The U.S. Navy decommissioned its Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Ardent (MCM 12) during a ceremony at Naval Base San Diego, last week, and it will be officially decommissioned this Wednesday. The Navy also decommissioned Ardent’s sister ships USS Champion (MCM 4) and USS Scout (MCM 8) during similar ceremonies last week.
Eight mine countermeasures ships remain in service to the fleet and are forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan and Manama, Bahrain, with the USS Ardent being the third of its class decommissioned.
Avenger class ships are designed as mine sweepers/hunter-killers capable of finding, classifying, and destroying moored and bottom mines.
Avenger (MCM 1) was decommissioned on Sept. 30, 2014. Defender (MCM 2) was decommissioned Oct. 1, 2014. Guardian (MCM 5) was stricken from service in 2013.
These ships use sonar and video systems, cable cutters, and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control. They are also capable of conventional sweeping measures. The ships are fiberglass sheathed, wooden hull construction.
Due to public health safety and restrictions of large public events related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, plankowners and former crew members of the Avenger-class ship virtually celebrated its distinguished history.
Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Three, Rear Adm. Philip E. Sobek, Ardent’s guest speaker, thanked the crews for their work.
“It was an honor to be with you today as we close this chapter in naval history,” said Sobeck. It was a distinct privilege to work alongside some of the finest mine-countermeasure Sailors in our Navy.”
Sobeck, who had previously command the Ardent remarked, “Those Sailors, and all who have manned these rails, truly lived up to the ship’s motto – “Igneus et Fervens” (fiery and fervent), which represents the irrepressible character and fighting spirit of the crew.”
Commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Moffett, the ship maintained a crew of eight officers and 76 enlisted Sailors.
“Today is an end of an era, but also a happy day, for those Iron Men and Women that brought this Wooden Ship to life and proudly represented what it means to be a U.S. Navy Sailor,” said Moffett.
Ardent (MCM 12), the third ship to bear the name, had her keel laid down on Oct. 22, 1990, launched on Nov. 16, 1991, and subsequently commissioned Feb. 18, 1994. Her maiden voyage from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin commenced on Oct. 30, 1993, and included a unique transit though the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. The trip was punctuated by the arrival of Ardent to her homeport of Ingleside, Texas on Dec. 15, 1993. From 1995 to 2014 Ardent was forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, working from Manama, Bahrain. She participated anti-mine, anti-submarine and maritime security operations independently and in cooperation with multi-national partners.
In 1998, while underway in the North Arabian Gulf, she received emergent tasking to assist USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) in locating and recovering a downed F/A-18C. Later that year she conducted operations inside Iraqi territorial waters in Mine Danger Area (MDA) 10 in support of Operation Desert Fox. Ardent departed on an emergency sortie from Mina Salman Port, with all other ships, in the wake of USS Cole (DDG 67) bombing in Port of Aden, Yemen in October 2000.
Ardent’s missions included continuously surveying shipping lanes, ship’s safe passage corridors (Q-routes) and provided a constant presence to discourage any hostile actions in the area. Continuing in the spirit of her tenured career in the Gulf, once stateside again, Ardent continued her anti-mine operations while continuing to be ambassador of the Navy to neighbors Mexico and Canada.
The first Ardent (SP-680) was built as a commercial fishing steamer by the Greenport Basin and Construction Company at Greenport on Long Island, New York, in 1902. The U.S. Navy purchased her on June 11, 1917 to be used as a section patrol boat and minesweeper during World War I. She was commissioned on Aug. 15, 1917 as USS Ardent with LT F. P. Betts in command. Ardent was assigned to the Mining Force of the 2nd Naval District in southern New England and conducted patrol and minesweeping duties in the Newport and Block Island sections throughout World War I. She was decommissioned in early 1921.
The second Ardent (AM-340) was an Auk-class minesweeper in the United States Navy. Ardent was initially laid down as the HMS Buffalo (BAM-8) for the Royal Navy on Feb. 20, 1943 at Alameda California by the General Engineering & Drydock Co. but was reassigned to the United States Navy. Ardent was commissioned May 25, 1944 with LCDR Allan D. Curtis in command. During the first seven months of her career, Ardent escorted convoys and ships operating between the west coast of the United States and the Hawaiian Islands. The highlight of her service occurred on Nov. 13, 1944 when she sunk the Japanese submarine I-12. During her second deployment Ardent saw action in minesweeping operations and downed several Japanese aircraft. Ardent was decommissioned July 1, 1972 and was subsequently sold to the Mexican government.