USS Widgeon (AM-22/ASR-1) was laid down in October of 1917 and commissioned into service on July 27, 1918, just four months before the end of World War I. The new minesweeper was thrust into the First World War almost immediately after commissioning. Widgeon served in the Atlantic Fleet’s Minesweeping Group 2 during the final months of the war. She saw no real action and once the armistice was in place, she was assigned to the North Sea Minesweeping Detachment.
Between the Wars
In the late 1920s, USS Widgeon was assigned to Pearl Harbor. In 1926, she underwent extensive alterations to make her better equipped for submarine rescue. Ten years later, on January 22, 1936, she was redesignated as ASR-1. The next five years were relatively quiet, but that would come to an sudden end on December 7, 1941.
USS Widgeon and the Attack on Pearl Harbor
On the morning of December 7, a quiet Sunday, USS Widgeon was stationed at the Pearl Harbor naval base, berthed near the submarine base. Crewmen grabbed rifles and machine guns and fired on the incoming attackers. Although their fire didn’t result in any downed Japanese aircraft, Widgeon did survive the two-hour attack undamaged.
After the attack ended, Widgeon’s crew raced to Ford Island to help with salvaging the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37). As she approached Battleship Row, her crew began to comprehend the immense damage that had been done. The water was slick with burning oil from USS Arizona (BB-39). In order to prevent further damage to the nearby USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS West Virginia (BB-48), Widgeon first focused on fighting back the raging fires.
In the months that followed, Widgeon returned to the Pacific Fleet submarines, taking part in training exercises and other drills.
In September of 1943, USS Widgeon was assigned to San Diego to serve as a torpedo recovery and submarine rescue ship. In the spring of 1944, she returned to Pearl Harbor where she operated as a submarine rescue vessel around Hawaii. Widgeon remained in Hawaii through the end of the war.
After the War
With the War in the Pacific over, USS Widgeon joined a salvage unit of Joint Task Force 1 to support the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests. Widgeon was decommissioned in February, 1947, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 23 of that year.