USS Proteus (AS-19)
USS Proteus (AS-19) in 1980
|Builder:||Moore Dry Dock Company|
|Laid down:||15 September 1941|
|Launched:||12 November 1942|
|Commissioned:||31 January 1944|
|Decommissioned:||26 September 1947|
|Recommissioned:||8 July 1960|
|Recommissioned:||1994, reclassified IX-518|
|Struck:||13 March 2001|
|General characteristics (as built)|
|Class & type:||Fulton-class submarine tender|
|Displacement:||9,734 long tons (9,890 t)|
|Length:||529 ft 6 in (161.39 m)|
|Beam:||73 ft 4 in (22.35 m)|
|Speed:||18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph)|
|Armament:||4 × 5"/38 caliber guns
8 × 40 mm guns
23 × 20 mm guns
Proteus was laid down by the Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Oakland, California, 15 September 1941; launched 12 November 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Charles M. Cooke, Jr.; and commissioned 31 January 1944, Capt. Robert W. Berry in command.
After shakedown off San Diego, she stood out of San Francisco 19 March for Midway to tend submarines of Submarine Squadron 20. She arrived 3 May, and operating there until 1 December completed 51 voyage repairs and 14 refits for submarines. She returned to Pearl Harbor 4 December, and on 5 February got underway for Guam where she completed 4 voyage repairs and 24 refits by 7 August.
Assigned to occupation duty after the end of the war, Proteus rendezvoused with units of the 3rd Fleet and became the flagship of a 26-ship support group which steamed off the coast of Honshū until 26 August. On the 28th she anchored in Sagami Wan to begin supporting Submarine Squadron 20 as it demilitarized surrendered Japanese submarines, human torpedoes, torpedo carrying boats, and suicide boats at Yokosuka and other locations in the Sagami Wan-Tokyo Bay areas. Future actors Tony Curtis - whose birth name was Bernard Schwartz - and Larry Storch were aboard Proteus at Tokyo Bay in August-September 1945 - and watched much of the formal surrender activities aboard USS Missouri from Proteus's signal bridge.
Also assigned to repair Japanese submarines, she remained until 1 November, when she headed home.
Transiting the Panama Canal on 6 December, she reached New London 16 December. A trip to the Canal Zone preceded cold weather operations with SubRon 8 at NS Argentia, Newfoundland during November, after which she returned to New London. Decommissioned and placed in service 26 September 1947, she provided vital service to the submarine base at New London until January 1959. On the 15th she entered Charleston Naval Shipyard for conversion to a tender for the Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines, including the addition of a 44-foot section amidships.
Proteus recommissioned 8 July 1960, and after shakedown at Guantanamo Bay, she accomplished her first SSBN refit 20 January–21 February at New London. She then crossed to Holy Loch, Scotland, arriving 3 March 1961. There for the next two years she completed 38 refits of Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines, for which she received the Navy Unit Commendation. Back at Charleston for overhaul in 1963, on 2 January 1964 she resumed operations at Holy Loch to provide support and refits to the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines of Submarine Squadron 14.
On 24 February Proteus arrived at Rota, Spain, to establish the second overseas replenishment site for Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines, returning to Holy Loch 12 April. On 29 June she put in at Charleston and on 16 October was en route to Guam. Arriving Apra Harbor 29 November, she established the third overseas replenishment site for the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines. She continued to operate at Apra Harbor and in the Pacific for the next seven years, taking a five-month time off for self-overhaul in 1968 - relieved by Hunley (AS-31).
In 1971, after a brief R&R visit to Pearl Harbor, Proteus proceeded to Mare Island for an extensive overhaul, including a significant propulsion upgrade. A boiler accident forced her to stay at Ford Island, Hawaii for two months then a shake-down was accomplished out of Pearl Harbor, and after an R&R port call to Sydney Australia, Proteus returned to Apra Harbor for the now routine exchange with Hunley.
The exchange was completed by mid-January, 1973, and Proteus resumed her duties. In 1974 personnel from SRF, Guam, removed the remaining 5-inch gun turret and munitions were removed as unnecessary for her primary mission - leaving only the four 20mm mounts as her main defensive weapons. When Saigon fell in 1975, thousands of Vietnamese fled their country, and many made the crossing to Guam - some 100,000 of them. In a massive undertaking called "Operation New Life" - every able-bodied individual who could be spared was "volunteered" to help provide facilities to care for this "tidal wave" of humanity. As part of that effort - over 1,000 officers and men from Proteus worked with Seabee construction personnel to erect the refugee city "Tent City" on Orote Point, Guam - leaving only a hand-picked skeleton crew of individuals aboard to see to her safety and security; as well as handle emergencies from the boats that were in. But for that week, Proteus was out of "business as usual" - for which the Secretary of the Navy awarded Proteus her second Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1975; and she (along with other participating Navy Units) were awarded the first award of the Navy Humanitarian Service Medal (established by Executive Order January 1977 for actions beginning 1 April 1975).
In 1976 Proteus received her third consecutive Engineering "E" and second Humanitarian Medal for Typhoon Pamela Disaster Relief; and the Battle Efficiency "E" in 1978. That year, Proteus was sent to overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard rather than the expected retirement and decommissioning.
In 1980, Proteus was home-ported at Apra Harbor, Guam, where her missile silos had been deactivated and the missiles removed and converted to tender submarines. On 21 October 1981, the Proteus was awarded the Battle "E" Efficiency. In November 1981, Proteus deployed on a six month deployment to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. December 22, 1981, Proteus crossed the equator and received Neptunis Rex and Davy Jones aboard for Shellback ceremonies. In March 1982 while Proteus was still in Diego Garcia, her Majesty's Naval vessel HMS Sheffield docked with Proteus to requisition required parts before deploying to the Falkland Islands War where she was sunk on 10 May 1982 after Argentine air attack on 4 May 1982, Proteus was the last friendly ship to have any contact with Sheffield before the sinking. Proteus returned to Guam May of 1982, crossing the equator a second time.
Proteus was decommissioned again in September 1992 and soon thereafter struck from the Naval Register.
1994 Proteus was re-commissioned yet again as a Berthing Auxiliary and placed in service at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington. At this time Proteus took on the new naval designation Miscellaneous Unclassified IX-518.
In September 1999 the ship was placed out of active service and laid up at the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, California. Late 2007 she was towed to Esco Marine, Brownsville, Texas for scrapping; which was completed in early 2008.
- Navy Unit Commendation
- Meritorious Unit Commendation with bronze star
- Navy E Ribbon
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Navy Occupation Medal with "ASIA" clasp
- National Defense Service Medal with two bronze service stars
- Humanitarian Service Medal with bronze star
- "Tender Tale III, World War Two - and a young man serves his country". Common Cents Computers. 1998.
- USS Proteus' complete war history summary is available at TenderTale: USS Proteus
- Operation New Life' TenderTale: Operation New Life
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
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