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USS Captor

USS Captor (PYc-40), briefly known as USS Eagle (AM-132) was a Q-ship of the United States Navy.

Harvard, a steel-hulled trawler, was built in 1938 by Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, handed over to General Sea Foods Corporation, Boston, and put into service with the name Wave assigned.

The fishing trawler served in that capacity until 1 January 1942, when she was acquired by the Navy as part of the Auxiliary Vessels Act. Reporting to the Portsmouth Navy Yard in New Hampshire, the trawler began conversion to war service as a minesweeper on 8 January. With the work complete on 28 February, she was named Eagle, given the hull classification symbol AM-132, and placed in commission 5 March 1942, Lieutenant Commander Leroy E. Rogers, USNR, in command.

Along with Asterion (AK-100) and Atik (AK-101), Eagle was selected early to participate in a secret "Q-ship" program. The intention was to disguise the ship as a defenseless civilian vessel and, after luring an enemy submarine into close quarters on the surface, open fire with hidden guns and sink the unsuspecting U-boat. For this reason, Eagle remained at Portsmouth, where she underwent further conversion into a Q-ship and received weapons and sonar gear. During this second conversion, the minesweeper was renamed Captor and redesignated PYc-40 on 18 April. With alterations complete on 19 May, the vessel reported for duty with the 1st Naval District at Boston.

Unlike the other four ships eventually in the Q-ship program, Captor did not sail in convoys or along coastal shipping routes. Instead, she operated in the waters near Boston -- in Massachusetts Bay, north to Casco Bay[?], east to the Georges Bank[?], and south to Nantucket Sound[?] and Rhode Island Sound[?]. While at sea, the disguised Q-ship also helped cover the coastal convoy routes coming north from New York. As growing air and sea patrols had driven most U-boats away from the New England coast in May 1942, Captor had little chance to spot an enemy submarine and ended her wartime career without a single sighting.

With the decline in the U-boat threat to the east coast of the United States late in the war, Captor was decommissioned at Boston on 4 October 1944. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 14 October, 1944, the trawler was transferred to the War Shipping Administration and sold on 21 February 1945. The ultimate fate of the ship is unknown.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 314 tons
  • Length: 133 feet
  • Beam: 26 feet
  • Speed: 12.5 knots
  • Armament: one four-inch-fifty gun, two .50-calibre machine guns,
four depth charge throwers, 2 Lewis .30-caliber machine guns
  • Arms: five sawed-off shotguns, five Colt .45-caliber autoloading pistols,
25 hand grenades
  • Sensors: WEA echo ranging and listening equipment
  • Complement: 5 officers and 42 men

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