NOTE: This history was included in the packet of photos and stories from Chuck Donaldson. It is actually labeled as an appendix, but I’m not sure what it was an appendix to.

The U.S.S. RHEA was built by William F. Stone and Sons Company of Oakland, California. She was launched on 14 November 1942 with Mrs. Lester F. Stone of Almeda, California serving as sponsor.

The U.S.S. RHEA (AMS 52) was originally commissioned as the YMS 299 on 7 April 1942 with Lieutenant F.H. GENTRY USNR as the first Commanding Officer. This ship is a Wooden-hulled minesweeper with an overall length of 136 feet and a beam of 25 feet. Her displacement is about 300 tons, her draft nine feet. Two 500-Horsepower General Motors diesel engines turn her twin propellers for a maximum speed of about 15 knots. She is fully equipped with modern electronic devices including Radar, Sonar and Loran. One 40 millimeter and two 20 millimeter rapid fire anti-aircraft guns comprise the armament of this vessel. While this type of ship is very seaworthy, it is not unusual to experience rolls of from 45 to 50 degrees. The complement of the ship is four officers and 30 enlisted men.

This vessel spent the Second World War in the Pacific and was Commanded by Lieutenant Edward James FOLEY Jr., USNR until the 2nd of April 1945 when Lieutenant Commander Warren Arthur WISLE R, USNR took command. During this period the YMS 299 won her first “Battle Star” on the Asiatic- Pacific Medal. This star was earned while participating in the Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto. In July 1945, Ensign Robert James BAUMAN, USNR became the fourth Captain of the vessel. It was during the command of this young Ensign (he was but nineteen years old) that this ship was awarded her second and third “Battle Stars”. One star was received for operations with the U.S. Third Fleet in the vicinity of the Phillipine Islands during July 1945.

When the USS-MISSOURI steamed into Tokyo Bay with the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General MacArthur, on the way to the surrender ceremonies, this ship, together with others of her class, preceded MISSOURI up the channel to insure that the way was cleared of mines. This typified the motto of the MINE FORCE -“Where the Fleet goes, we’ve been”.

Upon conclusion of the surrender of Japan, this vessel was engaged in minesweeping duties around the Japanese Home Islands. Ironically, the majority of the mines with which she was confronted at this time had been planted by our own Army and Navy Aircraft. In keeping with the old adage of the sea -“Those that mine must sweep”, the YMS 299 participated in the tedious task of sweeping the Japanese Inland Sea for which she was awarded her third and final “Battle Star”. This duty also saw the ship add the Navy Occu· pation Service Medal for the Asiatic Theatre to her other laurels.

In late 1946 the YSM 299 recrossed the Pacific Ocean, transited the Panama Canal, and entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard where she underwent a major change in equipment. All minesweeping gear was removed in order to prepare this ship for employment in the Naval Reserve Training Program. In November 1946 Ensign BAUMAN relinquished his command to Chief Quartermaster HEELY, USN who was in turn relieved by Chief Boatswain H.W. SADLER, USN. This ship together with several other ships of various classes operated as a unit, their main function consisting in taking Naval Reservists out to sea for training purposes. The allowance of the ship at this time was nine enlisted men and one commissioned warrant officer.

In September 1947, the YMS 299 was reclassified AMS 52 and then named RHEA. The designator AMS 52 which normally follows the name of the RHEA indicates that she is one of the class of ship known as motor minesweepers, the U.S. Navy’s largest wooden-hulled ships. Like its sister ships, this vessel is named for a bird; a RHEA being a South American member of the Ostrich family. This ship continued with the routine peacetime work of training reservists and in 1948 Lieutenant (jg) ROCKER, USN took command. This vessel was so magnificently maintained that Rear Admiral SHERMAN, who made semi-annual inspections, once remarked that he would like this ship for his own personal yacht.

During the years 1948 to 1951, this ship was Captained by Boatswain KANNEY, USN and later by Chief Boatswain SADLER, USN. In November of 1951, this vessel underwent overhaul at Quaker Shipyard, Camden, New Jersey when it was once again equipped as a minesweeper. Lt. W.C. MAGEE, USNR became Commandirg Officer at this time. In June of 1952 the RHEA reported to Charleston, S.C. to become an active member of the MINE FORCE, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Charleston then became the home port and the home yard of the ship.

In the autumn of 1952 the RHEA operated out of Norfolk, Virginia where she underwent intensive “shakedown” training. Following that she returned to Charleston from which port she conducted routine minesweeping assignments. Lieutenant (JG) Carlos C. VILLABREAL, USN took command in November 1952. At Key West, Florida during the months of January and February 1953, the lessons taught at Norfolk the preceding summer were repeated during the annual period of “refresher” training. In the fall of 1953 LT(JG) Gerald F. DOOLEY, USN assumed command while RHEA was operating out of Charleston, South Carolina. Type exercises and routine upkeep periods occupied RHEA for the remainder of 1953 and through the summer of 1954. In August 1954 she was again in Key West undergoing refresher training after a routine overhaul period when LT(JG) John N. MORRISSEY, USN took command. Upon completion of refresher training, RHEA returned to Charleston for duty until January 1955 when she was assigned as schools ship for the Naval Schools Mine Warfare in Yorktown, Virginia. July 1955 brought another change of command when LT(JG) Claude J. TETRI, CK, USN relieved LT(JG) MORRISSEY. RHEA continued on as schools ship training the mine countermeasures personnel for the Mine Warfare School. Following routine overhaul at Portsmouth, Virginia, RHEA returned to Charleston in May 1956 and once again commenced routine minesweeping training.

In August 1956, under the command of LT. J.A. SAGERHOLM, USN, who relieved on 14 July 1956, RHEA and the ships of Mine Division 45 visited New York City to participate in the New York Summer Festival. RHEA later took part in LANTMINEX 1-56 in November, and following that, participated in a joint minesweeping exercise with Canadian Mine Squadron ONE at Charleston.

RHEA decommissioned 23 December 1957. She was struck from the Navy List 1 November 1959.