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PC 173-Foot Submarine Chaser

The 173 foot World War II constructed PC was steel hulled, twin diesel propelled and armed with a dual-purpose 3"/50 and 40mm gun. Later the 3"/50 was replaced with a single Bofors 40mm and three single 20mm guns were added. PCs carried a considerable amount of detection and ranging gear for locating submarines. They were capable of a speed of about 18 knots and were highly maneuverable. The Steel-hulled PC-461 Class ships were built in three series; PC-461 to PC-496 (36), PC-542 to PC-627 (86), PC-776 to PC-826 (51), PC-1077 to PC-1265 (189). PC class steel Submarine Chasers were reclassified as Control Submarine Chasers, PCC, in August 1945, and then reclassified back to PC class Submarine Chasers in October 1955.

The 173-foot American submarine chasers were wet forward and generally uncomfortable in heavy seas. Indeed, in a head sea of any magnitude, solid water often swept over the pilothouse. With the sea on the beam the ship proved a deep roller. Still, these little ships proved seaworthy enough, and the navy viewed them as a success.

The 1939-1944 "Spring Styles" Book includes five preliminary design drawings for ships intended for mine warfare or escort service. The earliest (January 1941) of these is for a minesweeper conversion of the 173-foot steel submarine chasers (PC) then under construction, a project that apparently resulted in the Adroit (AM-82) class. In addition to 403 173-foot PC-class patrol craft ordered for the U.S. Navy in 1941, eighteen 173-foot hulls were ordered for use as minesweepers, as the Adroit class. Other mine vessel plans (from May and June 1941) are for what is presumably the preliminary design of 180-foot Admirable (AM-136) class minesweepers, and for a 275-foot coastal mine layer. The latter did not find a place in the Navy's actual construction program.

Smallest of the Navy's escort vessels manned by Coast Guardsmen were 10 submarine chasers - four of the 173-foot steel PCs and six of the 110-foot wooden SCs (left, the USS SC-528). Despite their size, several had more impressive records than many of the larger vessels. Thus, the PC 469 engaged the U-154 in a five-hour battle in the Caribbean Sea in November 1942, damaging the enemy and emerging unscathed. It went on to serve as control vessel at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, sinking two suicide motor boats and driving off a third in May 1945 and shooting down two Japanese aircraft six weeks later. The PCs 545 and 556 took part in the Sicily and Southern France invasions, and the first was at Anzio as well, sinking an enemy motor torpedo boat. The SCs all served with the Greenland Patrol.

Until quite late in the pre-war period, South Korea's infant navy received a particularly modest level of support. In fact, the ROK Navy's first significant ship, a former U.S. Navy 173-foot submarine chaser, was purchased on the private market with funds contributed by its own personnel. The United States did provide armament for the vessel, which arrived in Korean waters during the late Spring of 1950.

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