Tuesday, February 19, 2008
USS Casco (AVP-12)
Figure 1: USS Casco (AVP-12) running trials off Vashon Island in Puget Sound, Washington, on 3 March 1943 upon completion of battle damage repairs. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Casco in Puget Sound, Washington, on 3 March 1943 upon completion of repairs. She had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine RO-61 in the Aleutian Islands on 30 August 1942. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Casco in Puget Sound, Washington, on 3 March 1943 upon completion of repairs. She had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine RO-61 in the Aleutian Islands on 30 August 1942. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Casco in Massacre Bay at Attu Island in the Aleutians in about May 1943 soon after the U.S. recaptured the island. A PBY-5A "Catalina" patrol bomber is taking off on a patrol. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a bay on the coast of Maine, the USS Casco (AVP-12) was a 1,766-ton Barnegat-class small seaplane tender and was built at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington. She was commissioned on 27 December 1941 and was approximately 311 feet long and 41 feet wide, had a crew of 215 officers and men, and was armed with four 5-inch guns (as well as an assortment of smaller-caliber guns).
After a shakedown cruise off the northwest coast of the United States, the Casco was sent to Sitka, Alaska, and arrived there on 5 May 1942. Her primary duties were to perform surveys in the waters around the Aleutian Islands, act as a seaplane tender and lay moorings for seaplanes. Based at Cold Bay in the Aleutians, she also supported seaplanes in Dutch Harbor, Chernofski Harbor, Kodiak, and Nazan Bay. While at anchor in Nazan Bay on 30 August 1942, the Casco was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine RO-61. The explosion killed five crewmen and wounded 20 others. But excellent damage control by the remainder of the crew managed to slow the flooding long enough so that the ship could be beached to prevent her from sinking. The Casco was refloated on 12 September and, after emergency repairs at Dutch Harbor and Kodiak, was sent to Puget Sound for more permanent repairs and a complete overhaul.
The Casco was sent back to the Aleutian Islands in March 1943 and became a seaplane tender for Fleet Air Wing Four in Constantino Harbor, Amchitka. In May the Casco went to Attu, where she tended to seaplanes that were conducting antisubmarine patrols and search missions that were in direct support of the Army’s invasion of Attu. One of the most important responsibilities of the seaplanes was to guard against any Japanese reinforcement of the Aleutian Islands and the Casco supported these aircraft (usually under horrible weather conditions) until November 1943, when she was sent back to Bremerton, Washington, for yet another overhaul.
The Casco then was sent to the Marshall Islands in February 1944 as a seaplane tender for patrol squadrons based at Majuro and Kwajalein during their occupation and was later sent to Eniwetok in September. The Casco was temporarily assigned to carry cargo for the buildup to the invasion of the Philippines, where she traveled between Saipan, Ulithi, and the Palaus until November. The ship then returned to seaplane tender duties in the Palau Islands until January 1945 and then at Ulithi until April. After a brief overhaul in Saipan, the Casco arrived in Kerama Retto (located next to Okinawa) on 25 April and acted not only as a seaplane tender, but also as tender for motor torpedo boats, all of which were assigned to the invasion of Okinawa.
The Casco was sent to the West Coast in July 1945 for two months of repairs. She returned to the Philippines from October 1945 to April 1946 and was then assigned as a training ship based at Gelveston, Texas. The Casco was decommissioned on 10 April 1947 but then was transferred to the US Coast Guard on 19 April 1949. She was re-designated the cutter Casco (WAVP-370, later WHEC-370) and for the next 20 years worked out of Boston, Massachusetts. This tough ship was returned to the Navy in March 1969 and was expended as a target in May of that same year.
A rugged and versatile Navy seaplane tender during wartime and a reliable Coast Guard cutter during peacetime, the USS Casco served for almost 30 years. Though ships like these rarely get the recognition they deserve, they definitely had long and extremely useful careers.
Posted by Remo at 10:03 AM