Native News Network Staff in Entertainment. Discussion »
ADA, OKLAHOMA Seventy years ago, America was in the thick of the greatest conflict in history: World War II. The nations of the world mobilized for war. The US Navy contracted the building of many ships for service, among them was a small and powerful seagoing tugboat named the USS Chickasaw (ATF-83).
As the third and last US Naval vessel named after the Chickasaw tribe, her service record was superior. Commissioned in 1943, the ship's naval career ended after 33 years with the Pacific Fleet. The USS Chickasaw saw action during World War II and the Korean War.
She was involved in heavy fighting during important campaigns in the Pacific. The ship received a total of eight commendation battle stars for her wartime service. Each battle star represented either meritorious actions or damage sustained during combat operations.
The USS Chickasaw and her crew also earned the Navy Unit Commendation Award for service in Salvage, Fire Fighting and Rescue during operations against the Japanese Navy near the Philippine Islands.
The mission of the USS Chickasaw was to support other ships within the fleet by providing rescue, firefighting and salvage duties. She was one of many ships known as Navajo Class Fleet Tugs. All of the Navajo Class ships were named in honor of Native American tribes. Built like larger warships, these tugboats were powerful, maneuverable and able to sail the open sea.
“These small auxiliary ships helped to save some of the biggest and most powerful warships,”
US Navy Cmdr. Edward Lundquist wrote in Fleet Tugs in World War II.
“Perhaps the best known among the ocean-going tugs of the World War II era were the 205-foot fleet tugs of the Navajo Class.”
The USS Chickasaw had a crew of five officers and 80 enlisted men. She had the highest standard of equipment aboard a tugboat of her time. Her potent diesel engines and modern towing winches could pull the largest ships disabled at sea back to port for repairs.
Other equipment aboard the USS Chickasaw included salvage pumps to remove water from stricken ships, specialized anchors to help in recovery operations and firefighting equipment with a crew specially trained in advanced firefighting techniques of the day.
While not a warship, the USS Chickasaw was lightly armed for protection. Her armament included one single three-inch, .50 caliber dual purpose gun mount and numerous anti-aircraft guns. During World War II, she was also fitted with depth charges to sink enemy submarines.
posted September 10, 2013 8:50 am edt