USS Auk (AM-38)
Upon completion of her initial fitting out and dock trials, Auk proceeded to Tompkinsville, Staten Island, on the afternoon of 24 February.
USS Auk (AM-38)
World War I-related service
Upon completion of her initial fitting out and dock trials, Auk proceeded to Tompkinsville, Staten Island, on the afternoon of 24 February. There, her commanding officer reported to the Commander, Minesweeping Division, 3d Naval District. On 2 March, Auk sailed for Newport, Rhode Island, in company with USS Curlew (AM-8) (Minesweeper No. 8) and arrived there the next morning. At that port, Lt. Cullen attended a conference on board the Mine Force flagship, USS Baltimore (C-3), on the 5th. Returning to the Mine Sweeping Base at New York on the morning of the 6th, Auk left New York waters the following afternoon, bound for Boston, Massachusetts.
Surviving a savage North Atlantic storm
The minesweeper, rolling and pitching heavily as the winds and seas rose, was proceeding on her coastwise voyage when, in the predawn darkness of the 0000-0400 watch on 8 March, men in the crews' compartment detected water entering their space at an alarming rate. While some of the crew bailed doggedly, others rigged a "handy billy", and, later, a wrecking pump, in an effort to cope with the flooding. Lt. Cullen, seeing that Auk was taking water faster than it was humanly possible to pump it out or bail it, prudently decided to seek refuge for his ship.
Auk accordingly altered course at 0905 and plunged through the rough seas and a veritable curtain of fog, while her foghorn blared its warning. She anchored that afternoon, but waves breaking over the after deck foiled attempts to rig the heavy-duty wrecking pumps into the after hold (into which the water was coming, through the rudder stock) since it was impossible to remove the hatch without allowing more water to get below in the process. Then just as the fog began to lift to the northward and the ship prepared to weigh anchor and get underway, the anchor engine jammed. Quick repairs enabled Auk's men to begin the process of hoisting up the hook, but the slow rate at which it was coming up caused some second thoughts about the whole business - water was gaining in the crew's quarters. Finally, forced to slip 75 fathoms (137 m) of chain and her starboard anchor, the minesweeper got underway and eventually reached a safe haven in the lee of Montauk Point.