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Narragansett

 

An Algonquian tribe which lived in Rhode Island.

 

IV

 

(AT–88: dp. 1, 270; l. 205’;b. 38’6”; dr. 16’; s. 16 k.; cpl. 84; 1 3” 1 cl. Navajo)

 

The fourth Narragansett (AT–88) was laid down 31 January 1942 by the Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, Pa.; launched 8 August 1942; sponsored by Miss Lois Kinchen Hill; and commissioned 15 January 1943, Lt. (j.g.) C. J. Wichmann in command.

 

Following shakedown off the Middle Atlantic seaboard and gunnery and antisubmarine training at Casco Bay, Narragansett departed American waters 1 April 1943, in convoy for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean theater. Arriving at Gibraltar on the 30th, she continued on to Casablanca, thence to Algiers, arriving 7 May to begin salvage operations along the North African coast under ComNavNAW. On 6 July, she was detached from those duties and ordered to Bizerte, where she prepared for operation “Husky,” the invasion of Sicily. On the 8th, she departed Bizerte, and by the 10th she was off Scoglitti with “Cent” Force as that force landed near the mouth of the Acate River on the Camerina Plain.

 

Heavy tolls among the landing craft, caused by heavy surf, indefinite landmarks, and inexperienced boat crews, kept the tug busy for the next weeks: at first in the Scoglitti area; then with “Joss” Force at Licata, and finally with “Dime” Force at Gela. By the end of the month she had moved her operations to Palermo, whence she operated until the end of August. On the 10th of that month she departed Sicily to tow the disabled Mayrant (DD–402) to Malta, returning in mid-month. At 0430, 23 August, the Luftwaffe raided Palermo, with bombs scoring on nearby service craft and a near miss wounding two of AT–88’s crew. Narragansett’s remaining crew immediately set to work to aid the damaged vessels despite explosions which exacted a heavy toll among the fire fighters and damage control sections. Six were dead and 12 seriously wounded before it was over.

 

On 30 August, Narragansett returned to North Africa to stage for the invasion of Italy at Salerno. On 7 September, she departed the Tunisian coast in TU 85.1.1. Soon after midnight, 9 September, she stood into the Gulf of Salerno. At 0330, the Northern Attack Force sent its assault troops onto the Uncle beaches. By 0507, Narragansett was hard at work, aiding the burning Nauset (AT–89) and various landing craft and larger vessels in need of assistance. On the 14th, she gained a brief respite from beachhead operations with an assignment to tow the Royal Navy cruiser Uganda to Malta. Until the end of October she continued to operate in support of the Italian offensive; completing several runs to Malta, towing both British and American vessels; salvaging vessels of various types; and pulling landing craft from the beaches.

 

From November, 1943, through 22 February 1944, Narragansett once again operated off North Africa, performing general duties at Algiers, towing targets for other vessels in the area, and performing salvage missions from Oran to Bizerte. At the end of February, she returned to Italy with a pontoon drydock in tow, and then resumed salvaging landing craft in the Naples area. During April, she performed towing services along the North African coast, to Italy and to Sicily, resuming, in May, duties as general utility ship at Oran.

 

On 16 June, the hard working tug, now reclassified ATF–88 (effective 15 May), again departed for Naples, this time to join in the preparations for operation “Dragoon,” the invasion of Southern France. For the next month and a half, she frequently transited the waters between Bizerte, Naples, Sardinia and Corsica, as harbors on the latter island were turned into supply stations, repair facilities and beaching craft convoy staging areas.

 

By 15 August she was off the Provence coast, assigned to “Delta” area, just outside the Golfe de St. Tropez. She next shifted to the more heavily defended “Camel” area in the Golfe de Frejus. There the Germans, protecting the centuries old invasion route to the interior along the Argens river and the only airfield and seaplane base on that coast, had mounted impressive coastal batteries along the cliffs and heavily mined the waters and beaches. Kept busy in that area until the end of the month, Narragansett then moved on to Toulon and Marseilles. Until mid-October she worked to clear those two harbors for the ships bringing the necessary supplies to the Allied land forces pushing inland toward the heart of the Third Reich.

 

Narragansett returned to Algeria 13 October and in November departed, in convoy, for the United States. Arriving off the Carolina coast 12 December, she entered the Navy Yard at Charleston for overhaul prior to sailing for the Panama Canal and a new assignment, the Pacific Fleet.

 

On 21 January 1945, she departed for Cristobal, en route to San Francisco. While proceeding up the western Central American coast, 23 February, heavy seas and a 50 knot wind caused the main tow line to ARDC12 to part. The next day, as the ATF attempted to recover her tow, the dock swerved violently, hitting the tug and punching a hole, 4’ by 2½’, in the starboard side at the waterline. Effecting temporary repairs with mattresses and miscellaneous pieces of metal, she remained in the area until the ARDC was taken in tow by the Coast Guard cutter Bibb, after which she proceeded into Manzanillo, Mexico, for emergency repairs. On 8 March, she continued on up the coast, arriving at her new home port, Mare Island, on the 20th, to complete the job.

 

On 5 May, she departed for Pearl Harbor, whence she sailed, as a unit of ServRon 2, at the end of the month. After delivering Army barges and various district craft to Eniwetok, Saipan and Guam, she arrived at San Pedro Bay, Leyte, 14 July, to report for duty with ComServRon 10. For the remainder of the war, and into October, she performed towing jobs in the Philippine, Marshall, Mariana, Volcano and Hawaiian Islands. Back at Pearl Harbor 25 October, she sailed for the east coast, arriving at Charleston to begin the new year. On active duty for only a few months, she was designated for inactivation in March, 1946. Decommissioned at Orange, Tex., 21 December, she remained berthed there as a unit of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet until 1 September 1961, when she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. Transferred to the Maritime Administration, she has been berthed at Beaumont, Tex., as a unit of the National Defense Reserve Fleet into 1970.

 

Narragansett was awarded three battle stars for her services in World War II.