In early September, 1919, the U.S. submarine chasers that had served in minesweeping operations were to be prepared for the return journey. Many were sent to Devonport, to be put into drydock for hull repairs. Photos show a half dozen at a time lined up in rows of three in the drydock.
When these chasers first crossed the Atlantic Ocean, it was under their own power. But absent the sense of urgency entering the war created, plans were made to tow the chasers back. Many other, larger vessels from the mine barrage work were scheduled to return to the U.S. as well, and so towing bitts were installed on the forward gun base. The chasers would be towed home, behind the minesweepers.
The work continued all month, clearing out below decks and repairing guard rail stanchions, painting, and getting things in shape for the trip.
A memo for Adm. Joseph Strauss summed up the minesweeping effort:
"The removal of the minefield consisting of more than fifty thousand mines spread over an area of some six thousand square miles of the stormy North Sea presented a problem that could only be solved by the hardest kind of work and indifference to danger. That so difficult and prolonged an operation was performed cheerfully and without stimulus of war or the incentive of the usual additional pay given for such work, is an evidence of the fine spirit existing in the Mine Force." (See: Hunters of the Steel Sharks: The Submarine Chasers of WWI, page 164)
— Todd Woofenden, editor
(Note: I'd love to get in touch with Mr. Kempinski to see if he has in progress shots to add to the page. Does anyone have his contact information?)