USS Preserver (ARS-8)

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USS Preserver (ARS-8).jpg
US flag 48 stars.svgUnited States
Builder: Basalt Rock Company
Laid down: 26 October 1942
Launched: 1 April 1943
Commissioned: 11 January 1944
Decommissioned: 23 April 1947
In service: 1 December 1950
Out of service: 7 August 1992
Struck: 16 March 1994
Fate: Sold for scrap, 30 November 2005
General characteristics
Tonnage: 1,441 tons
Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 213 ft 6 in (65.07 m)
Beam: 39 ft (12 m)
Draught: 14 ft 4 in (4.37 m)
Propulsion: diesel-electric, twin screws, 2,780hp
Speed: 15 kts.
Complement: 120
Armament: two 40 mm AA gun mounts; four ..50-caliber machine guns

USS Preserver (ARS-8) was a Diver-class rescue and salvage ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for coming to the aid of stricken vessels.

<i>Diver</i>-class rescue and salvage ship

The Diver class of rescue and salvage ship were operated by the United States Navy.

Rescue and salvage ships are a type of military salvage tug. They are tasked with coming to the aid of stricken vessels. Their general mission capabilities include combat salvage, lifting, towing, retraction of grounded vessels, off-ship firefighting, and manned diving operations. They were common during World War II.


Preserver (ARS–8), a salvage ship, was laid down by Basalt Rock Company in Napa, California, 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.

Basalt Rock Company was a multifaceted industrial operation that was founded in 1920. The company started as a rock quarrying operation located a few miles south of Napa, California near the Napa River. It later branched out into the ship building business in 1941 when it started building ships for the U.S. Navy for use during World War II. Following the war, the plant built 30 miles of pipe for the City of Napa's pipeline from Lake Hennessey.

Napa, California Place in California, United States

Napa is the largest city and the county seat of Napa County, in California's Wine Country. It is the principal city of the Napa County Metropolitan Statistical Area, with a population of 80,011 as of the 2010 census. It is the second-largest city in California's Wine Country, after Santa Rosa. Napa was incorporated as a city in 1872.

World War II service

After shakedown out of San Francisco, California, 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, California, 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.

A sea trial is the testing phase of a watercraft. It is also referred to as a "shakedown cruise" by many naval personnel. It is usually the last phase of construction and takes place on open water, and it can last from a few hours to many days.

Pearl Harbor Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

A Service Squadron (ServRon) was a U.S. Navy squadron that supported fleet combat units. Service Squadrons were used by the United States Navy from their inception in 1943 to as late as the early 1980s. At the time of their inception during the Second World War they allowed the US Navy to operate across the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean for extended periods of time. Service Squadrons created temporary forward bases to allow the naval squadrons to spend less time in transit and more time in the area of combat. Ulithi, a small volcanic atoll in the central Pacific, is an example of a site converted for use as a forward base of supply. Service Squadrons essentially created a major naval base near the area of operation. With the naval base at Ulithi to refit, repair and resupply, many ships were able to deploy and operate in the western Pacific for a year or more without returning to a major port facility. Among the vessels operating in service squadrons were tankers, oilers, refrigerator ships, ammunition ships, supply ships, floating docks and repair ships. They provided diesel, ordnance, aviation fuel, food stuffs and all other supplies. Equally important at places like Ulithi were the portable piers and floating dry docks which allowed many ships damaged by enemy action or Pacific storms to undergo repair without having to travel the thousands of miles back to a major US naval base. Ulithi was as far forward from the US naval base at San Francisco as the San Francisco base was from London, England. To have a fully functional major port in the middle of the Pacific was a significant aid to U.S. Navy operations.

Saipan operations

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.

Hawaii State of the United States of America

Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania, the only U.S. state located outside North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Majuro Capital city

Majuro is the capital and largest city of the Marshall Islands. It is also a large coral atoll of 64 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It forms a legislative district of the Ratak (Sunrise) Chain of the Marshall Islands. The atoll has a land area of 9.7 square kilometres (3.7 sq mi) and encloses a lagoon of 295 square kilometres (114 sq mi). As with other atolls in the Marshall Islands, Majuro consists of narrow land masses.

Atoll Ring-shaped coral reef, generally formed over a subsiding oceanic volcano, with a central lagoon and perhaps islands around the rim

An atoll, sometimes called a coral atoll, is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. There may be coral islands or cays on the rim. The coral of the atoll often sits atop the rim of an extinct seamount or volcano which has eroded or subsided partially beneath the water. The lagoon forms over the volcanic crater or caldera while the higher rim remains above water or at shallow depths that permit the coral to grow and form the reefs. For the atoll to persist, continued erosion or subsidence must be at a rate slow enough to permit reef growth upward and outward to replace the lost height.

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.

Tanapag is a settlement on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. It is located close to Tanapag Beach on the northwest coast, just to the north of Capital Hill, the island group's centre of government. It lies on the Marpi Road, which stretches the length of the island's northwest coast.

Tinian island in the United States of America

Tinian is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Together with uninhabited neighboring Aguigan, it forms Tinian Municipality, one of the four constituent municipalities of the Northern Marianas. Tinian's largest village is San Jose.

Damaged by bomb

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.

Seeadler Harbor

Seeadler Harbor, also known as Port Seeadler, is located on Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea and played an important role in World War II. In German, "Seeadler" means sea eagle, pointing to German colonial activity between 1884 and 1919 in that area. The bay was named in 1900 after the German cruiser SMS Seeadler.

Manus Island part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea

Manus Island is part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea and is the largest of the Admiralty Islands. It is the fifth-largest island in Papua New Guinea, with an area of 2,100 km2 (810 sq mi), measuring around 100 km × 30 km. According to the 2000 census, the whole Manus Province had a population of 43,387, rising to 50,321 as of 2011 Census. Lorengau, the capital of Manus Province, is located on the island. Momote Airport, the terminal for Manus Province, is located on nearby Los Negros Island. A bridge connects Los Negros Island to Manus Island and the province capital of Lorengau. In addition to its resident population, asylum seekers have been relocated here from Australia between 2001 and 2004 and since 2012.

Leyte Gulf gulf located east of the island of Leyte in the Philippines

Leyte Gulf is a gulf in the Eastern Visayan region in the Philippines. The bay is part of the Philippine Sea of the Pacific Ocean, and is bounded by two islands; Samar in the north and Leyte in the west. On the south of the bay is Mindanao Island, separated from Leyte by the Surigao Strait. Dinagat Island partly encloses the gulf to the southeast, and the small Homonhon Island and Suluan Island, sit astride the eastern entrance to the Gulf. It is approximately 130 km (81 mi) north-south, and 60 km (37 mi) east-west.

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, Honshū, Japan.

After the close of hostilities, Preserver participated in salvage operations during the weapons tests at Bikini Atoll, and then decommissioned at San Diego, California, 23 April 1947.

Reactivated during Korean War

She recommissioned at San Diego 1 December 1950, and in January 1951 transferred from the Pacific Fleet to Commander, Service Force, Atlantic. She arrived Norfolk, her new home port, 20 February.

Arctic operations

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.

Supporting search for the Thresher

In 1962 Preserver conducted towing operations to Mayport, Florida, 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 USS Thresher (SSN-593), lost 10 April. The bathyscaph finally discovered debris that was definitely identified, and the search was concluded 5 September.

Final operations

Preserver with the sunken tanker Ocean Eagle off Puerto Rico, 1968. USS Preserver (ARS-8) with sunken tanker Ocean Eagle off Puerto Rico 1968.jpg
Preserver with the sunken tanker Ocean Eagle off Puerto Rico, 1968.

Further Atlantic Ocean operations were followed by a Mediterranean deployment February–June 1964. In March 1968 Preserver pumped out of the bow of Liberian tanker SS Ocean Eagle a cargo of oil that threatened major pollution of San Juan, Puerto Rico, harbour. She also extinguished a fire aboard British merchant vessel SS Pizarro 11 April 1968 in San Juan Harbor. She then deployed to the Mediterranean 20 May 1968, returning to Little Creek, Virginia, 2 September. Into 1970 she continued to serve the Fleet as a salvage ship of Service Squadron 8 out of Little Creek, Virginia.

In January 1986 she was tasked with leading the salvage and recovery efforts of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. During the transit to Port Canaveral the ship recovered the nose piece of the external fuel tank. The Preserver was on station through April 1986. On 7 March 1986, divers from the USS Preserver using sonar located what they believed to be the crew compartment (confirming it during a dive the next day) and commenced recovery operations of the fallen astronauts. [1] John Devlin made the confirmation dive to verify that the wreckage was in fact the crew compartment. [2] On 9 March, NASA announced the finding to the press. [3] The ship received a Navy Unit Commendation for the operation. She was decommissioned on 30 September 1986, and recommissioned the following year.

After Hurricane Hugo, the Preserver was sent to Puerto Rico to aid in recovery of a sunken ship. The ship drove through Hugo en route to Guantanomo bay, Cuba where it picked up two barges loaded with telephone poles to take to Puerto Rico. It performed the first tandem tow in 40 years of US Naval history. The Preserver arrived safely at Puerto Rico and stayed there for nearly two months recovering a sunken vessel from the harbour.

Final decommissioning

Preserver decommissioned, 7 August 1992 and was transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River, Fort Eustis, Virginia, 1 February 1993. On 16 March 1994, she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. Final Disposition: Preserver was moved to Bay Bridge Enterprises yard at Chesapeake, Virginia, 30 November 2005, for dismantling. Note: Bay Bridge was paid a combined $442,640 to dismantle Preserver and USS Marshfield (T-AK-282).

Military awards and honors

Preserver received three battle stars for World War II service. Her crew was eligible for the following medals and ribbons:

See also

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  1. Isikoff, Michael (10 March 1986). "Remains of Crew Of Shuttle Found". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
  2. "Evidence hints that astronauts were alive during fall". NBC News.
  3. "Divers locate crew compartment of the Challenger". The Chronicle-Telegram. 10 March 1986. Retrieved 5 March 2009.