Tuesday, August 21, 2007
USS Gardiners Bay/Haakon VII
The Norwegian Haakon VII started its life as the USS Gardiners Bay (AVP-39), a small 2,592-ton Barnegat class seaplane tender that was built in 1944 at the Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton, Washington. Named after a bay in Block Island sound, New York, the Gardiners Bay was commissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 11 February 1945 and was almost 311 feet long, had a beam of over 41 feet, and had a crew of 215 men. The Gardiners Bay could make a respectable 18.2 knots and was armed with one 5-inch gun and eight 40 mm anti-aircraft guns.
The Gardiners Bay was quickly sent to join the US Pacific Fleet and, throughout the remainder of the Pacific War, she acted as a seaplane tender and rescue ship in several major areas, including Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, Saipan and Guam in the Marianas Islands, and Kerama Retto, Okinawa, where she arrived on 7 June 1945. While steaming off Okinawa, the Gardiners Bay acted as a flagship of an Air-Sea Rescue unit that successfully completed 18 rescue missions in approximately two weeks. It was a grueling mission with the ship in a constant state of alert and her crew staying at “General Quarters” for 100 hours. She stayed in Okinawa until Japan surrendered, at which point she was sent into Tokyo Bay to set up a seaplane base as part of the Japan Occupation Forces. On 1 September 1945 the Gardiners Bay became the flagship of the Air-Sea Rescue Unit for the US Third Fleet. She stayed in Japan until 29 January 1946, when she was sent to Shanghai, China, to assist in Air-Sea Rescue operations there. The Gardiners Bay then sailed to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 28 November 1946 for a major overhaul.
The Gardiners Bay was sent back to the Far East on 7 April 1947 and was assigned to various American naval bases in the Pacific until 1950, when she returned to the United States for another overhaul. On 27 June 1950, the Gardiners Bay left San Diego for the first of four long tours of duty during the Korean War, where she supported United Nations forces as a seaplane tender in Korea. She also went on to support seaplane operations in Japan and the Philippines. After the war ended in Korea, the Gardiners Bay completed three more cruises as a seaplane tender for the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific, from July 1954 to November 1957. She returned to the United States on 16 November 1957 and was decommissioned on 1 February 1958. This tough little ship received two battle stars for its service during World War II and four battle stars for its service during the Korean War.
But there was still a lot of life left in the Gardiners Bay. On 17 May 1958 this ship was given to Norway under the Military Assistance Program and renamed the Haakon VII. The Haakon VII was converted into a naval cadet training ship and sailed all over the world in that role. She gave Norway many years of useful service, but the ship was finally disposed of in 1974.
The Gardiners Bay/Haakon VII was a sturdy ship that served in two navies for almost 30 years. She fought in two wars and was still able to make numerous contributions in peacetime as well. Not a bad record for a ship that few people even knew existed.
Figure 1 (Top): USS Gardiners Bay (AVP-39) off the Lake Washington Shipyards, Houghton, Washington, 18 February 1945. She is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 1F. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2 (Middle): USS Gardiners Bay (AVP-39) off the Lake Washington Shipyards, Houghton, Washington, 18 February 1945. She is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 1F. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3 (Bottom): Norwegian Training Ship Haakon VII, 1958, passes Hains Point, Washington, DC, following a visit to the Washington Navy Yard, 9 March 1970. Monuments and landmarks visible in the background include the National Cathedral (on ridgeline in center distance), the Jefferson Memorial (center, middle distance) and the Washington Monument (right distance). Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Posted by Remo at 7:02 AM