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Salvage Sailor's USN Collection - "it just followed me home"

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Most of my Fleet Tug plaques are stashed away in my warehouse, but I do have two on hand.


The first one is a ceramic plaque from the USS TAKELMA (ATF-113)


To give you a reference point on these ships, this photo was taken at Alpha docks, at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Alpha Docks is surrounded by Hickam Air Force Base & guards the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The main harbor is much further up the channel.


The ship in the foreground is USS TAKELMA, a Fleet Tug, and the ship(s) in the background are ARS's. USS SAFEGUARD is ARS-25 (a DIVER class). Alpha Docks was the base for SERVRON 5, and also for HARBOR CLEARANCE UNIT ONE (HCU-1) Their barge, the YRST-1, would be directly behind the photographer and the shot is looking over the Salvage piers towards Iroquois Point and the main shipping channel.


The workboat alongside SAFEGUARD is hers, each ARS had two in the davits whereas the ATF's only had a whaleboat onboard.


If you're interested in seeing other photos of any of these ships I've posted, our websites has hundreds of them dating from the 1940's to the 1990's


Salvage Ship Photos



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To give you a further sense of scale for our ships, here's a photo of a Carrier, Cruiser & the TAKELMA steaming in the Pacific Ocean from our photo archive.


You haven't really been at the mercy of the seas until you've rode out a few Typhoons in a Salvage Ship.....


A great photo showing the relative size of an ATF alongside the the Aircraft Carrier USS Constellation CV 64 and the Cruiser USS Leahy CG 16 in the South China Sea circa 1978/79


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Many of the plaques, ashtrays, and other mementos from Salvage ships are actually made in the machine shops onboard.


This is the negative mold for the Submarine Rescue vessel USS COUCAL (ASR-8)


ASR's are named after seabirds & their emblem is a Mark V Diver raising a submarine to the surface.


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Now you may have noticed that I'm using a DMA (Defense Mapping Agency) Chart for a backdrop. When a sailor says, "I did a Westpac", this is the area of the world he's recalling.


The Chart is No. 524 - Western Part of the Pacific Ocean, Including Philippines and Indonesia.


This particular chart was the one in the CIC (Combat Information Center) of the USS GRASP (ARS-24) on her last WESTPAC in 1977. We kept track of our WESTPAC on this one & the Northern Pacific chart, and used the larger scale local ops charts in the pilot house for navigation. (note: Space is inverted on geographic charts, in this case, mercator projection charts. Large scale is a small area [i.e. navigating coastlines, ports, islands etc.] and small scale is a large area [i.e. Western Pacific, Northern Pacific, etc.]


On our outbound voyage from Pearl Harbor, we went into the North Pacific waters to Japan. The notations on the edge of the chart are the ports we hit for the first few months in the North Pacific as we cruised from Japan to Korea and back.



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After WWII, the Marianas, Carolines & Marshall Islands were set up as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (T.T.P.I.) and governed by the USN Admiral in Guam. He was the King of the Micronesian Realm and we were his eyes & ears. When salvage ships would transit back from WESTPAC, we would spent the last 30 days zig zagging through the Territory doing UN surveys and providing material aid. One of the greatest aspect of being a junk boat sailor (besides the small crews and no BS) was that we were always independantly steaming. We were too old and slow to move with a task force. So we would scoot ahead of the fleet as they tore up the oceans and killed fish, and if no ships went aground or planes crashed, we would do it again. On the way back, we would cruise through paradise.....


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This last page gives more detail on the landings by Zodiac or workboat that we made in the T.T.P.I. I have plenty of photos that I took on these landing parties (I was the surveyor and/or radio operator using the PRC-25 or 77) and I may post them later.


When we returned to Pearl, we were informed that our ship had been 'given' to the ROKN as a campaign promise made during the 1976 election. But that's another story for later....


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Regarding Navigation instruments.....


On the port and starboard bridgewings of our ships, just forward of the 20MM guns were the gyro repeaters. You can see one on the starboard bridgewing of GRASP in this photo taken at the Royal Navy Base in Hong Kong, HMS Tamar. On these repeaters would be mounted an Alidade, or Azimuth circle, bearing circle etc. - same same.


By sighting through the Alidade and using the mirrors, you could take a bearing on an object and read off its magnetic bearing or true bearing. These bearings would be 'marked' and passed along via the sound powered phone you would be wearing. I'll show some of those later along with some pics for illustration.


This is an Azimuth Circle



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