Maine Boatbuilding Chops and Wooden Minesweepers

In the fall of 1983, Woodenboat magazine flew Maynard first to New York City, where he spent some time with an exquisite Boothbay-built yacht, then on to the shores of Lake Michigan to get an insider’s look at some unusual military watercraft.

Paul Luke, a highly talented and esteemed Boothbay, Maine builder who cut his teeth working for Goudy and Stevens out of high school and Bath Iron Works during WWII, built the ketch Rosa II for Mandell Rosenblatt in 1960. Rosenblatt and his son Lester ran the naval architecture and marine engineering firm Rosenblatt & Son starting in 1947; the venture was a runaway success. They designed Rosa for their personal use and contracted with Luke for the build. Maynard caught up with Rosa II and Dave Zimmerman, who the Rosenblatts hired as their yacht manager, at City Island, technically part of the Bronx. He got to explore her from stem to stern and spend a comfortable night aboard.

The longer leg of the journey took him all the way out to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. His liaison there, Jim Sandison, was a NAVSEA civilian and mine countermeasure (MCM) ship design manager for the navy. Sandison oversaw the construction of Avenger class minesweepers at Peterson Builders Inc., who were very pleased to land the contract. The ships had an anomalous feature for the late 20th century: they were wood hulled, with giant laminated frames and layers of wood planking. The material advantages of wood for the purpose were that it wouldn’t trigger the magnetic firing mechanism in mines, and would be more inscrutable to sonar detection. Bray did a story on the operation for WB, which ran in one of the summer issues in 1984 (#58).

Click here to view images of Rosa II and the Avenger MCM minesweepers.