(AT-66: dp. 1,240; l. 205'; b. 38'6"; dr. 15'4"; s. 16 k.; cpl. 85; a. 1 3"; cl. Cherokee)
An Indian tribe, found today chiefly in Oklahoma and North Carolina.
The fourth Cherokee (AT-66) was launched 10 November 1939 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Staten Island, N.Y.; sponsored by Miss E. Mark; and commissioned 26 April 1940, Lieutenant Commander P. L. F. Weaver in command.
Prewar days found Cherokee sailing on towing duties along the east coast and in the Caribbean. As United States naval ships took up convoy escort duties in the western Atlantic to support beleaguered Britain, and as Iceland was occupied by American forces, Cherokee's operating area expanded to Newfoundland and Iceland. Similar operations continued until 23 October 1942, when Cherokee sailed from Norfolk, Va., for the invasion of North Africa. The only tug to accompany the vast invasion fleet across the Atlantic to French Morocco, Cherokee served well off the beaches during their assault 8 through 11 November, and on 11 and 12 November, aided two of the destroyers torpedoed by enemy aircraft.
The tug remained in North African waters to care for the many ships concentrating there with men and supplies until 31 March 1943. Fitted with tanks, she served as yard oiler at Casablanca until 3 May, when she departed for Norfolk. After overhaul, she reported at Bermuda 20 June to provide tug, towing, and salvage services to the escort vessels and submarines conducting training there. Cherokee was reclassified ATF-66 15 May 1944, and twice in 1944 crossed the Atlantic to Casablanca to take stricken destroyers in tow for the United States, carrying out these difficult assignments with distinguished seamanship. Upon her return from the second of these crossings in July, Cherokee took up duty towing targets for ships in training in Casco Bay, Maine, until 28 May 1945, and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until 23 July. Following the war she continued towing operations in the Caribbean, along the east coast, and to Brazilian ports until she was decommissioned 29 June 1946 and transferred to the Coast Guard the same day.
Cherokee received one battle star for World War II service.