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Umpqua

 

A river in Oregon rising near Roseburg and meandering northwest before emptying into Winchester Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The river in turn was named for the Umpqua Indians, a small tribe of Athabascan linguistic stock.

 

__________

 

(Mon: dp. 1,175; 1. 225'; b. 45'; dr. 6'; s. 9 k.; a. 2 11" D. sb.; cl. Casco)

 

Umpqua—a single-turreted, twin-screw monitor—was laid down in March 1863 at Brownsville, Pa., by Snowden & Mason; launched on 21 December 1865; and completed on 7 May 1866.

 

Umpqua was a Casco-class monitor intended for service in the shallow bays, rivers, and inlets of the Confederacy. These warships sacrificed armor plate for a shallow draft and were fitted with a ballast compartment designed to lower them in the water during battle to reduce the target they provided enemy guns.

 

However, when the first of the light-draft monitors were launched in the spring of 1864, the Navy discovered that serious errors had been made in calculating their displacements. They proved to have a scant three inches of freeboard—even without turret, guns, and stores. As a result, the Navy Department ordered on 24 June 1864 that Umpqua's deck be raised 22 inches to provide sufficient freeboard. Upon delivery, the monitor was laid up at Mound City, 111.; and she saw no commissioned service. In August 1868, she was moved to New Orleans, La. Her name was changed to Fury on 15 June 1869, but she resumed the name Umpqua on 10 August 1869.

 

Umpqua was sold at New Orleans on 12 September 1874 to Nathaniel McKay.

 

II

 

(ATA-209: dp. 835 (tl.); 1. 143'0"; b. 33'0"; dr. 13'2" (lim.); s. 13 k. (tl.); cpl. 45; a. 1 3"; cl. ATA-174)

 

Although orginally designated ATR-136, Umpqua was laid down as ATA-209 on 15 December 1944 at Port Arthur, Tex., by Gulfport Boiler and Welding Works; launched on 2 February 1945; and commissioned on 2 April 1945, Lt. Paul L. Cortney, USNR, in command.

 

Following shakedown in the Gulf of Mexico, ATA-209 reported on the last day of April to Service Force, Atlantic. On 19 May, the auxiliary ocean tug departed New Orleans towing YF-756. She steamed via the Panama Canal and San Diego to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor early in July.

 

She operated on towing assignments between the Hawaiian Islands and the Marshalls until October when she set her course via San Francisco and the Panama Canal for Charleston. Arriving on 27 November, she reported to the Commandant, 6th Naval District, for duty; and, in April 1946, she was permanently assigned to that command. On 16 July 1948, she was named Umpqua.

 

Her primary job was that of towing ships, barges, and gunnery targets. She also participated in rescue and recovery operations. Her routine duties were performed mostly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in the Caribbean, and they occasionally took the tug as far north as Nova Scotia. In the 1950's, she took part in calibration of radio navigation systems; and, in the 1960's, she assisted in oceanographic operations towing MONOB I, the Bureau of Ships' mobile sound lab, to study sites in the Caribbean. In 1965, she varied her duties with the retrieval of a Titan III rocket booster in support of NASA tests. On two occasions, she towed old Liberty ship hulls loaded with unserviceable ammunition to a disposal area in the Atlantic where the ammunition was detonated, and the hulls were sunk.

 

In July 1967, Umpqua was transferred to the Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, and was assigned to Service Squadron 8. Umpqua continued her towing duties, assisting disabled and damaged naval vessels. Occasionally, she participated in torpedo recovery and mine-planting in conjunction with exercises of various Atlantic Fleet units. In May and June of 1970, she towed Darby and Tweedy—formerly DE-218 and DE-532, respectively—to sea for use as targets for destruction.

 

In 1971, as her career with the United States Navy drew to a close, Umpqua took part in Operation "Springboard" one last time and made one of her longest tows when she pulled ammunition ship Great Sitkin (AE-17) 120 miles to Puerto Rico after the ship had gone dead in the water at sea. In June 1971, Umpqua began training a Colombian Navy crew in preparation for the transfer of the tug. On 1 July, she was decommissioned; her name was struck from the Navy list; and she was turned over to the government of Colombia under the Military Assistance Program.