Fulton IV (AS-11)
Robert Fulton, born in Little Britain, Pa., in 1765, had a distinguished career as a painter before patenting his first invention, a double inclined plane to replace locks in canals, in England in 1794. His numerous ingenious and influential inventions included a prototype submarine, Nautilus, amphibious boats, and the first commercially successful steamboat, Clermont. In 1814 and 1815, he built the first war steamer, known both as Fulton and Demologos. He died in New York City 24 February 1815.
The fourth Fulton (AS-11) was launched 27 December 1940 by Mare Island Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. A. T. Sutcliffe, great granddaughter of Robert Fulton; and commissioned 12 September 1941, Commander A. D. Douglas in command.
Underway on her shakedown cruise out of San Diego when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, Fulton was ordered at once to Panama, arriving 9 December. During the next month she established advanced seaplane bases in the Gulf of Fonseca, Nicaragua, and in the Galapagos Islands, then returned to San Diego to prepare for Pacific duty. She tended Pacific Fleet submarines at Pearl Harbor from 15 March 1942 to 8 July, putting to sea during the Battle of Midway. She was at Midway until 17 October; and at Brisbane from 9 November. There she established a submarine base and rest camp, and in addition to refitting submarines between their war patrols, acted as tender to other types of ships. Milne Bay, New Guinea, was her station from 29 October 1943 until 17 March 1944, when she sailed for a west coast overhaul.
Returning to Pearl Harbor 13 June 1944, Fulton gave her tender services to submarines there for a month, then at Midway between 18 July and 8 September, and then at Saipan until 25 April 1945. Fulton returned to duty at Pearl Harbor from 7 May to 9 June, and then sailed for Guam, where she refitted submarines for the last patrols of the war.
After a west coast overhaul, Fulton served as tender at Pearl Harbor from February through May 1946, then sailed for Bikini to participate in Operation "Crossroads," atomic weapons tests in the Marshalls that summer. In addition to caring for the six submarines assigned to the project, she acted as repair ship for other vessels in the task force. On 18 September 1946 Fulton arrived at Mare Island, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 3 April 1947.
Recommissioned 10 April 1951, Fulton sailed 3 weeks later for New London, her base through 1963. Although her primary assignment was as tender for Submarine Squadron 10 at New London, Fulton on occasion relieved the tender Orion (AS-18), stationed at Norfolk, and also left New London for exercises from Newfoundland and Iceland to the Caribbean. She first crossed the Atlantic in the fall of 1957 for Operation "Natoflex," visiting Rothesay, Scotland, and Portland, England, before returning to New London. A heightening of her responsibility came 1 April 1958, when three nuclear submarines were assigned to her squadron. In August, Fulton sailed to New York for the celebration of the arrival of Nautilus (SSN-571) from her historic submerged passage under the North Pole.
Fulton received one battle star for World War II service.