Tuesday, April 14, 2009
USS Yakutat (AVP-32)
Figure 1: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WHEC-380) underway, date and place unknown. This ship was formerly the USS Yakutat (AVP-32), a 1,766-ton Barnegat class small seaplane tender, which served in the US Navy from 1944 to 1948. Yakutat served as a US Coast Guard cutter from 1948 through 1970 when, after duty in Vietnam, she was transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy. With the fall of South Vietnam, she steamed to the Philippines where she was used for spare parts for the other South Vietnamese ships that escaped the Communist takeover and were later transferred to the Philippine Navy. Courtesy US Coast Guard. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Yakutat (AVP-32) off Seattle, Washington, on 30 March 1944, one day before she was commissioned. She has a main armament of three 5-inch guns. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WAVP-380) underway in 1960, place unknown. Courtesy US Coast Guard. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WAVP-380) off Boston in July 1961. Courtesy Richard Leonhardt. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WAVP-380) at Boston in August 1961. Courtesy Richard Leonhardt. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WAVP-380) underway, date and place unknown. Courtesy Len Laesser. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WHEC-380) alongside USS Ajax (AR-6) at Subic Bay, the Philippines, in August 1967. Yakutat is being prepared for service in South Vietnam. Courtesy Larry Backus. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WHEC-380) in the new gray finish used on cutters operating in Vietnam. US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: Ex US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WHEC-380) underway in South Vietnamese service as the Tran Nhat Duat (HQ-3), at Saigon, May 1972. Courtesy Richard Leonhardt. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a bay on the southern coast of Alaska, USS Yakutat (AVP-32) was a 1,766-ton Barnegat class small seaplane tender. She was built by the Associated Ship Builders at Seattle, Washington, and was launched on 2 July 1942. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Peter Barber, a mother who lost three sons on 7 December 1941 when the battleship Oklahoma (BB-37) was sunk. Yakutat was commissioned on 31 March 1944 and was approximately 310 feet long and 41 feet wide, had a top speed of 18.5 knots, and had a crew of 367 officers and men. Yakutat was armed with three 5-inch guns, eight 40-mm guns, and six 20-mm guns.
Yakutat left the West Coast for the central Pacific in June 1944 and by July was tending seaplanes at Saipan. She arrived in the Palau Islands one day after the landings took place at Pelelieu in September and acted as a seaplane tender there until November 1944. From December 1944 to March 1945, Yakutat steamed to Ulithi, Guam, Saipan, the Palaus and the Marianas, servicing seaplanes at each of these forward bases. By late March, Yakutat was sent to the Ryukyu Islands and established a seaplane base at Kerama Retto in support of the amphibious assault on Okinawa. She continued supporting seaplanes there and at Okinawa until the end of the war. After spending two months in Japan after the war ended, Yakutat was sent back to the West Coast in November 1945 and was decommissioned in July 1946.
On 31 August 1948, Yakutat was loaned to the US Coast Guard. After a major overhaul, the ship was re-commissioned at San Francisco on 23 November 1948 as the US Coast Guard cutter Yakutat (WAVP-380). After transiting the Panama Canal, Yakutat was based at Portland, Maine, in late January 1949 and was assigned to weather patrol duties in the north Atlantic. Later in 1949, Yakutat was moved to her new homeport at New Bedford, Massachusetts, and she stayed there for the next 11 years. Her primary missions were search and rescue, ocean station patrol, and providing meteorological and oceanographic services. Occasionally, the ship also was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she conducted training exercises with various naval units.
In February 1952, while based at New Bedford, Yakutat took part in an unusual rescue operation off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Two tankers, SS Fort Mercer and SS Pendleton, each broke in two and began to sink on the same day. Yakutat was in tactical command of the rescue operation and rescued men from both ships while directing the movements of the other ships that were in the area assisting the Coast Guard. In December 1952, Yakutat also rescued the survivors of a plane crash off the entrance of St. George’s Harbor, Bermuda.
On 1 May 1966, Yakutat was reclassified a high endurance cutter and given the new hull number WHEC-380. She was part of the US Coast Guard’s contribution to Operation Market Time off the coast of Vietnam and served there in 1967 and 1970. By the end of 1970, the ship was officially decommissioned from the US Coast Guard and was returned to the US Navy. On 10 January 1971, Yakutat was transferred to the Navy of the Republic of South Vietnam and renamed Tran Nhat Duat (HQ-3). The ship participated in coastal patrol and counterinsurgency missions off the coast of South Vietnam until the Communist takeover in the spring of 1975. At that time, Tran Nhat Duat and her five sister ships from the former South Vietnamese Navy fled the area and sailed to the safety of the Philippines. Knowing a good deal when it saw one, the Philippine government decided to acquire all six of the warships in 1975 and on 5 April 1976 the ships were officially transferred to the Philippine government. Tran Nhat Duat and her sistership, Tran Quang Toan (HQ-6, formerly the ex-Cook Inlet, WHEC-384 and AVP-36), were eventually used as a source of spare parts for the other four ships of this class.
This was an ignoble end for a ship that participated in two wars and served for 31 years in the US Navy, the US Coast Guard, and the South Vietnamese Navy. Yakutat received four battle stars for her service in World War II, one award of the Navy Unit Commendation, one award of the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and four battle stars for her service in Vietnam while assigned to the US Coast Guard.
Posted by Remo at 8:24 AM