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Moctobi (ATF-105)


A Native American tribe of Arizona.

(ATF‑105: displacement 1,210 (light); length 205'0"; beam 38'6"; draft 15'3"; speed 17 knots; complement 85; armament 1 3-inch, 2 40 millimeter, 2 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks; class Abnaki)

Moctobi  (AT‑105) was laid down on 7 October 1943 at Charleston, S.C.,, by the Charleston Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 25 March 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Wade C. Harrison; reclassified as ATF‑105 on 15 May 1944; and commissioned at Charleston on 25 July 1944, Lt. Troy Braesher in command.

After shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, Moctobi was assigned to duty in the Pacific with ComServPac. Departing Norfolk on 1 September 1944, she stopped at New Orleans, La., where she took in tow a section of ABSD‑3; thence, she sailed for the Marshalls on 8 September. She reached Eniwetok via Majuro on 21 November and steamed to Hawaii, arriving Pearl Harbor the 29th. On 12 December she sailed in convoy to Eniwetok with another ABSD section. After touching at Eniwetok the 29th, she departed on 2 January 1945 for Guam. She dropped off ABD‑16 at Guam on 9 January; sailed for Ulithi the same day; and reached that important advance base two days later.

Assigned to Service Squadron 10, Moctobi operated out of Ulithi until the end of the war in the Pacific. There she carried out the harbor duties necessary to prepare ships of the task forces for their strikes against the enemy. During the Iwo Jima campaign she served on a standby basis with the Support Force and at the conclusion of the campaign towed Marl (IX‑160) from Saipan to Ulithi.

On 30 March 1945 Moctobi sailed with units of the fast tanker fleet and joined the Logistic Support Group off Okinawa. During the next 47 days she provided at sea logistics support for ships of the Fifth Fleet, thence returned to Ulithi 12 to 16 May. After completing a run to Leyte Gulf and back, she departed Ulithi on 3 July with other ATFs and joined the Logistics Support Group for support of the Third Fleet Bombardment Force. She served at sea during the closing weeks of the war and arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, after the cessation of hostilities. She began supporting occupation operations on 29 August and aided in the landing of initial occupation forces in the Tokyo area. She towed U.S. and Japanese ships and supported demolition operations of Japanese suicide boats and submarines along the eastern coast of Honshu.

Moctobi sailed for Okinawa on 14 October 19445 and for more than two months aided in salvaging and refloating many ships damaged by typhoons. On Christmas Eve she sailed for Pearl Harbor with ARD‑29 in tow. Upon arriving, she reported to ComServPac for continued duty out of Pearl Harbor. She returned to the west coast in May 1946 and later that year deployed once again to the Far East. She operated in the Philippines until June 1947, thence sailed to the United States. She began preinactivation overhaul at San Francisco on 1 December and decommissioned on 30 June 1948. Assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet on 27 August, she lay berthed at Alameda, Calif.

On 8 November 1950 ,Moctobi recommissioned at San Francisco, Lt. John M. Geortner in command. Following refresher training off the west coast, Moctobi steamed to the Far East. Between February and November 1951 she was underway almost constantly, touching Midway, Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Guam, Subic Bay, Sasebo, Yokosuka. Inchon, Pusan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and Taechong Do, Korea. In September 1951 she conducted salvage operations on the ROK frigate Apnok (ex-Rockford, PF-48) off Abru Somu Island, North Korea. She towed the damaged ship to Pusan thence to Yokosuka for repairs. She returned to Pearl Harbor in December 1951 for overhaul, thence between April and September 1952 made several towing trips to Johnston Island and the Marshalls.

In November 1952, Moctobi steamed to the northern Pacific for duty in the Aleutians. During the next several months she carried out towing and SAR duty from Dutch Harbor to Attu. She returned to Pearl Harbor in June 1953. Following operations between Hawaii and the west coast, she made another WestPac deployment in March 1954. Tug and towing assignments sent her from Japan to the Philippines and from Korea to French Indochina. In September she steamed via Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, and during the next year she carried out tows along the west coast and to Pearl Harbor.

Moctobi maintained a busy tug and towing schedule throughout the Pacific for more than a decade. Although homeported in Pearl Harbor, she ranged the Pacific from the west coast to the Far East . She carried out towing duties to American bases throughout the Pacific and when requested she provided emergency at sea tows for ships in distress. In addition she carried out SAR patrols and undertook special operations of a classified nature for the Atomic Energy Commission.

Following a three‑month deployment to the Aleutians in mid‑1963, Moctobi steamed to Seattle, Wash., on 15 October 1963 to prepare for an unusual towing assignment. On 28 October she departed for Honolulu, Hawaii, with the four-masted sailing ship Falls of Clyde  in tow. During the trip, which took 21 days, Moctobi encountered several severe storms with 40‑knot winds and 20‑foot seas. However, she delivered the wrought iron‑hulled ship, earmarked for retention as a museum ship, safely to tugs off Honolulu on 21 November.

Ultimately decommissioned at Long Beach, Calif., on 30 September 1985, Moctobi was laid up at Bremerton, Wash., with the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 28 January 1982, the ship was to be transferred (congressional approval was given in 1996), along with five sister ships, to the Northeast Wisconsin Railroad Transportation Commission, to be turned over to  the Ontonagon County Economic Development Corp. on behalf of the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad. The project came to nought in 1999, however, and the veteran of three wars remained in reserve, to be broken up for scrap in 2012.

Moctobi received two battle stars for her World War II service, one for her participation in the Third and Fifth Fleet raids in support of the Okinawa Gunto operation (31 March-13 May 1945) and the second for taking part in Third Fleet operations against Japan (10 July-15 August 1945). In addition, she received two battle stars for her service in the Korean conflict (1951), and two for service in the Vietnam War (1967 and 1970).

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

11 January 2022

Published: Tue Jan 11 17:08:53 EST 2022