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NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive

Surfbird (ADG 383)

Call sign:
November - India - Foxtrot - Echo

Auk Class Minesweeper:

  • Laid down 15 February 1944 by the American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH
  • Launched 31 August 1944
  • Commissioned USS Surfbird (AM-383), 25 November 1944
    Naval Vessel Register of 1 January 1949 lists plan for decommissioning and placing in reserve as December 1945
  • Decommissioned 5 June 1946 at San Diego, CA and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet
  • Recommissioned 14 March 1952 at San Diego
  • Reclassified as a Fleet Minesweeper (Steel Hull), MSF-383, 7 February 1955
  • Reclassified as a Degaussing Ship, ADG-383, 15 June 1957
  • Decommissioned 18 December 1970 at Bremerton, WA and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet
  • Struck from the Navy Register 21 February 1975
  • Transferred to the Maritime Administration in 1976 for disposal
  • Sold 5 December 1975 to the Pacific Northwest Salvage Co., Inc. of Seattle, WA
  • Sold again in December 1975 to Brice Industries of Fairbanks, Alaska and renamed Helenka B which was Sam Brice's deceased wife's name
  • Sold to Wel-Aska of Valdez, Alaska
  • She is still operating under the name of Helenka B and it is still running today, after 60 years
  • She was involved in the March 1989 SS Valdez oil spill clean up.


  • Displacement 890 t.
  • Length 221' 1"
  • Beam 32' 2"
  • Draft 10' 9"
  • Speed 18.1 kts.
  • Complement 117
  • Armament: One 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount, two single 40mm gun mounts, six single 20mm gun mounts, one depth charge projector (hedgehog), four depth charge projectors (k-guns) and two
    depth charge tracks
  • Propulsion: Two 1,766shp General Motors 12-278A diesel electric drive engines, Westinghouse single reduction gear, two shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    USS Surfbird (AM 383)
    Surfbird 34k

    Surfbird - A shore bird of the Pacific coasts of America, allied to the turnstones

    Tommy Trampp
    Surfbird 58k Commissioning photo
    Camouflage scheme is Measure 32 Design 1M
    Original photo: USS Surfbird (AM-383) website Courtesy Ed Fournier crew member 1944-46
    Replacement photo: BMC Richard Miller, USNR, Ret.
    Surfbird 44k Camouflage scheme is Measure 32 Design 1M Historical Collections of the Great Lakes
    Surfbird 40k 3 May 1945
    Camouflage scheme Measure 32 Design 1M
    Robert Hurst
    Surfbird 66k c. 1952
    Shortly after being recommissioned
    Photo courtesy of George Pierce
    Don Gillispie, Surfbird Webmaster
    USS Surfbird (MSF 383)
    Surfbird 98k . Russ Padden
    USS Surfbird (ADG 383)
    Surfbird 62k USS Surfbird (AM-383) website Courtesy Wes Chapman crew member 1956-59
    Surfbird 80k
    Surfbird 89k Robert Hurst
    Surfbird 127k
    Surfbird 182k U.S. Navy photo from the March 1963 edition of All Hands magazine Joe Radigan
    Surfbird 364k c. 1964
    Ticonderoga (CVA 14) and, in the background, USS Morton (DD 948), USS Parsons (DD 949), and USS Surfbird (ADG 383)
    Photo by Steven Tenneson
    Fabio Peņa
    Photo added 27 May 2021
    Surfbird 287k c. late 1960s
    Sasebo, Japan
    Moored outboard of Lipan (ATF 85)
    David Wright
    Surfbird 344k
    M/V Helenka B
    Surfbird 6k Photo courtesy of her current skipper Bruce Flanigan Don Gillispie, Surfbird Webmaster

    Commanding Officers
    01LT R. H. Nelson, Jr., USNR25 November 1944 - 6 November 1945
    02LT Robert E. Whelan, USNR6 November 1945 - 5 June 1946
    03LCDR Stig Edward Wallerstedt, USN14 March 1952
    04LCDR Nathaniel Thomas Henley, USN1953
    05LT Raul B. Perez, USN1955 - 1957
    06LCDR George Wilber Mitchell, USN1957 - 1958
    07LCDR Louis Clark Hambley, USN1958 - 1960
    08LCDR Hans Peter Hansen, USN1960 - September 1962
    09LCDR Stanislaus Joseph Sowinski, USNSeptember 1962 - 1964
    10LCDR James Eugene White, USN - USNA Class of 19511964 - 17 October 1966
    11LCDR Merice Tilman Nelles, USN17 October 1966 - 5 December 1967
    12LCDR Edward Morgan Williams, USN5 December 1967 - 7 November 1969
    13LCDR Neal Owen Mills, USN7 November 1969 - 16 October 1970
    14LT Raymond Eugene Anderson, USN16 October 1970 - 18 December 1970
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler, Ron Reeves and R. A. Moody

    View the Surfbird (MSF 383)
    DANFS History entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Website
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    USS Surfbird AM/MSF/ADG-383 "Proud Lady of the Orient"

    Back To The Main Photo Index Back To the Mine Warfare Ship Photo Index Back to the Fleet Minesweeper (MSF) Photo Index Back to the Auxiliary Ship Photo Index Back to the Degaussing Ship (ADG) Photo Index

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    This page created by Gary P. Priolo and maintained by Joe Radigan
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