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Yaupon (ATA-218)


A Native American term designating a type of holly tree. 

(ATA-218: displacement 1,275 (trial); length 194'6"; beam 34'7"; draft 14'1" (full load); speed 12.1 knots; complement 58; armament 1 3-inch, 2 40 millimeter, 3 20 millimeter; class ATA-214)

Yaupon (AN-72) was laid down on 29 January 1944 at Slidell, La., by the Canulette Shipbuilding Co.; although her name was cancelled on 12 August 1944 and she was redesignated from AN-72 to ATA-218, the name cancellation does not appear to have been instituted, for, launched on 16 September 1944, the ship was commissioned as Yaupon (ATA-218) at New Orleans, La., on 10 March 1945, Lt. Harry L. Lane, D-M, USNR—recipient of a Bronze Star for commanding ATA-125 off Normandy in June 1944—in command. 

Yaupon departed the Boland Navy Dock at New Orleans on 14 March 1945 for the Degaussing Station in the Industrial Canal, reaching her destination soon thereafter. After being degaussed, the tug stood in to the Mississippi River, then took on ammunition at the Ammunition Depot before proceeding upriver to the Supply Depot. Yaupon then proceeded to the Naval Frontier Base, Burrwood, La., on the 18th. Proceeding down the Mississippi the next day, she conducted exercises before returning to Burrwood for the night. On the 20th, the new tug conducted structural test-firings of her 3-inch and 20 millimeter guns without incident.

Standing downriver once more on 21 March 1945, Yaupon set course for Galveston, Texas, arriving the next morning. Over the next ten days, she conducted her shakedown training between that port and Corpus Christi. Soon after casting off from Pier 2 at the latter place, the tug struck the south abutment of the Bascue Bridge despite backing her engines full to avoid a collision. Yaupon reached Galveston the following day, entering the Todd-Galveston Dry Dock yard on 2 April, where she remained through 22 May. During that time, she half-masted her colors on 13 April out of respect for the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and off-loaded all 3-inch ammunition on 28 April.

After deperming (22 May 1945), Yaupon carried out towing tests, making fast to a half-submerged hulk (23 May) before steaming into Galveston and mooring to Pier 20, where she loaded 40- and 20-millimeter ammunition later that day. She put to sea for structural test firings the next afternoon, noting “no damage or defects…” She conducted target practice again on 26 May, then received orders to put to sea to assist a grounded tanker. Exchanging calls with Cities Service Fuel at the mid-point of the mid watch on 27 May, Yaupon teamed with the civilian tug Miraflores to free the vessel, then returned to Galveston, whence she sailed ten minutes into the forenoon watch on the 28th.

Yaupon in a multi-color disruptive camouflage, probably during her time operating out of Galveston in the spring of 1945, in this view sent to the Bureau of Ships by the Assistant Industrial Manager, USN, Eighth Naval District, Galveston, Texas o...
Caption: Yaupon in a multi-color disruptive camouflage, probably during her time operating out of Galveston in the spring of 1945, in this view sent to the Bureau of Ships by the Assistant Industrial Manager, USN, Eighth Naval District, Galveston, Texas on 2 July 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph BS 85222, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Entering the mouth of the Mississippi the following morning [29 May 1945], Yaupon moored alongside the aircraft engine repair ship Aventinus (ARV(E)-3) at the Naval Repair Base, Algiers, Louisiana. The tug remained there until 1 June, when she sailed for Westwego, La., where she rigged the covered lighter YF-757 alongside for towing, then got underway a little less than a half hour into the forenoon watch, setting course for Panama.

Standing in to Colon [Canal Zone] harbor late in the morning watch on 9 June 1945, Yaupon received assistance in mooring her tow, then fueled. Picking up her tow again on the 14th, she transited the Panama Canal with YF-757 riding astern, entering Balboa harbor at the end of the passage. Ultimately, Yaupon and her charge sailed for San Diego, Calif., on 17 June, the tug Bohio providing assistance in passing through the harbor gate.

Reaching San Diego on 1 July 1945, Yaupon received a second yardcraft to tow on the 5th, the covered lighter YF-736, and got underway later that day, assisted from pierside by the big harbor tug Pocahontas (YTB-266), and set course for the Hawaiian Islands. Yaupon conducted target practice twice during the voyage (7 and 13 July), and ultimately reached Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, during the forenoon watch on the 17th. Anchoring off Waikiki Beach, the tug turned over YF-757 to the rescue tug ATR-11, YF-736 to the big harbor tug Nokomis (YTB-142), then stood in to Pearl Harbor and moored to the Waipio Salvage Dock, West Loch.

Yaupon remained at Pearl until 9 August 1945, getting underway early in the first dog watch, making the short trip to Honolulu harbor where she moored upon arrival alongside the floating workshop YR-62. She cleared Honolulu with her charge the next morning, then lay-to to await the arrival of two additional tows, with ATR-11 delivering the covered lighter YF-995 and the little harbor tug YTL-456. Designated as Task Unit (TU) 16.10.2, with Yaupon’s commanding officer as the officer in tactical command, the little convoy set course for the Marshall Islands.

About an hour into the afternoon watch, “The Golden Dragon accompanied by his court came on board to investigate the reported presence of earthworms and inspect them for fitness to become dragon backs.” Said investigation took a little over two hours, Boatswain Hollis C. Hollis noted in the log, for the “Golden Dragon and court left ship [1530] having found all earthworms satisfactory and initiated into the mysteries of the Far East.”

Anchoring off Gugegwe Island, Kwajalein Atoll, during the forenoon watch on 24 August 1945, Yaupon released her tows to ATA-215, then picked up the tow again for YR-62 again on the 27th, sailing for the Western Carolines the next afternoon, with the two vessels constituting TU 16.11.10. While the tug and the floating workshop riding astern of her were proceeding on their way, in Tokyo Bay Japanese representatives signed the instrument of surrender on board the battleship Missouri (BB-63).

Entering Mugai Channel, Ulithi, at 0845 on 5 September 1945, Yaupon, towing YR-62, sailed for Okinawa five days later in company with the submarine chaser PC-1146 and the water barge YW-102, with Lt. Lane as officer in tactical command. The voyage proved uneventful until 15 September, when the little formation encountered a heavy rain squall at the start of the afternoon watch that reduced visibility to one mile. Visibility increased once the ships emerged from the squall about three-quarters of an hour later, but a heavy sea and the rolling of the vessel compelled Yaupon to secure her taffrail log less than an hour before sunset that day.

During the mid watch on 16 September 1945, Yaupon and her consorts entered a heavy rain squall at 0215, as visibility again lessened to about one mile, while the wind increased to 40-45 knots. Once the rain squall passed, visibility increased and the wind slackened, but YW-102 lost fuel suction and dropped astern. PC-1146 stood by the hobbled yardcraft until the latter could resume the voyage. By the end of the mid watch, however, as Yaupon rolled easily in the heavy swell, the barometer dropped steadily. Heavy seas and heavy rolls soon followed. Yaupon hove-to, PC-1146 and YW-102 doing likewise, YR-62, meanwhile, rolled from 30 to 40 degrees in the swells.

With PC-1146 pounding in the heavy seas, her commanding officer sought permission to proceed independently, which Lt. Lane granted immediately. Within three hours, the wind had increased to Force 12. “Wind and sea increasing steadily as barometer dropped,” Boatswain Hollis noted in the log, “Ship rolling and pitching violently. Intermittent rain.” Yaupon continued to contend with the typhoon’s fury in the first dog watch, with “weather increasing and seas getting worse.” A fire in the control panel board caused the steering gear to go out on the bridge, so steering control shifted to manual, in the steering engine room, aft, for a little over an hour.

The change in the direction of the swells prompted a change in the ship’s heading, for at the start of the first watch on 16 September 1945, Yaupon continued to lay hove-to, making course changes to port with each 10 degree shift of the wind, to lie as near to the wind as possible. “Heavy seas and mountainous seas,” noted Ens. H. O. Balough, USNR, “wind force 14 and increasing to force 15 in gusts.” The wind’s shifting to the left, however, indicated that the center of the storm was passing close to starboard. The barometer’s reading 28.05 at 2220 indicated that the center of the turbulent weather lay only 30 miles away, bearing 130 degrees. A half-hour later, and the rising barometer indicated that the storm had passed. Yaupon’s tow appeared to be riding well, but rolling and pitching considerably. Yaupon herself had taken a considerable amount of water, through leaky decks and deckhouses, causing “electrical equipment throughout the ship” to short out.

Changing course as the wind shifted, to keep it on the port bow, Yaupon remained hove-to with YR-62 still riding astern, although the tug had lost contact with YW-102 during the storm. As the barometer rose, the sea and wind diminished, reflecting the fact that the worst seemed to be over, so Yaupon moved ahead on both engines at 0653, although a brief, but very heavy, rain squall reduced visibility down to a mile during the morning watch. The tug entered the Tatsu Kuchi Channel, shortened the tow line, and dropped anchor in Buckner Bay at 1131 on 17 September 1945 having delivered her charge safely to its destination.

After fueling from Vandalia (IX-191) on 25 September 1945, Yaupon cleared Buckner Bay for Kwajalein, and reached her destination on 7 October. She underwent repairs alongside the floating workshop YR-25 (8-10 October), then fueled. After provisioning on 11 October, she departed Kwajalein later that same day for Eniwetok, arriving there on the 13th, where she obtained fresh provisions on the 15th, then received a drydocking in the concrete repair dock ARDC-7 (17-19 October).

Clearing Eniwetok on 26 October 1945 with the floating dry dock ARD-30 in tow, Yaupon set course for Pearl Harbor. Pausing for logistics en route, first at Majuro (31 October-2 November), then at Johnston Island (14 November), the tug and her tow reached Oahu on 20 November, turning over ARD-30 to harbor tugs and standing in to moor at the salvage dock at Waipio Point.

On 8 December 1945, Lt. Lane made a brief speech, then read his orders, and turned over command to Lt. (j.g.) Donald E. Willson. Soon thereafter, while Lane moved on to his next command, Yaupon sailed in company with the fleet tug Chickasaw (ATF-83), which was towing ARD-30. The little formation set course for Tongue Point, Oregon.

Sighting the Columbia River Lightship at 0445 on 24 December 1945, Yaupon set course for Astoria, Ore., then received orders from the Naval Base there to assist Chickasaw in towing ARD-30 to Portland, Oregon. A heavy fog set in, however, an hour into the first watch, prompting Yaupon to secure her main engines and wait for the fog to lift to proceed. With the fog lifting on Christmas morning, the civilian stern-wheel tug Star of Portland took over assisting ARD-30, and Yaupon moored alongside the Interstate Terminal dock, where she remained into the New Year 1946.

Yaupon cleared Portland on 9 January 1946, and reached San Francisco, Calif., on the 12th, dropping anchor 500 yards east of Buoy No.4, off the east side of Treasure Island. Toward the end of January, she then prepared for decommissioning, turning over radar and radar equipment on 25 January, ammunition on the 28th, and gunnery spare parts on the 30th.  Soon thereafter, a crane barge moored alongside and removed the ship’s guns, transferring them to YCF-74. Shifting her berth to moor alongside the tank landing ship LST-554 at Buoy No.6, Yaupon remained there, where she was decommissioned on 26 March 1946.

Stricken from the List of Naval Vessels on 17 April 1946, she was sold through the War Shipping Administration on 3 January 1947.

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Lt. Harry L. Lane, D-M, USNR 10 March 1945
Lt. (j. g.) Donald E. Willson, USNR  8 December 1945

Robert J. Cressman
15 May 2018

Published: Thu May 17 07:46:01 EDT 2018