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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Ruchamkin

 

Seymour David Ruchamkin, born 7 February 1918 in New York City, graduated from the University of California in 1940 and shortly thereafter, on 13 July, enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Appointed midshipman on 16 September, he attended the USNR Midshipman School at Northwestern University and reported to Cushing (DD-376) on 24 January 1941. On 13 November 1942, Lieutenant (junior grade) Ruchamkin was killed during action against Japanese forces off Savo Island, Solomon Islands. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for " ... extraordinary heroism as first lieutenant aboard the USS Cushing ... While under vigorous bombardment by hostile naval units ... Ruchamkin ... efficiently directed the fighting of fires and the efforts to control damage. Leading his party to an area below decks to extinguish flames which were raging there, he never returned."

 

(APD - 89: displacement 1,450; length 306; beam 37; draft 127; speed 24 knots; complement 204; troop 162; armament 1 5, 6 40mm., 12 20mm., 2 depth charge tracks; class Crosley)

 

Ruchamkin (DE-228) was laid down 14 February 1944 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched 15 June 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Mary Ruchamkin; redesignated an amphibious assault transport, APD-89 on 17 July 1944; converted by the Duane Shipbuilding Corp.; and commissioned 16 September 1945, Lt. Comdr. T. O. Weeks in command.

 

Commissioned after the end of World War II, Ruchamkin remained active for less than 6 months. Engaged in training exercises off the east coast and in the Caribbean during that time, she was decommissioned at Green Cove Springs, Fla., on 27 February. On 9 March 1951, however, she was recommissioned to help meet the need, created by the Korean War, for a larger active fleet.

 

Based at Little Creek, Va., she participated in amphibious training operations off Puerto Rico during the summer and fall, then, in January 1952, sailed east from Norfolk for her first Mediterranean deployment. Further amphibious exercises off the east coast followed her return from 6th Fleet duty, and, in August, she conducted her first midshipman training cruise. Three months later, on 14 November, while involved in fleet exercises off the Virginia Capes, she collided with the merchant tanker Washington. Hit portside, in the troop compartment area, Ruchamkin lost seven of the troops embarked for the exercise.

 

After repairs at Norfolk and refresher training off Cuba during April of 1953, Ruchamkin resumed amphibious training duties. For the next year, she trained with marines off the Virginia and Carolina capes and off Puerto Rico. In July 1954, she conducted another midshipman (NROTC) training cruise and, at the end of the year, prepared for west coast operations.

 

Ruchamkin departed Norfolk on 5 January 1955. On the 23d, she arrived at San Diego and for the next 3 months participated in amphibious training exercises with units of the Pacific Fleet. In early May she retransited the Panama Canal and steamed for her new homeport, Boston. She arrived on the 27th; assumed duties as a Naval Reserve Training Ship, and for 2 years trained reservists of the 1st Naval District - in port and at sea on weekend, 2-week, and month-long cruises.

 

Designated for inactivation in the spring of 1957, Ruchamkin was decommissioned on 13 August 1957 and berthed at Boston until ordered reactivated in August 1961 to increase the Navy's troop lift capacity during the Berlin Crisis. Recommissioned on 18 November and assigned to Amphibious Squadron 10, she completed shakedown and availability and in April 1962 participated in a demonstration landing for President Kennedy and subsequent ASW and amphibious exercises in Puerto Rican waters.

 

Based again at Little Creek, Ruchamkin returned to a schedule of east coast and Caribbean exercises, the latter usually of 2 to 3 months duration.

 

In November 1963, her schedule was interrupted for rehabilitation and modernization at the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Corp. The FRAM II overhaul was completed in June 1964, and she resumed her mission - primary control vessel in ship-to-shore movement; transport for underwater demolition and beach reconnaissance personnel, and ASW screening unit.

 

In October, Ruchamkin sailed east to the coast of Spain where she controlled the major portion of ship-to-shore movement during Operation "Steel Pike I," the largest amphibious exercise since World War II. In November she returned to Little Creek and resumed amphibious and ASW exercises along the east coast and in the Caribbean.

 

In late April and early May of 1965, Ruchamkin was called on to assist in the evacuation of civilians from the strife torn Dominican Republic to San Juan, P.R. She then returned to the western coast of Hispaniola for patrol and survey duties. For her work during the Dominican Crisis, she was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. During the summer, she returned to a more "normal" schedule of exercises, but, from February to April 1966, interrupted those operations to act as primary support ship for four nuclear submarines which were test firing Polaris missiles off the Florida coast. In October, Hurricane Inez interrupted Caribbean exercises and Ruchamkin, assigned to relief operations, distributed food supplies to survivors in Haiti.

 

During 1967 and into 1968, the APD continued her operations in the western Atlantic. Then on 27 July 1968, she headed east for a 4-month deployment in the Mediterranean. There until the end of November, she conducted hydrographic surveys along the coasts of southern Europe and northern Africa.

 

Reassigned to PhibRon 6 while deployed, she was redesignated LPR-89 on 1 January 1969.

 

After Caribbean exercises in February and March, Ruchamkin was assigned to support search operations, being conducted by Whitesands (ARD-20), Apache (ATF-67), and the deep-diving submersible Trieste II off the Azores, for Scorpion (SSN-589). In late August, the transport moved north, conducted survey operations in the North Sea until 20 October, then headed back to Little Creek.

 

There, on 24 November 1969, Ruchamkin was decommissioned and turned over, under the terms of the Military Assistance Program, to the Government of Colombia. She was commissioned in the Colombian Navy the same day as Cordoba (DT-15) and served until retirement in 1980.


21 October 2005