USS Broadbill (AM-58) – A Veteran’s Photographs

Radioman Second Class Francis Cinque was assigned to the Auk-class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58) during World War Two.  He participated in Operation Neptune, the naval component of the Allied landings at Normandy, the bombardment of the Port of Cherbourg, and Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France.  I recently had the privilege of helping his grandson’s family identify some of the pictures from his album, and they agreed to allow me to share a few of them here.

This set was taken by RM2 Cinque from the USS Broadbill (AM-58).  They show useful details of the ship and interesting events surrounding her operations.

I have identified Mr. Cinque’s photographs to the best of my abilities, and added supplementary photographs where they are useful.  If anyone has any additional information or can correct any errors I may have made please add your information in the comments below and I’ll pass them along.

 

USS Broadbill (AM-58) History

Laid down 23 July 1941 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, MI

Launched 21 May 1942

Commissioned USS Broadbill (AM 58), 13 October 1942

Decommissioned December 1945 at San Diego, CA

Recommissioned 19 March 1952

Decommissioned 25 January 1954 at Orange, TX

Reclassified as a Fleet Minesweeper (Steel Hull), MSF-58, 7 February 1955

Struck from the Navy Register 1 July 1972

Sold 1 December 1973

Acquired in 1974 by David A. Hahn of Orange for use as a yacht and renamed Anaconda

 

Specifications:

Displacement 890 tons standard, 1,250 full load

Length 221′ 2″, Beam 32′ 2″, Draft 10′ 9″ (Length 67.4 m, Beam 9.8 m, Draft 3.3 m)

Propulsion: Two 1,559 shp ALCO 539 diesel electric engines, Westinghouse single reduction gear, two shafts.  Speed 18.1 knots (33 km/h)

Complement: 105

Armament: One 3″/50 dual purpose gun mount, two single 40 mm gun mounts, eight 20 mm guns, two depth charge tracks, four depth charge projectors, one Hedgehog projector, capacity for up to eighty mines.

 

001B-USS_Tide_AM125
A useful view of a sister ship, the USS Tide (AM 125).  This photograph gives a good impression of the layout and overall configuration of these ships.  While small, they were relatively well armed and quite capable of performing anti-submarine duties as well as acting as general escorts, in addition to their primary roles as minesweepers / minelayers.  (National Archives)
002
A view of the fantail of the Auk class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM-58) as she sweeps for magnetic mines.  The davits are for handling the sweeping gear for moored mines.  The canvas covered objects are single 20 mm Oerlikon mounts, the Auk class carried eight of these in all.  Depth charge racks are mounted outboard of each davit. (Francis Cinque photograph)
003
Another  similar view of Broadbill’s fantail.  The large rectangular objects and floats are part of her “Otter” or “O Gear”.  These would be streamed from the stern to cut the cables of moored mines.  After the cables were cut the mines would rise to the surface where they could be destroyed by gunfire.  (Francis Cinque photograph)
004
C-47 Skytrain transports tow Waco gliders over an Auk class minesweeper off Southern France.  They likely carry the 550th Glider Infantry Battalion on their way to assault the town of Le Muy on 15AUG44 as part of Operation Dragoon. (Francis Cinque photograph)
004B_GliderTow
C-47 Skytrains towing Waco gliders, showing details and the towing configuration.
005
A well-worn Liberty ship off-loading cargo to the LCTs and barges moored alongside, several trucks are visible on the barges.  Liberty ships displaced 14,250 tons and were the most produced ship design in history, with 2,710 being completed. (Francis Cinque photograph)
006
The Auk class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM-58) laying a smokescreen. (Francis Cinque photograph)
007
Gun crew man the 3″/50 gun on the fo’c’sle of the Auk class minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM-58).  The 3″/50 caliber gun was carried by a wide variety of U.S. and Allied vessels.  It could fire a 24 pound projectile to a maximum range of 14,600 yards. (Francis Cinque photograph)
008
Two Auk class minesweepers moored in a French port, the bow of a third is visible in the lower left of the photograph. (Francis Cinque photograph)
011
The French light cruiser Gloire moored to a buoy with an unidentified French destroyer moored alongside.  Photograph likely taken off the Southern coast of France during Operation Dragoon, 15AUG44 – 14SEP44. (Francis Cinque photograph)
011Bs_Gloire
A nice color photograph of Gloire showing her disruptive camouflage to good advantage.
021
A 200 pound Mark IX depth charge is launched over the side of the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58).  A 40 mm Bofers gun is in the foreground. (Francis Cinque photograph)
022
Hedgehog anti-submarine projectiles in flight after being fired from the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58).  Hedgehog was a spigot mortar which launched a circular pattern of twenty-four 65 pound projectiles ahead of the attacking ship.  A contact fuse detonated the projectile upon contact with an enemy submarine. (Francis Cinque photograph)
023
Hedgehog projectiles enter the water ahead of the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58). (Francis Cinque photograph)
024
Depth charges exploding astern of the minesweeper USS Broadbill (AM 58). (Francis Cinque photograph)
Broadbill_and_YMS43
USS Broadbill (AM 58) at anchor with USS YMS-43 moored alongside.
BroadbillAM58-61_at_Nice
A nest of Auk class minesweepers in port at Nice, France.  From left to right they are USS Chickadee (AM 59), USS Pheasant (AM 61), USS Broadbill (AM 58), and USS Nuthatch (AM 60).