(AM-63: dp. 890, 1. 220'5% ", b. 32'2", dr. 10'9"
s. 18.1 k.; cpl. 105; a. 2 3", 4 20mm., 2 dct.; cl. Auk)
The first Skylark (AM 63), a minesweeper, was laid down on 9 July 1941
by the General Engineering & Dry Dock Co. at Alameda, Calif.,
launched on 12 March 1942; sponsored by Mrs. William L. Simpson, and
commissioned on 25 November 1942.
After almost a month of trials, calibrations, and training along the
coast of California, Skylark got underway for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on
the morning of 20 December. The convoy arrived in Pearl Harbor 10 days
later, and Skylark remained in the Islands for another 11 days. On 10
January 1943, she stood out of Pearl Harbor and set course for Espiritu
Santo in the New Hebrides, escorting another convoy. For the next year,
Skylark escorted convoys around the various island groups in the South
Pacific, the New Hebrides, Samoa, New Caledonia and the Solomons, the
conquest of which she was supporting. Often she shepherded supply
echelons to Guadalcanal and to some of the other islands in the group,
then would patrol the area for a week or two. Of all the months of that
year, June 1943 was her most active. On the 16th, while she was
screening ships off Guadalcanal, she came under aerial attack by
Japanese dive bombers and assisted in splashing four of the intruders. A
week later on 23 June, two ships of her convoy, Aludra (AK-12) and Deimo
(AK-78) were torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, RO-l03. Skylark
succeeded in rescuing 193 survivors and carried them on to Espiritu
In January 1944, the minesweeper began an extended period of
convoy-escort and patrol duty in the Solomons. Until 15 April, her
theater of operations was restricted to those islands alone as she
herded the supply echelons between them. On 15 April, she departed the
Solomons for Espiritu Santo, arriving there the next day. On 7 May, she
began her return voyage to the Solomons
and, two days later, she put into Purvis Bay, Florida Island, for
repairs. Repairs and minesweeping exercises occupied her time until 3
June, when she sailed from Purvis Bay with elements of Task Force 53,
bound for Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshalls. The various elements of the
task force rendezvoused at Kwajalein on the 8th, refueled, and departed
on the 12th.
The Southern Attack Force, otherwise known as TF 53, was assigned the
job of retaking Guam during the Marianas operation. Originally, the Guam
assault was to have come several allays after that upon Saipan. However,
the necessity of meeting and defeating the Japanese fleet in what was to
be the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the determination that
additional troops would be needed to conquer Guam caused the assault to
be delayed. Thus, TF 53 steamed around in the ocean 150 to 300 miles
east of Saipan until 25 June when Admiral Spruance ordered the bulk of
it to Eniwetok to await the lifting of addition,air forces from Hawaii.
Skylark arrived in Eniwetok Lagoon three days later.
She remained at Eniwetok until 17 July at which time the task force
departed for Guam. Arriving off Apra Harbor on the 21st, Skylark took up
her screening station and, for almost two months, screened ships and
patrolled in the vicinity of Apra. On 9 September, Skylark ceased
patrolling and screening and departed Guam in the escort of an Eniwetok-bound
convoy. She arrived on the 14th and entered an availability period until
3 October. From Eniwetok, she moved to Ulithi, arriving on 9 October and
departing again on the 17th to escort Oahn (ARG-5) back to Eniwetok. The
two ships made Eniwetok on 23 October, and Skylark departed the next
day. After a two-day layover at Majuro, 26 to 28 October, she headed for
Pearl Harbor. From Pearl Harbor, she continued on to California, where
she underwent repairs at both the Stockton Ship Works at Stockton,
Calif., and General Engineering ~ Dry Dock Co., at Alameda, Calif.
On 15 February 1945, Skylark pointed her bow westward again and sailed
out of Alameda. She entered Pearl Harbor on 22 February, provisioned on
the 23d and headed back to Eniwetok on the 24th. A month later, Skylark
was with the other minesweepers clearing the invasion areas around
Okinawa. At 1055 on 28 April, while sweeping a minefield off the Hagushi
beaches, she struck a mine on her port side amidships. Skylark drifted
while the crew fought fires and tried to save her. Twenty minutes later,
she struck a second mine, took a heavy list, and sank within 15 minutes.
Five men were killed by the two explosions and thanks to the rescue work
of Tolman (DM-28), these were her only losses. Skylark was struck from
the Navy list on 28 April 1945.
Skylark (AM-63) earned three battle stars for World War II service.