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Vaga

 

A Spanish feminine adjective meaning "wandering" or "roving."

 

I

 

(YT-116: dp. 529; 1. 148'6"; b. 26'; dr. 12'10" (mean); cpl. 28)

 

General Weeks—a single-screw, steel-hulled harbor tug—built at Shanghai, China, for the United States Army Quartermaster Corps—was completed in 1910 and operated out of Manila Bay, performing tug and towing services in the Philippines until transferred to the Navy on 7 April 1930. Classified YT-116, the tug was inactivated at the Cavite Navy Yard on 22 May— presumably to fit out for naval service—and was renamed Vaga on 29 July 1931.

 

Commissioned at Cavite on 1 August, with Boatswain Glen B. Swortwood in command, Vaga commenced local operations out of the navy yard which would occupy her throughout the ensuing decade, as war clouds gathered over the Far East. She provided tug and tow services at Cavite, Sangley Point, and Manila and, on occasion, performed ferry duty between Cavite and Manila. She also assisted warships of the Asiatic Fleet to moor and unmoor at the wharves of Cavite before and after overhauls. Only six days before the outbreak of war in the Far East, Vaga assisted Houston (CA— 30)—the heavy cruiser which would later win fame in the Java campaigns—in mooring at her anchorage after the warship completed her accelerated overhaul at Cavite on 2 December 1941.

 

On 8 December (7 December east of the international date line), the Japanese initiated a series of strikes at American, Dutch, and British possessions in the Far East. At 0350 on that day, the radio operator at Olongapo picked up Admiral Thomas C. Hart's warning message: "Japan started hostilities, govern yourselves accordingly." Soon the alarms were sounding in the Philippines as the United States cleared for action. That morning, the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, under Lt. Col. Curtis T. Beecher, USMC, embarked in Vaga for Mariveles, on the Bataan peninsula.

 

Two days later, on 10 December, the Japanese—after having neutralized American air power the day before —nearly obliterated the Cavite Navy Yard, rendering it unusable by the Asiatic Fleet as an advanced base. On 31 December, Vaga was assigned to the Inshore Patrol, to safeguard Corregidor's shorelines and to oppose the movement by water of Japanese men and materiel along the shores of Manila Bay. Operating out of Corregidor, Vaga performed yeoman service until almost the bitter end. On 5 May 1942—just two days before the enemy forced Corregidor's surrender—Vaga was scuttled off the island to prevent her from being captured. Vaga was struck from the Navy list on 24 July 1942.

 

Vaga received one battle star for her World War II service.