USS Navajo (AT-64)
|Builder:||Bethlehem Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, New York City|
|Laid down:||12 December 1938|
|Launched:||17 August 1939|
|Commissioned:||26 January 1940|
|2 battle stars (World War II)|
|Fate:||Sank from an on-board explosion, 12 September 1943|
|Class & type:||Navajo-class fleet tug|
|Displacement:||1,270 long tons (1,290 t)|
|Length:||205 ft (62 m)|
|Beam:||38 ft 6 in (11.73 m)|
|Draft:||15 ft 4 in (4.67 m)|
|Speed:||16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)|
|Armament:||1 × 3 in (76 mm) gun|
Navajo was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Staten Island, New York, on 12 December 1938; launched on 17 August 1939; sponsored by Miss Olive Rasmussen; and commissioned on 26 January 1940, Lt. Comdr. M. E. Thomas in command.
Operations in Hawaiian waters
Following shakedown and a brief tour on the east coast, Navajo, an oceangoing tug, steamed to San Diego, where, in June 1940, she reported for duty in Base Force, later Service Force, Pacific Fleet. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor her towing and salvage capabilities kept her busy in the central and eastern Pacific, then, after 7 December 1941, in the Pearl Harbor area. Interrupted only by a resupply and reinforcement run to Johnston Island at the end of December, she remained in the waters off Oahu into the spring of 1942.
Further operations in the Pacific Theater
In late April she sailed to Canton Island where she attempted the salvage of SS President Taylor, then returned to Pearl Harbor whence she got underway for the war zone on 12 July. Arriving in the New Hebrides just after the landings on Guadalcanal, she supported operations in the Solomons with repair and salvage work at Espiritu Santo, Nouméa, Tongatapu, and Suva, as well as under battle conditions at Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and Rennell. Towing assignments during those operations took her throughout the island groups of the south Pacific, and once, in late November-early December 1942, to Sydney, Australia.
The Navajo was awarded a battle star for its salvage operations between 8 August 1942 and 3 February 1943 - unique honor for a fleet tug.
In the spring of 1943 Navajo returned to California, underwent overhaul, and in July got underway to return to the South Pacific. Steaming via Pago Pago, she arrived at Bora Bora on 21 August and commenced salvage and repair work on USS Pasig. At the end of the month she sailed for Pago Pago, whence she got underway to tow gasoline barge YOG–42 to Espiritu Santo.
While en route on 12 September the ship was rocked by an explosion after being torpedoed by submarine I-39. Within seconds a heavy starboard list resulted in a submerged starboard side. USS Navajo began going down rapidly by the bow and abandonment commenced. As the ship settled, depth charges secured to port and starboard K-gun projectors exploded. An estimated two minutes had passed before she sank, but 17 of her crew went down with the ship.
- American Defense Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two battle stars
- World War II Victory Medal
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery of USS Navajo at NavSource Naval History
- Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945 ATF-64 USS Navajo
- USS Navajo (AT 64) at uboat.net
- Navajo class at uboat.net
- Vessels/Auxiliaries: USS Navajo from the United States Naval Institute
- "7 December 1941" - Ships in Pearl Harbor