Current USS Champion
USS Champion (MCM-4) is the fourth Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship and is also the fourth Navy ship to bear the name “Champion”.
USS Champion was commissioned on 8 February 1991. She was originally assigned to the Active Naval Reserve, Mine Countermeasures Squadron Two, US Atlantic Fleet and now operates in the Pacific from her home port in Sasebo, Japan.
While on a five-month deployment in the Mediterranean during 1999, Champion assisted in the evacuation of ethnic Albanians from war-torn Kosovo.
In 2002 USS Champion participated in the Gulf of Mexico Exercise (GOMEX) which included integrated surface, air and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) mine countermeasures operations.
In 2009 USS Champion arrived at Naval Base San Diego in accordance with the Defense Base Relocation and Closure Commission.
In 2011 USS Champion participated in a four-day, bi-lateral mine countermeasures exercise (MCMEX) off the coast of southern California.
1st USS Champion
The first Champion was a Continental Navy xebec, commanded by Captain James Josiah, served in a Delaware based force composed of ships of the Continental and Pennsylvania State Navies. The force contested British efforts to establish sea communications with their ground forces in Philadelphia in the fall of 1777. After several months of gallant fighting against heavy odds, the American ships attempted to run past Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania State galleys succeeded but the Continental fleet, including Champion was burned by its own officers on 21 November 1777, when tide and winds turned against them.
2nd USS Champion
The second Champion was an armed river steamer, built in Cincinnati, Ohio 1859. The Champion was purchased in 14 March 1863 and commissioned 26 April 1863, with Acting Master Alfred Phelps, Jr. as the first commanding officer.
Operating almost continuously from 27 April 1863 to 9 June 1865, Champion patrolled the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Red Rivers. She transported troops, prisoners, supplies, and cotton; towed and convoyed ships; and delivered dispatches. Her yeoman service ended at Mound City, 111., where she was decommissioned 1 July 1865.
3rd USS Champion
The third USS Champion (AM-134) was launched 12 December 1942 by General Engineering and Dry Dock Co., Alameda, Calif. and commissioned 8 September 1943 with LCDR J. H. Howard, Jr., USNR as the commanding officer.
Departing 7 December 1943, USS Champion arrived at Pearl Harbor 13 December. She guarded vital shipping lanes between Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, supported frontline operations, escorted resupply convoys to Tarawa and Kwajalein, performed minesweeping operations for Saipan, guarded convoys from Pearl Harbor to Eniwetok and Saipan.
Champion arrived off Iwo Jima 16 February 1945, as the preliminary 3-day bombardment of the island began and, except for some escort duties remained off Iwo Jima until 7 March 1945. Then Champion conducted minesweeping operations, served in screens and provided escort support for convoys. On 16 April 1945 a suicide plane crashed close to the Champion, spraying debris which damaged her and wounded four of her men. She went to Seattle in July for an overhaul which lasted through the end of the war.
After the war Champion supported Far Eastern occupation activities, mines and patrolled in Tsushima Straits. Champion was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego 30 January 1947. She was reclassified MSF-314, 7 February 1955.
Champion received three battle stars for service in World War II.
For more detailed history on the second USS Champion visit the Navy Archive page at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/c5/champion-iii.htm.