The original name of a Muskhogean Indian tribe of the southeastern United States. They were subsequently named "Apalachicola" by the Spaniards.
(AT-92: dp. 1,330; 1. 205'; b. 38'6"; dr. 14'3"; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 85; a. 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Bannock)
Tawasa (AT-92) was laid down on 22 June 1942 at Portland, Oreg., by the Commercial Iron Works; launched on 22 February 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan; and commissioned on 17 July 1943, Lt. Fred C. Clark in command.
Tawasa held her shakedown cruise off the lower California coast in late August and returned to Portland. The tug steamed to San Pedro, Calif., in October and departed there on the 20th for Hawaii, towing two fuel oil barges. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 4 November and was assigned to Service Force, Pacific Fleet. The next day, the tug headed for the Ellice Islands and arrived at Funafuti on the 20th.
Tawasa was routed onward to the Gilbert Islands and arrived on 26 November at Abemama—which, only the day before, had been taken by American marines. On 3 December, she moved to Tarawa. The tug made round trips between Tarawa and Funafuti in December 1943 and January 1944. On 21 January, she stood out of Tarawa and rendezvoused with Task Force (TF) 52, the Southern Attack Force, for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. Off Kwajalein Atoll on the 31st, Tawasa took soundings enabling Mississippi (BB-41) to approach the shore for close bombardment. The tug then performed salvage, towing, and screening duty until 18 February when she moved to Eniwetok to assist in the assault that was to strike that atoll the next morning. She supported operations until the atoll was secured and remained in the area for almost two months, providing services to American ships using this new base. Tawasa departed the Marshalls on 12 April for a tender availability at Pearl Harbor and to have a radar installed.
The tug returned to the Marshalls on 25 May. On 11 June, she was in the transport screen of TF 52, the Northern Attack Force, when it sortied for the Mariana Islands. Four days later, she was detached to assist LST's as they landed marines and equipment on Saipan. On 7 July, she got underway for Eniwetok.
Tawasa operated with ServRon 10 from 31 July to 24 August 1944 when she joined ServRon, South Pacific. The ship operated in the South Pacific until 9 May 1946 when she departed Noumea for the United States.
From San Pedro, her home port, she operated along the California coast until returning to Pearl Harbor on 27 December 1946. On 23 February 1947, Tawasa headed for Japan and an eight-month tour at Yokosuka before returning home on 30 October 1947.
The tug headed for Alaska on 15 June 1948 and operated out of Adak until October when she steamed to Guam for four months. She then remained on the west coast until 10 August 1950 when she got underway for a five-month tour in Alaska. During the next decade, her operations on the west coast were broken by seven deployments to the Far East for operations with the 7th Fleet. On the first of these, from 4 June 1952 to 1 March 1953, Tawasa operated with TF 92, the Logistics Support Force which supplied United Nations forces in Korea. She also performed services at the Korean ports of Cho Do, Sokcho, and Chinhae
Tawasa deployed to the western Pacific again from 13 February to 3 July 1962. On 29 December, she took Plaice (SS-390) in tow at San Francisco and delivered the submarine to Pearl Harbor before returning to San Diego on 1 February 1963. She operated with the 7th Fleet from April to November 1964 and with the Alaskan Sea Frontier from June to September 1965. In December 1965, the tug towed Bunker Hill (AVT-9) from San Francisco to San Diego. This was the largest operational tow made by a tug of the Pacific Fleet— 33,946 tons. She returned to Alaska from 8 February to 11 April 1967.
Tawasa's next deployment to the western Pacific placed the ship in a combat zone for the third time in her naval career. On 5 February 1968, she stood out of San Diego for San Francisco to pick up YFN-1126 and deliver the covered lighter to Hawaii. She left her charge at Pearl Harbor on the 17th and headed for the Philippine Islands the following week to provide target services for ships at Subic Bay until 13 April when she headed for Vietnam.
Tawasa arrived at Danang on the 17th and departed the next day for special operations that lasted for a month. She returned to Subic Bay on 21 May for a week and then steamed to Sattahip, Thailand, to provide drone services for the Royal Thai Navy. The tug called at Danang on 19 June and began special operations that lasted until 10 July. Upon conclusion of the mission, the tug called at Hong Kong and Yokusuka before returning to San Diego on 26 August. She entered the Campbell Machine Yard there the following month for an overhaul which lasted until 21 January 1969.
On 5 March, Tawasa got underway for the Philippines and Vietnam. She called at Danang and then proceeded to "Yankee Station" for surveillance duty. The ship was relieved on 22 May and sailed, via Hong Kong, for Singapore. However, on 3 June, the tug went to the assistance of Evans (DD-754) which had collided with the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne. Evans had been cut in two and only the stern section was afloat. Tawasa took the section in tow and returned it to Subic Bay before continuing on her original voyage. She was at Singapore on 16 and 17 June and left for Vung Tau with YF-866 in tow. She dropped off the lighter on the 19th and picked up a repair barge the next day before proceeding, via Subic Bay, to Guam. After returning to Subic Bay on 8 July, Tawasa made two additional voyages to Vung Tau before returning to San Diego on 24 September 1969.
Tawasa was deployed to the western Pacific again from 16 March to 4 October 1970 and from 8 November 1972 to 15 June 1973. In 1971, the tug deployed to Kodiak from July to November to serve as a search and rescue ship.
After returning to San Diego in 1973, Tawasa remained in California waters until 1 April 1975 when she was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list.
Tawasa received three battle stars for World War II service, two for Korea, and seven for Vietnam.
Tawasa (ATF-92) departing Subic Bay part in Operation End Sweep off Haiphong, February, 1973. (K-98130)