Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the WebmasterPlease take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive


Special Device Minesweeper:

  • Laid down 18 March 1944 as Harry L. Glucksman (MC type EC2-S-C1), under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull MCE 2445) by the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corp., Savannah, GA
  • Launched 29 April 1944
  • Delivered to the Maritime Commission, 20 May 1944 and operated under contract by the Merchants and Miners Transportation Co., of Baltimore, MD for the duration of the war
  • Transferred 1 November 1946 to the Isthmian Steamship Co., at Galveston, TX
  • Returned to the Maritime Commission 29 May 1948 and laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Wilmington, NC
  • Acquired 20 November 1951 by the U.S. Navigation Co., Inc.
  • Returned to inactive status at Wilmington on 9 June 1952
  • Acquired 29 NOvember 1956 by the American Coal Shipping Co., Inc.
  • Turned over 17 March 1958 under a general agency agreement to Arrow Steamship Co., Ltd., at Newport News, VA., to be prepared for inactivation
  • Entered the James River Reserve Fleet 31 March 1958
  • Acquired by the Navy 23 August 1966
  • Stripped at Erie, PA, then moved to Lorain, OH, for conversion to a Special Device Minesweeper, MSS-1 by American Ship Building Co. where her hull was completely gutted and a shock hardened pilot
    house was fitted
  • Intended to sweep pressure mines by detonating them with pressure wave generated by her hull. She was intended for use in Vietnamese waters
  • Placed in service as USS MSS-1, 19 June 1969
  • Placed out of service 15 March 1973 and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, San Diego, CA
  • Transferred 2 September 1975 to the Maritime Commission for disposal and sold for scrap to Luria Brothers and Co., Inc. of Philadelphia, PA for $149,250.


  • Displacement 4,088 t. (lt) 11,751 t.(fl)
  • Length 441' 6"
  • Beam 56' 11"
  • Draft 28' 4"
  • Speed 10 kts.
  • Complement nine
  • Propulsion: Five inboard-outboard deck mounted diesel engines with Murrat-Tregurtha Harbormaster outdrives.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Harry L Glucksman 98k Undergoing conversion to MSS-1 Historical Collection of the Great Lakes
    Harry L Glucksman 71k U.S. Navy photo Joe Radigan, MACM, USN, Ret.
    Harry L Glucksman 244k Gulf of Mexico
    Conducting shock tests
    Alan Groome
    Harry L Glucksman 341k Gulf of Mexico
    Conducting shock tests
    Harry L Glucksman 344k Pierside at American Shipbuilding, Lorraine, Ohio, in April 1969
    U.S. Navy photo and article from the April 1971 edition of All Hands magazine


    A research and development project undertaken in the Atlantic Fleet Mine Force was centered on tests of the Minesweeper Special (MSS-1), a virtually unsinkable ship which literally would have to be blown to bits before it could be sunk.

    MineLant tested the ship, officially considered a "device," in search of an unsinkable ship capable of sweeping influence mines. Tests to date have been encouraging.

    Traditionally, minesweepers are built with wooden hulls to present the smallest possible magnetic signature. Steaming through a suspected mined area, the ordinary sweeper trails sound and magnetic equipment which detonates mines at a safe distance behind the ship.

    The Minesweeper Special takes a different approach.

    Built on a converted World War II Liberty class hull, the MSS-1 measures some 440 feet long and 57 feet wide and displaces nearly 15,000 tons. She is "unsinkable" because she is filled with about 140,000 cubic feet of styrofoam. All compartments below the waterline are flooded for additional ballast.

    According to Lieutenant Eugene N. Cate, officer in charge of the ship, this arrangement means that shock waves from nearby explosions "pass through" the steel hull.

    Naturally, the steel hull of the old Liberty ship presents a large magnetic signature and this is the whole idea. The main deck is also ringed with huge magnetic coils to enhance the ship's magnetic field, and there is equipment on board which produces noise in all frequencies.

    "The theory is to take our unsinkable ship into mined areas and purposely use it to detonate influence mines by presenting the maximum ship signature," LT Cate said.

    During shock tests in the Gulf of Mexico, LT Cate and the eight MSS-1 crewmembers took several teeth rattling explosions in the relative safety of the craft's
    shock-mounted pilothouse.

    "In all tests we were strapped into padded chairs in the pilothouse," the o-in-c explained, "and with four horizontal and four vertical piston-type shock absorbers we were able to take the blasts quite well."

    Since the original crew brought the ship to Charleston in August 1969, the MSS-1 has (as of October 1970) undergone eight severe shock tests with the crew on board. No one was injured, but the old Liberty ship was beginning to show minor evidence of the explosions which dump tons of water on her in a matter of seconds.

    The Minesweeper Special is powered by five inboard-outboard drive diesel engines mounted above the waterline to minimize the risk of damage or loss of propulsion and steering. As might be expected, the crew refers to the ship as "the world's largest outboard."

    ~ John J. Gravat

    An MUC for MSS-1

    The Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded last October to the officer in charge and other members of the original crew of the Minesweeper Special MSS-1. Receiving the award were Lieutenant Eugene N. Cate; BM1 Charles B. Whitworth; RD2 Kenneth W. Hoppe and SN Bailey T. Groome, III. In addition, LT Cate was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and BM1 Whitworth received the Navy Achievement Medal in recognition of individual efforts on board the experimental craft.

    A citation signed by the Chief of Naval Operations stated in part: "Without benefit of formal training or previous experience with the type of command control facilities installed in Minesweeper Special, the officer in charge and crewmembers assigned undertook the task of developing the unit from an unknown and untried entity to an operationally tested and capable mine countermeasures platform."

    Original photo: Alan Groome
    Replacement photo: Robert Hurst
    Harry L Glucksman 125k Harry L. Glucksman's bridge Alan Groome
    Harry L Glucksman 130k c. August 1971

    Commanding Officers
    01LT Eugene N. Cate, Jr., USN19 June 1969 - 15 November 1972
    02LT Francis J. Mitchell, USN15 November 1972 - 15 March 1973
    Courtesy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

    View the MSS-1
    DANFS History entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command website
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Naval Minewarfare Association Association of Minemen

    Back To The Main Photo Index Back To the Mine Warfare Ship Photo Index Back to the Special Device Minesweeper (MSS) Photo Index

    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster

    This page was created by Gary P. Priolo & maintained by Joseph M. Radigan (of blessed memory) & Michael Mohl
    All Pages 1996 - 2023, NavSource History, All rights reserved.