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Reclaimer

 

(ARS - 42: displacement 2,160 (full load); length 2136; beam 430; draft 140; speed 16 knots; complement 120; armament 4 40mm.; class Diver)

 

Reclaimer (ARS-42) was laid down 10 November 1944 by Basalt Rock Co., Inc., Shipbuilding Division, Napa, Calif.; launched 23 June 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Daniel Clark, Jr.; and commissioned 20 December 1945, Lt. D. A. Bendinelli in command.

 

After shakedown off San Pedro, Reclaimer steamed to Pearl Harbor where she operated until assigned to Joint Task Force 1, arriving at Bikini on 1 June 1946. There she served as salvage vessel and was contaminated during the Operation Crossroads atomic tests, but received final radiological clearance on 13 January 1947. She returned to Pearl Harbor in September 1946 and to the west coast in October where she remained until decommissioned 23 June 1947. She was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet and berthed at San Diego.

 

Reclaimer recommissioned on 1 December 1950 for service in the Korean conflict and, after shakedown off San Diego, towed AP-23 [sic; the real AP-23, West Point had been sold in 1946] to Hawaii. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 12 February 1951, she then proceeded on across the Pacific, touched at Majuro and Guam, and reached Sasebo, Japan 29 April.

 

On 8 May Reclaimer got underway to aid SS Muhlenberg Victory, grounded on Uku Shima, an island near Sasebo. With the aid of Grasp (ARS-24), she refloated the ship a week later and on 27 May towed YO-179 to Pusan, Korea. She then steamed to Wonsan for patrol duties between that port and Songjin. In mid-June, she escorted Wile [sic; Walke] (DD-723), damaged by a mine, to Sasebo. Six days later, she returned to Pusan to tow the burning merchantman Plymouth Victory, back to Sasebo where the fire was extinguished. During August, Reclaimer assisted in minesweeping and laid buoys in Wonsan Harbor. On 7 September, she refloated the beached Japanese LST Q-081 at Kangnung, Korea. On 10 October, with Yuma (ATF-94), she towed the Royal Navy's hospital ship Maine which had lost a propeller, on a westward passage through the crowded and narrow Shimonoseki Straits. This was the only hospital ship supporting U.N. forces at that time.

 

On 22 January 1952, she departed Yokosuka to return to her homeport, Pearl Harbor, where she remained until 21 October. Returning to WestPac with YC-104 in tow, Reclaimer reached Sasebo on 17 November. On 2 December she arrived at Sokcho Hang, Korea, to rescue two LSTs aground in heavy seas. With one of the LSTs in tow she reached Sasebo on 18 December. After brief duty with the Wonsan blockade force, Reclaimer took SS Gulf Haven in tow while she was foundering in a typhoon, and successfully brought her to Japan.

 

Reclaimer continued to operate in Japan and Korea until returning to San Diego on 25 July 1953. For the next 3 months she operated on the west coast, steaming back to Pearl Harbor in late October. In March 1954, she headed southwest to the Marshalls for salvage work during Operation "Castle", the hydrogen bomb test series at Bikini. Departing Bikini 4 May, she continued on to Japan. Through the summer she operated in Japanese and Korean waters; then, during September and October, stood by off French Indochina while French and American ships, in Operation Passage to Freedom, evacuated refugees from what was to become North Vietnam.

 

Returning to the United States, Reclaimer spent the first 6 months of 1955 operating off the west coast, then deployed to the Far East. During early 1956, she operated in the Hawaiian Islands, reaching Yokosuka 30 September. She returned to Pearl Harbor 12 February 1957.

 

After freeing the grounded LST Chittenden County from Kauai, Hawaii, she again conducted salvage operations in the Far East 12 July to 30 November. Returning to Pearl Harbor, she began a 2-month tour on the west coast in February 1958; then, following further services at Hawaii, again set sail for a 4-month deployment to WestPac. She returned to Pearl Harbor in August and to the west coast in February 1959, but was back at Pearl after only a month. In June she deployed to WestPac, returning in September.

 

Reclaimer spent early 1960 in the Hawaiian area, and installed underwater cables near Midway to detect missiles fired into the area. Then she steamed for Yokosuka 6 September. Returning to Pearl Harbor 21 December, she operated in the Hawaiian Islands until sailing for the Far East 26 June. Back at Pearl Harbor in November, Reclaimer undertook several assignments.

 

Following an overhaul, Reclaimer steamed in May 1962 for Christmas Island and another nuclear test - Operation Domonic - where she laid target moors and placed target rafts for the next 2 months. Arriving at Yokosuka 6 October, Reclaimer operated in the Far East until she returned to Hawaii early in 1963 and, with the exception of salvaging MV Shokufu at Pago Pago, Samoa, in March, operated there throughout the rest of the year.

 

Steaming back to Japan in January 1964, Reclaimer operated there and off Korea, Okinawa, and Taiwan before proceeding to Saigon to salvage USNS Card (T-AKV-40), sunk up to her main deck in Saigon Harbor by Viet Cong mines. With Tawakoni (ATF-114), Reclaimer refloated Card and towed her to the Philippines; then returned to Pearl Harbor on 22 June and remained there for the rest of 1964.

 

In 1965 Reclaimer participated in "Market time" operations off Vietnam for 2 months, salvaged LST-559 in Danang Harbor, and performed various towing assignments, before returning to Pearl Harbor in July. In January 1966, she was off for WestPac again, and while so deployed, was called on for three major salvage operations and for support in amphibious Operation Jackstay in rivers of the Rung Sat Special Zone. Reclaimer participated in the successful salvage of the Esso Tanker SS Sea Raven off the beach of Chu Lai. Then, steaming south, she performed similar operations for merchantmen grounded off northern Australia. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 August 1966 and on 9 November was underway for Oregon. She returned from the west coast to Pearl Harbor a month later.

 

In March 1967 Reclaimer rescued SS Norbega, dead in the water west of Midway, before deploying to WestPac in April. In June she laid a special radar reflecting buoy in the Gulf of Tonkin to aid SAR patrol ships in navigation. She continued operations off Taiwan and Vietnam, including the salvage of South Vietnamese LSM-405 aground at Phan Thiet, until returning to Pearl Harbor at the end of 1967.

 

After spending the first half of 1968 in Pearl Harbor, Reclaimer arrived at Danang, South Vietnam, on 29 August for standby salvage duty. In September she salvaged LCV-1615 and in October LCU-1576. Returning to the west coast in mid-1969, she deployed to WestPac again at the end of the year and operated off Vietnam for the whole of 1970, entering Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 17 March 1971. At Pearl Harbor, Reclaimer underwent regular overhaul and, subsequent to overhaul, engaged in salvage and refresher training. In February 1972, she was re-deployed to WestPac, returning to Hawaii in late August. She remained in the Pearl Harbor area throughout 1972 and the first six months of 1973. In July 1973, she steamed westward again for deployment, spending the last six months of 1973 in the western Pacific. As of late January 1974, Reclaimer is making the passage from Apra, Guam, to Pearl Harbor.

 

Reclaimer earned six battle stars for Korean War service and one battle star for Vietnam.



23 September 2005