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Greenwich Bay (AVP-41)


A bay off the Rhode Island coast.

(AVP-41: d. 1,766 t.; l. 310'9"; b. 41'1"; dr. 13'6"; s. 18 k.; a. 1 5", 6 40mm.; cpl. 315; cl. Barnegat)

Greenwich Bay (AVP-41) was launched 17 March 1945 by the Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. Francis B. Johnson, wife of the Commander Fleet Air Wing 6; and commissioned 20 May 1945, Cmdr. Peter F. Boyle in command.

Departing San Diego 26 August after an intensive shakedown, the new seaplane tender sailed for Taku, China, 5 October via Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Okinawa. Greenwich Bay spent the rest of 1945 along the China coast, touching at Tsingtao and Shanghai as well as Taku, tending seaplanes of the 7th Fleet. She operated in Japanese waters during January 1946, and after a short stint in the Philippines, sailed for the States 1 May. Reaching Norfolk 1 July 1946 via Hong Kong, Singapore, Naples, Casablanca, and Gibraltar, Greenwich Bay continued on to New York for overhaul.

Greenwich Bay reported to the Potomac River Naval Command 19 February 1947 to serve as escort to Williamsburg, the Presidential Yacht. This assignment ended 21 June 1948 as she departed Norfolk for an around-the-world cruise. During her 4 month sailing, Greenwich Bay made good-will visits to Gibraltar, Port Said, Muscat, Bahrein, Kuwait, Trincomalee (India), Fremantle, Pago Pago, Papeete (Tahiti), and Coco Solo before returning to Norfolk 14 October.

Greenwich Bay sailed 30 April 1949 to assume duties as flagship for Commander, U.S. Navy Middle East Force. Every year since then she has repeated this duty, sailing through the Mediterranean to operate as flagship in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean for 4 to 6 months. In addition to operating with Allied naval units in these areas, Greenwich Bay has done extensive work in the People-to-People program, particularly in carrying drugs and other medical supplies to the Arabian and African nations and operated as an important tool of diplomacy, helping to maintain peace in this oil-rich land.

In 1950 the tender's crew distinguished itself in Bahrein, Arabia, as Air France planes crashed there on 13 and 15 June while attempting to make early-morning landings on a fog-shrouded field. Greenwich Bay sent out a total of six search-and-rescue missions on the 2 tragic days. On 15 June one of her launches, containing both her captain and medical officer, succeeded in rescuing nine survivors of the crash. For her heroic action Greenwich Bay received the special commendation and thanks of both the Arabian and French governments.

When the Suez Crisis flared up in 1956 and seemed to threaten war, Greenwich Bay extended her normal cruise in the Persian Gulf to be able to evacuate American dependents and civilians if necessary. As a result of the blocking of the canal, she had to return to the States around the Cape of Good Hope. In her Middle East duties, which are punctuated by local operations and exercises out of Norfolk, Greenwich Bay has been visited by many outstanding figures, including King Iban Saud of Saudi Arabia, the Shah of Iran, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and the Shaikh of Kuwait.

Ports which she has visited as part of her official duties as flagship include virtually every major Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Red Sea city as well as several African ones. Among them are Recife, Lisbon, Malta, Bombay, Istanbul, Athens, Beirut, Mombassa (Kenya), Cannes, Karachi, and Madras. Greenwich Bay has made 15 Mediterranean deployments protecting American interests and helping to maintain peace in the Middle East. In a conversation with Admiral R. R. Carney and Captain (now Rear Admiral) E. M. Eller, Commander Middle Eastern Force, the late King Iban Saud expressed the Navy's role in this historic region: "The Navy loves freedom. It is the Bedouin of the sea."

Greenwich Bay was struck from the Navy List 1 July 1966 and sold to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md.

Published: Wed Aug 10 00:17:01 EDT 2016