaeological resources as "Exempted Sites" for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to): commonly known location, previous salvage, recreational value, educational value, or lack of significant archaeological or historical value. Recreational diving activities on these sites, including casual artifact collection, do not require a BUAR permit. However, any major disruption of the site is prohibited. The intent of creating an exempted shipwreck site is to preserve such sites for the continued enjoyment of the recreational diving community, who is encouraged to protect these sites for the continued enjoyment of all.

Note: All dives are conducted at your own risk. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts accepts no responsibility for loss of any kind, including personal injury or property damage. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts assumes no liability for inaccuracies in dive information contained in these pages including site locations and dive conditions.

Vessel Details

Description: Minesweeper, wood.
Dimensions: length 136 ft., width 24' 6", draft 6' 1".
Tonnage: displacement - 320.
Propulsion: Diesel, (2) propellers.
Machinery: 1000 Shaft Horsepower, Geared Diesels.
Armament: (1) 3inch/50; (2) 20mm.

The Shipwreck

Date Sunk: September 21, 1963.
Cause: Grounded (then burned).
Location: Rockport, on the Little Salvages.
Coordinates: latitude 42° 40' 24" N; longitude 70° 34' 29" W.

One of thousands of wooden minesweepers launched for service during World War II, Grouse began its career as the YMS-321 and served in the Pacific Theater of war, conducting minesweeping, convoy escort and shore bombardment activities.

In the years following the long war in the Pacific, YMS-321 was reclassified AMS-15 and named Grouse. Functioning primarily as a school ship, the vessel trained officers and seamen in mine warfare techniques. It was in this capacity, attached to the First Naval District, that Grouse departed Portsmouth, New Hampshire, September, 1963, for a two week Naval Reserve training cruise.

Around 2AM, Saturday, September 21, Grouse struck the Little Salvages, a string of sharp submerged shoals off Rockport, Massachusetts. The incident occurred near high water. As the tide fell, the little ship soon found itself high and dry. Initial attempts to free the vessel with the rising tide proved futile and all but a skeleton crew were removed. But by the next day, 30 mile per hour winds and towering seas forced a helicopter evacuation of the remaining 11 crewmen.

Although the minesweeper's fate did not look hopeful, the Navy was confident the ship could be removed. Captain Alfred S. Cleaves, Deputy Chief of Staff for Naval Reserves and Training, directed salvage operations from the tug Keywadin, which was dispatched from Boston soon after the incident. As weather conditions moderated, Naval tugs attempted to pull Grouse from its rocky embrace. But time after time the towlines parted or fickle weather again became foul and interrupted salvage operations. On September 26, the last remaining salvage crewman was removed by helicopter as high seas suspended yet another attempt to re-float the stranded craft.

On Saturday, September 28, the Navy announced plans to burn the old World War II veteran after tow cables snapped in the fifth and final attempt to free the stranded ship. On Sunday, September 29th, The Boston Sunday Globe caption read; "Sad end for minesweeper Grouse". "At low tide she was doused with gasoline and about 2PM a flare was fired into the ship. Billows of black smoke rose and within an hour she was an inferno."

The flames were not extinguished until the tide yet again became high.

Historical Background

Constructed: in 1943, at Terminal Island, California by Al Larson's Boat Shop.
Construction details:
Crew: 36; Master: Lt. (j.g.) Newman (1943-194?); Lt. (j.g.) K.G. Houghton (1958 - ?); Lt. Cmdr. Allen E. McCartney (? - 1963).
Owners: United States Navy.
Home or Hailing Port: Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Former Name(s) and date(s): YMS-321 (1940 - 1947); Grouse AMS-15 (1947-1955).
Official number: MSC (0) - 15, (1955 - 1963). Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments: February 20, 1943 - launched, sponsored by Mrs. H. Doty
October 25, 1943 - commissioned YMS-321
April 21, 1944 - sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, arriving May 1st.
1944 - conducted minesweeping and patrol duties in the Guam-Saipan-Tinian area. Pressed into service as a convoy escort in these staging areas.
November 28, 1944 - In Tinian harbor during a Japanese air-raid.
1945 - Escorted a convoy to Eniwetok.
March 15, 1945 - swept the harbor at Maug Island, Marianas.
March 16, 1945 - bombarded the beach at Maug Island.
April 1945 - patrolled around Iwo Jima, exploded 2 floating mines while returning to Saipan.
August 15, 1945 - returned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
August 29, 1945 - returned to San Diego, California.
April 5, 1946 - sailed for the East Coast, arriving Charleston on the 29th.
February 25, 1947 - reclassified AMS-15 and named Grouse.
1947 - 1954 - trained student officers and enlisted men at the Mine Warfare School, Yorktown, Virginia. Also participated in experimental work at Countermeasures School and Mine Defense Laboratory, Panama City, Florida.
March 1, 1955 - reclassified MSC (0)-15 1954 - 1955 - attached to the Hydrographic Office for Project "Vamp," a special coastal survey along the Virginia and Massachusetts shores.
September 7, 1957 - sailed for Portland, Maine.
September 12, 1957 - placed in reserve.
November 13, 1958 - placed back in service, assigned to the First Naval District as a reserve training ship.


Sunday, September 29, 1963, The Boston Sunday Globe - "All navigational and electronic equipment and other materials of value were stripped from the craft" and the vessel was burned to the waterline. Plans were to dynamite the remaining hull fragments and two huge diesel engines then haul the rubble out to sea.


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. III; Navy Dept., 1968
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. V; Navy Dept.,
The Boston Globe; September 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 1963

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