|Builder||Burger Boat Co.|
|Keel Laid||October 31, 1952|
|Launched||August 12, 1953|
|Commissioned||June 9, 1952|
|De-commissioned||September 22, 1972|
|Disposed of By Navy Sale||April 1, 1979|
VITAL (MSO-474) was laid down as AM-474 on 21 October l952 at Manitowoc, Wis., by the Burger Boat Co.; launched on 12 August 1953; sponsored by Mrs. Edwina Smith; redesignated MSO-474 on 7 february 1955; and commissioned on 9 June 1955 at Boston Naval Shipyard, Lt. Bruce E. Prum in command.
Following shake down and availabiliy at Charleston, S.C., VITAL was deployed to the Mediterranean late in the spring of 1956. In addition to normal 6th fleet operations and Mediterranean port visits, she participated in speial NATO minesweeping exercises conducted in the North Sea during september and October. The minesweeper returned to Charleston later that fall and began operations along the southen Atlantic seaboard of the United States. In March 1957, she moved to the Gulf of Mexico for a three-month training period at the conclusion of which she returned to charleston and resumed mormal duty.
In July 1958, VITAL's homeport was changed from Charleston to Panama City, Fla. From the latter port she participated in experimental work with the Operational Test and Evaluation Force under the auspices of the Naval Mine Defense Laboratory (USNMDL). She remained based at that port for the next 12 1/2 years, departing periodically for deployment in foreign waters. The first break in her experimental work schedule came in August 1960 when she embarked upon a three-month cruise in the Caribbean. After returning to Panama City in November and resuming duty with the Mine Defense Laboratory, she remained so occupied until February of 1962, at which time the minesweeper headed across the Atlantic with the other units of Mine Division (MinDiv) 81 for a six-month tour of duty with the 6th fleet in the Mediterranean. She arrived back in Panama City in August and resumed service to the USNMDL. Following 14 months of normal operations in the Gulf of Mexico, VITAL headed south for a four-month assignment in the West Indies, which she concluded at Panama City on 9 February 1964.
Upon the conclusion of that Caribbean deployment, VITAL settled down to a routine of operations out of Panama City broken only by three Mediterranean deployments and an assent of the Mississippi river in May of 1967 to participate in the Cotton Carnival at Memphis, Tenn. On 1 January 1971, VITAL received word that her homeport had changed back to Charleston. She arrived there on the 27th and, for the next 20 months, operated from that base as units of the Atlantic fleet mine force. On 22 September 1972, VITAL was decommissioned at Charleston. She was towed to Hampton Roads late in November and, on the 30th, placed in the Norfolk Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She remained there until struck from the Navy list in September 1977. At that time she was scheduled to be sold; but no word of her final disposition was available as of May 1978.
Walter L. Goswick