ARM General Felipe Xicoténcatl C-53 Wreck
US NAVY War Hero
The ARM General Felipe Xicotencatl C-53 ship was born in Seattle, May 4th 1943. She was built by the Winslow Marine Railway & Shipbuilding Company. She was named the USS Scuffle AM-298.
Launched on August 8th 1943 and commissioned on May 2nd 1944, she was commanded by Lt. Comdr. Erik A. Johnson.
After her trial run, Scuffle sailed from San Francisco, California, on July 11th 1944 for Hawaii. Operating from Pearl Harbor, she swept an old American-laid minefield in the French Frigate Shoals between August 6th to 15th.
With her division, Scuffle participated in the pre-invasion sweeps at Lingayen Gulf on January 6th 1945, and at Zambales and Subic Bay on the 29th and 31st. In each instance, after completing the pre-invasion sweeps, she helped extend the cleared areas during and after the initial troop landings, and provided antisubmarine and antiaircraft protection for the transports.
On February 13th, her division began pre-invasion sweeps in Manila Bay in preparation for landings at Mariveles and Corregidor. While operating off Corregidor on the 14th, the minesweepers came within 5,000 yards (4,600 m) of the island and were repeatedly straddled by Japanese fire before supporting ships silenced the enemy’s guns. Scuffle continued sweeping in Manila Bay through 18 February, and her unit earned a Navy Unit Commendation for the operation. On February 24th, Scuffle re-entered Manila Bay with 15 YMS‘s, which are smaller minesweepers, to clear the harbor of mines and submerged wrecks. Her force, plus the salvage ship USS Cable (ARS-19), accomplished the task by April 10th, sweeping 615 square miles (1,590 km2) of water and opening the Harbor to supply ships.
On April 22th, she rejoined Mine Division 34 in an 8-day sweep of the Sulu Sea off Palawan. On 9 May, the minesweeper arrived at Morotai to prepare for operations in the Netherlands East Indies.On 2 June, Scuffle sailed from Morotai with her division to carry out a pre-invasion sweep in Brunei Bay. She ran aground on a reef on 6 June, damaging a screw, but was able to carry out her assigned sweeps before sailing, on 12 June, for repairs at Subic Bay.
The minesweeper left the Philippines on 6 September and arrived at Sasebo, Japan, on 20 October after weathering three typhoons en route. She helped sweep Japanese minefields in Tsushima Strait and the Ryukyu Islands until sailing from Sasebo for home on 9 December.
Arriving at Orange, Texas, on April 2nd 1946, she was decommissioned there on June 19th 1946 and placed in reserve. Scuffle received 5 battle stars, a Navy Unit Commendation and a Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.
While she remained in reserve, Scuffle was reclassified MSF-298 effective 7 February 1955. She was struck from the Navy list on May 1st 1962 and transferred to Mexico on October 1st 1962.
Mexican Navy Hero
The C-53 was sold to the Mexican Navy in 1962 and converted to an Admiral-class gunboat and renamed and numbered as the Felipe Xicotancatl C-53.
The C-53 Felipe Xicotancatl spent 37 years in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean Sea participating in rescue missions and patrolling the region for illegal arms and drugs.
After a long life of 55 years of service for two countries, the C-53 was laid to rest 80 feet down in Cozumel, Mexico as an artificial reef on June 6th 2000.
The location chosen for the C-53 wreck is just offshore from Chankanaab Park. The site was selected for many reasons including easy access for divers in an area sheltered from strong currents. It was lodged on a big sand bar where the ship would not cause any damage to the existing reef structures.
In 2005, during hurricane Wilma, the C-53 wreck moved about 100 feet / 30 meters and was almost torn in half, the damages obvious on both sides of the hull but she still stands upright and is filled with sponges, corals and countless species of animals and amazing areas to explore.
USS Scuffle AM-298
Name: USS Scuffle AM-298
Type: Admirable-Class Minesweeper
Builder: Winslow Marine Railway & Shipbuilding Company, Seattle, USA.
Launched: August 8th, 1943
Commissioned: May 2nd, 1944
Decommissioned: June 19th, 1946
Reclassified: MSF-298, February 7th, 1955.
Fate: Transferred to Mexican Navy, October 1st 1962
ARM General Felipe Xicoténcatl C-53
Name: ARM DM-05
Type: Admiral-Class Gunboat
Acquired: October 1st, 1962
Renamed: ARM General Felipe Xicotencatl, 1994.
Fate: Sunk in Cozumel on June 6th 2000 as an artificial reef.
Displacement: 650 long tons (660 t)
Length: 184 ft 6 in (56.24 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 9 ft 9 in (2.97m)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Sources: Wikipedia, US Navy, Mexican Navy