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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Tacoma

 

A city and port on the coast of Puget Sound in the west central part of the state of Washington. Tacoma is the seat of Pierce County.

 

IV

 

(PG-92: dp. 247 (f.); 1. 165'; b. 24'; dr. 5'; s. 37.5 k.; cpl. 24; a. 1 3", 1 40mm., 4 .50-cal. mg.; cl. Asheville)

 

The fourth Tacoma (PG-92) was laid down on 24 July 1967 at Tacoma, Wash., by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Co.; launched on 13 April 1968; sponsored by Mrs. Arne K. Strom; and commissioned on 14 July 1969, Lt. Frank H. Thomas, Jr., in command.

 

During the fall of 1969, Tacoma conducted shakedown training and independent ship exercises along the California coast. While so engaged on 16 October, she joined in a search and rescue mission and recovered a sailor who had fallen overboard from Neches (AO-47) the previous night. At the completion of refresher training, she participated in amphibious exercise PHIBELEX/ BLT 4-69, off Camp Pendleton, Calif., in early December. In January 1970, she entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for post-shakedown availability. Tacoma returned to San Diego on 20 May and began preparations for deployment to the western Pacific. On 1 August, after two months of operations out of San Diego, she got underway for the Mariana Islands. Following a week-long stopover in Pearl Harbor, the gunboat arrived in her new home port, Apra, Guam, on the 28th.

 

For almost four years, Tacoma alternated between deployments to Vietnam and patrols in the islands of the Trust Territories of Micronesia. Her first tour of duty in Vietnamese waters began on 28 September 1970 when she arrived at Cam Ranh Bay after a week of upkeep at Subic Bay in the Philippines. She was assigned to the Coastal Surveillance Force and participated in search and rescue missions and interdicted communist coastal supply traffic in Operation "Market Time." On 22 November, she and several other units of the Coastal Surveillance Force cooperated in the destruction of a North Vietnamese infiltration trawler. She operated off the coast of Vietnam for two more months and then returned to Subic Bay on 31 January 1971. She remained there two weeks and then headed for Guam, arriving in Apra Harbor on 20 February.

 

For almost five months, the gunboat underwent overhaul and operated in the vicinity of Guam. On 9 July, she embarked upon her first patrol of the Micronesia Trust Territories. Between then and the 26th, she visited seven islands in the Yap and Palau districts of the Eastern Carolines, conducting surveillance and making goodwill stops. She returned to Guam on the 26th, then departed again on 10 August. While on her second patrol in the Trust Territories, 10 August to 1 September, Tacoma visited 19 islands in the Truk and Ponape districts and apprehended a Japanese fishing vessel violating the territorial waters of the Trust Territories at Ngatik Island. She resumed operations in and around Guam on 1 September and was so occupied until early November.

 

On 5 November, the gunboat departed Guam in company with Asheville (PG-84) and headed, via Subic Bay, for Vietnamese waters. On the 29th, she and Asheville relieved Crockett (PG-88) and Welch (PG-93) and resumed "Market Time" operations interdicting communist coastal supply traffic. After almost two months patrolling the Vietnamese coastline, Tacoma departed Cam Ranh Bay on 26 January 1972 for a visit to Bangkok, Thailand. There, she welcomed officers of the Royal Thai Navy on board for tours of the ship. On 3 February, she resumed coastal surveillance patrols along the coast of Vietnam. Late in March, trouble in her starboard main engine forced her to Subic Bay for repairs. The gunboat remained there from 29 March to 24 May; then she continued on to Guam, via Yap Island.

 

Tacoma reached Apra Harbor on 31 May and commenced three months of sea trials, independent exercises, restricted availabilities, and inspections. After a dependents' cruise to Saipan on 3 and 4 September, the gunboat conducted refresher training until 14 October, when she headed back to Vietnam with Asheville. Between 20 October and 15 December, she made two patrols along the Vietnamese coast, broken by a visit to Bangkok, Thailand, in mid-November. On 15 December, she cleared Vietnamese waters and set sail for the Philippines. She laid over in Subic Bay from 18 to 21 December awaiting the completion of Asheville's engine repairs. Then, the two gunboats got underway for Guam, where they arrived on the 28th.

 

During the first three months of 1973, Tacoma operated out of Guam, primarily conducting exercises. In February, she made a voyage to Hong Kong, via Subic Bay. The first three weeks in April saw her in port at Apra Harbor preparing for regular overhaul. Yard work on the ship began on 20 April and was completed two months later. In late June and early July, she conducted sea trials and various drills. The gunboat completed type training early in September, then put to sea on 12 September to shadow a Soviet submarine tender and fleet submarine operating in the vicinity of the northern Marianas. She returned to Apra on the 18th and, after a restricted availability, completed sea trials on 27 October. On 5 November, she began another patrol of the eastern Carolines, returning to Guam on the 24th. From 11 to 16 December, Tacoma made a Christmas gift tour of the northern Marianas.

 

Following repairs in December and January and refresher training in late January and early February, the gunboat departed Apra on 13 February 1974 for a three-month cruise. In late February, she participated in exercises with Midway (CVA-41), Oriskany (CVA-34), and Marathon (PG-89), out of Subic Bay. In March, Tacoma visited Singapore and cruised the Malaysian coast. Late that month, she visited Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei on the northern coast of Borneo. After two days at Subic Bay, 4 to 6 May, she headed for Taiwan and visits to Kaohsiung and Kee-lung. The gunboat returned to Guam on 27 May and commenced preparations to return to the United States.

 

Tacoma stood out of Apra on 21 June and reached Pearl Harbor on 3 July. Five days later, she continued eastward and arrived in San Diego, Calif., on the 15th. On 1 August, she headed south along the coast of California and Mexico, stopped at Acapulco for two days, and made Rodman, in the Canal Zone, on the 17th. She transited the canal on 22 August and headed, via Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Port Everglades, Fla., to her new home port, Little Creek, Va., where she arrived on 2 September.

 

During the period 14 April-30 June 1975, Tacoma was overhauled in the Norfolk area. On 3 September, following underway refresher training, Tacoma commenced the mission of serving as a training unit for Royal Saudi Arabian naval personnel. This assignment, calling for operations along the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean, has continued into 1979.

 

Tacoma earned two battle stars during the Vietnam War.