Chickasaw III (AT-83)
A Native American tribe now resident in Oklahoma.
(AT-83: displacement 1,240; length 205'; beam 38'6"; draft 15'4"; speed 16 knots; complement 85; armament 1 3-inch, 2 40 millimeter, 2 20 millimeter; class Cherokee)
The third Chickasaw (AT-83) was laid down on 14 February 1942 at Alameda, Calif., by the United Engineering Co., Ltd.; launched on 23 July 1942; sponsored by Mrs. R. Fairbanks; commissioned on 4 February 1943, Lt.(j.g.) John F. King in command.
Assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Chickasaw departed Seattle, Wash., on 11 March 1943 for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, towing the floating dry dock YFD-21, and arrived on 30 March. Sailing on to Espíritu Santo, New Hebrides, Chickasaw served as station tug until 27 June, when she stood out to return to Pearl. Arriving on 6 July, she performed salvage duty, towed targets, laid buoys, and made tows to Midway until 21 January 1944, when she sailed for the Marshall Islands.
Chickasaw supported the occupation of Kwajalein, Majuro, and Eniwetok until 19 March 1944, when she cleared Kwajalein for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 27 March. She sailed from Pearl on 11 May, and during the voyage was reclassified as a fleet tug, ATF-83, on 15 May. She arrived at Majuro on 24 May for training duty. Clearing the Marshalls on 11 June, Chickasaw arrived off Saipan on 16 June for tug duties, patrol, and salvage in support of the occupation of that island until 24 July.
Similar duty found Chickasaw off Tinian from 24 July 1944. After continued salvage duty in the Marianas, Chickasaw cleared Saipan on 18 September for Guam, Eniwetok, and Manus, arriving 4 October. Six days later, she sailed for the assault on Leyte, arriving in Leyte Gulf on 20 October, where she conducted salvage and rescue operations through the landings, the fury of the Battle for Leyte Gulf, and the occupation, until 22 November, when she sailed for replenishment and salvage duty at Manus. During her time off Leyte, the tug steamed to the aid of the U.S. freighter Gilbert Stuart on 18 November, when the Liberty Ship’s Armed Guard gunners shot the tail off a kamikaze that nevertheless crashed their ship. Chickasaw helped controlled the fierce fires that resulted from the suicider.
On 27 December 1944, two days after Christmas, Chickasaw got underway for Lingayen Gulf, arriving on 9 January 1945 to perform salvage operations during the assault. She operated out of Lingayen, Subic Bay, and San Pedro Bay on similar duty until 4 March, when she cleared for overhaul and tug duties at Ulithi, in the western Carolines. From 9 to 22 June she next operated off Okinawa, then sailed for Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 24 July for yard overhaul.
Variously based at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and in the Marianas between World War II and the Korean War, Chickasaw served the Fleet with towing, salvage, and other tug duty which took her throughout the Pacific. During 1946, Chickasaw, assigned to Task Unit (TU) 1.2.7 (Salvage Unit) of Joint Task Force 1, thus participated in Operation Crossroads, the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, supporting the preparation, placement, and salvage of target vessels.
During the first year of the Korean conflict, she operated on the west coast, to Pearl Harbor, and to Eniwetok and Kwajalein, and during the summer of 1951, sailed in Alaskan waters. After west coast operations, she cleared Pearl Harbor on 3 March 1953 for Sasebo, her base for direct support to forces engaged in the Korean War. Returning to San Diego on 17 October, she resumed an operating schedule which through 1960 has included Alaskan operations in 1954-55 and 1957, and deployments to the Far East in 1957-58, 1959, and 1960.
Ultimately decommissioned on 30 June 1965 at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, Calif., Chickasaw was transferred, on loan, to the Government of Taiwan, on 5 January 1966, which renamed her Ta Tung (A-548). Stricken from the [U.S.] Naval Vessel Register on 15 April 1976 the tug was sold to the Government of Taiwan on 1 May 1976 under the Security Assistance Program.
Chickasaw received the Navy Unit Commendation as part of the Ship Salvage, Fire Fighting and Rescue Unit, Service Force, Seventh Fleet (17 October 1944-10 June 1945), her award covering the period 6 January-15 February 1945. In addition, she received six battle stars for her participation in the occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls (31 January-8 February 1944), the occupation of Eniwetok (17 February-2 March 1944), the capture and occupation of Saipan (16 June-10 August 1944), the capture and occupation of Tinian (24 July-10 August 1944), Leyte Gulf landings (17 October-22 November 1944, and 20 October 1944), the Lingayen Gulf landings (9-18 January 1945), and for the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto (10-22 June 1945). She also received two battle stars for her Korean War service.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
15 June 2020