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(ATF-103 : dp. 1,240; l. 205': b. 38'6" ; dr. 15'4" ; s. 16 k.; cpl. 85 ; a. 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Cherokee)

A tribe of Creek Indians who lived in Florida and Georgia. The word "hitchiti" means "to look up the stream."

Hitchiti (ATF-103) was launched 29 January 1944 by the Charleston Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Charleston, S.C.; sponsored by Mrs. Olin D. Johnston, wife of then-Governor Johnston; and commissioned 27 May 1944, Lt. H. A. Guthrie in command.

After shakedown in the Chesapeake Bay area, the fleet tug sailed for the Pacific, reaching Pearl Harbor with four tows 26 August 1944. Hitchiti was engaged in towing operations at Eniwetok and Ulithi until October, when she joined the supnort unit off the Philiopine Islands during the momentous Battle of Leyte Gulf. She returned to Ulithi for further towing operations until 29 December when she joined the 3d Fleet for the seizure of Luzon. Hitchiti also took part in towing and rescue operations during the bard-fought Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns as the Pacific war drew near to the Japanese home islands in the spring of 1945. Work off Okinawa alternated with operations in the Philippines that summer, and as the war ended Hitchiti remained in the Pacific for salvage and towing operations. In 1946 she performed harbor duty in Japanese waters as well as at various Pacific island bases, returning to the United States in September for overhaul at Bremerton. After further harbor work at Pearl Harbor and Kwajalein, Hitchiti reached San Francisco 26 December 1947 and decommissioned there 30 April 1948.

Recommissioned at Alameda, Calif., 3 January 1951, Hitchiti joined the fleet in Jananese waters 21 April to participate in operations off the Korean coast. Escort duties alternated with salvage operations along the war-torn peninsula until she returned to Pearl Harbor 5 February 1952. Hitchiti participated in towing and salvage work at Pearl Harbor and along the California coast until sailing for Alaskan waters 23 March 1954. Her 7 month tour in the north was followed by further duty in Hawaii and off the West Coast until she returned for a brief tour in September 1955. Hitchiti sailed for Sasebo, Japan, 22 May 1956 to begin her first Western Pacific cruise. This and six subsequent cruises took her to Hong Kong, Guam, Okinawa, and the Philippines for towing and salvage as well as tactical training.

Hitchiti's Western Pacific deployments, interspersed with duty at Pearl Harbor and off the California coast, were varied by visits to Mexico in 1959 and 1961 as well as a third cruise to Alaskan waters 21 October 1960-14 January 1961. From 19 September to 14 November 1962 the veteran fleet tug participated in U.S. nuclear testing at Johnston Island in the Pacific. All of 1963 was spent serving the fleet in Hawaiian waters. On 26 October Hitchiti freed Hai Fu off Honolulu after the Chinese merchant ship had grounded.

Hitchiti joined the 7th Fleet on 18 May 1964 and operated off Vietnam. She once again returned to Pearl Harbor 7 October for a brief refitting. From 25 January 1965 to 23 March, Hitchiti made a birdlife study on South Pacific islands for the Smithsonian Institute. She once again joined the 7th Fleet off Vietnam 25 October and operated in the war zone until 12 April 1966. Hitchiti arrived back at Pearl Harbor 27 April having 9,000 miles of towing and four salvage operations to her credit during the deployment. She then operated in Hawaiian waters into 1967.

Hitchiti received one battle star for World War II service.

Published: Thu Jul 16 09:41:46 EDT 2015