USS Irene Forsyte (IX-93)

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USS Irene Forsyte (IX-93) was a three masted schooner originally built as MacLean Clan which was briefly converted to a Q-ship, of the United States Navy.

Contents

In commercial service

The three-masted schooner MacLean Clan was built in 1920 by MacLean Construction Company, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia for H.W. Adams of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Built at the end of the era of three masted merchant schooners, she was one of two schooners built by MacLean construction in 1920, the other being the auxiliary tern schooner Cote Nord.[1] Maclean Clan worked in the coastal trade into the 1930s. She had an auxiliary engine installed in 1926 and was sold and re-registered in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1929.[2] In the early 1930s she was purchased by Captain Thomas Antle. Renamed Irene Myrtle, the schooner barely survived the tough trade conditions of that time and was in poor condition by the end of the decade. Given a new lease on life by the increased shipping traffic provoked by the war, she served in the coal trade between New England and Nova Scotia into 1942. That summer, while the ship was loading coal at New London, Connecticut, Captain Antle died and the ship was eventually put up for sale.

Acquired by the US Navy

At this time, the U.S. Navy began looking for a smaller coastal vessel to serve as a Q-ship, complementing the larger decoy ships Big Horn, Asterion, and Atik. Purchased on 16 November 1942, for about US$12,000, the schooner was renamed Irene Forsyte and given hull designation symbol IX-93 on 7 December. She was delivered to the Thames Shipyard of New London, Connecticut, for conversion. Fitted with new engines, quick-firing armament, as well as concealed radar and sonar equipment, the auxiliary was commissioned 26 August 1943, Lieutenant Commander Richard Parmenter in command.

Service history

Based on the experience of Q-ships during World War I, it was hoped Irene Forsyte, with her relatively heavy armament concealed, could lure German submarines into close quarters on the surface and sink them with gunfire. Success in the venture would require a good disguise. After a volunteer crew sailed the schooner from New London on 29 September 1943, she changed her name and flag to that of a Portuguese Grand Banks fishing schooner. The crew also further concealed the guns and altered her rigging and profile. The disguised Q-ship then stood southeast in hopes of encountering enemy submarines.

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