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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Seminole

 

A member of a tribe of Muskhogen Indians who lived in Florida until 1843 when they were transferred to the Indian Territory.

 

III

 

(AT-65: dp. 1,500; l. 205'; b. 38'6"; dr. 15'3"; s. 16 k.; cpl. 80; a. 1 3"; cl. Navajo)

 

The third Seminole was laid down on 16 December 1938 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Staten Island, N.Y.; launched on 15 September 1939; sponsored by Miss Grace Svenningsen, daughter of the Foreman Carpenter at the Staten Island Yard; and commissioned on 8 March 1940, Lt. Comdr. William G. Fewel in command.

 

Following shakedown along the east coast, Seminole steamed for San Diego and towing operations along the west coast, and around Hawaii, Wake Island, and to the Panama Canal.

 

On one such trip, Seminole departed Pearl Harbor en route to San Diego. At 1317 on 7 December 1941,however, the ocean-going tug sounded general quarters, reversed her course, and anchored at Pearl Harbor on the 12th.

 

With her sister ship, Navajo, Seminole operated in Pearl Harbor during the busy, hectic days following the Japanese attack. On 15 February 1942, however, Seminole embarked a salvage team and departed Pearl Harbor for Canton Island where, from 21 February to 24 March, she assisted in salvage operations for the grounded Army transport, President Taylor. On the 24th, she reembarked her divers; took Sonoma in tow; and steamed for Pearl Harbor. Arriving on 31 March, she remained in the harbor on channel escort duty until 31 May, when she commenced salvage operations on patrol craft, YP-108, off nearby Wahie Point, Lanai. Three days later, she returned to Pearl Harbor.

 

On 4 June, the ocean tug got underway for Midway. Arriving on 10 June, she took Vireo in tow and delivered her to Pearl Harbor on the 17th. Repairs and further channel escort duty followed; then, on 15 August, she got underway.

 

Moving south and west, Seminole anchored in Suva Harbor, Fiji Islands, on the 26th; continued on the next day to the Tonga Islands; anchored at Tongatabu on the 29th; and commenced channel escort duty in Nukualofa anchorage, Tongatabu. She continued her escort duties at Tongatabu until 8 October.

 

Seminole arrived off Tulagi on 18 October, where she was assigned to ferry ammunition, gasoline, and troops. On the morning of 25 October, Seminole and YP-284 were unloading aviation gasoline, howitzers, and marines about three and one-half miles east of Lunga Point when three enemy destroyers appeared to the northwest. The smaller vessels immediately got underway, heading eastward in hopes of avoiding the enemy fire. The enemy, after breaking contact with two American destroyers, changed course and pursued the slower Seminole and YP-284. The first shells to hit Seminole did so at about 1115, and were followed by two more hitting salvos.

 

The order to abandon the burning, sinking ship was given at 1120, minutes after YP-28^ went under, and Seminole sank about 1,000 yards off-shore between Lengo and the point to the east. Since the majority of the enemy projectiles had passed through her thin-skinned sides without exploding, Seminole lost only one crew member in the action.

 

Seminole was struck from the Navy list on 2 December 1942.

 

Seminole received one battle star for World War II service.