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Gulf War

By Jack M. Maiher

"The ADROIT was one of 4 that went piggy back on the Super Servant. They told us about a week after the Kuwait invasion that we were to be deployed, but the preparations took about 2 weeks. They then put the ADROIT, the LEADER, and the IMPERVIOUS, and a new minesweeper, the USS AVENGER (MCM-1), onboard the Super Servant. This was quite an undertaking.

Then they put 'skeleton crews' onboard the AVENGER to 'look after' the 4 ships. It consisted of the whole AVENGER crew, and about 8-9 guys from each of the MSO's. They actually went on the journey across to the Gulf. That took roughly 28 days if I remember correctly. Upon their arrival, the remaining crews of the MSO's were flown into Bahrain. That's when I went over. Needless to say, those 28 days on shore in the States before we left was pretty intense.

Several of the guys that I was with on the ADROIT had already been on a deployment to the Gulf once before during the Iran-Iraq thing in 88-89. The stories I heard from those guys were pretty intense too. Since we didn't know what to expect, other than the worse, we kinda lived it up before we went over to the Gulf this time. I guess when they went during the Iran-Iraq thing; they went under their own power. THAT was a nightmare, from what I heard.

Once in the Gulf, we stayed in Abu Dhabi mostly. They made a 'base' there for the mine countermeasure group that consisted of Sea Stallion helicopters, the 4 U.S. minesweepers, and some British minecountermeasure ships. Various larger ships came into port from time to time, such as the USS MISSOURI (battleship)and the USS MIDWAY (carrier).

I could write a book on all that went on while I was there, but the highlight for our crew was the detection of a certain type mine, which had been previously undetectable by any other force in the world. These mines were of fiberglass construction and so small, that it was extremely diffcult to detect with sonar - but our guys did it!

Most of my time there was just doing workups. There were 'loose' WWII style mines floating all over the place, but the ships would either shoot them, or call out the Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams to disarm them.

Once the big attack started(was it January 15th?), we were rushed out to sea, unsure of what was to happen.THIS WAS NOT A COMFORTABLE TIME. We were all under the impression that we'd spend 4-6 months out there, and then another crew would come to relieve us of the ship, and we'd all get flown back to the States. They did this because of the supposed 'poor living conditions' onboard the MSO's. Well, once the main attacking started on Iraq, we thought for sure that our relief crew wouldn't make it out there, or get postponed. And they did, for about a week and a half. But, they did make it, and we did a very quick turnover to the crew of the USS EXPLOIT (which we would assume command of upon return to the States). Then we spent about another week and a half, living in the abandoned 'base'(the ships were all out at sea now!)in trailers. We had to stand all kinds of watches with grenade launchers, M-60 machine guns, etc. There were just us (the crew of the ADROIT) and some 'mercenaries' that were hired by the US Government for protection of the 'base'.

We finally were transferred out of there, in the heat of it all. The USS TRIPOLI then took charge of the mine countermeasure group and the Sea Stallions moved onboard her. I guess she ended up getting a nice big hole ripped in her too from a mine. Too bad our crew wasn't onboard the ADROIT...we were a sharp bunch, that's for sure.

I went onboard ADROIT one last time while they were gutting her in Little Creek, VA. I never thought I'd have 'feelings' for a ship, but I guess I do for the ADROIT. Oh I said, I could write a whole book about my time on her. I could describe every inch of that ship, from the lookout on the bridge, down to the bilge's in the engine room. I worked in Radio Central, which was right outside of the CO's Passageway/Stateroom. But since we were limited in bodies, we all did ALL KINDS of different things onboard. I did everything from drive the ship, being lookout on the bridge, lineman when we got underway and pulled into port, painting various parts of the ship, machine gun operator during general quarters, etc...the list goes on. That was fun though.

On any other ship, I would have been confined to doing just 'radioman' duties and sometimes, I wished I was! But the whole experience was one I'm glad I got to have and know that I'm one of the last of a small group of people who'll ever know what that part of the NAVY was like."


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