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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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(YAGR-4: dp. 7,360; l. 441'6"; b. 56'11"; dr. 27'; s. 11 k.; cpl. 137; a. 2 3"; cl. Guardian; T. Z-EC2-S-C5)

Searcher (YAG-4) was laid down on 11 December 1944 under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull E-2338) by the J. A. Jones Construction Co., Panama City, Fla., as Liberty ship, James W. Wheeler; launched on 23 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. R. D. Turnage; anddelivered on 5 February 1945 to the Calmar Steamship Co. Reclassified YAGR-4 in August 1954, she was acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Administration on 15 September 1954; renamed Searcher; converted to a radar picket ship at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, S.C.; and commissioned on 2 April 1955, Lt. Comdr. James A. Paulick in command.

Searcher departed Charleston, S.C., on 16 May 1955 for Newport, R. I., where, after shakedown, she reported for duty with the seaward extension of America's early warning defense system. She reported on station for her first patrol on 5 July 1955. Fitted with sophisticated electronic search and tracking equipment, Searcher could detect, track, and report enemy aircraft at great distances, and control high-speed interceptor aircraft in event of attack. She also carried out weather reporting duties during her three-to-four-week-long cruises.

On 13 November 1955, Searcher was damaged by an engine room fire which burned for six and one-half hours before being extinguished with the aid of two other ships. Her patrols were otherwise uneventful. She was reclassified AGR-4 effective 28 September 1958; and, during the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, she operated at sea for 60 out of 67 days. On 1 July 1965, Searcher was decommissioned, struck from the Navy list and transferred to the Maritime Administration. She was laid up in the Hudson River berthing area of the National Defense Reserve Fleet until sold for scrapping on 7 August 1970 to the North American Smelting Co., Wilmington, Del.

Published: Tue Sep 08 10:19:27 EDT 2015