|Built as:||Minesweeper No. 10|
|Launched:||18 May 1918|
|Commissioned:||30 October 1918|
|Battle Stars:||4 and the Navy Unit Commendation|
|Reclassified:||AVP-2 on 22 January 1936|
|Decommissioned:||12 February 1946|
|Fate:||Transferred to the State Department (Foreign Liquidation Commission) in July 1947 for disposal.|
|Class:||Lapwing class minesweeper|
Heron was named by the U.S Navy after the heron, a long-necked, long-legged wading bird indigenous to Louisiana and the vast coastal marshes. Heron was launched 18 May 1918 by the Standard Shipbuilding Co.; sponsored by Miss Astrid Kundquist, daughter of the mine sweep's prospective commanding officer; and commissioned 30 October 1918, Lt. K. Rundquist in command.
Returning to Hampton Roads 1 November, she proceeded to New York and then to the U.S. West Coast. Heron reached San Diego, California 27 January 1920 to report for duty with the Pacific Minesweeper Division. She sailed for Pearl Harbor to join the Asiatic Fleet. In early October Heron sailed for the Philippines with Avocet and Finch. The minesweeper served in the 4th Division mine detachment until she decommissioned at Cavite 6 April 1922. Heron recommissioned 18 December 1924 and reported to the Aircraft Squadron, Asiatic Fleet for duty as a seaplane tender. She operated principally in Chinese and Philippine waters, performing such diverse tasks as patrol, survey, target-towing, and plane-tending in addition to tactical maneuvers. Heron was reclassified AVP-2 on 22 January 1936 and continued to play an important role in protecting American citizens and interests in the Far East.
About this time five twin-engine land-based bombers and three additional four-engine patrol bombers were sighted. The five bombers made a pass over the ship but did not release any bombs until they had circled again. On the rerun they dropped a stick of bombs. One hit directly on the top of the mainmast, and three others hit just off the port bow. Pieces of shrapnel cut all the mainmast stays to the boat booms, injuring most of the gun crew there. The near misses off the port bow set the paint locker in the forward storeroom on fire, damaged the port 3-inch gun, killed one of the lookouts, and injured all the gun crew on the port 3-inch gun and the gun crews on the port machine guns.
Next, three four-engine patrol planes made torpedo attacks: one plane on the starboard bow; one on the port bow; and the other on the port quarter. Heron maneuvered skillfully, and all three torpedoes missed. They then strafed the ship, doing considerable damage. However, the crew of 1 × gun shot down one of the planes as it came in to attack. Heron had approximately 26 casualties, or about 50 percent of the crew, as a result of the attack. During that night the fires were extinguished; the forward hold was pumped out to bring the ship back to an even keel; and the 3-inch gun was repaired. When the ship arrived back at Ambon, she resumed tending seaplanes and continued this duty until early 1942. For her "valiant action during this period, Heron received the Navy Unit Commendation.
She remained in and around Australia through early 1944 as an advance base tender. Heron also conducted salvage operations and served as an aviation gasoline and fuel oil transport. Departing Australia 22 March 1944, she next participated in the landings in the Admiralty Islands during April and then continued her plane tending duties. Steaming to the Solomons 1 September, Heron served as tender for Patrol Squadron 101, which was engaged in search and rescue work as the Pacific Ocean campaign moved into high gear.
When the U.S. Navy brought MacArthur back to the Philippines in the momentous Leyte campaign, Heron was there, reaching San Pedro Bay 21 November. In the thick of almost continuous enemy air attacks, Heron spent over a month in the Philippines tending seaplanes before returning to New Guinea for repairs.