According to Navsource.org YMS-241 was a YMS-1 Class Auxiliary Motor Minesweeper. She was laid down on May 20th, 1942 by the Tacoma Boat Building Co., Tacoma, WA, launched on September 7th, 1942 and finally completed on February 18th, 1943.
These vessels were built by smaller yacht builder yards and had wooden hulls, a large A-frame boom that could be extended from the bow to utilize the acoustic mine sweeping unit and specialized mine sweeping equipment on the aft deck including a large wooden spool along the center-line to hold cable. Although designed for mine sweeping near harbors and coastal waterways, the YMS-241 was mainly used as a small anti-submarine escort vessel throughout her career, often operating in deep water.
You can use the series of sheets below to explore the YMS-241's plans by using the scroll bar at the bottom. It should be noted that these are general plans for the YMS-1 Class and show the vessel with the original twin smoke stacks used on YMS-1 through YMS-134. YMS-241 had a single stack which was the configuration of YMS-135 through YMS-445, plus YMS-480 and YMS-481. Finally YMS-446 through YMS-479 had no stack at all.
In a bit of trivia, she was a cousin of the famous RV Calypso, used by legendary oceanographic researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Calypso was one of several of the YMS-1 Class that were provided to the British under the Lend-Lease program.
Specifications per Navsource.org:
Displacement: 270 tons
Beam: 24' 6"
Speed: 15 kts.
Armament: One 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount on the foredeck, two 20mm mounts aft of pilot house, starboard and port with expandable platforms and two depth charge projectors aft.
Propulsion: Two 880bhp General Motors 8-268A diesel engines, Snow and Knobstedt single reduction gear, two shafts.
At the time of the Cape San Juan rescue, YMS-241 was commanded by Emery Lyle Burgess, Ensign USNR (profiled below). Burgess may have been YMS-241’s first commander.
Unfortunately, no War Diary currently exists on Fold3.com for YMS-241’s involvement in the rescue. Based on references from other vessel’s and base’s War Diaries I have been able to piece together YMS-241’s movements from soon after her commissioning up to the point she was directed to assist with the rescue efforts:
February 22nd, 1943 - Arrived at Naval station, Seattle from the builder’s yard and reported for fitting out and shakedown.
April 28th, 1943 - Departed Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, WA
June - San Diego, CA
11th, 1943 - Departed
San Francisco enroute to Honolulu. Convoy
2275 escort, along with USS Hovey (DMS11), SC-727, YMS-266, YMS-335, YMS-242
and YMS-288. Merchant ships in convoy were:
SS George L. Baker
SS Amy Lowell
July 22nd, 1943 - Arrived at Pearl Harbor
1st, 1943 - Assigned
to Task Force 56 and sailed from Pearl Harbor for Noumea, New Caledonia via
Palmyra Island, Tutuila, Samoa and Suva, Fiji. Arrived Noumea 24 August. In
addition to YMS-241, vessels consisted of:YMS-335,
YMS-266, YMS-242, and SC-727.
October 28th, 1943 - Arrived in Nandi. Had escorted tanker SS Quebec.
October 29th, 1943 - Departed Suva to rendezvous with and escort tanker SS Pennsylvania Sun to Nandi.
November 1st, 1943 - Escorted SS Pennsylvania Sun into Nandi, then transited over to Suva.
November 7th, 1943 - Sailed from Suva to Tongatabu, having completed necessary repairs.
As you can see from the list above, YMS-241 had arrived in the area less than 3 months prior to the sinking. On the morning of November 11th (12th according to Suva’s war diary), YMS-241 and SC-654 were directed to depart their base in Tonga and proceed to the vicinity of 22° – 11’ South 178° – 03’ West, a little over 200 miles away, and render assistance to the Cape San Juan. It appears that the two small vessels did not arrive until early the next morning.
According to the War Diary of the USS McCalla (DD-488), YMS-241 was first spotted at 0413, bearing 206° True, at a distance of about 4 miles (hinting at the poor visibility). At 0447 when McCalla spotted the flare from the survivors, McCalla, YMS-241 and SC-654 converged on the vicinity the flare and at 0503 first spotted the rafts. About 1004 all the survivors appear to have been picked up.
It is unclear the exact number of survivors Burgess' YMS-241 picked up, but like SC-654, it is believed to be a substantial number, many times her normal complement. Subtracting out the number of men McCalla and Dempsey had on-board from the total number delivered ta Suva would mean YMS-241 remarkably had nearly 200 survivors on board. Arguably the most notable of the men they picked up was the 1st Fighter Control Squadron's Chester Driest.
At 1532 an attempt was made to transfer survivors from YMS-241 to Dempsey, but had to be called off due to weather after "only" 40 men had been transferred. YMS-241 continued to act as anti-submarine screen for the acoustically blind USS McCalla until they had safely arrived in port in Suva.
YMS-241's crew of 30 at the time of the rescue consisted of:
Unfortunately, her other officers remain unidentified so far. In the case of the SC's I researched, the Executive Officer usually signed the crew roster reports along with the Commander, but in the case of YMS-241, Burgess was the only officer who signed during the period in question.
Using the same technique as above, I was able to reconstruct YMS-241’s movements in the days and months after the rescue:
January 30th, 1944 - Completed partial repairs and departed Suva, Fiji for Noumea for further repairs.
February 23rd, 1944 - Arrived at Espiritu Santo
February 25th, 1944 - Departed Espiritu Santo with USS Advent (AM-183) and USS Daring (AM-187) acting as anti-submarine screen for SS Lawrence Gianella, SS Edwin Booth and LST-485 enroute to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, arriving February 29th, 1944.
February 29th, 1944 - Departed Lunga, Guadalcanal with SC-641 escorting Cassiopia and SS Lawrence Gianella to Russell Islands.
March 3rd, 1944 - Departed Russell Islands on escort mission with YMS-271 for USS ATR-45 (towing two pontoon barges) and USS Lipan (AT-85) enroute to Green Island, arriving March 6th, 1944. Continued on to Purvis Bay. On March 7th, YMS-241 and USS Lipan (AT-85) detached and proceed to Cape Torokina, arriving same day.
March 7th, 1944 - Departed Cape Torokina escorting Navajo-class fleet tug USS Sioux (AT-75) enroute to Lunga Roads, arriving March 9th, 1944.
March 30th, 1944 - Departed Lunga, Guadalcanal with YMS-281 acting as anti-submarine screen for USS Stratford (AP-41) enroute to Russell Islands, arriving same day.
April 12th, 1944 - Departed Tulagi acting as anti-submarine screen for USS Rio Grande (AOG-3) enroute to Renard Sound, Russell Islands, arriving same day, returning to Tulagi April 13th, 1944
May 1944 - Departed San Francisco, CA with 3 PC’s, 3 SC’s, 4 other YMS’s plus USS Black (DD-666) acting as anti-submarine screen for 15 LST’s, 9 LCI’s and APc-46 enroute to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, arriving June 6th.
June 6th, 1944 - At Kwajalein where YMS-241 underwent radio and radar repairs, as well as repairs to superstructure and replacement of a 20mm gun by USS Agenor (ARL-3). Completed June 9th, 1944.
June 9th, 1944 - Departed Kwajalein, Marshall Islands with 3 PC’s, 3 SC’s, 4 other YMS’s plus USS Black (DD-666) acting as anti-submarine screen for 15 LST’s, 9 LCI’s, USS Grapple (ARS-7) and APc-46 for operation off Saipan. Convoy was attacked by 10 “Kate” torpedo bombers on June 15th, and by another group of aircraft on the 17th while about 70 miles east of Saipan. After operations completed, arrived at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands on July 5th.
July 15th, 1944 - Departed Eniwetok with same group for participation in the capture of Guam.
September 8th, 1944 - At Apra Harbor, Guam.
October 20-21, 1944 - At Apra Harbor, Guam undergoing repairs by USS Luzon (ARG-2).
November, 1944 - At Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands were they underwent repairs by USS Zeus (ARB-4).
December, 1944 - Returned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
December 27th, 1944 - Departed Apra Harbor, Guam acting as anti-submarine screen for Convoy G-S34 comprised of USS Barrow (APA-61), SS American Builder and SS Cornelius Vanderbilt enroute to Saipan.
January 10th, 1945 - Departed Apra Harbor, Guam for Eniwetok with YMS-412, acting as anti-submarine screen for LST-29, LST-78, LST-633 and LST-765 arriving January 16th, 1945.
January 20th, 1945 - Departed Eniwetok Atoll for Majuro Atoll with USS APc-49, arriving January 23rd.
January 25th, 1945 - Departed Majuro Atoll for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii via Johnston Island with USS APc-49, arriving February 4th, 1945.
March 26th, 1945 - Lieutenant (j.g.) H.T. Rubino took command of YMS-241.
May 21st, 1945 - At Naval Ammunition Depot, Puget Sound, Bremerton, WA for unloading.
According to navsource.org, YMS-241 was transferred to the Soviet Union on July 18th, 1945 and reclassified T-591. She was eventually struck from the Naval Register on October 29th, 1956 and scrapped.
Burgess proved to be very difficult to identify. With no War Diary for the YMS-241 that would typically include more information on the commander, I was left with only the crew rosters. In the rosters I found for YMS-241 he was only identified as “E.L. Burgess, Ensign, USNR”. The rosters also showed he was promoted to Lieutenant (j.g.) by April of 1944. The fact that he was a US Navy Reserve officer hinted that he had graduated a civilian college and would have entered the Navy V-7 program like SC-654’s commander Boutall. Searches on Burgess with YMS-241 and V-7 all failed. For a while I resorted to searching for him using common first names that started with “E”, like Edward, to no avail.
Eventually, after searching for his last name in many editions of the US Military Registers for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Officers on Ancestry.com, I got a hit in the 1950 list: an Emery Lyle Burgess who was born August 5th, 1917, became an Ensign on December 24th, 1942 and became a Lieutenant on November 1st, 1945. The name and dates generally fit, and with that and the date of birth I finally had something to work with.
Searching using his full name resulted in a hit as the commander of the destroyer USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858) in the early 1960's. I found various little clues but nothing definitive using several on-line databases. The breakthrough occurred when I reached out to a kindred spirit named Edward Teagle, one of the webmasters for the wonderful tribute website for the USS Fred T. Berry (DD/DDE-858) Reunion Association called fredtberry.org. Ed was a bit dubious we were talking about the same person at first but then found an old Cruise Book in his collection for the Fred T. Berry's deployment to the Mediterranean and Middle-East from 1963, and generously mailed me a copy. As is typical for the Cruise Books, it including a biographical summary of the vessel's commander (in this case, Burgess) and the other officers, which showed Emery Lyle Burgess served on AMS-241, AMS-347 and USS Counsel (AM 165) early in his career.
The "AMS" designation threw us initially, but then I discovered that was a designation that was only used post-war. Could AMS-241 be referring to YMS-241? Additional searches on the other two vessels confirmed to me I had the right person, as crew rosters for YMS-347 and USS Counsel both had signatures from the same “E.L. Burgess, Lieutenant (j.g.), USNR” I had originally found for YMS-241 (he had been promoted by April of 1944).
He graduated from Janesville High School in 1935, and went by “Lyle” at the time. He then graduated from Whitewater State College (now University of Wisconsin - Whitewater), about twenty miles northeast of the family’s small working class home at 832 Richardson St, Janesville, WI. He attended the Navy V-7 program at Northwestern University, receiving his commission in 1942.
He spent 27 months in the South Pacific during the war (mostly in command of the YMS-241) until he was replaced by his Executive Officer at the time, Lieutenant (j.g.) H.T. Rubino on March 26th of 1945. Soon after that, YMS-241 was transferred to the Soviets as part of Project Hula.
Burgess next commanded YMS-347, on which he finished out the war, and was promoted to Lieutenant on November 1st, 1945.
Unlike many young college men whose lives were interrupted by the war, Burgess did not leave the military after the war, and instead stayed in the Navy and flourished. He appears to have converted to the regular Navy on March 7th, 1946.
He next commanded the Admirable-class minesweeper USS Counsel (AM-165) in 1947.
According to his Fred T. Berry Cruise Book biography, he next served aboard the USS General George M. Randall (AP-115) followed by assignment to General Line School as a student in 1948.
Specifics are scarce, but several newspaper articles note that Burgess served with the U.S. 7th Fleet during the Korean conflict (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953). This was likely aboard the USS Maddox (DD-731) and USS Joyce (DER-317), although he does not appear to have commanded either vessel. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on March 1st, 1952.
Soon thereafter he became the Captain of the reactivated WWII Edsall-class Destroyer Escort USS Fessenden (DE-142) on March 4th of 1952. Burgess was assigned to Atlantic Barrier Patrol at Newport, R.I., a post he held until August 8th, 1953. According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships: “After antisubmarine training out of Key West, Fessenden returned to her home port, Newport, R.I., 25 September 1952 to begin duty on the radar picket stations of the North Atlantic. She returned from her sea patrols only for necessary maintenance and refresher training.”
He eventually became Commander of the squadron of destroyers based at Norfolk, VA. He was promoted to the rank of Commander on November 1st, 1956.
During this period he served on the guided missile cruiser USS Boston (CAG-1) and USS Compass Island (EAG-153), although again, not as Captain.
Burgess worked at the US Mine Defense Lab in Panama City Florida from 1958 to 1962.
He was made Captain of the Gearing class U.S. Destroyer USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858) from March 31st of 1962 through June of 1963. According to www.fredtberry.org, “In May of 1962, the BERRY participated in Project Mercury. While on Project Mercury she visited Bermuda for several days. In June she began another Midshipman Training Cruise, spending most of the ensuing six weeks in ASW exercises in the Atlantic.
At the beginning of fiscal year "62," the U.S.S. FRED T. BERRY was designated a General Purpose Destroyer [which changed her designation to DD-858 from DDE-858]
In September of 1962, she departed for a seven-month tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet. Again with the Sixth Fleet, the ship participated in fleet exercises and patrol duty. During October and November she was on alert as a result of the Cuban Crisis that fall. In 1962 she visited Souba Bay, Izmir, Athens, Beaulieu, Salerno, Messina and Golfe Juan. Christmas was spent at Naples, and New Year’s was spent at La Spezia, Italy.
After a visit to Beirut, Lebanon, the BERRY passed through the Suez Canal on 17 January 1963 and reported to Commander, Middle East Force for duty. During the following six weeks she visited Nassawa, Ethiopia where she participated in ceremonies witnessed by Emperor Haile Salaasie as well as the British Protectorate of Aden, Bahrain, Ras Tannura Aabu Nu Air, and Jidda, Saudi Arabia. After being relieved of her Middle East duties the BERRY once again passed through the Suez Canal and, after an independent crossing of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean, with stops at Rota, Spain and the Azores, returned to Newport on the 1 April 1963.
April and May were spent in Newport with the ship participating in a number of local operations. On the 4 June she embarked twenty-one midshipmen and joined Task Group 83.4 for seven weeks of ASW operations. During this cruise, the ship visited Bermuda and Halifax. While in Halifax, CDR. F. B. Shrake relieved CDR. Burgess as Commanding Officer.” Burgess was promoted to the rank of Captain on July 1st, 1963.
readiness officer" based in Pearl Harbor. He and his family sailed from San Francisco to Honolulu aboard the SS Lurline.
In March of 1967 Burgess was made Commander of the river patrol forces stationed in Saigon, Vietnam. His family moved from Honolulu to Panama City, FL, during his tour of duty. After his tour in Vietnam, he and his family moved to California.
He had married Margaret O. Jacobson (1920-1995) shortly after World War II. They had three children: Son Peter, and daughters Barbara and Jane. Unfortunately, to date I have not been able to locate any family that could offer more details on him.
Captain Emery Lyle Burgess passed on May 28th, 1969 in Alameda, CA while apparently still on active duty at the early age of only 51. He is buried in his home town of Janesville, WI at the Oak Hill Cemetery.
Return to Home page.
Ancestry.com for information on Emery Lyle Burgess.
Fold3.com for military reports relating to this story including numerous War Diary's from other vessels and bases that she interacted with over her career and her crew rosters.
GenealogyBank.com for information on Emery Lyle Burgess including various newspaper accounts.
Teagle, Edward at www.fredtberry.org for his help finding Burgess' biography in the Mediterranian/Middle-East Deployment Cruise Book of the USS Fred T. Berry (DD-858) - 7 September 1962 to 2 April 1963.
Wikipedia free on-line encyclopedia for summaries on miscellaneous topics related to this story.