USS Munsee (ATF-107)

A subtribe of the Delaware Indians, formerly living in Wisconsin and Kansas.
Penguin class Fleet Tug;   Displacement; 1,650 tons    Length; 205ft   Beam; 39ft   Draft; 14ft
Speed; 14 knots    Armament; 1 3"/50, 2 x2 40mm, 2x1 40mm, 6 .50-cal. AA mg
4, Alco diesel electric generators, one screw, 3,000 hp    Complement; 85
Built at United Engineering & Drydock, Oakland, Calif., and commissioned 30 October 1943

At Ulithi, 20 November, for repairs, Munsee aided in fighting fire on board
Mississinewa (AO-59) when the oiler was hit by a Japanese Kaiten

Three photos were proudly provided by the daughter of
Soundman 2nd Cl James H. Jackson. identified by the green dot on his chest.
Others were not identified.

HISTORY:      from Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Munsee (AT-107) was laid down 20 August 1942 by the United Engineering & Drydock Co., Alameda, Calif.; launched 21 January 1943; sponsored by mrs. Lloyd A. Davis; and commissioned 30 October 1943, Lt. John F. Pingley in command.

After shakedown and brief duty from west coast ports, Munsee conducted towing operations between Hawaii and Midway and the Marshalls. At ATF-107, redesignated 15 May 1944, she proceeded, in August, to the Solomons to prepare for the invasion of the Palaus. She arrived off Peleliu, 17 September, and screened transports during the landings. She then joined in the occupation of Ulithi, 23 September, and patrolled Kossol Roads.

When Canberra (CA-70) was damaged by air attack off Formosa, 13 October, Munsee sailed to take her in tow, rendezvousing 3 days later. Pawnee (ATF-74) gave similar aid to Houston (CL-81), struck the day after Canberra. Still in range of land-based aircraft, the two cruisers drew heavy attacks, which Munsee and Pawnee helped to fight off as they towed the cruisers to safer waters. Relieved 21 October, she returned to the Palaus for salvage duties.

At Ulithi, 20 November, for repairs,
Munsee aided in fighting fire on board Mississinewa (AO-59) when the oiler was hit by a Japanese kaiten.Called to general quarters at 0543, according to the ship's log, the tug went at flank speed to aid the stricken oiler. While observing the action from his station on the Munsee's bridge, Storekeeper Second Class Simon "Sid" Harris, Cherry Hill, NJ, recorded the scene vividly in his many notes and dramatic photographs of the day's events. The smoke belched perpendicularly from this cauldron, borne in the upward surge of tremendous heat to a height of several thousand feet before mushrooming out. Flames roared up the column of smoke as though up a chimney, trying to lick the top. We headed in amidships, water spurting from about twenty hoses. The sea around the ship was boiling with flaming oil. Drums of gasoline, 20-mm, 40-mm, and 5-inch shells were exploding in a cacophony of sound.By 0830, the fires had been extinguished, but the Mississinewa had taken on too much water. As the foredeck dipped below the surface, the ship shuddered and started to roll. The Munsee's firefighters leaped off her decks as she twisted slowly to port. The stern rose, displaying the huge, twin, four-bladed screws, then disappeared, not to be seen again until "The Search for the Last Mystery Shipwreck" was carried out on 6 April 2001. When we arrived at the starboard bow rail of the long-lost Mississinewa. Sid's photos helped to narrow the search area in 2002 from almost 200 square miles to 5 square miles. After seven straight days of searching in a small dive boat using a portable sonar unit, the team, working with Ulithians, located the tanker on a sandy bottom in 120 feet of water.

One of thoughs who boarded the Missy was James H. Jackson Soundman 2nd Class USNR. He was one of several to receive commendations from Fleet Admiral C.W. Nimitz. View: James Jackson history

Towing and salvage duty in the Palaus and at Ulithi continued. On 11 March 1945, she again fought fire in Ulithi Anchorage when Randolph (CV-15) was bombed. She next joined TG 50.8 for at-sea support of the Okinawa assault force. Arriving at Kerama Retto, 8 April, she underwent two enemy air attacks, before sailing to take Sigsbee (DD-502), damaged by enemy aircraft, in two for Guam. Rejoining TG 50.8, she sailed with them through the violent typhoon of 5 June, during which Pittsburgh (CA-72) lost 225 feet of her bow. Munsee sailed in search of the missing section, and shortly reported having sighted it and taken it in tow. The unwieldy tow was safely brought to Guam, with Pakana (ATF-108) assisting in the final stage of the mission.

The tug served in the Marianas through July and August; then, after hostilities ended, proceeded to Okinawa and Japan for salvage and diving operations. She opened 1946 in the Marshalls and operated between the central Pacific and the west coast until steaming to Bikini Atoll in June for operation "Crossroads," test conducted through the summer to determine the effects of atomic weapons on naval ships.

For the next two decades the tug performed widely varied duties in the Pacific, towing assorted ships and craft from the South Pacific to the Aleutians, and from the California coast to the Asiatic mainland. The pace quickened during the Korean conflict in the early 1950s and again in the mid-1960s when the United States mustered forces to stop Communist aggression in Vietnam.

USS Munsee worked in the Eniwetok Atoll for about 9 months during 1958, participating in Operation Hardtack. Ron McPhail was aboard then and made the report that his health was still good so far. Munsee pulled mothballed destroyers from the west coast.

USS Munsee participated in the Atomic tests at Christmas Island in 1962. Ron Lockwood remembers that Munsee's duties were to tow the target sleds to the detonation area, turn on the lights for the B-52's to see, then get out of the area as fast as we could, which only gave us about 2 hours before detonation. If the bomb didn't sink the target we had to go back in and finish the job, which we had to do on several occasions. I believe we were there for 16 bomb drops.

On the morning of 10 July 1965, Munsee headed for Pratas Reef, 200 miles south of Hong Kong. There Frank Knox (DD-742) had grounded. First on the scene, Munsee remained for several days, helping to refloat the destroyer. On the 26th, she made run to Camrahn Bay with barges in tow, and then towed Frank Knox from Taiwan to Japan for repairs.

Munsee returned to San Diego 29 October 1965 and for the next year operated on the west coast. She sailed, 28 October 1966, for the Gulf of Alaska. Arriving at Adak, 5 November, she spent the next few months assisting disabled vessels in the Aleutians. She headed south again in February, arriving at San Diego on the 22d. She operated along the west coast until 19 October, when she departed again for the Far East. After a stop at Pearl Harbor, Munsee reached Subic Bay 27 November. On 2 December she sailed for Vung Tau, Vietnam, to assist HCU-1 in transferring equipment between lift craft. The veteran tug continued to operate in the orient, supporting the struggle against communism in Southeast Asia until returning to San Diego 28 May 1968. late in the year she prepared to return to the North Pacific.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey - revised by Vern Bouwman

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