USS Bolster (ARS-38)

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USS Bolster (ARS-38) at sea c1978
United States
Builder: Basalt Rock Company
Laid down: 20 July 1944
Launched: 23 December 1944
Commissioned: 1 May 1945
Decommissioned: 24 September 1994
Struck: 24 September 1994
Fate: Contracted for Scrapping 12 April 2011 to Marine Metals, Brownsville, Tx
Status: undergoing scrapping
General characteristics
Tonnage: 1,441 tons
Displacement: 1,497 tons(lt), 2,048 tons(fl)
Length: 213 ft 6 in (65.07 m)
Beam: 39 ft (12 m)
Draught: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
Propulsion: diesel-electric, twin screws, 2,780hp
Speed: 15 knots
Complement: 120
Armament: two 40mm guns

USS Bolster (ARS-38) was a Bolster-class rescue and salvage ship acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Her task was to come to the aid of stricken vessels.

Bolster was launched 23 December 1944 by Basalt Rock Company in Napa, California; sponsored by Mrs. C. A. Mayo, Jr., wife of Lieutenant Mayo, USNR; commissioned 1 May 1945, Lieutenant W. F. Lewis in command; and joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

End-of-World War II service[edit]

On 18 July 1945, after repair duty along the California coast, Bolster departed for Pearl Harbor. She remained there until 15 August when she sailed for Yokosuka, Japan. Bolster conducted repair and salvage operations in Japanese waters until leaving for Subic Bay, Luzon, 10 October 1946. She remained in the Philippines until April 1947 and then returned to Pearl Harbor via Okinawa, Guam, and Kwajalein.

Korean War operations[edit]

Bolster operated alternately out of Pearl Harbor and Adak, Alaska, on salvage and towing duties until 22 August 1950. She then towed two barges to Sasebo, Japan, and remained in the Far East until 6 July 1951. During this tour she participated in the Inchon landing (15 September 1950) and the Hungnam Evacuation (9–25 December 1950).

Since 1952 Bolster has continued to operate out of Pearl Harbor and has made six tours of the Far East, visiting Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Okinawa, and the Philippine Islands.


The U.S. Navy (DANFS) advises that Bolster history updates for the years 1952 to 1994 are being developed.


Bolster was decommissioned on 24 September 1994 and struck from the Navy list on the same day. She was disposed of by transfer to the Maritime Administration on 1 February 1999. There was a private effort to save the Bolster and turn it into a floating museum, however the effort was not successful.[1] On 12 April 2011, MARAD awarded a contract to Marine Metals of Brownsville, Tx to dismantle Bolster for $462,223.31.[2] Bolster departed the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet on 23 May 2011 for hull cleaning at BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair.[3] Bolster was towed to Brownsville upon completion of the cleaning and is currently undergoing scrapping.[4]

Military awards and honors[edit]

Bolster received seven battle stars for her Korean War service (9 September 1950-6 July 1951, 24 January-16 August 1952, and 16 February-15 April 1953);

  • North Korean Aggression
  • Communist China Aggression
  • First UN Counter Offensive
  • Communist China Spring Offensive
  • Second Korean Winter
  • Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952
  • Korea Summer-Fall 1953

Bolster received eleven campaign stars for Vietnam War service:

  • Vietnamese Counteroffensive
  • Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase II
  • Tet Counteroffensive
  • Tet 69/Counteroffensive
  • Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969
  • Vietnam Winter-Summer 1970
  • Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Vietnamese Counteroffensive - Phase VII
  • Consolidation I
  • Consolidation II
  • Vietnam Ceasefire

Bolster’s crew was eligible for the following medals, ribbons, and commendations:

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links[edit]