(ARS-8: dp. 1,530; l. 213-6-; b. 39-; dr. 13-; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 120; a. 4 40mm.; cl. Escape)
One who protects or saves another from danger, harm, damage, or evil.
Preserver (ARS-8), a salvage ship, was laid down by Basalt Rock Co., Napa, Calif. 26 October 1942; launched 1 April 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Walter F. LaFranz; and commissioned 11 January 1944, Lt. Comdr. A. T. Ostrander in command.
After shakedown out of San Francisco, Preserver steamed for Pearl Harbor 26 February in company with PC-1139. The next day she was ordered to come about and to report to Port Director, San Pedro, Calif. for orders. She was once again underway for Pearl Harbor 5 March, with YOG-18 in tow. Arriving Pearl Harbor 16 March, she reported for duty with Service Squadron 2.
Hawaiian operations and yard availability took Preserver through April. Steaming for Majuro Atoll 10 May, she arrived two weeks later and commenced salvage operations between Majuro, Eniwetok, and Kwajalein with Service Squadron 10. She was a unit of Capt. S. E. Peck's Service and Salvage Group during the capture of Saipan (15-21 June 1944), providing salvage services off the west coast of that island. When Japanese snipers set off an ammunition dump near the beach at 2100 June 20, Preserver sent a fire-fighting party ashore to render assistance.
Preserver worked at clearing Tanapag Harbor, Saipan 9-23 July. She then worked in the Tinian area. By 12 August she was at Eniwetok, and the next day she steamed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 22 August for upkeep and availability. Repairs kept her at Pearl Harbor until 11 September, when she steamed for Eniwetok, arriving the 28th.
She was at Seeadler Harbor, Manus 6 October, and departed five days later for Leyte Gulf. A bomb penetrated her hull 20 October, flooding her motor room and causing loss of power throughout the ship. Battle damage repairs necessitated calls at Hollandia, New Guinea; Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides; and finally at Pearl Harbor from 5 February 1945 through the following July.
After final repairs Preserver stood out of Pearl Harbor 8 August, bound for Kwajalein Atoll, the Marshalls. She made further calls at Guam and Okinawa, and the second week of October she operated at Wakayama, Honshu, Japan.
After the close of hostilities, Preserver participated in salvage operations during the weapons tests at Bikini, and then decommissioned at San Diego, Calif. 23 April 1947. She recommissioned at San Diego 1 December 1950, and in January 1951 transferred from the Pacific to Service Force, Atlantic. She arrived Norfolk, her new home port, 20 February.
Since assuming duties out of Norfolk, Preserver has performed salvage, rescue, and towing assignments along the Atlantic coast. From 1952 through 1962, she deployed annually for Arctic operations which took her to Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia as duty salvage ship. She also assisted in the MSTS resupply missions to Greenland.
In 1962 Preserver conducted towing operations to Mayport, Fla. and to Bermuda. She was then assigned to serve in the recovery fleet during the second manned orbital flight. From April through August 1963, she conducted Trieste support operations as the bathyscaph searched the ocean floor for Thresher (SSN-593), lost 10 April. The bathyscaph finally discovered debris that was definitely identified, and the search was concluded 5 September.
Further Atlantic operations were followed by a Mediterranean deployment February-June 1964. In March 1968 Preserver pumped out of the bow of Liberian tanker Ocean Eagle a cargo of oil that threatened major pollution of San Juan, Puerto Rico, harbor. She also extinguished a fire aboard British merchant vessel Pizarro 11 April 1968 in San Juan Harbor. She then deployed to the Mediterranean 20 May 1968, returning to Little Creek, Va. 2 September. Into 1970 she continues to serve the Fleet as a salvage ship of Service Squadron 8 out of Little Creek, Va.
Preserver received three battle stars for World War II service.