Pioneer: Spirit that helped build the United States of America  

USS Pioneer 
USS Pioneer (MCM-9)
What better name than Pioneer for a U.S. Navy warship built to keep America’s enduring objective to maintain uninterrupted access to the world’s strategic waterways.

Current USS Pioneer

USS Pioneer (MCM 9) was laid down by Peterson Builders, Inc., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on 5 June 1989, christened on 25 August 1990 and commissioned 7 December 1992 with Lieutenant Commander Jerald Tyler Balance as the commanding officer. USS Pioneer was homeported in Ingleside, TX.

In 1993 and throughout 1994, Pioneer went through training and conducted post-shakedown maintenance, repairs, and pre-deployment exercises.

In February 1995, Pioneer set sail for Europe on her maiden cruise. During this deployment, Pioneer participated in Exercise Blue Harrier '95.

In January 1996 Pioneer served as a training ship for the Mine Force's Rotational Crews. For the next four years, the Navy's eight Mine Countermeasures Rotational Crews conducted pre-deployment training in the Ingleside-based training ships before completing a six-month deployment in the Persian Gulf in an operational ship.

By early 2000, the Navy no longer manned its forward-deployed MCM ships with rotational crews, and on 20 January 2000, the remaining members of MCM Rotational Crew BRAVO embarked in Pioneer as her permanent crew. At that point Pioneer joined Mine Countermeasures Squadron 1 (MCMRon 1), the squadron responsible for planning and overseeing the Navy's Mine Countermeasures operations in the Western Pacific.

Pioneer then completed a successful CART II exercise and a Squadron 1 exercise. Then Pioneer participated in mine warfare exercise GOMEX 2000. On 12 September 2000 Pioneer set off for Beaumont, Texas for Navy Days, its first stop on an East Coast cruise. During this period Pioneer participated in Unified Spirit 2000. Pioneer returned from deployment to Ingleside, Texas on 15 December 2000.

Following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Pioneer was ordered out-to-sea as a part of Joint Task Force Katrina. The ship and crew, MCM Crew Exultant, were awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for their work during the operation.

The Pioneer shifted her homeport to San Diego, California in 2009.

In July 2010 Pioneer participated in RIMPAC 2010.

In 2012 Pioneer was assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52, supporting mine countermeasure operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

1st USS Pioneer

The first USS Pioneer (AM–105) was laid down 30 October 1941 by Pennsylvania Shipyards, Inc., Beaumont, Tex., launched 26 July 1942, and commissioned 27 February 1943, Lt. Comdr. H. B. Stevens in command.

Pioneer experimented with newly developed gear in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and the Potomac before joining a Mediterranean-bound convoy at New York 14 May 1943 for the first of four escort voyages to North African ports. In November she took up patrol and escort duty within the Mediterranean. On 26 November Pioneer’s convoy was attacked by enemy bombers. Pioneer stood by the damaged merchant ship Rohna, firing on the attacking aircraft while conducting the rescue of 606 soldiers and crewmen.

She did convoy duty in the Mediterranean until assigned to the assault force for the Anzio operation early in January 1944. Her group sortied from Naples in January to mine sweep a mile-wide channel for the fire support and transport areas. Desperate German resistance by land and air Pioneer guarded the beleaguered beachhead, patrolled, escorted supply and reinforcement movements, and swept mines dropped by enemy planes. She returned to wider-ranging escort assignments when advancing Allied land forces broke through to Anzio late in May.

On 12 August 1944, Pioneer sortied for the invasion of Southern France. Pioneer was one of the minesweepers that led the way and cleared the assault area completing their complex and vital task. Her patrol and sweeping operations included extensive activity to prepare newly-captured Marseilles to receive shipping.

Pioneer arrived in Pearl Harbor 18 March 1945, installed new radar gear and joined in exercises before getting underway for Okinawa 23 May. For the remainder of the year, Pioneer joined in the gigantic task of clearing Japanese and Chinese waters of the thousands of mines laid in a decade of warfare. Peaceful use of the oceans restored, Pioneer returned to San Pedro, Calif., 14 February 1946 to inactivate. She decommissioned and went into reserve at San Diego 8 July 1946.

Pioneer received 4 battle stars for World War II service.

For a more detailed account of the first USS Pioneer see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p7/pioneer-i.htm.

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