Wenatchee I (ATF-118)
The first Wenatchee was named for the tribe of Native Americans of the Salishan language group who lived in what is now central Washington state, principally around Lake Chelan.
(ATF-118: displacement 1,330; length 205'0"; beam 38'6"; draft 14'3" (mean); speed 16 knots; complement 85; armament 1 3-inch, 2 40 millimeter, 2 20 millimeter; class Abnaki)
The first Wenatchee (AT-118) was laid down on 12 January 1944 at Alameda, Calif., by the United Engineering Co.; reclassified from AT-118 to ATF-118 on 15 May 1944; launched on 7 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Hart A. Aaron, the wife of Lt. Cmdr. Hart A. Aaron, USNR, and commissioned on 24 March 1945, Lt. Walter C. Beatie, Jr., D-V(G) USNR, in command.
Wenatchee conducted her shakedown training in the San Pedro-San Diego-San Francisco, Calif., area, before departing the west coast on 15 May 1945, bound for the Hawaiian Islands. Reaching Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 30 May, the fleet tug remained there through mid-June and then sailed for the Marshalls. She reached Eniwetok on 5 July.
The fleet tug performed ocean towing and screening duties supporting the Third Fleet's drive against the Japanese homeland and, after hostilities ended, participated in the initial occupation of Japan. She was present in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, the day of Japan's formal surrender on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63). That autumn, she engaged in salvage work at the former Japanese naval base at Yokosuka.
Wenatchee operated there through the end of 1945 and into the following year, finally departing that port in company with the salvage vessel Conserver (ARS-39) on 20 February 1946, bound for Hawaiian waters. Reaching Pearl Harbor on 3 March, Wenatchee stayed there for over a month before she sailed for Bikini atoll on 13 April to take part in Operation Crossroads.
As part of Task Unit 1.8.1, a repair and service unit, Wenatchee supported the atomic test operations there into the summer and then left Kwajalein on 20 August 1946 and headed for Pearl Harbor, reaching that port on 5 September. The fleet tug subsequently towed the mobile floating dry dock AFD-7 from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, reaching the west coast in late October.
After transiting the Panama Canal in mid-December 1946 and reporting for duty with Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, Wenatchee reached New Orleans on 21 January 1947. Shifting to Orange, Tex., in mid-March, the fleet tug was decommissioned and placed in reserve there on 19 May 1947.
Stricken from the Navy list on 1 September 1962, the ship was transferred to the Maritime Administration for lay up and preservation. Berthed at Beaumont, Texas, she remained there into the late 1970s, ultimately being sold under the Security Assistance Program to the government of Taiwan. in whose navy she served as Ta Fang.
Wenatchee (ATF-118) received one battle star for her particpation in Third Fleet operations against Japan (11 July--15 August 1945)
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
29 April 2022