The History of USS Current 1957- 1972
|Updated December 5, 2016|
On June 7, 1957, after many notable accomplishments, Current departed Sasebo for Yokosuka, Japan. Upon arrival in Yokosuka, the ship received an emergency message to get underway to render assistance to the SS Alaska Bear, a former C-2 Victory Ship, the Bluefield Victory, that had gone aground near the entrance to Tokyo, Kaiwan. The salvage of the Alaska Bear consisted of laying beach gear, pumping out flooded holds, off loading cargo and towing the merchantman into deeper water. Within three days after Current had freed the Alaska Bear and by the evening of June 21, 1957 she was once again moored in Yokosuka Harbor after towing the salvaged vessel to Yokohama, Japan. To complete a well rounded West Pac tour of duty, Current received an Operational Readiness Inspection on June 27 and 28. During this West Pac tour Current received twelve " Well Done" commendations from various commanders. On July 3, 1957, with the West Pac deployment complete, Current was underway for Pearl Harbor. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor in mid July 1957, underwent a period of crew leave and shipyard upkeep, and remained there until the end of August. The month of September found Current available for Fleet services in the mid-Pacific area, while once again making preparations for another tour of duty in the Western Pacific with Commander Seventh Fleet. On October 14, 1957, Current’s crew said farewell to Hawaii. With the aircraft transportation lighter YCV-17 in tow, the ship departed for Midway Island, arriving at Midway on October 20. After releasing the YCV-17, Current was underway to Yokosuka for the next week and a half. Upon arrival at Yokosuka, the ship was allocated nine days for voyage repairs.
Upon leaving Yokosuka, the next port of call was Sasebo, Japan where Current operated as a target-towing vessel for units of a Navy destroyer division in the area until November 1957. At the end of November 1957, the ship was underway for the Philippines where she was available for local fleet training services. On December 18, 1957, Current departed Subic Bay with two LSSL landing craft in tow, bound for Formosa, where the LSSL’s were turned over to the Chinese Nationalist Navy. After five days of bad weather and high seas, Current arrived in Formosa, transferred the tows then headed westward to spend Christmas 1957 in Hong Kong. After spending the first part of January 1958 with the Seventh Fleet, the remainder of the month was spent en route home to Pearl Harbor where the ship prepared for her bi-annual overhaul period scheduled for March and April 1958. On May 5, Current completed her shipyard period and a week was spent cleaning ship before the Commander Fleet Training group organization came aboard to bring Current into a well organized, smooth functioning unit. As always, it was a tough struggle, but the men of the Fleet Training Group and the crew of Current both did their jobs well and the ship emerged with an overall readiness evaluation of "Good".
During the afternoon of May 29, 1958, approximately twenty miles southwest of Pearl Harbor, the submarine USS Stickleback SS-415 was providing antisubmarine warfare target services for USS Silverstein DE-534, USS Ramsden DER-382, USS Strickland DE-333 and USS Sturtevant DE-239. The torpedo retriever boat for the exercises was the USS Greenlet ASR-10. The Stickleback had just completed a simulated torpedo run on the Silverstein and was diving to a safe depth when a problem in maneuvering occurred. Power was lost. Stickleback took a tremendous down angle then started to go down and began approaching test depth of between 700 to 800 feet. The decision was made to emergency surface. Unfortunately, the Stickleback broached the surface approximately two hundred yards ahead of Silverstein. The Silverstein, when seeing the submarine break the surface, immediately went all back full with a left full rudder in an effort to avoid a collision, but holed the submarine on the port side, just forward of the conning tower, at the bulkhead between the control room and the forward battery area. Damage to the submarine was extensive, especially to the hydraulic manifold. After the order to abandon ship was given, Greenlet came alongside on the starboard side and removed the crew of the Stickleback, while a combined effort was made to keep the submarine afloat by the crews of the Greenlet, Silverstein, USS Sabalo SS-302 and USS Sturtevant . Current was dispatched to the scene along with two crash boats from Keehi Lagoon, aircraft from Barbers Point Naval Air Station, the Kaneohe Marine Corp Air Station and search and rescue aircraft from Hickam Air Force Base. Current arrived approximately four hours after the collision and found Stickleback down by the bow by approximately 30 degrees. Current immediately passed a messenger through a chock on the stern of the submarine and began to deliver the tow wire. Captain Stangl ordered all hatches on Current's fantail and engineering spaces dogged down as a precaution if the Stickleback began to sink while under tow. The risk of flooding to Current's after compartments and engine room would be prevented if Current's stern was pulled under. However, before the tow wire could be secured, the Stickleback's down angle increased to 60 degrees. A heavy rumble was heard and the Stickleback started to go down. Hydrophones were manned and after approximately 12 minutes an explosion was heard. The sinking submarine's hull was crushed due to the enormous pressures on the hull as it was going down. At 1857, on May 29, 1958 the Stickleback sank in eighteen hundred fathoms of water approximately 15 miles south of Barber's Point.
On May 31, 1958 a change of command ceremony took place on Current. LCDR Harold R. Minard, USN, relieved LCDR Gerald G. Stangl, USN as the captain of USS Current.
During the month of June, the ship provided services to the fleet in the Hawaiian area once again, often acting in the capacity of a carrier for the KD-21 Small Drone Unit from Barber's Point Naval Air Station.
In July, the ship went into an upkeep status in preparation for the upcoming West Pac deployment. Current departed for another Far East deployment on July 21, 1958 en route to Midway Island with the water barges YW-67 and YW-79 in tandem tow. The tows were delivered to Midway on the morning of July 28 and Current departed the same afternoon en route to Yokosuka. After most favorable sea and weather conditions from Hawaii to Yokosuka, the ship was allocated nine days for voyage repairs upon arrival at Yokosuka. With Current's departure from Yokosuka, the ship's schedule looked easy for the months ahead. A month and a half in Sasebo, a short tour in Subic Bay and Manila, then an eagerly awaited visit to Hong Kong. This was the tentative schedule, but such was not to be. After arriving in Sasebo, the ship received final instructions and was underway within 48 hours to conduct diver training for the Korean Navy at the Port of Pusan. After three days in Pusan, Current received an urgent message from Comservron Three to proceed to Naka Se on Japan's Inland Sea to conduct salvage operations on the ocean going minesweeper the USS Prestige MSO-465 which went aground in the treacherous Naruto Strait.
At 0700 on August 21, 1958, COMINDIV 92 in USS Pivot MSO-463 in company with USS Prestige MSO-465 and USS Pluck MSO-464 departed Yokosuka, Japan en route to Kure, Japan via the Naruto Strait in Japan's Inland Sea. The Naruto channel is about eight hundred yards wide, but the navigable width is reduced to 200 yards with approximately 11 knot currents in the vicinity of Naka Se. Prior to entering the Naruto Strait at about 0007 on August 23, the ships were directed to proceed independently through Naruto Strait and to rejoin at completion of the transit. At about 0135 on the morning of August 23 the Prestige went aground on Naka Se, at 34° 39´ North Latitude, 134° 39´ East Longitude. During the grounding investigation it was found that the visual bearings Prestige was relying on were misinterpretations between two different navigation lights and the Prestige was actually off course. At about 0230, attempts were made to lighten ship in an effort to back off the rocks. From this time until 1900, continued attempts were made by Prestige to extricate herself by use of her own power. At about 0500 and again at 1607, Pivot made courageous but unsuccessful attempts to pull Prestige free of the rocks. At about 1900, flooding of the engineering spaces was out of control. From about 1937 until 2009 all personnel except the officers and three enlisted men were removed from the ship. At approximately 2345 the Prestige Captain, Lieutenant Commander H. J. Yerly gave the order to the remaining personnel to abandon ship when all indications were that the Prestige would capsize. There were no injuries to any of the minesweeper's personnel during the grounding. During August 25 and 26 typhoon Flossie passed through the area of the grounding and further embedded the Prestige in a cradle of rocks from which she could not be removed.
When Current arrived with Commander Frank W. Laessle, COMSERVPAC Salvage Officer as officer in charge of the grounded minesweeper, the Prestige was down by the bow 15 to 20 degrees and was subject to free flooding throughout the ship. Current spent two weeks of intensive salvage operations attempting to save the Prestige without success. After the Prestige was declared a total loss and that the minesweeper was beyond salvage, the recommendation was to destroy the grounded ship with explosive charges. Permission was granted by the Navy Department in Washington, D.C. to destroy the remaining hull. Current left the scene of the grounding for a two day trip to the port city of Kobe for Captain Minard to request authorization from the Japanese Self Defense Force to detonate large amounts of explosives in the Inland Sea of Japan. The trip also gave the officers and crew a respite from salvage work. Current returned to the scene of the grounding with Japanese approval for the demolition of the stricken minesweeper with explosives. On September 5, after removing salvageable equipment, four, one thousand pound demolition charges and 350 pounds of C3 plastic explosives were placed on the Prestige. The demolition charges were detonated with one, five pound block of C3. At 1330, the charges were detonated, demolishing the Prestige, with the bridge burning down to the main deck.
Once the demolition was complete, Current departed for Bungo Suido off the small Japanese fishing village of Oku, Shikoku to locate a Marine Corp aircraft which crashed and sank. Eight days were spent in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the wreckage of the plane. The uncertain position of the crash site and the water depth made the assignment practically impossible. Only a few pieces of wreckage found snagged in a local fisherman's nets was returned to Current. However, the trip was not a total failure. During that time period, President Eisenhower's "People to People" policy was advanced tremendously as Current's crew was adopted by the friendly villagers of Oku and in turn, the crew reciprocated by treating the villagers to a few nights of entertainment and providing Popsicles and soft drinks for everyone. Because Current's ship's store ran out of cigarettes, Current's crew bought up all the Japanese cigarettes available in Oku.
Current returned to Sasebo for a scheduled few weeks of needed upkeep and rest and recreation for the crew. But after three days in port, an urgent message was received to get underway. The USNS LSM-335 had broached and was hard aground on the beach at Fukae Shima in the Gotto Chain of Islands, 65 nautical miles south of Sasebo, Japan. Current arrived and found the LSM broached broadside and a long distance from the water at low tide. The LSM went aground at high tide in 45 to 50 knot winds and was calculated to be aground by 500 tons. The closest point Current could get to the LSM was 3000 feet. Captain Minard requested a very large bulldozer from the Sasebo Navy Fleet Activities to move sand from around the grounded ship. Current planted both of the Bower anchors with buoy markers and attached the tow cable. After six days of moving sand, wrestling with heavy seas and a parted tow cable, the stubborn LSM slid off the beach nine days later. Because Current had to slip both anchors to continue the towing operation once the LSM was free, Current returned to Fukae Shima to retrieve the Bower anchors after the LSM was successfully escorted to Sasebo. A letter of commendation was received from COMSTS and a letter of appreciation from the master of the LSM for this salvage operation. Current spent the next few weeks in Sasebo. The ship maintained a normal routine for the remainder of the West Pac tour, traveling to Iwakuni for a week to survey the re-positioning of a buoy, and another week off of Hakata searching for the wreckage of an Air Force jet that crashed and sank, as well as several target towing assignments.
At midnight on November 25, 1958, Current bade farewell to Sasebo as many friends waved Sayonara. The ship departed for Pearl Harbor but was diverted to a Midway Island to tow a barge to Pearl Harbor. After refueling, Current departed Midway Island towing a 10,000 ton concrete barge arriving with the tow at Pearl Harbor on December 14, 1958 in time for the Christmas holidays.
The early months of 1959 were rather uneventful. After a month of leave and upkeep, the ship returned to a ready duty status always ready to tackle any assignment that might arise. Current operated from Pearl Harbor and was used extensively as a launching pad for KD Drones used in combatant's gunnery exercises and towing target sleds for the fleet.
Current's next assignment was a visit to Pago Pago, American Samoa. The COMSERVPAC salvage officer Commander Frank W. Laessle called Captain Minard to the COMSERVPAC office to discuss an assignment that was being proposed. He asked Captain Minard to develop a plan to conduct a salvage survey. After the plan was submitted and approved, Current was assigned the job. The assignment in Samoa was to conduct a salvage survey of the sunken former US Navy gasoline tanker USS Chehalis AOG-48 in Pago Pago Harbor.
On October 7, 1949, while the fully laden USS Chehalis was transferring its nearly 400,000 gallons of motor and aviation gasoline cargo at the US Naval Station, Tutuila fuel dock, leaking gasoline from one of the transfer lines ignited and exploded into flames. The starboard side of the ship and the fuel dock became consumed in flames, killing six of the crew and injuring 24 others during their efforts to save the ship. After many hours of unsuccessful efforts to put the flames down and growing fear that the magazines would explode causing massive damage to buildings and the harbor, the tanker was pulled away from the fuel dock by a LCVP. Volunteers went aboard to open as many sea valves that could be reached in the engine room. The Chehalis slowly settled by the stern in approximately 150 feet of water extinguishing the raging fire. Through the years, the sunken Chehalis has been the suspected source of minor but reoccurring gasoline pollution of Pago Pago Harbor. The Chehalis sank with an estimated 200,000 gallons of gasoline still on board and with nearly 2,000 rounds of 3 inch ammunition and 16,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition in the magazines.
Commander Laessle gave Captain Minard a set of photos taken on the day of the fire and a copy of a salvage survey completed several years earlier. Captain Minard, B'osn Jerry Monaghan, the diving officer and Current's divers prepared for the survey by studying the records of the USS Chehalis and other Patapsco Class Gasoline Tankers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard before departure as well as during the voyage to Pago Pago. Because of water depths of approximately 175 feet in the area of the sunken Chehalis, Current doubled the amount of breathing oxygen allowance it normally carried for diving operations.
Prior to departure, Captain Minard requested permission to visit Tahiti or Fiji after completion of the salvage survey. The request for the visit to Tahiti was denied, but a four day visit to Suva, Fiji had been cleared through the Crown Colony and the British Government there at Suva. The Captain then went to the Disbursing Officer, Naval Supply Center and made arrangements for the crew to be paid six weeks advance pay before Current departed for Samoa. It was the only way the crew would have enough money for liberty in Pago Pago and Suva. At 1030 on Monday February 26, 1959, Current departed Pearl Harbor for the two thousand mile trip to Samoa. Traveling on board Current was a group of Samoan sailors and marines returning home for leave.
At 0930 on Saturday, March 14, Current crossed the Equator at coordinates 0° Latitude and 170° West Longitude at which time Captain Minard slowed the ship to five knots for the traditional Equator crossing ceremony. The ship was now in the Domain of Neptunus Rex. Current's Shipfitter Chief R. E. Brady was appointed as His Majesty King Neptune and scheduled the traditional events and ceremonies for the day to initiate many of the ship's pollywog officers, chiefs and crew. Most of the crew had their heads shaven clean and were subjected to other "punishments". A good time was had by all. Current departed the Equator with the entire crew now designated as Shellbacks.
Current was met by a pilot boat at the entrance to Pago Pago Harbor and was assigned the same berth normally used by the S. S. Lurline and the S. S. Mariposa, both luxury liners that operated in the Pacific. Upon arrival at Pago Pago, Captain Minard made official visits to the State Department Personnel and then to the Governor of Samoa, Peter Tali Coleman. Captain Minard and Current's Executive Officer, Lieutenant Joe Ramseyer were invited to dinner that evening at the governor's mansion. During Current's stay at Pago Pago, Captain Minard was also invited by the governor to go deep sea fishing. It was a good day as Captain Minard and the governor returned with eleven Albacore tuna each weighing about forty pounds. The governor sent his chef with four of the tuna to assist Current's commissary men in preparing fresh baked tuna for Current's crew.
Prior to the beginning of the survey, Current moored in a three point mooring directly over Chehalis to be used as a staging platform to conduct the salvage survey. Captain Minard made the first dive along with a second class boatswain mate salvage diver. The Chehalis was found to be laying on its starboard side with much damage in the area of the fire. The cargo fuel tanks were accessed for fuel samples to be returned for analysis. During the diving operations, one of Current's divers developed symptoms of the Bends. The ship's Pharmacist Mate placed the diver in the recompression chamber onboard and took him to the equivalent depth of 200 feet or 115 pounds per square inch. After eight hours, he had no discomfort and seemed to have recovered.
Governor Coleman was an amateur scuba diver and had asked if he could make a dive on the Chehalis. Captain Minard was reluctant to the idea of sending an amateur down in that depth of water, but the Captain agreed to send the governor down in company with a first class diver and with strict limitations and absolute decompression before reaching the surface. Governor Coleman was most impressed with his experience of diving the Chehalis. After the dive, the Governor remained on board Current and continued to have conversations with Current's crew.
The final determination and recommendation of the salvage survey was that the salvage of the Chehalis was not feasible in that the costs involved in such an operation would be far greater than any benefit derived from a successful salvage. USS Chehalis still remains at the bottom of Pago Pago Harbor to this day.
Once the salvage survey was completed, the Captain decided to top off the fuel tanks at the Standard Oil Company fuel pier at Pago Pago. The ship's movement report from Pago Pago to Suva, Fiji was sent to COMSERVPAC. At 1100 on April 11, Current departed for Suva, Fiji with the returning Samoan sailors on board.
Current arrived in the harbor at Suva at about 0830 and was met by the pilot boat with the local harbor representative to give all of the arrival information and where to tie up. After Current tied up at the designated pier, Captain Minard was informed that he had an appointment at 1330 to meet Fiji's Governor General, Sir Kenneth Maddocks. The governor general's security representative came on board to discuss the rules concerning the granting of liberty for the crew. The four day stay in Fiji was well spent and enjoyed by the crew. At 0800 on the morning of the fifth day, Current departed Suva for the seventeen day voyage to Pearl Harbor.
At 0830 on July 11, 1959, Current received a message from COMSERVPAC that the 5,690 ton M/V Beaverbank, owned by the Bank Line Ltd., of Glasgow, Scotland had gone aground on July 5, 1959 during the latter part of a flood tide. The Beaverbank grounded on a shallow coral reef or shelf off the north side of the channel entrance to English Harbor Lagoon, Fanning Island, approximately 1,200 miles south of Hawaii. All salvage gear was prepared and inspected and all of the crew returned to the ship on Saturday morning. At 0930, Current received a message from COMSERVPAC with orders to depart for Fanning Island with the COMSERVPAC Salvage Officer Commander Frank W. Laessle embarked in Current as Officer in Charge of the salvage operation. At 1300 on Saturday Current departed Pearl Harbor for Fanning Island arriving at Fanning Island at 0600, July 15. At 0815, Commander P. B. Stuart, Officer in Charge of salvage operations for the British Admiralty boarded Current for the purpose of conveying all information concerning the salvage operations to date. At 1015, a conference was held on board the Beaverbank with Captain R. A. Lorains, Master of Beaverbank, the Bank Line Superintendent and the Lloyds of London Representative. Captain Minard, Commander Laessle and Current's B'osn Jerry Monaghan met with salvage personnel from Auckland, New Zealand hired by Lloyds of London, the insurer for the Bank Line. The Beaverbank was carrying 2,500 tons of coconut oil and 5,400 tons of copra and coconut meal in the forward holds along with several tons of ballast. The ship was calculated to be 4,000 tons aground. Current's crew assisted with the dumping of copra and the pumping of coconut oil overboard. As the Beaverbank was being lightened from the offloading of its cargo, it was slowly being driven farther aground by the wave action of the surf. Current's salvage crew filled the empty holds with water to prevent the ship from any additional movement ashore. Seven of Current's salvage pumps were placed onboard the Beaverbank so that the water ballasted holds could quickly be pumped out during the pull at high tide. Current laid six sets of beach gear and planted five additional anchors with wire cable from the Beaverbank's rigging to assist during the pulling effort. Because the water off shore was too deep for Current to anchor and too shallow to come in close, because of the reef, Current departed each evening and remained underway at night steaming at about 5 knots in a line about one and a half miles long and about 8 to 10 miles from shore. Because of the difficulty of raising the workboat at the end of each day, Current's workboat and two crewmembers remained ashore. BM2 Ernie Shea and GM1 Charles Stewart remained ashore with a detachment of British marines from Christmas Island assigned to assist in the Beaverbank salvage. One hour prior to high tide, Current approached to attach the tow cable to the stern of the Beaverbank then began to make turns for 5 knots. All of the beach gear now was under strain. As the turns were increased to 7 knots, the Beaverbank began to move seaward. After 30 minutes it was free of the reef and taken 2 to 3 miles into deep water. Current retrieved only four sets of beach gear. Two sets were dragged into deep water and lost. Current's divers examined the Beaverbank's hull and found no damage. The remaining salvage gear left on board the Beaverbank was later returned to Current when the ship reached Honolulu. Current's lost salvage equipment was replaced when the ship returned to Pearl Harbor.
At the beginning of September 1959, Current assisted Submarine Squadron One as a reference vessel for the guided missile submarine USS Tunny SSG-282 in a test firing of the Regulus Missile. Current's assignment was to take position down range near the impact area where observers could monitor and evaluate the performance of the fired missile. The Tunny was the first of four diesel submarines converted to launch the Regulus missile. The four Regulus missile submarines of Submarine Squadron One made a total of forty one nuclear deterrent patrols over the course of five years until the introduction of the Polaris Missile.
Current deployed to the Western Pacific in November 1959. During this deployment the ship was on assignments a considerable amount of the time. Beside towing target sleds, Current towed a yard crane from Iwakuni to Sasebo and on her return to Pearl Harbor via Midway she towed a water barge. Current returned to Pearl Harbor on March 15, 1960 and after a short leave and upkeep period, preparations were made for a shipyard overhaul. Upon completion of the dry-docking and overhaul on June 24, 1960, Current had one of the most unique assignments of her salvage career awaiting her.
On June 15, 1960 during a diver training exercise, a Navy scuba diver, C. F. Buhl, discovered a sunken Japanese two-man midget submarine in 78 feet of water approximately 2000 yards seaward of Keehi Lagoon, near the Pearl Harbor entrance. This submarine was one of five Japanese two man submarines used for the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Captain Minard was called into the office of the COMSERVPAC Salvage Officer. Captain Minard was asked to pick five or six men that could keep this discovery in confidence and go to the site to evaluate the midget submarine for possible salvage. Captain Minard was informed that Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet was contemplating destruction of the submarine were it was found, mainly because it had been there for twenty years. After asking Current's Boatswain CWO Jerry Monagahan to choose the men as well as a boat crew, Captain Minard along with Current's Diving Officer Fred Bailey and the divers took Current's work boat to the scene of the sunken submarine.
After diving on the sub for an entire day, enough data was accumulated to make a reasonable salvage recommendation to COMSERVPAC. The survey identified the submarine as the same type as the Japanese midget submarine recovered at Kaneohe in December 1941. A salvage plan was developed and approved by COMSERVPAC. Captain Minard wanted the opportunity to salvage the submarine because this would provide a real salvage training exercise for the crew from the development of a salvage plan to the completion of the job. This assignment would also show Current's abilities. Upon further inspection of the submarine, two eighteen-foot torpedoes were found to be in an armed condition. Current arrived on the scene and sent two divers to buoy both ends of the sub. Current moored over the site in a three point moor. Five holes were drilled in the hull of the submarine using a plug drill. The plugs of steel were sent to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for analysis to verify the level of corrosion that occurred to the hull during the twenty years submerged in salt water. The resulting analysis indicated the hull was only deteriorated three to five percent. On July 6, 1960, with an array of lift slings, Current raised the Type "A", 46 ton, 81 foot long submarine reasonably intact. The submarine was in very good condition despite the length of time it had been lying at the bottom of Keehi Lagoon. For safety concerns, the torpedo section was unbolted from the bow of the sub and disposed of at sea. The sub's conning tower hatch was found to be opened from the inside, but the fate of the two crewmen, Ensign Shigemi Furuno and Petty Officer Shigenori Yokoyama is unknown. This submarine, I-18tou, had been designated by the Navy as "Midget D". It was launched from its mother submarine I-18 at 0215 on the morning of December 7,1941. The submarine was spotted on the morning of December 7, 1941 and depth charged. At that time it was unclear what the fate of I-18tou was until it was discovered in 1960.
The media and photographers were at the scene waiting for the Japanese sub to break the surface of the water. Once the sub was raised and secured for transit, Current departed Keehi Lagoon at 2130 on July 14 for Pier W-10 at West Loch where the floating crane YD-121 and a YC barge were moored. After the Japanese submarine was successfully lifted from Current's starboard side by YD-121 on to the YC, COMSUBPAC took responsibility for the midget submarine. COMSUBPAC's initial plan was to place the submarine on display at the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor as a fitting remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan's Counsel General in Honolulu, Masayuki Harigai after an invitation by Pacific Fleet's Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Paul H. Ramsey to view the salvaged submarine, asked that it be returned to Japan. The two man submarine was donated to the Japanese Government, shipped to the US Naval Shipyard, Yokosuka, Japan on the deck of a Navy LST, subsequently restored and placed on display as a war memorial at the Japanese Maritime Defense Forces Service School at Etajima, Japan in 1961.
During a change of command ceremony on September 13, 1960, Lieutenant George J. Evans assumed command of USS Current from Lieutenant Commander Harold R. Minard. Current was again assigned as a missile recovery ship for Submarine Squadron One during the Regulus missile tests off the Island of Kauai.
Soon after the Christmas Holidays in 1960, preparations were made for a West Pac deployment. On January 26, 1961 Current departed Pearl Harbor for Naha, Okinawa with a large U.S. Army floating crane in tow. Current delivered the crane to army officials at Naha on February 20, 1961 and then continued on to Sasebo, Japan. In April, Current was assigned to British North Borneo as the standby rescue and salvage ship during the large Southeast Asia Treaty Organization SEATO operation called " Pony Express ". On her return to Pearl Harbor, Current was diverted to Kwajalein to tow a YTB tug to Pearl Harbor arriving on June 8, 1961. After arrival from West Pac a short leave and upkeep period was scheduled. During the next four months Current conducted local operations and services for the fleet in the Hawaiian area.
Current again departed for the Western Pacific on November 17, 1961 towing five 530 ton U.S. Army barges destined for Pusan, Korea. A southwest course to Guam was charted. This southerly track was chosen to avoid the North Pacific waters where high seas and large storms are prevalent during the winter months. On December 3, 1961, 700 miles east of Guam, Current was refueled by the USS Cimarron AO-22 and became the first Pacific Fleet ship to be refueled underway while towing. After the refueling, Current turned northwest ward and prepared for heavy weather. On the morning of December 7, Current was lying to in the lee of Pagan Island in the Marianas Group while a boarding party inspected and repaired worn bridles and replaced the barges' running lights batteries. During this time the rest of the crew took pictures of the still active volcano on the north end of the island. With the running lights again burning brightly, Current continued the northwest course, keeping a wary eye on typhoon Ellen which was forming east of the Philippines. Three days later typhoon Ellen veered northeast ward and headed directly across Current's intended track, forcing her to turn southward to escape the 110 knot winds of Ellen. After typhoon Ellen had passed well clear many miles to the north, Current once again turned her bow toward the East China Sea with the five "Ugly Ducklings" on the end of Current's 1750 foot tow wire. On December 16, Current again had her fuel tanks topped off underway by the USS Chipola AO-63. The following day Current was re-supplied with 34 net loads of provisions by highline from the USS Vega AF-59 in a record-breaking 48 minutes. On December 19, taking advantage of a brief lull in the stiff headwinds and seas, the bridles were inspected and the running light batteries on the barges were replaced again. On the morning of December 23, 1961, Current arrived at Pusan Harbor and delivered the five barges to the custody of the US Army Port Authorities, bringing to an end a record breaking thirty-six day non stop 5,792 mile towing operation. After passing the tows at Pusan, Current immediately continued on to Sasebo. On the morning of December 24, 1961, the ship moored at Sasebo for long awaited rest and recreation that was the routine during the Christmas holiday season.
On January 2, 1962 while tied up at the pier at Sasebo, Current began to take on water. EN3 John Bauer was taking his readings at 1800, during his 1600 to 2000 watch and became concerned about the rising level of water in the bilges. He measured 12.5 inches. Coming back from the starboard forward corner of B-2 behind the number two S/S generator, John Bauer noticed some oil or water in the generator sump, the same level that was in the bilges. He went to the First Class Compartment to alert Burton, the engineering duty Petty Officer. When John Bauer returned the number two S/S generator flywheel was throwing out bilge water. After several attempts to rectify the situation by pumping, submersible pumps were rigged to control the rising bilge water. The water had risen to the deck plates in B-1 and B-2 rendering all electrical equipment inoperative. One of the men on watch closed the bilge suction valves stopping the inflow of sea water. After the flooding was controlled, EN3 Bauer assisted in B-2 to search for the source of the leak. After much searching, no leak was found. An investigation determined that a check valve on the bilge pump discharge line was installed backward by the Pearl Harbor Shipyard which allowed water to enter Current's bilge when the discharge valve was left open. The Engineering Department worked eight on eight off shifts for approximately a month to repair the flooding damage to the engineering spaces. The complete un sworn account of the flooding presented to the Captain's Mast by EN3 John Bauer can be found on this website by clicking on Current Documents
When ready for sea once again, Current proceeded as assigned, visiting ports at Naha, Okinawa, Buckner bay, Okinawa, Hong Kong and Yokosuka before heading home to Pearl Harbor. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor March 27, 1962. After a leave and upkeep period, Current served as a Ready Duty Salvage Ship and Fleet Training Group Service Ship until her bi-annual overhaul in June 1962. The overhaul and dry-docking was completed at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Upon completion of a successful overhaul, the ship began underway training with much determination. The determination and hard work earned the ship the excellent grade of 91. The ship did not receive any grade below excellent in any competitive exercise for the first half of that fiscal year. The Gunnery Division won the coveted " E " award for outstanding gunnery performance.
During 1962, Operation Dominic, a series of 36 atomic tests was conducted between Christmas Island and Johnston Island. Current's crew was able to view some of the resulting fireballs of the high altitude atomic test from Pearl Harbor some 900 miles away.
During the tense period of October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis found Current tied up at Alpha Piers available to leave port at a moment's notice. All ammunition ready boxes were re-supplied and the crew was allowed to be away from the ship for only one hour at a time during the crisis.
In November the ship spent one week in the clear waters off Lahaina, Maui for the re-qualification of deep sea divers. The remainder of November and December 1962 saw Current in a ready duty status as standby rescue and salvage ship and assist ship for Fleet Training Group. Over the Christmas holidays the ship went into a leave and upkeep period, the last one before once again deploying to the Western Pacific. The month of January 1963 found Current making preparations for deployment, and on January 31 Current again stood out of Pearl Harbor to join the Seventh Fleet for four months. On the morning of February 14, Current arrived in Yokosuka after a long and uneventful voyage. After completing an upkeep period, Current departed Yokosuka on March 1 and proceeded to Iwakuni with the gasoline barge YOGN-121 in tow. While en route to Iwakuni through rough seas, YOGN-121 began to take on water and began a dangerous list. Current towed the disabled barge into the shelter of the coastal island of Oshima. Divers found cracked seams at the bottom of the barge, made the necessary repairs and shored the cracks. On March 6, after the barge was pumped out, the voyage proceeded back to Yokosuka with a 4 man riding crew aboard to keep the shipping of water to a minimum. Upon successfully reaching Yokosuka with the crippled barge on March 7, Current entered another upkeep period and completed the planning stages for what was to be her most difficult West Pac assignment, the establishment of mooring buoys at Marcus Island.
Current departed Yokosuka on March 23, 1963 for Marcus Island to rendezvous with the buoy tenders USCGC Kukui WLB-203 and the USCGC Buttonwood WLB-306. While at Marcus Island, Current in cooperation with the Kukui and the Buttonwood, conducted a hydrographic and underwater survey of the south coast of the island and established two mooring buoys in this vicinity for the navigational use of supply ships delivering goods to the island. The operation was plagued by unfavorable weather conditions. Current could not anchor during the operation due to very strong ocean currents and was forced to remain underway. The crews of all three ships worked long, hard hours to accomplish the necessary tasks. By April 16, 1963, the operation had been successfully completed. Current bade farewell to Marcus Island and departed for a well earned rest period in Hong Kong. On April 25 at 1345, Current set the sea detail and entered Hong Kong Harbor. Upon arrival, Current tied up alongside the USS Kennebec AO-36, took on 5,300 gallons of fuel then tied up at the British Naval Base. While in Hong Kong, the entire exterior of the ship was painted by six Chinese women who worked for Mary Sue's Side Cleaners. On May 1, Current departed Hong Kong, transited the Taiwan Straits and proceeded to Naha, Okinawa. The ship arrived on May 5 and left Naha May 6 for Pearl Harbor arriving on May 22, 1963. After a leave and upkeep period, Current began two weeks of intensive training, including one week of diver re-qualification and training off of Lahaina, Maui.
In mid July 1963, Current went through an availability at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. During this period it was announced that Current had won the coveted Service Force Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency " E " for rescue and salvage class ships. She also won the Green " C " award for the ship's excellent communications performance as well as the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund award for outstanding improvement in battle efficiency during 1963. These awards were given as a result of Current attaining the highest overall average in competitive exercises in ARS type ships for the fiscal year 1963 with an average of 91.3.
On August 5, 1963 Current departed for Johnston Island with two barges in tow. While at Johnston Island, Current's personnel conducted an underwater and sounding survey of areas within the inner harbor, removed navigational obstructions by blasting and established tow mooring buoys off the northern tip of the island and one mooring buoy in the inner harbor. Current returned to Pearl Harbor with a barge in tow on August 20.
September 1963 was filled with upkeep time and preparations for the Administrative Inspection which was held on September 25 and 26. Current received an overall grade of 95.03% which was considered an outstanding grade. During the first week of October Current was actively engaged in attempts to recover a sunken US marine tracked landing vehicle from Kailua Bay on the windward side of Oahu. Because seas and weather conditions rendered the operation unduly hazardous, Current returned to Pearl Harbor to await more favorable weather in the recovery area and to prepare for the upcoming change of command ceremony.
On October 8, Rear Admiral W. D. Irvin, Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet presented the Battle Efficiency " E " and the Marjorie Sterett Award to Current's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander George J. Evans, in a ceremony held on board Current.
In a change of command ceremony held on October 12, 1963, Lieutenant Commander Henry P. Fonville assumed command of USS Current from Lieutenant Commander George J. Evans.
As a welcoming gesture for the new skipper, Comservpac called on Current to assist in the re-floating of the grounded Taiwanese merchant vessel Hai Fu, formerly the SS Wheaton Victory, which was fast aground on a reef at the mouth of Kewalo Basin near the entrance to Honolulu Harbor. Current, in conjunction with other Servpac and civilian towing and salvage vessels freed the stranded Hai Fu on the second attempt. Current remained in the vicinity to recover Hai Fu's anchors and a set of beach gear. On October 29, recovery efforts were completed and Current returned to Pearl Harbor. The Hai Fu was evaluated as a total loss, sold for scrap and towed to Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1965.
The month of November 1963 found Current actively engaged in type training exercises, Fleet Training Group services and search and rescue ready duty. One week was spent alongside the Bryce Canyon AD-36 in a tender availability. The first part of December was devoted to crew leave and upkeep, but Current was assigned as the standby rescue salvage vessel, Fleet Training Group services and search and rescue ready duty over the Christmas holidays. Gratefully, her services were not required and everyone enjoyed a relaxing liberty during the holidays.
Through the first half of January 1964, Current remained the standby salvage ship. On January 21, Current departed Pearl Harbor for Johnston Island towing two barges. While at Johnston Island Current kept the commercial tug Moi from going on the rocks by towing her to safe water after the tug had lost power. With the work completed at Johnston Island, Current sailed for Pearl Harbor on February 8. Soon after returning to Pearl, Current was underway again for Lahaina, Maui for diver re-qualifications and training.
During March 1964, Current was busy with refresher training and also spent one week with a tender availability. April was spent preparing for the upcoming trip to West Pac. On May 1, while cradling the after boom and securing it for sea, the boom was accidentally bent and damaged. Current shifted berths to Bravo piers to exchange after booms with the USS Grasp ARS-24, Current's sister ship. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard worked throughout the night to replace the damaged boom so Current could depart on schedule for West Pac the next morning. On May 2, 1964, at 1000, Current set the sea and anchor detail and departed Pearl Harbor for Guam to begin a West Pac deployment. En route to Guam on Sunday May 10, at about 0630, the crankshaft on Current's #4 main engine broke. Current continued on to Guam arriving at 1057 on May 16. The ship moored starboard side to the fuel pier and took on 35,000 gallons of fuel. After the fueling was completed, Current moved to Romeo #2 pier.
The assignment while at Guam was to conduct salvage training exercises on the sunken Republic of Korea patrol craft Han La San PC-705, the former US Navy submarine chaser USS PC-485, which had sunk in the inner harbor during typhoon Karen in November 1962 and raised for future salvage training exercises. On May 21, a harbor tug took the patrol craft across the harbor and scuttled it for the salvage training exercise.
On May 22, a replacement crankshaft for the #4 main engine was located at the Naval Supply Center at Yokosuka, Japan and transported to Guam. Work began on the #4 main engine as the ship's divers began preparations to re-float the sunken patrol craft. The Guam Naval Ship Repair Facility was responsible for the engine repairs. Current spent May 27 and May 28 working over the sunken patrol craft with the assistance of USS Deliver ARS-23 and yard crane YD-120 used to lift the patrol craft from the water. The ship returned and tied up to Lima #2 pier. By June 3, the #4 main engine was running again. Dock trials were conducted on the engine. A few problems were found, but repairs continued throughout the night to resolve the problems. A successful dock test of the #4 main engine was performed on June 4. At 0800, on June 6, Current departed Guam for Subic Bay, Philippines transiting the San Bernardino Straits and arriving at Subic Bay at 1200 on June 12, 1964. While at Subic Bay, Current conducted torpedo training exercises for ComSubPac submarines in the South China Sea. On June 18, Current anchored at Lingayen Gulf to provide the availability of a decompression chamber, in the event of an emergency for five Navy minesweepers assigned to Operation Yellow Bird, sweeping Lingayen Gulf of old Japanese mines, a navigation hazard since World War II.
During this West Pac trip, Current was involved in special operations in the waters off Vietnam during which time the ship received orders to proceed to Saigon to assist in the removal of the abandoned merchant ship SS A. & J. Mid America the former victory ship SS Hugh J. Kilpatrick, anchored in the middle of the Saigon River. Current was accompanied by the fleet tug Tawasa ATF-92. Upon arrival Current's divers EN1 Ray Haas and BM2 Bokanowski inspected the port bilge, keel, rudder and screw for explosive devices. Diver's visibility was very poor during the inspection process. The US Navy was paid by Lloyds of London, the insurer of the SS A. & J. Mid America to remove the vessel after it was abandoned by its crew. The SS Mid America was abandoned because the crew had not been paid any wages. The Navy located a Machinist Mate Chief on the destroyer tender USS Piedmont AD-17, who was knowledgeable about steam reciprocating main propulsion. He along with twenty four officers and men from the Piedmont were flown to Vietnam, got the ship underway and sailed it to Hong Kong with USS Tawasa in company. While underway, passing near the Chinese island of Pai-Li, the Chinese ordered the Mid America to "Leave these waters immediately" and later to "Stop". Ignoring the warning and order, the ship arrived in Hong Kong safely and was turned over to the American Consul General there. As a side note, the Mid America, while at anchor, went aground in Hong Kong Harbor during Typhoon Ruby and was later re-floated.
On July 17, 1964, Current proceeded to special operations at Cam Ranh Bay steaming at 10 knots in formation with the mine countermeasures support ship USS Epping Forest MCS-7 and 9 coastal minesweepers. The task group arrived at Cam Ranh Bay at 0800 on July 19. The assignment was to survey Cam Ranh Bay, take soundings for chart making, check the bottom and determine suitable fleet anchorage locations. Each evening, the commanding officers of all of the special operations units would meet on board the Epping Forest to review the findings and results of the day and to plan for the next day's operations. Current's mail was also picked up from the Epping Forest by Captain Fonville on his return to the ship. On July 20, Current's divers blasted the mast off of a submerged wreck in Cam Ranh Bay's outer harbor, removing a hazard to navigation and clearing the harbor to a depth of 55 feet while other UDT units and special operations units conducted beach reconnaissance and sweeping the inner harbor for mines. On July 25, the special operations group transited to Nha Trang Harbor to conduct the same type of operations there until July 30, then proceeded to Ben Goi Bay until the operations were completed on August 4, 1964.
At 1600, on August 2, 1964 the destroyer USS Maddox DD-731 was attacked by five North Vietnamese patrol boats in the Tonkin Gulf. On the night of August 4, it is believed the destroyers Turner Joy DD-951 and the USS Maddox were again attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats. Current was instructed to take station with the fleet tug Hitchiti ATF-103, in an area approximately 35 miles south of the Tonkin Gulf and 25 miles from the coast of Vietnam, to stand by for any required combat rescue or salvage. Current arrived on station at 2000 on August 7 and was required to maintain a darken ship status after 1900 each day. Current's long overdue mail was being held on the USS Pine Island AV-12 about 50 miles away at Tourane Harbor. Several attempts failed to communicate with the Pine Island so mail could be air lifted to Current by helicopter. After the threat of further attacks on Seventh Fleet ships had passed, Current was released from salvage duties and proceeded to Da Nang to pick up the ship's mail and a vital re-supply of stores. On August 24, Current was relieved by USS Safeguard ARS-25 on station in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. Current returned to Subic Bay on August 27, assumed a tow then departed August 29 for Sasebo, Japan. Current arrived at Sasebo on September 3 and departed for Guam on September 8, 1964. Current arrived at Guam September 14 and with the USS Deliver ARS-23, completed the raising of the sunken Korean patrol craft PC 705 on September 20. Current departed Guam on September 21 arriving at Pearl Harbor on October 3, 1964. For her Vietnam operations during July and August 1964, Current and her crew was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Current then began a period of local training exercises for the Fleet Training Group and leave for the crew.
At the end of 1964, Current began a regular shipyard overhaul period and at the beginning of 1965 was dry-docked at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. On January 22, 1965, Current completed the dry-dock period and was re-floated. Sea trials began on February 10 and by February 19, the overhaul was completed. The ship then began refresher training for the crew. The Operational Readiness Inspection and the preliminary battle problem was presented to the crew on March 22, followed by days of various underway and in port inspections and evaluations designed to increase the ship’s capability and to prepare the crew for the ship’s primary mission of rescue and salvage. The final battle problem was successfully completed on April 9. Current then rejoined the active fleet and was now ready in all respects for her mission.
For the next two months beginning April 13, Current was assigned to project Operation Sailor Hat. Operation Sailor Hat was an underwater and surface high-explosive test program conducted by the US Navy Bureau of Ships under the sponsorship of the Defense Atomic Support Agency. This program consisted of two series of underwater explosions, three surface explosions at San Clemente Island, California, and three surface explosions at Kaho'olawe Island, respectively. Three 500-ton Trinitrotoluene (TNT) charges were constructed on the beach above the water line on the southwest coast of Kaho'olawe. On April 18, after preparations were completed, Current was released from the Operation Sailor Hat project. All associated Sailor Hat gear was removed from the ship. On April 26, an ISE and training period began. Current went alongside the destroyer tender USS Frontier AD-25 on May 3 for a week of maintenance availability. The ship then departed Pearl Harbor for a short Hawaiian Island cruise, with a port call at Lahaina Maui for diver re-qualifications and rest and recreation for the crew. From Lahaina, Current proceeded to Hilo, Hawaii to represent the Navy on Armed Forces Day 1965. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on May 19 to begin a period of local operations.
On May 27, 1965 Current was again assigned to the operational control of Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier for Delta, the third and final Hawaiian phase of Operation Sailor Hat. This last test was conducted to study seismological data, underwater acoustics, radio communications, cratering, cloud growth, fire ball generation and electromagnetic data. The explosions were designed to simulate the air blast effects of nuclear explosions on Navy ships using conventional explosives. Various experimental ship superstructures for new generations of guided missile frigates and guided missile destroyers were evaluated. The tests were conducted to determine whether the experimental structures could satisfactorily combine essential lightness with strength and blast resistance. One of the test ships, The USS Atlanta IX-304, formerly the light cruiser CL-104, was modified with a prototype aluminum superstructure. Several ships were anchored at various distances from of the Island of Kaho'olawe. Current worked extensively with USS Safeguard ARS-25 laying and retrieving heavy mooring cables for the target ships and paying out sets of hydrophones. During the final test blast, one of the project’s civilian contractors employed by EG&G, an engineering and technical services firm, fell from an old lava flow on the island and was killed. Current’s divers along with men from the USS Atlanta swam ashore to retrieve the body, then returned to their ships. Current was released from the operational control of Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier on June 25 and returned to Pearl Harbor to begin a period of restricted shipyard availability to remove all equipment associated with Operation Sailor Hat. During the month of July 1965, Current conducted local operations and upkeep periods. On August 4, Current successfully completed an Operational Readiness Inspection prior to leaving for deployment with the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. Restricted maintenance availability began on August 5, prior to departure.
On August 17, 1965, Current was underway for the Western Pacific deployment with the personnel lighter APL-55, the large covered lighter YFNB-16, and the open lighter YC-1414 in tow. The USS Safeguard ARS-25 was in company. The two ships crossed the 180th Meridian at coordinates 16° 32´ North Latitude and 180° 00´ West Longitude thereby entering the Domain of the Golden Dragon on August 26, 1965. The traditional crew initiations were held on board each of the ships. Upon passing the sea buoys at Pearl Harbor, Current's navigator, Lieutenant Madouse set Current's course at 262° to Guam. Because calm weather made for a comfortable passage, no course correction was ever needed en route to Guam. On September 1, Current changed to the operational control of Commander Seventh Fleet. Because of the three tows, a high consumption of fuel required Current to be refueled at sea by the fleet oiler USS Navasota AO-106 on September 3. On September 7, Current with the tows arrived in Guam and began upkeep and voyage repairs.
On September 20, a change of command ceremony was held. LCDR Henry P. Fonville was relieved as Commanding Officer of Current by LCDR Charles L. Fuld. Two hours later, Current departed Guam with APL-55 and YC-1414 in tow. A course was set directly for Babuyan Channel at the northern tip of the Philippines. The ship then proceeded southward along the west coast of the Philippines toward Subic Bay. On September 29, Current arrived at Subic Bay. After a brief rest and refueling, the ship departed for the final destination, Da Nang, Vietnam. On October 3, Current arrived at Da Nang with the personnel lighter and YC-1414 in tow. This was the first personnel lighter to be used during the Vietnam War. After releasing the tows, Current set a course for Kaoshiung, Taiwan arriving there on October 8, for a brief recreation period. On October 11, the ship departed Kaoshiung for Hong Kong and arrived October 13 for seven days of rest and recreation. The ship departed Hong Kong on October 20 and arrived in the Subic Bay area to begin diver re-qualifications and torpedo retrieval services for Commander Task Group 72.3. An emergency message was received by Current on October 28 to rendezvous and provide assistance to the auxiliary tug USS Molala ATF-106, that was en route from Guam to Subic Bay. En route to the Molala on October 29, a radio message was received from Commander Task Force 73 that Current’s assistance was no longer required. Current came about and returned to Subic Bay on October 30.
During the first two days of November, all of Current’s salvage equipment was removed from the salvage hold and placed on the pier for testing. All of the Caterpiller gasoline and diesel engines from salvage pumps, compressors, and welding equipment were started and exercised for a period of time. On November 4, Current departed Subic Bay for Tsoying, Taiwan arriving on November 6. The assignment was to provide salvage training for divers from the Nationalist Chinese Navy using Current’s new diving equipment. Some of Current’s diving officers became re-acquainted with Commander Ho, who received his diver training with them. After the training was completed, Current departed Tsoying on November 13 and arrived at Chin Hae, Korea on November 17 to provide salvage training for divers of the Republic of Korea Navy. After that training was completed, Current departed Chin Hae on November 21 and arrived at Sasebo, Japan on November 22 to begin an upkeep period. Late on the evening of November 22, an emergency message was received from Commander Task Force 73 to get underway to assist in the salvage of the USS Terrell County LST-1157, aground at Tuy Hoa, Vietnam. The Terrell County was transporting Republic of Korea marines and US Army support units to the Tuy Hoa Sub Area Army Base. After reaching Tuy Hoa, the Terrell County broached in heavy surf at the beach head and grounded before any of the military personnel could disembark. At 0300, on the morning of November 23, Current was underway for Tuy Hoa. En route to Tuy Hoa, Current was forced to navigate through Typhoon Faye and battle gale force winds and heavy seas north of Taiwan. To combat the typhoon, the ship was turned into the seas in an effort to maintain steering. Waves estimated at over seventy-five feet high were breaking over Current’s bridge. As Current violently pitched and rolled during the typhoon, four securing bolts that locked a large salvage pump to the deck in the salvage hold had broken loose, causing the loose salvage pump to freely slide around the hold, destroying other salvage equipment stored in the hold. On November 24, a message received from Commander Task Force 73 instructed Current to return to Sasabo. The Terrell County was ultimately pulled free and temporarily patched by USS Molala ATF-106 and USS Mahopac ATA-196 and then towed to Yokosuka for repairs. Current returned to Sasabo on November 27 and began an upkeep period to repair the damage caused by typhoon Faye. On December 7, the ship departed Sasabo for Buckner Bay, Okinawa to provide target towing services for aircraft under the command of Commander Task Group 72.2. On the evening of December 12, after a day of target towing exercises, Current anchored off of White Beach, Okinawa for the night and sent its work boat to White Beach to pick up five new crew members. On December 13, the ship departed White Beach for Sasebo, and arrived on December 14 to escort the fuel oil barge YO-179 to Naha, Okinawa on December 15. After passing the YO-179 at Naha, Current immediately came about and returned to Sasabo on December 19 to began an upkeep period. An attempt was made on December 29 to provide target towing services for aircraft from Task Group 72.4, but rough seas forced cancellation of the training exercise. The ship returned again to Sasabo on December 30. At the Beginning of 1966, Current was called on to respond to the grounding of the troop transport USNS General Daniel I. Sultan T-AP-120. The Sultan grounded in shoal water west of Okinawa with extensive hull damage and a ruptured fuel tank. However, while en route, Current's services were no longer needed so the ship once again returned to Sasebo. A few days later, Current departed for a scheduled port call at Kobe, Japan for rest and recreation. En route to Kobe, Current transited Japan's beautiful and calm Inland Sea. After departing Kobe, a course was set for Yokosuka, Japan arriving at the US Naval Station, Yokosuka on January 21, 1966 to refuel and re-supply. The currency exchange rate for the crew at the time of Current’s visit to Japan was three hundred sixty Japanese Yen to a US dollar.
With the Western Pacific cruise completed, Current departed Yokosuka and set a course for Midway Island. Upon approach to Midway Island, The harbormaster advised Current that the harbor was closed to ship traffic due to heavy seas. Current remained at sea until the weather improved, entered the harbor and moored port side to the fuel pier. While the ship was being refueled, the crew had the opportunity to visit Midway Island and view its enormous Gooney bird population. Current departed Midway Island the next day and arrived at Pearl Harbor on February 5, 1966. The ship remained in port for crew leave and shipyard upkeep until the first part of March. On March 15, Current arrived off Lahaina, Maui and anchored in the middle of Auau Channel in one hundred fifty feet of water for re-qualification of the ship’s divers in the use of hard hat diving equipment. During the course of the re-qualification, some of the divers were chased out of the water and on to a sea buoy by playful whales that migrate to the waters between the Island of Maui and the Island of Lanai. Current’s crew had fun taunting the macho divers that swam away from the playful whales. The crew enjoyed diving and swimming from Current’s fantail during the daily afternoon swim call, and visiting the historic whaling town of Lahaina on liberty in the evening.
Current returned to the Pearl Harbor Shipyard on March 18, 1966 to undergo modifications for Project Tamarin. Project Tamarin was a scientific study of earthquakes and their relationship to Hawaiian volcanoes. While at the shipyard, the ship’s after boom was strengthened for Project Tamarin to lift heavy loads up to eight tons. Scientific instrumentation and a control center for the project was installed on the fantail of the ship. Current’s assignment was to suspend two large buoys containing sensitive seismic instrumentation at exactly eight hundred feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean and anchor them in twenty-four hundred fathoms of water off the Island of Hawaii’s Kona Coast. Current arrived off the west coast of Hawaii at the town of Kailua on April 26 and began sea trials for the planned buoy drop. On May 1, 1966, Current departed for coordinates 19° 30´ North Latitude, 156° 30´ West Longitude off the west coast of the island to begin anchoring the buoy systems. The next few days were spent charting the sea floor with a Raytheon fathometer to locate a suitable drop point. The first buoy was successfully anchored on May 6. Current then returned to Pearl Harbor to re-supply and returned to the Kona Coast to successfully anchor the second buoy on May 20, 1966. After completion of the project, the ship anchored at Kailua, Hawaii for rest and relaxation for the crew. The ship once again returned to the Pearl Harbor shipyard to remove all of the equipment associated with Project Tamarin. Current became the first ship to successfully anchor scientific instrumentation in twenty-four hundred fathoms of water.
On June 13, Current departed Pearl Harbor with a manned covered lighter YFN-913 in tow. The assignment was to proceed to the Navy’s Hawaiian local operations area number four to collect water samples from various depths to study the gas content of the water. For approximately two weeks, Current towed the floating laboratory barge within a five square mile area of ocean. The ship and barge returned to port on June 26, 1966
On July 19, Current departed Pearl Harbor for the Island of Lanai for salvage training. The abandoned and rusting hulk of the former navy oil storage barge, YOS-30 was hard aground on Lanai’s Kalohi Reef since World War ll. This grounded barge made for a perfect salvage training site for Current. On July 20, Current’s salvage crew laid two sets of beach gear and attached the ship’s main tow cable to the YOS-30. After the beach gear and Ells anchors were rigged, a strain was taken on the beach gear and the tow cable. After completion of the training exercise, the beach gear and anchors were retrieved and stored. Current departed Kalohi Reef for a port call at Lahaina, Maui, anchoring in Auau channel. The ship returned to the Pearl Harbor Shipyard from July 29 to August 8 for routine maintenance and remained at Pearl Harbor to conduct training exercises and target towing services for the Pearl Harbor Fleet Training Group in the Hawaiian local operating areas until October 10.
On October 17, 1966, a tsunami or tidal wave alert was issued for the Hawaiian Islands. A strong earthquake had occurred off the coast of Japan generating a tsunami. All Navy ships present at Pearl Harbor were alerted and instructed to depart Pearl Harbor and proceed to the open sea to safely ride out the tidal wave. Ships leaving Pearl Harbor were assigned to tow other Navy ships that were in the shipyard under repair and couldn’t provide their own power. Current was assigned to tow the gasoline tanker USS Elkhorn AOG-7 that was under modification at a Honolulu shipyard. Late on the night of October 17, the large tidal wave that was expected did not materialize.
October 29, 1966 was Navy Day at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station. Current moored to Kilo piers at the Naval Supply Center and held an open house for the public to board and observe the operations of a rescue and salvage ship. Several of Current’s crewmembers provided tours of the ship, while the ship’s divers conducted diving demonstrations and salvage pump operations from the fantail.
During the next few weeks, Current’s crew began to prepare for administration and pre-deployment inspections. Upon completion of the inspections, the Commander Service Forces Pacific Fleet awarded Current a cumulative grade of 94.35% and a grade of outstanding. This was the highest grade given to a Service Force ship since the previous year. Current was now prepared for the up coming Western Pacific Deployment. Current departed for Bremerton, Washington on December 10, 1966. The assignment was to tow the auxiliary personnel lighter APL-26 from Bremerton to Vung Tau, Vietnam. The personnel barracks barge, built in 1944, was taken from the mothball fleet at Bremerton and modernized at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard for service in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam as a floating headquarters and barracks. APL-26 housed river patrol boat crews from the Navy's Task Force 117 of the Mobile Riverine Force and later as a facility for a Navy EOD team and the Army's Riverine Infantry from the 9th Infantry Division. APL-26 was originally stationed at Vung Tau, but was later moved to Dong Tam.
As the warm tropical weather of the Hawaiian Islands became progressively colder en route to Bremerton, foul weather clothing was issued to Current's crew. Landfall was made at midnight December 18, at the mouth of the Juan De Fuca Straits. Current navigated the Juan De Fuca Straits and Puget Sound throughout the night arriving at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard at dawn on December 19, 1966. While waiting for APL-26 to be commissioned and prepared for sea, the crew enjoyed three days of liberty in the Bremerton and Seattle area. While in port, two Christmas trees were purchased for the Christmas holidays at sea. When Current departed the Juan De Fuca Straits, rough seas required that the Christmas tree stands be welded to the decks for the holidays. En route to Vietnam, Current was forced to make an unscheduled stop at the Pearl Harbor Shipyard because of boiler problems. Because of scheduling conflicts at the shipyard, the necessary repair work wasn't completed until January 16, 1967. On January 16, Current departed Pearl Harbor and set a course for Guam. The ship crossed the International Date Line, the Domain of the Golden Dragon on January 21, at coordinates 16° 32´ North Latitude, 180° 00´ West Longitude. On February 1, Current arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam for refueling. The next day the ship departed Guam and set a course for the San Bernardino Straits in the Philippine Islands. Current navigated the San Bernardino Straits during the day and when the ship reached the open waters of the South China Sea, the crew had the opportunity to view infamous Corregidor as the ship approached Subic Bay, Philippines. On February 10, Current moored at the Subic Bay Naval Shipyard for refueling in preparation for the final destination of Vung Tau, Vietnam.
While at Subic Bay on February 13, Lieutenant Commander Charles L. Fuld was relieved as Commanding Officer of Current by Lieutenant Commander George M. Giganti in a change of command ceremony held on board Current.
After a short delay waiting for better weather conditions in the South China Sea, Current was underway on February 17 for the final destination of Vung Tau, Vietnam with APL-26 and an additional tow, the floating crane YD-174. On February 22, 1967, Current entered Vung Tau Harbor and transferred APL-26 and YD-174 to Navy tugs YTB-784 and YTB-785 from the Mobile Riverine Force. This ended a seven thousand-mile journey. Current immediately came about and returned to Subic Bay. A shipyard maintenance availability was scheduled for Current when the ship arrived at Subic Bay on February 25. During the second week of March 1967, Current conducted local operations around the Subic Bay naval operating area. The ship provided target towing services for Navy destroyers and remote controlled fire fish target services for the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CVAN-65. These services continued until the end of March 1967.
On April 1, Current departed Subic Bay for the waters near Vung Tau, Vietnam. The assignment was to raise the sunken Dong Nai dredge which capsized and sank in heavy seas a few months earlier. The sunken 70 ton Dong Nai Dredge had become a navigational hazard in the Vung Tau shipping channel, the main shipping channel to Saigon.
On April 4, Current arrived in the vicinity of the sunken Dong Nai Dredge off Vung Tau and anchored 11.9 miles south of Cape Vung Tau. The work boat was lowered to began the search for the sunken Dong Nai Dredge. The dredge was located on the afternoon of April 4, lying on its port side in 9 fathoms of water at coordinates 10° 09' North, 107° 03' East. At 0750 on April 5, Current anchored in a two point mooring over the dredge with 45 fathoms of chain out to the starboard bow anchor and 450 feet of 1 5/8" wire out to the stern anchor. Current was anchored on a heading of 209° on the following bearings, Cape Vung Tau Light, tangent 020°, Pointe Ganh Rai Light, tangent 009°, Range 23,000 yards. Divers led by LTJG Vince Weis and BM1 Koesterman began surveying the damage and rigged two, one inch shots of chain straps under the dredge and connected heavy wire pennants to be used for a bow lift. At 1050, B'osn CWO3 Art Racette was placed in Current's recompression chamber on oxygen treatment Table Two (A) for treatment of the Bends by Chief Hospital Corpsman Richard D. Nuttall. USS Greenlet ASR-10, with CTU 73.4.1 embarked, arrived on the morning of April 6 to assist in the salvage operation. At 1421, J. K. Ellis SFM2 ( DV1 ) was placed in the recompression chamber on oxygen treatment Table Two (A) for treatment of the Bends. By April 9, divers and salvage crew successfully bow lifted the dredge under Current’s keel and transported it away from the shipping channel and lowered it back to the bottom in fifteen feet of water. The Dong Nai Dredge was up-righted then prepared to be filled with air to blow it to the surface. On April 13, 1967, while the divers were continuing their patching work on the dredge in preparation for the re-floating, Current received an urgent message from COMSERVPAC, to discontinue work on the Dong Nai Dredge salvage and immediately proceed two hundred miles north to Nha Trang, Vietnam to assist the sunken British Shell oil tanker M/V Amastra at coordinates 12° 12' 43" North Latitude, 109° 12' 55" East Longitude.
As a side note to the Dong Nai Dredge salvage operation, during the effort to clear the dredge of debris, two support cables on the dredge were cut with explosive C4 shape charges. The resulting underwater explosion and concussion created a fish kill of Red Snapper that supplied Current’s crew with a great evening meal.
At 0010, on April 12, 1967, the privately chartered 9,000 ton British flagged Shell Oil tanker MV Amastra had been holed by an external explosive device while moored in the POL transfer anchorage in Nha Trang Harbor, Vietnam. The Amastra was at Nha Trang and transferring JP-4 jet fuel for the US Air Force when the explosion ripped open a four by six foot jagged hole at the waterline near the fire wall between the engine room and the boiler room. The engine room, fire room and the after pump room flooded in twenty minutes causing the Amastra’s stern to settle to the harbor bottom leaving the rear decks awash. Another Shell Oil tanker, the Dutch flagged MV Kara arrived and moored to Amastra's starboard side. The Kara provided auxiliary power and steam so Amastra could transfer 640,000 gallons of the remaining JP-4 to the Kara. The Amastra's damaged area was thirty feet below the water line and required a twelve by twelve-foot patch.
In the early morning hours of April 13, Current arrived in the vicinity of Nha Trang. Prior to beginning the approach to Nha Trang from the open sea, Captain Giganti ordered the crew to General Quarters as the ship's navigation team began the process of navigating the approach channel to Nha Trang Harbor from the open sea. Shortly after arriving in Nha Trang, Current dropped anchor in the middle of the harbor, the work boat was lowered to the water and a salvage team departed for the Amastra to assess the damage and begin a course of action to refloat the tanker. Commander Service Group Three salvage officer Commander J. B. Orem was designated Senior Officer in Charge of the Amastra salvage operation. USS Greenlet as well as Harbor Clearance Unit One's HCT-3 staff members were also sent from Vung Tau to assist in the re-floating operation. Floodlights were secured on Current’s main deck rails and directed into the waters around the ship at sunset. Armed sentries were posted during darkness to defend against any attempt by the Viet Cong to attach a explosives charge to Current's hull while at anchor. Early each morning, Current weighed anchor and moored to Amastra's port side. At the end of the work day, Current departed Amastra and re-anchored in the middle of Nha Trang Harbor for security. Prior to transferring fuel oil to the Kara, Current diver LTJG Vince Weis along with a HCU-1 diver wearing shallow water diving gear went into the Amastra's engine room, filled with dangerous gas fumes, to close a set of valves that allowed Amastra's oil cargo to be transferred to the Kara. Current’s crew rigged salvage pumps and compressors then transferred them to the decks of Amastra. After the ship’s divers maneuvered a fabricated patch into place to stop the inflow of sea water into the engine room, the salvage pumps were started and the Amastra began to show freeboard. The spaces on the Amastra that had been flooded were cleared with the help of thirty to forty Vietnamese and Filipino stevedores. With the loss of power for refrigeration, combined with the hot climate of Vietnam, an estimated six thousand pounds of spoiled meat and vegetables were removed from Amastra to a barge then dumped at sea. While ashore hiring the stevedores, Current’s Operations Officer LTJG Mark Lusink in a conversation with local villagers was informed that the Amastra was mined by the South Vietnamese to prevent it from sailing to Haiphong, North Vietnam. Shell Oil tankers did not travel to North Vietnam. The initial investigation indicated that a Limpet mine of approximately 80 to 90 pounds of explosives was used. In view of the close proximity of 150 yards to the beach hamlet of Truong Tay, a known haven for local pilferers, black marketers and other questionable individuals, the investigation determined that the explosive charge was most likely delivered from the hamlet area by a swimmer sapper. The Vietnam war was certainly a strange and crazy war. The majority of the 43 man crew was removed by local Army landing craft about half an hour after the explosion. They spent the night at the American Army Officers' quarters at Camp John McDermott in Nha Trang. On April 22, 1967, Current’s salvage crew successfully raised and dewatered the Amastra. The fabricated patch was removed and a more permanent steel patch was constructed. SFM2 "Ace" Acfalle, one of Current's ship fitters, spent the better part of two days, without any rest, welding the metal patch to the Amastra to make it seaworthy. The Amastra was towed by commercial tug to Singapore for dry-docking and repairs.
On the morning of April 22, after an hour of steaming, Current arrived at Cam Ranh Bay and worked with Harbor Clearance Unit One to recover the wreckage of an Army helicopter, the bodies of three crewmen, their personal affects and weapons. During the morning of April 22, while at Cam Ranh Bay, Current was requested to recover a jet engine from a submerged Air Force C-141 Starlifter transport plane. USS Greenlet had arrived shortly before Current to retrieve the bodies of the air crew and to locate the aircraft's Black Box. While attempting a take off from the US Air Force Base at Cam Ranh Bay shortly after midnight, the four engine troop and cargo plane failed to become airborne, ran out of runway and plunged into Cam Ranh Bay. Nine people were on board the plane, only two survived the crash. After two days of searching, Current’s divers located the plane off shore in eighty-five feet of water and found the plane broken in several large sections. Current lifted one of the engines and other selected parts of the plane to Current's fantail for examination by the Air Force and Lockheed investigators. Current diver LTJG Vince Weis went down to attach a lifting cable to the submerged tail section so it could be dragged to shore for closer examination. The resulting investigation revealed that the C-141 Star Lifter was in the automatic landing mode and under full power at take off and that the flaps were improperly set by the pilot, preventing the plane from becoming airborne.
Current departed Cam Ranh Bay on April 24 and proceeded to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for rest and relaxation after 32 days of continuous salvage operations. Two hundred miles away from the hostile fire zone while en route to Kaohsiung, Current received a radio message being diverted back to Vietnam and requested to proceed to coordinates 14° 42´ North Latitude, 109° 5´ East Longitude at a point called Cap Mia, at the LST beach at Duc Pho, Vietnam where the US Army had difficulty with three LCM-8’s from the 1098th Medium Boat Company. The LCM-8's had broached on the beach during heavy surf while transporting ammunition to the Army supply beach from ammunition supply ships anchored out.
Upon arrival at the beach at Duc Pho on April 25, 1967, Current found two of the LCM-8's side by side on the beach completely filled with sand and flooded. The third LCM had broached with the other two, but had been pulled to sea by an Army tug, four hundred yards from shore, where it sank in six fathoms of water. Efforts to pull the two inshore LCM’s to deep water proved unsuccessful. The outboard LCM-8 was determined to be unsalvageable because of the weakened condition caused by the pounding of the surf and the amount of sand which had filled the open voids. After two days of concentrated effort, the strain applied to two sets of rigged beach gear combined with the thrust of Current’s screws provided so much force, that the hull of the seaward LCM-8 began to tear apart. The seaward LCM’s hull was rotated and moved clear so Current could access and attach its main two-inch tow cable to the remaining LCM-8.
During this next attempt to drag the remaining LCM-8 off the beach, with a heavy strain on the beach gear and tow cable, the tow cable winch locking pawl jumped out of place. This caused the straining tow cable to quickly slacken and whip violently across Current's fantail striking phone talker SK1 Walter Blansett in his left side. SK1 Blansett was evacuated by a US Army LARC amphibious vehicle to a Duc Pho Army field hospital, administered morphine, then flown by evacuation helicopter to the Army's 67th Evacuation Hospital at Qui Nhon. He underwent surgery for removal of a ruptured kidney and was then transferred to Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii for recuperation.
The remaining LCM-8 was ultimately pulled free, but seventy yards from the beach the LCM immediately took on a list and sank in ten feet of water. An unobserved punctured bottom made this LCM also unsalvageable. After holding a conference with representatives of the Army 1098th Medium Boat Company, further attempts to salvage the two LCM-8’s was halted. The third eighty-ton LCM-8 was bow lifted under Current’s keel, secured by cables and transported seventy-five miles south, down the coast at a speed of approximately three knots. On May 7, Current arrived at Qui Nhon Harbor and lowered the LCM-8 to the sandy bottom of the harbor in thirty-five feet of water. A 100 ton US Army floating crane lifted the LCM-8 to the surface and placed it on the pier where it was pumped out and released to the army for repair. Current moored to the pier at Qui Nhon, took on fuel prior to departure. The finale to a two and a half week long salvage job.
During the Cap Mia salvage operations, Current’s crew could watch U.S. fighter aircraft making their bombing runs on enemy positions and listened to continuous artillery fire during the evenings and throughout the nights from the beach at Duc Pho.
Current departed Qui Nhon and sailed for Subic Bay during the second week of May 1967 for post salvage, shipyard maintenance. After eight days in port at the Subic Bay Naval Shipyard, Current received a distress call that the SS Minot Victory had gone aground on North Reef, Paracel Islands in the South China Sea at coordinates 17° 6' 36" North Latitude, 111° 33' 44" East Longitude, 240 miles northeast of Da Nang, Vietnam. The World War II Victory Ship was carrying 6,000 tons of earth moving equipment, machinery and supplies for the allied forces in Vietnam. The Minot Victory was en route from Seattle, Washington to Da Nang. Current’s divers evaluated hull damage to be minimal but estimated that the ship was 500 tons aground. The average depth of water where the victory ship went aground was about eleven feet.
Within an hour after notification of the grounding, USS Hitchiti ATF-103, USS Mahopac ATA-196 and Current began preparations for getting underway from Subic Bay. Mahopac remained in Subic Bay overnight to await the arrival of ComServGru Three Salvage Officer Lieutenant Commander J.J. Goodwin. To the North, The USS Tawakoni ATF-114 was diverted from her course in Japanese waters and headed to the Paracel Islands. The first Navy ship to reach the stranded vessel was the fleet tug USS Mataco ATF-86 that arrived from an assignment in Tonkin Gulf. Within two days after the Minot Victory grounding, all the salvage units were on the scene as well as staff members from Harbor Clearance Unit One. Current was designated Commander Task Unit 73.4.1.
The first attempt to pull the Minot Victory off the reef using four sets of beach gear and four keaging anchors was unsuccessful. Two barges were then delivered to North Reef by commercial tugs from Da Nang. After three days of off loading heavy earth moving equipment to the barges, the Victory ship’s stern was re-floated. It took three weeks of preparation laying beach gear and anchors from the navy ships and the off loading cargo to the barges. Current and the four other fleet tugs successfully pulled the stranded Minot Victory free from the reef at high tide on the morning of May 23, 1967. For the final hull inspection, the ComServGru Salvage officer Lieutenant Commander Goodwin insisted on doing the dive, even though he hadn't made a dive in a long time. While he and Current's diver DC1 Charlie Fox were down inspecting the hull, they had been separated by the strong currents under the Minot Victory. DC1 Fox returned to the surface without LCDR Goodwin. Everyone felt that Goodwin was lost. Later, he was found on the other side of the Minot Victory and returned to Current. The wind had increased and had blown the diving raft away during the inspection. Diving operations were suspended. The divers reported that there was no major damage to the hull and that the ship was not taking on water. The Minot Victory and the barges loaded with equipment continued on to the final destination of Da Nang. Later, after the Minot Victory was dry-docked for a hull inspection, it was learned that an enormous coral head was found lodged in the bow of the ship.
Current returned to Subic Bay from the Paracel Islands to replace a lost Ells anchor and to repair damaged salvage equipment. After two days in port, Current was underway again on May 26, 1967 for the ( CCK ) Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base at Wu Chi, Taiwan, with a two day rest and recreation visit to Kaohsuing, Taiwan.
As the US Air Force began to increase the B-52 sortie rates over Vietnam, this necessitated the relocation of the 4200th Air Refueling Squadron's KC-135 air refueling tankers from Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa to CCK to provide PACAF fighter air support for the B-52 raids and permitted increased B-52 operations at U-Tapeo Air Base and F-111 fighter deployment to Takhli Air Base in Thailand. This KC-135 redeployment increased the air tanker effectiveness by being closer to Vietnam refueling areas. To further increase that effectiveness, an off shore POL buoy and pipeline was planned for large tankers to off load aviation fuel directly to the CCK Air Base. During the first phase of construction of the pipeline, Current was called on to drag the pipeline seaward from the air base. On arrival off of the CCK Air Force Base on the first day, Current was forced to remain underway because of high winds and heavy seas. In preparation to drag the pipeline out to sea, Current paid out 4,290 feet of inch and a half steel cable and rigged beach gear only to retrieve it because of construction delays at the air base. Current's planned participation in the pipeline operation was cancelled.
On June 6, 1967, Current departed Wu Chi, Taiwan an set a course to Hong Kong for rest and recreation. On the morning of June 10, Current entered Hong Kong Harbor with the crew manning the rails. As Current passed British warships departing Hong Kong, the American colors were dipped in a salute to each ship as it passed. Current moored at the Queen's Pier on the HMS Tamar British Royal Navy Base on Hong Kong's waterfront that gave the crew a spectacular view of the sky line of Hong Kong. While at Hong Kong, Mary Sue's Side Cleaners painted Current's hull and superstructure with a fresh coat of paint. Current remained in Hong Kong for only two days. The Hong Kong visit was cut short. An emergency message to return to Vietnam. After most of the crew were located while on liberty and returned to the ship, Current was underway to Vung Tau, Vietnam. The cargo ship SS Cosmos Trader had lost steering and slid up on the mud flats at Coconut Bay, Vung Tau.
Current arrived in Vung Tau on June 20, 1967 and immediately started retraction efforts to re-float the merchantman with the assistance of USS Hitchiti, Harbor Clearance Team 5 and Harbor Clearance Unit One's lift craft YLLC-1 and YMLC-7, which were on scene when Current arrived. Most of the cargo and fuel from the Cosmos Trader was off loaded to barges to lighten ship in the re-floating effort. The SS Cosmos Trader was pulled free on June 21. Current remained for two additional days with Harbor Clearance Unit One divers to remove several turns of steel beach gear cable that became fouled around the Cosmos Trader’s screw during the re-floating operation. After successfully cutting the steel cable from the Cosmos Trader's screw, Current departed Vung Tau for Subic Bay. Current arrived in Subic Bay on June 26 and made ready for the long trip home to Pearl Harbor, concluding Current’s 1967 Western Pacific cruise. Current bid Subic Bay goodbye on June 29 and headed fro Pearl Harbor with a short stop in Guam for fuel.
Landfall was made at sunrise on July 20, at Oahu. As Current approached the sea buoys at Pearl Harbor, a harbor tug was waiting to deliver a large Aloha Lei made by families of the crew. The flower lei was draped over the bow of the ship. As Current navigated the Pearl Harbor channel, the ship was accompanied by Navy harbor tugs spraying festive plumes of water into the air. Upon arrival at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base, many families and friends of Current’s crew were happily waiting on the pier, as well as a Navy Band, to welcome Current home. Several senior officers from the COMSERVPAC and COMSERVRON FIVE headquarters were also on hand to greet the ship and to offer their congratulations for a most successful Western Pacific deployment. Current remained in Pearl Harbor for rest, relaxation, crew leave and a long overdue shipyard upkeep period. During this upkeep period, Current received the 1967 Service Force Pacific Fleet Ney Award for excellence in food preparation and service. On September 12, 1967, Current was also awarded the prestigious Pacific Fleet ARS Battle Efficiency "E" Award for her work during the previous year. On that same day, Current successfully completed the pre-overhaul Insurv Inspection.
On October 22, 1967, Captain George Giganti was awarded the Bronze Star, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal while Current’s B'osn, CWO Art Racette was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for leadership and successful handling of all the salvage operations during the 1967 West Pac deployment. Current and her crew were awarded the Vietnam Service Medal and a citation from the Commander Seventh Fleet for outstanding performance of duty during the period of January 27 to July 3, 1967. Current had completed six major salvage operations and had been involved in the most salvage work since her involvement in World War II.
During the month of October, the ship was underway to Johnston Atoll. Current was assigned as the recovery ship for the Defense Department's annual Nuclear Testing Readiness Exercise. From 1964 to 1968 the Defense Department together with its nuclear weapons contractor, Sandia Labs, conducted full scale nuclear readiness test exercises at the Pacific Range at Kingman Reef. The exercises validated that nuclear air drop hardware, procedures and personnel were maintained at the required state of development and readiness to conduct nuclear testing. Instead of nuclear bombs, simulated test vehicles were dropped, packed full of devices to simulate the magnetic and radiation effects of a nuclear blast. A Universal Test Vehicle or UTV was built with the ballistic shape of a nuclear weapon with aiming and fusing capabilities. The UTV was loaded into the bomb bay of a B-52 Bomber flown from Barbers Point Naval Air Station to the target area at Kingman Reef. After civilian technicians from Sandia Corporation boarded Current at Johnston Island, Current’s assignment was to proceed to the Kingman Reef area, 900 miles southeast of Johnston Island, 350 nautical miles north of the Equator and stand off the target area at Kingman Reef, a Naval Defensive Sea Area and Airspace Reservation, to recover the released Universal Test Vehicle. After recovery of the UTV, Current was scheduled to anchor at the lagoon at Palmyra Island, an uninhabited atoll, 33 nautical miles from Kingman Reef, administered by the United States Navy. Palmyra Atoll was a former US Naval Air Station and refueling base for aircraft flying to the forward areas of operations during World War II. Current was authorized by the Navy to visit the atoll for a day of rest and relaxation before returning to Pearl Harbor. However, because of technical problems with and time delays in retrieval of the UTV, Current's planned operating schedule prohibited the visit to Palmyra Atoll. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor. Before the test took place, Current was able to take time to approach Palmyra Island within a few miles for the crew to have a closer look at the island.
At the end of November 1967, Current departed Pearl Harbor for Lahaina, Maui for diver re-qualifications and rest and relaxation for the crew. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor during the first week of December 1967. During the month of December 1967, Current was underway with short notice on four occasions for various services to the Pearl Harbor Fleet Training Group around the Hawaiian Islands.
On December 20, 1967, Current was assigned to the Pearl Harbor Fleet Training Group to assist in a gunnery training exercise. In a scripted training exercise, Current towed the decommissioned USS Fessenden DER-142 from Pearl Harbor to the Hawaiian Area Naval Gunnery Range, approximately sixty miles southwest of Oahu. In the coordinated exercise, Current set the Fessenden adrift and took a pre-determined station to observe the gunnery drill. The Fessenden was the target of a series of missiles, and gun fire from destroyers and a torpedo from a submarine. Each of the destroyers was given the opportunity to fire on the Fessenden with no apparent direct hits. Because the ship was still afloat after the gunnery training, a submarine surfaced near Current's station then quickly submerged. A few minutes later the submarine fired a torpedo at the stricken ship. The Fessenden was hit amidships .In a tremendous ball of fire, the main mast fell and the ship apparently broke in half then quickly sank.
Shortly after 2000 on December 24, the USS Guardfish SSN-612 was returning home to Pearl Harbor from operations when she went aground in darkness on a reef 500 yards east of the Pearl Harbor Channel sea buoys. After surfacing to make preparations to navigate the approach and entrance to the Pearl Harbor Channel, a chain of events occurred that contributed to confusion and the grounding of the Guardfish. One of two periscopes was inoperative and the second was found to have an apparent gyro compass error of 8.7° The OOD and the navigator had to share the one remaining operational periscope to conn the boat and to navigate. Upon surfacing it was found that the bridge hatch was jammed shut. Navigational fixes obtained were in error because of the gyro transmission error and a poor bearing spread of the available navigational aids. After the hatch was opened, Commander Hines, the commanding officer went to the bridge and assumed the duties of Officer of the Deck. A lookout and a quartermaster went to the bridge with the captain. Neither had the channel entrance buoys in sight, although the buoys were off the port bow at a range of 1000 yards. The course recommendation of the navigator was never relayed to the bridge. Two channel range lights and the buoy pair #5 and #6 with the same light characteristics of the channel entrance buoys occupied the attention of the navigator and the captain. As the channel entrance buoys went unobserved down the port side of the Guardfish, the submarine went aground 500 yard east of the Pearl Harbor channel.
During the week of Christmas 1967, Current was SERVRON FIVE's ready duty rescue and salvage ship in the Hawaiian Islands area. At 2200, on Christmas Eve, while most of the crew was on liberty enjoying the Christmas holiday, an emergency message was received to make preparations to get underway and assist the Guardfish. All of Current’s crew on liberty were contacted and instructed to return to the ship. At midnight, after all of the crew had returned to the ship, Current was underway from Alpha Piers for the scene of the grounding with Commander John Orem, COMSERVPAC Salvage Officer on board. A short time later, Current arrived on the scene of the grounded submarine and with searchlights began assessing the situation. High winds and heavy seas prevented immediate efforts to re-float the USS Guardfish. Current spent the night and early morning at sea making further preparations. At daybreak on Christmas Day 1967, a task group commanded by COMSERVRON FIVE, Captain Leon Grabowsky and composed of USS Current, USS Grapple ARS-7 and Naval Station harbor tugs joined in the effort. Current’s divers began to assess hull damage and evaluate the extent of the grounding. During the hull inspection, divers discovered a bomb astern of the submarine. Salvage operations were suspended until an explosives ordinance disposal team arrived and determined that it was a 25 pound practice bomb made of steel used for training exercises during World War ll. Current and Grapple laid beach gear and shackled the main tow cable to one and a half inch steel cable wrapped around the tail section of the submarine. On Christmas night at high tide, a pull was attempted. The 3,800 ton Guardfish moved only 200 yards seaward. On the morning of December 26, the fleet tug Arikara ATF-100 joined the task group. At noon on December 26, the submarine was re-floated. The USS Guardfish was then towed to a dry-dock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. After dry-docking, an inspection revealed damage to the submarine’s hull was estimated at approximately one million dollars in repair cost. Current returned to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for a normal upkeep period and remained in port until the end of 1967.
Current began the year of 1968 conducting local operations around the Pearl Harbor area. On January 11, 1968, Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier dispatched Current to the area near Explosives Anchorage off Honolulu Harbor to assist the grounded Victory ship, SS Beaver Victory, fully loaded with thousands of tons of ammunition bound for Vietnam. The 7,000 ton ship sailing from Pearl Harbor to the explosives anchorage was reported traveling at extremely slow speed when she eased onto the reef at 2230, one mile west of Kalihi Channel. The Beaver Victory's bow went on the reef in about 30 feet of water in an area where the ocean bottom is sand and coral about 500 yards from the shoreline of Rainbow Island.
Commander John Orem, COMSERVPAC Salvage Officer was the Officer in Charge after Castle & Cook, agents for the Beaver Victory requested assistance. Current arrived on scene at 0030 on January 12 and worked with Naval Station tugs until 0400 in a futile attempt to free the Beaver Victory. Beach gear was rigged later that morning for another attempted pull at the next high tide at 0300 on January 13. The USS Grapple ARS-7 and the fleet tug USS Arikara ATF-98 were called to assist. The Beaver Victory was re-floated on January 13 and towed to deeper water by the USS Grapple, while Current retrieved beach gear before returning to Pearl Harbor.
On January 23, Current was in port at Pearl Harbor. The radio guard had been shifted to the Naval Communication Center at Pearl Harbor. That evening Current received a Quarter Deck phone call from the Communication Center that an urgent message for Current was waiting to be picked up.
The message stated that the USS Pueblo AGER-2 was captured in international waters by North Korean torpedo boats and that much cryptographic information and radio equipment on the Pueblo may have been compromised. The US Navy fleet's IBM coding and de-coding cards were to be destroyed and a new series used. Current's radio shack used two KWR-37 de-coding machines in conjunction with teletype machines to receive messages from the Fleet Broadcast.
Years later, the National Security Agency found that the seizure of the Pueblo was a direct consequence of the espionage of convicted spy, warrant officer John Anthony Walker. John Walker was found guilty of selling maintenance and operations manuals as well as IBM Code Cards, key lists for KW-7, KWR-37 and other encoding cryptographic equipment to the Soviet Union. The Russians began to acquire documentation from John Walker as early as March 1967, but needed the actual equipment to further learn how to decode the US Navy's messages and to develop their own system which was years behind the United States in development. The Soviet Union along with North Korea conspired to capture the USS Pueblo. Hours after the USS Pueblo arrived in Wonson Harbor, a plane carrying 790 lbs. of cargo believed to be from the Pueblo departed Pyongyang for Moscow.
During ongoing diplomatic negotiations in 1968 to free the the USS Pueblo and the crew, Current, on standby at Sasebo, Japan was the designated salvage ship to get underway for Wonson, Korea when ordered, to tow the Pueblo from Wonson Harbor. Current's assignment was to take custody of the Pueblo and tow the ship from Wonson Harbor to San Francisco. However, negotiations with North Korea to release the Pueblo and her crew failed. The Pueblo's crew remained captive for eleven months before being released to the South Korean Army at the demilitarized Zone on December 23, 1968. The USS Pueblo was never returned and remains a commissioned US Navy ship at a dock on the Taedong River in Pyongyang. It is being displayed as a popular tourist attraction and propaganda tool against the United States. See USS Pueblo Photos.
The USS Pueblo was originally taken to Wonson Harbor where it remained for 30 years until October 1999, then disguised as a merchant ship sailed around the southern tip of South Korea northward up the west coast of Korea to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.
In early February 1968, Current provided services for Submarine Force Pacific Fleet by laying a special buoy system off the coast of Lahaina, Maui. By the end of February, Current began to prepare for her regular shipyard overhaul. The ship was placed in dry-dock on March 4 and remained there until June 29, 1968.
On June 13, 1968, Current's crew was awarded the Navy's third highest unit award, The Meritorious Unit Commendation, by the Secretary of the Navy. The award was presented for Current's very successful Vietnam salvage operations completed during the 1967 West Pac deployment from January 27, 1967 to July 20, 1967. USS Current also was presented the Ney Award for excellence in food service for the two year fiscal periods 1967 and 1968.
Captain George Giganti was presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation on behalf of Current's crew by COMSERVPAC, Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Walter V. Combs during formal ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station.
The Navy Achievement Medal was also presented to BMC Tom Dooley, QM1 (DV) Warren Wilson, SF1 (DV) Ellis, SM2 (DV) Terry Gilmore and CSC Vincente "Chuck" Chargualaf.
After leaving the shipyard, the ship began a month of underway refresher training. The resulting grade of excellent was assigned to Current by the Pearl Harbor Fleet Training Group, the highest grade achieved in two years. Current was notified on July 30 that the ship had also won the Service Force Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency ‘E’ Award for the second consecutive year. After completion of a Pre-deployment Inspection on August 2, Current’s crew relaxed until August 11.
At 1600, on August 11, Current was underway for a six month West Pac deployment. On August 20, while steaming toward Guam, Current received orders to aid the merchant vessel SS Andrew Jackson. The ship’s boilers had salted and all power was lost. Current rendezvoused with the Andrew Jackson on August 24 and proceeded to tow the merchantman toward Yokosuka, Japan. While en route, Current rendezvoused with the Japanese civilian tug Nisso Maru, passed the tow to the tug and continued to steam toward Yokosuka in an attempt to avoid typhoon Trixie. Yokosuka was a pleasant port of call gladly accepted by Current’s crew. Not only did Yokosuka provide good shipyard facilities for upkeep, but also good liberty for the crew. After several days in Yokosuka, Current was instructed to proceed to Sasebo, Japan to tow a YW water barge to Vietnam. Upon arrival at Sasebo, however, Current was assigned as a standby rescue and salvage ship throughout the month of September.
During the ongoing diplomatic negotiations to free the the USS Pueblo and the crew, Current, on standby at Sasebo, Japan was the designated salvage ship to get underway for Wonson, Korea to tow the Pueblo from North Korea. Current's assignment was to tow the Pueblo from North Korea to San Francisco. However, the negotiations with the North Koreans to release the Pueblo and her crew failed. The Pueblo's crew remained captive for a total of eleven months before being released on December 23, 1968. The USS Pueblo was never returned and remains to this day a commissioned US Navy ship at a dock in Panmujyon as a tourist attraction and a propaganda tool against the United States. See USS Pueblo Photos.
On September 30, 1968, Current took in her lines and set a course for Vietnam with an en route stop at the Ching Chuan Kang (CCK) Air Force Base Petroleum Buoy off of Wu Chi, Taiwan. The assignment was to photograph and inspect the condition of the buoy. Current had just anchored at the buoy site when a message was received to proceed to the aid of the SS Lindenwood Victory that lost power, was dead in the water and in danger of going aground. The guided missile destroyer USS Wainwright DLG-28 was in the vicinity of the Lindenwood Victory and assumed the tow until Current arrived. After assuming the tow from the Wainwright, Current proceeded toward Yokosuka arriving in mid October. This visit provided the opportunity for a few more days of upkeep before being assigned to Vietnam's I Corps area between Da Nang and the DMZ, once again on a very short notice. Current set a course for Vietnam and proceeded through the Taiwan Straits arriving at Da Nang, Vietnam well before the end of October 1968. For the next two months, Current conducted local operations near Da Nang, for the most part performing major repair work on offshore POL facilities at Cua Viet and Tan My. On November 13, Current was dispatched to the area offshore Hue, Vietnam to a POL Buoy to replace a section of fueling hose damaged by a Swift Boat during refueling. Two of Current's divers with scuba gear replaced the damaged section of hose. During the stay in Vietnam, Current attempted two other salvage jobs. One consisted of extracting a rock barge from a beach north of Da Nang and the other was the lifting of an LCM-6 which had had been swamped in Da Nang Harbor. Both efforts were unsuccessful due to weather and heavy seas.
On December 11, 1968, Current was relieved by USS Reclaimer ARS-42, then departed for Tso-Ying, Taiwan to assist in the training of Chinese Navy divers. While in Taiwan waters, a second attempt to inspect the POL buoy at (CCK) Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base was postponed because heavy seas made anchoring difficult. Current was instructed to return to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for upkeep. Current remained at Kaohsiung for only six hours when a message was received to proceed to Naha, Okinawa to assist the grounded USNS LST-600.
Current arrived on the scene of the grounded LST on Christmas Day 1968. Communications were established, beach gear was rigged, cargo was off-loaded to lighten the LST and electrical equipment was set up to provide power for lighting, winches and other salvage equipment. Preparations were also being made to blow tanks. Compressors from Current were transferred to the LST-600. The LST was at anchor when the anchor chain parted causing the LST to go aground aft on the coral of Kanno Se Reef. The grounding caused flooding in the engine spaces and most of the compartments on the LST. Initial estimates indicated that Current would be on scene for two weeks, but the following days of the massive operation to re-float the LST passed quickly for the crew. There was much preparation to ensure the grounded ship would not take on more water and sink after being re-floated. Inspections and surveys were made of the ship’s hull and the area surrounding the reef in an effort to determine the best direction to attempt the pull. An EOD team was called to destroy coral heads that prevented the LST from being extracted safely.
As the New Year 1969 arrived, a fuel barge and an LCM-6 used for offloading the LST were pulled off of the beach at Naha after they had off-loaded fuel from the stranded LST and had subsequently run aground as well. Current made an attempt to pull the LST-600 from the reef. While making a maximum pull, Current parted her tow cable at the 1200 foot mark. An urgent request for a new tow cable was sent out and a new tow cable was located at the Naval Supply Center at Subic Bay and quickly flown to Naha, Okinawa and delivered to Current. The CTF Salvage Officer LCDR Goodwin, CTF 73.4.2 also requested additional ATF or ARS assistance from CTF 73.
Preparations to free the LST-600 continued around the clock through January 17 with the assistance of the fleet tugs USS Abnaki ATF-96 and USS Chowanoc ATF-100. Current, Abnaki and Chowanoc together, finally pulled the LST off the reef and into deep water.
ENC E. B. Ferguson, and SFM2 Daniel Acfalle were awarded Navy Achievement Medals for their indispensable contributions to the successful salvage operation. Current towed LST-600 to Sasebo arriving there January 23. Current remained at Sasebo for three weeks of rest and liberty for the tired but victorious crew. While at Sasebo on February 1, during a change of command ceremony, Lieutenant Commander George M. Giganti was relieved as Commanding Officer of Current by Lieutenant Commander Joe L. Bradshaw. Rear Admiral R. L. Long, Commander Service Group Three was present for the brief change of command ceremony.
With the Western Pacific tour of duty completed, Current departed for Pearl Harbor on February 14, 1969 and arrived on March 1 after an uneventful voyage. The month of March provided for a welcome leave and upkeep period for the crew following the exhausting deployment.
March 15, 1969 was a day to remember for every member of Current’s Crew. Admiral J. J. Hyland, CINCPACFLT, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, awarded USS Current the distinction of being chosen the 9th annual Our Navy Magazine's Navy Ship of the Year for 1968. The Ship of the Year Plaque was presented to Captain Bradshaw during a ceremony at the U.S. Naval Station, Pearl Harbor. Distinguished guests at the presentation ceremony were Rear Admiral W. V. Combs, Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet, Captain R. F Reilley, Commander Service Squadron Five and Lieutenant Commander George M. Giganti, Current’s previous Commanding Officer.
March 31 concluded the upkeep period. Current then began a period of local operations to support the Pearl Harbor Fleet with target towing and exercise services. During the last part of April, Current began a restricted maintenance availability at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard that lasted until early September. The availability included the inspection and overhaul of much main propulsion equipment and the replacement of two of the ship’s three auxiliary generators.
In mid July 1969, Current was awarded the ship’s third consecutive Battle Efficiency "E" Award. On September 9, 10 and 11, COMSERVRON Five conducted both the Administrative and Pre-deployment Inspections and awarded Current an overall grade of excellent. Following the inspections, local operations were conducted to prepare a partially new crew for the upcoming Western Pacific deployment. For the last two weeks of the training period, Current was assigned to the Pearl Harbor Fleet Training Group for Interim Refresher Training. The ship passed the final battle problem that was presented to the crew on October 10 and was now ready and capable of performing her mission during the scheduled West Pac deployment. After a brief return to the shipyard, Current departed for West Pac again on November 10. The departure and the expected length of absence was brightened by the attendance of many of the crew’s families. Shortly before taking in all lines, Current was formally presented the Battle Efficiency "E" award and plaque by Commodore D.C. Clemments, Commander Service Squadron Five.
Upon reaching Guam after a pleasant voyage, COMNAVMARIANAS directed Current to conduct surveillance of the Central Caroline Islands. From November 25 to December 3, 1969 Current steamed through these Trust Territory waters. The islands visited were Puluwat, Pulusuk, Elato, Toas, Ifalik, Faraulep and Wolei. Six times Current sailors went ashore for first hand glimpses of island life in the Caroline Islands. During these visits, friendly exchanges were made for shells and carved implements and artifacts between Current’s crew and the local islanders. It was a once in a lifetime experience for Current's crew.
Current departed the Caroline Islands and arrived at the Naval Station, Subic Bay on December 10. Long awaited mail was received and pressing logistics and material conditions were attended to. After only one day at Subic Bay, Current was called upon to get underway for a salvage operation off the coast of Vietnam, near the Mekong River Delta at Con Son Island. En route to Con Son, Current received a distress call and was again diverted to a lifesaving mission at Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea at coordinates 9° 10' North, 116° 27' East. The British merchantman Thames Breeze had gone hard aground on Fiery Cross Reef, and after inspection, the ship was found to be unsalvageable and was abandoned. The master and the five member crew had been removed safely from the Thames Breeze, but the remaining six were reluctant to get into a rubber raft alongside the merchant ship. Current’s workboat went alongside and successfully completed the evacuation. With the Thames Breeze crew safely aboard another merchant vessel, Current continued on toward Vietnam.
On December 16, Current anchored near Con Son Island, but two days of heavy seas prevented any salvage attempt. Current was then directed north to Da Nang. Once again, while en route to Da Nang, the ship was diverted to the mouth of the Cochien River to assist the grounded USS Iredell County LST-839. Working with the salvage engineer from Harbor Clearance Unit One, USS Chowonoc ATF-100, and USS Reclaimer ARS-42, preparations were made to kedge the LST free by placing two anchors by helicopter and one with the assistance of a LCM-8. With salvage parties from Current and USS Reclaimer ARS-42, the Iredell County was successfully retracted early Christmas morning 1969.
Current arrived in Da Nang Harbor on December 28 and began a salvage operation to raise a sunken LCM-6 from the bottom of the harbor. The year 1969 ended with Current rigged to complete her final salvage job of 1969. The LCM was successfully raised on January 1, 1970. During this standby rescue and salvage period, Current also recovered two sets of beach gear that had been lost by USS Reclaimer, south of Chu Lai, Vietnam.
On January 4, Commander service group three directed Current to proceed to Taiwan to assist in repairing the POL Buoy at the Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base. None of Current’s crew realized that the next seven weeks would be the most demanding of the entire West Pac deployment. Current arrived on station January 8 and spent the next thirty-nine days battling high winds and rough seas and five days liberty in Kaoshiung to accomplish repairs that would have normally required two days. Upon completion of the repair operation, Current set a course for Hong Kong for five days of rest and relaxation. Current then departed for the shipyard at Subic Bay for ten days of badly needed upkeep. Current sailed from Subic Bay on March 15. The ship set a course for Da Nang for duty as the standby rescue and salvage ship for the next seven weeks. During that time several salvage and diving operations were undertaken and accomplished. Among these was the salvage of LO 702, YFU 61, the Vietnamese patrol craft PCF-3884, and an LCM-8. Numerous repairs were also made to the petroleum sea load lines at Chu Lai and Da Nang. Current’s divers also assisted HCU-1 in the recovery of crates of 500 pound bombs that had sunk in Da Nang Harbor.
After being relieved from standby duty, Current departed for Chin Hae, Korea to conduct diver training for Korean Navy divers. While in Korean waters from May 3 to May 7, Current also recovered the lost stern anchor of the USS Windham County LST-1171. Upon completion of the diver training, Current set a course for Sasebo, Japan, the last port call before returning home to Pearl Harbor. Current remained at Sasebo from May 9 to May 14 as the crew readied the ship for the voyage to Hawaii and made the most of the last purchasing stop in West Pac.
The deployment was almost complete except for one remaining commitment. After leaving Sasebo on May 14, Current rendezvoused three days later with two minesweepers, USS Prime MSO-466 and USS Acme MSO-508. Current escorted and refueled both minesweepers twice en route to Pearl Harbor. The underway replenishments of the minesweepers required Current to stop briefly at Midway Island to refuel. On May 29, 1970, after a long and eventful West Pac Cruise, Current stood into Pearl Harbor. Commodore D.C. Clemments, Commander Service Squadron Five and the families of Current’s crew were at the pier to welcome the ship home. The traditional thirty-day leave period for the crew began upon arrival. Current remained at Pearl Harbor for the next seven months primarily as a standby rescue and salvage ship around the Hawaiian Islands. The ship provided exercise services to the local Navy fleet.
On August 15, Current escorted four support craft to San Francisco and moored at the Treasure Island Naval Station. This gave the crew a rare opportunity to visit San Francisco and the Bay Area. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on September 15. Current then departed for Kahului, Maui on October 4 for a three-day visit as a Navy Open House Ship. While at Kahului, Current’s divers conducted diving exhibitions for the local residents of Maui. On December 9, as a standby rescue and salvage vessel, Current was called out on a classified mission. Once this final assignment of the year was completed, the ship returned to Pearl Harbor on December 14, 1970. Liberty and leaves were given to the crew during the holiday season. Current ended 1970 at work preparing for an Insurv inspection.
At the beginning of 1971, Current remained at Pearl Harbor involved with an Insurv Inspection. After the inspection was completed, the ship’s first assignment of 1971 was to tow the Navy large harbor tug Tuscumbia YTB-762 to Johnston Atoll where the tug was used to assist with the mooring of ships that were offloading surplus chemical and biological gas warfare agents for storage on Johnston Atoll. On January 27, Current returned to Pearl Harbor with the Tuscumbia. Upon arrival, word was received from Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet that Current’s anticipated decommissioning would be postponed until February 1, 1972. One final West Pac Cruise was scheduled for the ship. February and March were spent in preparation for refresher training and salvage training. Despite a critical time frame, the refresher training was conducted from March 8 to March 19. The salvage training was completed on schedule during the week of March 29.
With the lessons accomplished in refresher training, Current departed for the Western Pacific on April 12, 1971. After a two-week voyage, Current arrived in Guam on April 25. Although a four-day port call was planned, Current received an emergency message to get underway for Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea to assist a Chinese destroyer that had gone aground in a storm. However, while underway to Fiery Cross Reef the destroyer was able to free herself. Current then altered course for Subic Bay, arriving on May 4. After completing voyage repairs, Current was again underway for Vietnam for thirty days duty as standby rescue and salvage ship at Da Nang. There was little need for any salvage work during this thirty-day period with the exception of minor repairs to offshore petroleum offloading lines. Current’s time was used for routine ship’s work. On June 11, Current departed Da Nang for Hong Kong for four days of liberty. The ship arrived in Hong Kong on June 14, but after only two days in Hong Kong an approaching typhoon required Current to get underway for the open sea to ride out the typhoon. Current steamed to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to assume a period as standby rescue and salvage ship. While at Kaohsiung, Current was assigned to conduct a routine inspection of the Petroleum offloading buoy at Ching Chuan Kang air base north of Kaohsiung. Upon arrival at the POL buoy on July 2, 1971, an initial inspection revealed one hundred fifty feet of hose required replacement. Five days of around the clock work completed the repair. Current then departed for Subic Bay for repairs. From July 8 to August 8 was spent at the Subic Bay Shipyard repairing ship’s equipment and dry-docking Current for seven days for hull maintenance.
Current sailed on August 9, 1971 for Cam Ranh Bay to assist the USS Cohoes AN-78 with the mooring of a dry-dock. A conference was held with the officers of Cohoes upon arrival at Cam Ranh Bay. A decision was made that Current should proceed to Da Nang for higher priority repairs to POL mooring buoys at China Beach, Vietnam. Work on the mooring buoys was halted after one day. An emergency message was received on August 17 to get underway for Hong Kong to assist in the salvage of the USS Regules grounded in a typhoon. Current was underway and had just cleared the sea buoys of Da Nang Harbor and turned North when a second message was received to reverse course and proceed South to Qui Nhon. On August 17, 1971, the SS Green Bay, a five hundred seventy-five foot merchant vessel was docked at a pier at Qui Nhon and while unloading military equipment and supplies was mined and sunk by the Viet Cong. With hard work, energy and skill that Current is well noted for, the SS Green Bay was righted and salvaged in only twenty-five days and made seaworthy for towing to Hong Kong. September 22 began Current’s return voyage to Pearl Harbor. On October 9, Current arrived at Pearl Harbor ending a challenging and successful deployment.
The next thirty days were spent in port where the crew enjoyed a well earned rest. Current was back at work on November 9, responding quickly to a call three hundred miles North of Oahu. Current relieved the fleet tug USS Apache ATF-67 of her tow, the USS Whitesands ARD-20 and Trieste II so that Apache could refuel at Pearl Harbor. After four days of towing White Sands and Trieste II, Apache rendezvoused with Current and reassumed the tow. Upon return to Pearl Harbor, Current’s next assignment was assistance to the Makai Range Dive Project. This required the mooring of a YRST salvage tender with its diving system. Four legs of Beach Gear were anchored in five hundred feet of water. Current then towed the YRST to the dive location where USS Grapple ARS-7 assumed the tow on site. With the Makai Range Project responsibilities completed, Current provided target towing services to the fleet from November 22 until December 13. Current remained in port for the Christmas holidays and the remainder of 1971.
On January 3, 1972, Current began inactivation. At 1000 on April 28,1972, a decommissioning ceremony was held at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Current was then transferred to the Reserve Fleet at Pearl Harbor. On August 21, 1974, the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service placed the ship at auction. On June 27, 1975, Current was sold to Valor Navigation, New York, NY. for $78,000 and subsequently scrapped at a ship dismantling location at a port on the Gulf coast of Texas.
Two Battle Stars for World War II service
Three Battle Stars for Korean War service
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
American Campaign Ribbon
Asia Pacific Campaign Ribbon
World War II Victory Ribbon
Navy Occupation Ribbon - Japan
National Defense Service Ribbon
Korea Service Ribbon
Armed Forces Expeditionary Ribbon
Vietnam Service Ribbon
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Commendation
United Nations Service Ribbon
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Commendation
The Marjorie Sterett Battleship Fund Award
U.S. Navy Ship of the Year 1968
Battle Efficiency "E" Award 1963, 1967, 1968, 1969
History of USS Current
Department of the Navy
Washington, D. C.
USS Current Deck Log
September 1944 to March 1945
History of USS Current
U. S. Naval Institute
USS Current's World War ll War Diary
Textual Reference Branch
College Park, Maryland
We Will Stand by You
by Theodore C. Mason
Naval Institute Press
The Battle to Save the Houston
by John Grider Miller
Naval Institute Press
U.S. Naval Operations in World War ll
by Samuel Eliot Morison
The story of Japanese submarines I-201 and I-203
by Paul R. Schratz
The History of USS Current at Operation Crossroads
U.S. Department of Energy
Operation Crossroads: The Atomic Bomb Tests at Bikini Atoll
by Jonathan Weisgall
Joint Task Force One: The Official Report of Operation Crossroads
by William A. Shurcliff
History of USS Current
by LCDR Gerald G. Stangl
Commanding Officer of USS Current
February 1956 to March 1958
by LCDR. Harold R. Minard USN., Ret.
Commanding Officer of USS Current
1958 to 1960
History of USS Current
by LT Mark Lusink
Operations Officer and Navigator
1965 to 1967
History of USS Current
researched and compiled by
1965 to 1968