USS Bisbee (PF-46)
|Namesake:||City of Bisbee, Arizona|
|Reclassified:||PF-46, 15 April 1943|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corporation, Wilmington, California|
|Laid down:||7 August 1943|
|Launched:||7 September 1943|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. Richard Murphy|
|Commissioned:||15 February 1944|
|Decommissioned:||26 August 1945|
|2 battle stars, World War II|
|Fate:||Transferred to the Soviet Navy 26 August 1945|
|Acquired:||Returned by Soviet Navy, 1 November 1949|
|Recommissioned:||18 October 1950|
|Decommissioned:||20 October 1951|
|3 battle stars, Korean War|
|Fate:||Transferred to Colombian National Armada, 13 February 1952|
|Acquired:||26 August 1945|
|Commissioned:||26 August 1945|
|Fate:||Returned to United States, 1 November 1949|
|Acquired:||13 February 1952|
|Class and type:||Tacoma-class frigate|
|Length:||303 ft 11 in (92.63 m)|
|Beam:||37 ft 6 in (11.43 m)|
|Draft:||13 ft 8 in (4.17 m)|
|Speed:||20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
USS Bisbee (PF-46) was a United States Navy Tacoma-class frigate in commission from 1944 to 1945 and from 1950 to 1951. She also served in the Soviet Navy as EK-17 and in the Colombian National Armada as ARC Capitán Tono.
Construction and commissioning
Originally classified as a patrol gunboat, PG-154, Bisbee was reclassified as a patrol frigate, PF-46, on 15 April 1943. She was launched on 7 September 1943, at the Consolidated Steel Corporation shipyard in Los Angeles, California, sponsored by Mrs. Richard Murphy, and commissioned on 15 February 1944, with Commander J. P. German, USCG, in command.
Assigned to the United States Pacific Fleet and manned by the United States Coast Guard, Bisbee joined the United States Seventh Fleet at Noumea, New Caledonia, on 27 June 1944. She took part in the landings on Biak Island of 12–31 August 1944, and then patrolled off the New Guinea coast until October 1944. During the invasion of Leyte in the Philippine Islands, she served as a patrol and harbor control vessel until detached for escort duty on 22 November 1944. Bisbee arrived at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 15 December 1944.
After undergoing repairs, Bisbee departed Pearl Harbor on 6 January 1945 for Dutch Harbor, Territory of Alaska, arriving there on 13 January 1945. From then until July 1945, she escorted merchant ships and United States Army transports between Dutch Harbor, Adak, Amchitka, and Attu, and acted as guard ship for Fleet Air Wing 4 in the North Pacific Ocean.
Stage and film actor Buddy Ebsen served as the Executive Officer aboard Bisbee during this deployment to the Pacific War Zone.
Selected for transfer to the Soviet Navy in Project Hula – a secret program for the transfer of U.S. Navy ships to the Soviet Navy at Cold Bay, Alaska, in anticipation of the Soviet Union joining the war against Japan – Bisbee, with Escort Division 43, departed Adak on 6 July 1945 bound for Seattle, Washington, arriving there on 12 July 1945. After undergoing repairs and conversion in preparation for her transfer, Bisbee steamed to Cold Bay, where she arrived on 13 August 1945. She soon began training her new Soviet crew.
Following the completion of training for her Soviet crew, Bisbee was decommissioned on 26 August 1945 at Cold Bay and transferred to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease immediately along with her sister ships USS Gallup (PF-47), USS Rockford (PF-48), USS Muskogee (PF-49), USS Carson City (PF-50), and USS Burlington (PF-51). Commissioned into the Soviet Navy immediately, Bisbee was designated as a storozhevoi korabl ("escort ship") and renamed EK-17 in Soviet service. She soon departed Cold Bay bound for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Soviet Union, where she served as a patrol vessel in the Soviet Far East.
In February 1946, the United States began negotiations for the return of ships loaned to the Soviet Union for use during World War II. On 8 May 1947, United States Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal informed the United States Department of State that the United States Department of the Navy wanted 480 of the 585 combatant ships it had transferred to the Soviet Union for World War II use returned, EK-17 among them. Negotiations for the return of the ships were protracted, but on 1 November 1949 the Soviet Union finally returned EK-17 to the U.S. Navy at Yokosuka, Japan.
Rveerting to her original name, Bisbee lay idle in the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Yokosuka until being recommissioned on 18 October 1950 for service in the Korean War. She got underway for Korea on 23 November 1950, and served on patrol, escort, and bombardment duty off Korea – also making occasional voyages to the Philippine Islands, Hong Kong, and the Pescadores – until decommissioned on 20 October 1951.
After repairs at Yokosuka, the ship was transferred to Colombia on 13 February 1952 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, serving in the Colombian Navy as ARC Capitán Tono. She relieved her sister ship ARC Almirante Padilla, ex-USS Groton (PF-29), and served on patrol off the east coast of Korea. Exchanges of fire with shore batteries were a frequent occurrence, and her crew suffered some casualties. On 13 January 1953, Capitán Tono ended her tour of duty and was replaced by another of her sister ships, ARC Almirante Brión, ex-USS Burlington (PF-51).
The ship remained in Colombian service after the Korean War and was scrapped in 1963.
The U.S. Navy awarded Bisbee two battle stars for her World War II service and three for her Korean War service.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Bisbee article states that Bisbee was transferred on 27 August 1945, and hazegray.org Bisbee repeats this, while NavSource Online: Frigate Photo Archive Bisbee (PF 46) ex-PG-154's assertion that the transfer was on 17 August 1945 clearly is a typographical error. However, more recent research in Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, pp. 34-35, which includes access to Soviet-era records unavailable during the Cold War, reports that the transfer date was 26 August 1945. As sources, Russell cites Department of the Navy, Ships Data: U.S. Naval Vessels Volume II, 1 January 1949, (NAVSHIPS 250-012), Washington, DC: Bureau of Ships, 1949; and Berezhnoi, S. S., Flot SSSR: Korabli i suda lendliza: Spravochnik ("The Soviet Navy: Lend-Lease Ships and Vessels: A Reference"), St. Petersburg, Russia: Belen, 1994. According to Russell, Project Hula ships were decommissioned by the U.S. Navy simultaneously with their transfer to the Soviet Navy – see photo captions on p. 24 regarding the transfers of various large infantry landing craft (LCI(L)s) and information on p. 27 about the transfer of USS Coronado (PF-38), which Russell says typified the transfer process – indicating that Bisbee's U.S. Navy decommissioning, transfer, and Soviet Navy commissioning all occurred simultaneously on 26 August 1945.
- Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, p. 39.
- Russell, Richard A., Project Hula: Secret Soviet-American Cooperation in the War Against Japan, Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 1997, ISBN 0-945274-35-1, pp. 37-38, 39.
- Peate, Les (June 2004). "From Bogota to Old Baldy: Colombia's contribution". Esprit de Corps. Ottawa: Scott Taylor. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
- Photo gallery of USS Bisbee (PF-46) at NavSource Naval History
- USS Bisbee (PF-46), United States Coast Guard site