USS Antelope (PG-86)
One of seventeen Asheville-class gunboat in the United States Navy
(Asheville-class gunboats were a class of small military ships built for the United States Navy in response to
the Cuban Missile Crisis. Originally designated PGM motor gunboats, but were reclassified in 1967 as PG patrol
combatant ships. The class is named for a city in western North Carolina and the seat of Buncombe County.
Asheville class gunboats employed a Combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG) propulsion system; twin Cummins Diesels
for endurance, and a GE LM1500 gas turbine for high-speed dash. Engine controls were operated by pneumatics.
The controllable reversible pitch propeller allowed them to stop in less than two ship lengths from full speed.
They were the first gas turbine ships in the US Navy, as well as the first with aluminum hulls and fiberglass
Most Asheville-class gunboats have since been donated to museums, scheduled for scrapping, or transferred to the
Greek, Turkish, Colombian and South Korean Navies. The exceptions are the USS Chehalis (PGM-94) and USS Grand Rapids
(PGM-98), which are operated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center - Panama City, FL)
Design and Construction
Builder: Tacoma Boatbuilding Company
Launched: 18 June 1966
Commissioned: 4 November 1967
Decommissioned: 1 October 1977
Struck: 1 October 1977
Fate: Transferred to Environmental Protection Agency, 17 January 1978
Class & type: Asheville-class gunboat
Displacement: 245 tons
Length: 164 ft 6 in
Beam: 23 ft 11 in
Draft: 5 ft 4 in
Speed: 40 kts
Armament: one 3 inch, one 40mm gun mount, two twin .50 cal. machine guns
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Precedence of awards are from left to right
Combat Action Ribbon
Meritorious Unit Commendation - Vietnam Service Medal - Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry)
Antelope was laid down on 1 June 1965 at Tacoma, Washington, by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Company.
She was launched on 18 June 1966; sponsored by Mrs. Paul V. Snow, the wife of the Deputy Counsel of the Naval
Ships Systems Command.
She was reclassified a patrol gunboat on 28 March 1967 and simultaneously redesignated PG-86 and commissioned on
4 November 1967 with Lt. Jon Jared Gershon in command (4 November 1967 - May 1969).
Following fitting out at Tacoma, Antelope moved to her first home port, San Diego. After shakedown training and
operational tests she entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for post-shakedown availability. She then spent most
of the remaining months of 1968 in operations along the west coast. Late in the year, she prepared to conduct CNO
Project CS-48, evaluating new gunfire control equipment.
The gunboat completed this assignment in April 1969 and then entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
On 2 November she left San Diego, commanded by LT Frank John Lugo, USN (May 1969 - 24 May 1971) and proceeded to
the Marianas Islands in company with USS Ready (PG-87) and USS Seminole (LKA-104). The ship arrived at Apra Harbor,
Guam—her new home port—on 26 November. The next day, she began a restricted availability at the ship repair
facility there. During the week, numerous improvements were made to her installed systems before she headed for
Vietnamese waters on 19 January 1970.
Vietnam 1970 - 1972
Reaching Cam Ranh Bay on the 28 January, Antelope began SEAFLOAT operations on the Cua Lon River consisting of
"night harassment and interdiction gunfire; area fire preparatory to, and suppression fire during, troop sweeps;
and mobile naval gunfire support for friendly forces under ambush." On the last day of January, her guns assisted
three inshore patrol craft. A fortnight later, after she had bombarded both ends of the Rach Bien Nhan Canal,
Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) swimmers went ashore and learned that her gunfire had destroyed 19 bunkers,
11 buildings, and 26 cisterns.
On 15 February, Ready relieved Antelope, freeing her to return to Cam Ranh Bay for upkeep. On the 23nd,
the gunboat got underway for a brief stint of "Market Time" duty. Such service entailed stopping, boarding,
and inspecting all vessels that she encountered. She returned to SEAFLOAT on the 28th and, on 2 March,
while supporting sweeps ashore by troops, received about 10 rounds of small-arms fire. A week later,
while shelling bunkers, she sighted and destroyed two sampans "fleeing down a canal."
Next came more "Market Time" duty, this time in the Gulf of Siam. There, besides serving as the command center
for Coastal Division 11, she sent inspection parties on board over 350 sampans and junks between 20 March
and 2 April. On the latter date, the ship resumed Operation SEAFLOAT. Three days later, she was ambushed
on the Cua Lon River by a rocket patrol which fired six rockets at the ship from less than 100 yards.
Antelope immediately opened fire with all her weapons, She suffered no casualties or serious damage to the ship.
From 10 through 13 April, the gunboat left the rivers and entered the South China Sea to support a force
of Montagnard troops landing. During the operation, her boat evacuated 115 men. Thereafter, the warship
conducted gunfire support missions until the 17th when she ended 31 consecutive days underway and headed
for Cam Ranh Bay and brief upkeep.
On 25 April, Antelope returned to SEAFLOAT duty. About an hour past midnight on 4 May, an explosion on her
starboard side amidships jarred the gunboat. Investigation soon revealed a 5-inch hole in her main deck,
probably caused by "... a satchel charge catapulted from the north bank of the Cua Lon." However, no casualties
or interior damage from the blast resulted. Five days later, while the vessel was descending the river to enter
the South China Sea, opposing forces fired at least six B-40 rockets at her. Her gun crew returned the fire.
Antelope suffered no hits or damage. Again, on the llth, while fighting off a launch bomb attack from an ambush
site on the bank of the Bo De, she drove the communist troops from their weapons and sent a landing party
ashore which captured eight bomb launchers, four launch bombs, and several B-40 rockets.
After four days of upkeep at Cam Ranh Bay, the ship got underway for special operations in the Gulf of Siam and
troop support in Cambodia. At the end of May, she resumed SEA-FLOAT duties, but a failure of her number one main
engine soon forced her back to Cam Ranh Bay for repairs.
On 11 June, she proceeded north to participate in Exercise "Beacon Tower II" in the Gulf of Tonkin. She then
visited Hong Kong before returning to Guam on 3 August. There she underwent a restricted availability which
lasted until 18 January 1971.
The next day, she sailed for the Philippines. After a brief stop at Subic Bay, she pushed on back to Vietnamese
waters where she arrived on the last day of January and began "Market Time" duty in the Gulf of Thailand. As on
her first deployment to Vietnam, her service was again interrupted by upkeep and occasional naval gunfire support
She headed back toward the Marianas on 24 April. En route to Guam, she visited Keelung and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and
Subic Bay before arriving at Apra Harbor on 18 May. Changed of Command to LT James Lawrence Burke, USN
(24 May 1971 - 4 January 1973). She had been assigned a new home port, Long Beach, California; which she reached on
18 June. That month she entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for overhaul and alterations, which included the
installation of two box launchers, each containing two RGM-66D Standard surface-to-surface missiles, and the
Mk 87 fire control system.
The yard work, which gave the ship an interim surface-to-surface missile capability, lasted until 31 January 1972.
Antelope spent the next few months in independent exercises; fire control system antenna collimation; missile firing;
and receiving new main diesel engines, additional communications equipment, and self-synchronizing clutches.
Atlantic Fleet service
On 10 July 1972, the gunboat began preparations for a transfer to the Atlantic Fleet. A fortnight later, she got underway
in company with Ready and USS Barnstable County (LST-1197) and proceeded via Acapulco, Mexico, to the Isthmus of
Panama. She transited the Panama canal on 7 August and reached Little Creek, Virginia, on the 14th. On 30 August,
she, Ready, and USS Graham County (AGP-1176) sailed for the Mediterranean Sea. On 1 September, Antelope's home
port was changed to Naples, Italy. Following stops at Ponta Delgada, Azores, and at Rota, Spain, the warships
reached Naples on the 17th. Antelope's operations for the remainder of the year included missile handling exercises
at Augusta Bay, Sicily; KOMAR simulation operations with Task Group (TG) 60.2; NATO Exercise "National Week XIV";
her firing of a missile with a warhead; a visit to Izmir, Turkey; and special warfare operations at Souda Bay, Crete.
The gunboat's service in 1973 was much like that which she had performed during her last three months of 1972.
Now under the Command of LT Rodney Peter Rempt, USN - USNA Class of 1966 (Awarded the Distinguished Service Medal,
three Legions of Merit and three Meritorious Service Medals - Retired as Vice Admiral 4 January 1973 - 12 February 1975).
Highlights during the first six months were: an amphibious exercise at the Monte Romano Training Anchorage from
24 to 29 January and a visit to Monaco during the following week; "National Week XV" Exercise from 19 to 24
February; towing ITASS sonic test device late in February; an amphibious exercise at Portoscuso, Sardinia,
and a visit to Bizerte, Tunisia, in April; a missile tracking exercise at Souda Bay at the end of May, NATO
Exercise "Dawn Patrol 73" in June; and bilateral operations with Greek fast patrol boats which continued
from 21 July to 10 August. During the latter half of the year, she took part in international Operation Zeus
in the vicinity of Thasos Island, Greece, from 21 to 29 August and NATO Exercise "Deep Furrow 73" from 20 to 30
September, before firing a missile off Crete on 1 October. This shot scored a direct hit on a Mk 35 SEPTAR
target boat and was the first successful firing in the Mediterranean of the telemetered standard surface-to-surface
The ship visited Barcelona, Spain, in mid-January 1974; took part in amphibious exercises at Gythion, Greece,
from 3 to 10 February; and participated in Exercise "National Week XVI" from 13 to 21 February. Next, she
devoted more than four months to an overhaul in a private shipyard at Naples.
A short visit to Souda Bay, Crete; surveillance operations in the western Mediterranean; and visits to Malaga,
Spain, took up most of July. Then, after a stop at the Spanish island of Majorca in the Balearics from 29 July
to 1 August, she remained at Naples from 4 to 20 August and then returned to Spain for visits to Cartagena and
Malaga before putting to sea on 31 August for a fortnight of surveillance operations in the western Mediterranean.
Exercise "Flintlock 74" out of Venice lasted from 3 to 17 October. Antelope next returned to Naples and remained
there until getting underway early in February 1975, now under the command of LCDR Jeffrey L. Bienbrink, USN
(12 February 1975 - April 1977), for missile exercises. Thereafter, during more than two years,
her operations spanned the Mediterranean from east to west and from southern Europe to the shores of North Africa.
She left the "Middle Sea" in August 1975 for a brief visit to Casablanca, Morocco.
Her subsequent missions during this latter part of her service with the 6th Fleet were quite like those she had
already performed. She visited many of the same ports; took part in similar exercises; and, between 10 January
and 7 May 1976, underwent another overhaul at Naples. On 1 April 1977, she was reassigned to Nisida Island as
her home port, now under the Command of LT James Patrick Euliss, II, USN (April 1977 - 1 October 1977).
Her deployment to European waters ended on the last day of July 1977, and she departed Rota, Spain, bound for home.
Following stops in the Azores and at Bermuda, she reached Little Creek, Virginia on 21 August and was decommissioned
there on 1 October 1977. She was transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency on 17 January 1978 and was
placed in service on Lake Michigan as a survey vessel gathering data to determine the impact of waste disposal upon
the Great Lakes. Antelope was renamed Oceanographic Survey Vessel (OSV) Peter W. Anderson.
As of 2009, she is no longer in service to the EPA, replaced by OSV Bold, ex-USNS Bold (T-AGOS-12).
Her fate is unknown to this editor/web master: Joe Stephens
· Asheville · Antelope · Beacon · Benicia · Canon · Chehalis · Crockett · Defiance · Douglas ·
· Gallup · Grand Rapids · Green Bay · Marathon · Ready · Surprise · Tacoma · Welch ·
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