A continuation of the unheralded U.S. seaplane tenders that rose to prominence at the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during the Second World War.
USS Currituck (AV-7)
The first of its seaplane tenders class, the USS Currituck Sound, was launched in 1943 to sea after almost a year of construction at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and entered U.S. Navy to serve under the command of Captain W. A. Evans at the height of the Second World War. Also known as Wild Goose, she was assigned to support deployed men at the Pacific Theater, earning her two battle stars. She received another two battle stars for serving in the Vietnam War before finally being relieved from service and docked at the Oakland Reserve Fleet in 1967 until she was sold for scrapping in early 1972.
Currituck has a displacement of 15,092 t.(fl) with a length of 540.5 ft., a beam of about 69 ft., and a draft of 22.3 ft.
USS Tangier (AV-8)
The second to be built Type C3-class cargo ship by the Maritime Commission, USS Tangier, was converted into a seaplane tender upon joining the fleet of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Initially named SS Sea Arrow, she had her maiden sail in 1939 before her commission in 1941, serving along fellow seaplane tending platforms at the Asiatic-Pacific Theater under USN Commander Clifton A. F. Sprague. Tangier was there to witness that fateful day of the Pearl Harbor attack and supported the armed forces until the end of the war with three battle stars under her name. After her staunch service, she was anchored at the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1947. Almost two decades later, she was sold for conversion for mercantile use as SS Detroit before reaching her final disposition in 1974.
Tangier measures about 492 ft., with a beam of 69.9 ft., a draft of 23.9 ft., and a displacement of 14,200 t.(fl).
USS Pocomoke (AV-9)
After the Pearl Harbor attack and the U.S. joined the chaos of the Second World War, USS Pocomoke was among the seaplane tenders to be sent into the Pacific. She was built as SS Exchequer in 1939 and joined the USN a year later under Commander John D. Price. Pocomoke conformed to her duties until 1946, when she was sold for scrapping in 1961.
Pocomoke weighed nearly 14,130 t. and stood tall at 492 ft., with a beam of roughly 70 ft and a draft of 21.2 ft.
USS Chandeleur (AV-10)
In 1942, USS Chandeleur began supporting the South Pacific bases as a tender and a cargo vessel that would deliver supplies from San Diego to Efate, Espiritu Santo, Samoa, and Nouméa under USN Commander Captain William Sinton. Upon arriving at Espiritu Santo, she’d provide a home base for Patrol Squadron 71 (VP-71) from June to October 1943. After the war and a couple more tending operations in the Far East, Chandeleur was decommissioned and docked at the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1947 with five battle stars under her name. Almost three decades passed, and she was sold for scrapping that would ultimately conclude her naval career.
Unlike the previously mentioned seaplane tenders, Chandeleur’s displacement was slightly less heavy at 12,200 t.(fl). Nevertheless, its measurement remained almost the same, measuring 492 ft., with a beam of nearly 70 ft. and a draft of around 24 ft.
USS Norton Sound (AV-11)
A Currituck-class seaplane tender, USS Norton Sound, was built in 1942 and put into USN service in 1945 under the command of Captain Benjamin S. Custer. Norton Sound spent most of her World War II service in the Pacific, particularly during the campaigns at Okinawa Gunto and 3d Fleet operations against Japan, and earned two battle stars.
When she returned home, she was converted into a mobile missile launching ship and began conducting tests with Skyhook balloons. Eventually launched a training missile that would mark the beginning of the Navy’s use of shipborne guided missiles. Refitted with new terrier missiles, launching, stowage, and guided missiles, Norton Sound was reclassified as AVM-1 in 1951. In the next three decades, she would undergo modifications equipped with modern technology, most significantly the Aegis Combat System that became a primary combat system of the USN’s cruisers and destroyers. She’d end her eventful naval career around the mid-to-late 1980s when she was sold for scrapping with one of her anchors has remained for display in WestSound Viewpoint, Washington.
USS Pine Island (AV-12)
Another seaplane tender under the Currituck class, USS Pine Island, was commissioned by the USN in April 1945 under Commander Henry Titus Hodgskin. She was laid down in November 1942 and launched almost two years after, steaming almost immediately into the Pacific to tend seaplanes tasked with conducting air-sea rescue operations during the final phases of the Second World War. She’d respond during the Korean War, tending seaplanes assigned to conduct reconnaissance over enemy-held airspace in South Korea. Most of her deployments were in the West Pacific, steering around Borneo, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong, to name a few. When the Vietnam War broke out, Pine Island was among the seaplane tenders to provide support during seaplane operations.
In total, Pine Island received one battle star for WWII service, in addition to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with two campaign stars for Vietnam War services.
USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13)
Originally named Puget Sound, the USS Salisbury Sound was the fourth Currituck-class seaplane tender on the list launched in mid-1944. She was commissioned on 1945, where she earned her endearment “Sally Sound” from her crewmembers. Under the command of USN Captain Doyle G. Donaho, Salisbury Sound served the Asiatic-Pacific Theater like her sisterships, as well as during the occupation service in the Far East and China and Vietnam War.
Before decommissioning in 1967, she’d receive the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with three campaign stars. She stayed moored at the national reserve fleet in Olympia, Washington, before being sold for scrapping on 1972.
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USS Kenneth Whiting (AV-14)
A lead ship of her class, USS Kenneth Whiting, is a seaplane tender built in June 1943 and launched that same year in December. She was commissioned in May the following year with USN Commander R. R. Lyons ordering at the helm. She participated in the Pacific War. After the war, she joined the Joint Task Force 1 for Operation Crossroads, a designated team for atomic bomb testing at Bikini Atoll in 1946.
She measured about 492 ft. in length, with a beam of approximately 70 ft. and a draft of 22 ft.
Kenneth Whiting was briefly decommissioned in 1947 and activated back to service again to support troops assigned to China service in the 1950s. In 1962, with two battle stars under her name for serving in WWII, Kenneth Whiting was sold for scrapping, barely four years since her decommissioning.
USS Hamlin (AV-15)
The second Kenneth Whiting-class seaplane tender USS Hamlin had her keel laid down a month after the lead ship had hers. Her production was commissioned into the USN under Captain Gordon Alexander McLean. She steamed en route to Pearl Harbor following her successful shakedown drills. Aside from plane-tending duties, Hamlin would deliver supplies from coastal bases and transport passengers.
She’d played a vital role during this period, providing a home base for seaplanes conducting reconnaissance missions, hunter-killer operations against submarines, and air support of fleet cripples. Subsequently, earning her three battle stars for her service. Hamlin eventually retired from her naval career in 1947 and anchored at San Diego, California, until she was sold for scrapping in 1972.
USS St. George (AV-16)
Like her sisterships, USS St. George was completed within seven months since laid down in August 1943. She entered service in 1944, and after a successful shakedown, St. George sailed towards the Pacific to provide plane-tending services to pilots in combat with the Japanese until the war’s end. She received one battle star for her participation during the Second World War. She’d eventually be relieved from service, and after over two years on standby, she was bought by Italy bearing the name INS Andrea Bafile (A5314) as a troop transport for their armed forces. Her final disposition was unknown.
USS Cumberland Sound (AV-17)
Simultaneously being built alongside her sistership, St. George, USS Cumberland Sound was also a Kenneth Whiting-class seaplane tender. She was commissioned into the USN in 1944 under the command of Captain Etheridge Grant. Like her siblings, she, too, plane-tended at the Asiatic-Pacific Theater before joining Operation Crossroads in 1946. After the war, she provided a sea base for planes conducting search and rescue operations. Unfortunately, her naval career was short-lived; having to be relieved from service in May 1947 and spent most of her existence moored at the Pacific Reserve Fleet in San Diego. Her final disposition was also known, considering she was sold to a private company and was converted into a cargo barge in 1964.
A Kenneth Whiting-class, Townsend, was supposed to be the 18th seaplane tender commissioned into the USN; however, her contract was terminated barely two months after her keel was laid. Contracts for the construction of Callibogue (AV-19) and Hobe Sound (AV-20) were also canceled a year prior.
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