USS Kittiwake (ASR-13)

USS Kittiwake (ASR-13)

USS "Kittiwake" (ASR-13) was a "Chanticleer"-class submarine rescue ship in the United States Navy during World War II.


"Kittiwake" was launched 10 July 1945, by Savannah Machine & Foundry Co., Savannah, Georgia; sponsored by Mrs. Howard S. Rue, Jr.; and commissioned 18 July 1946, Lt. L. H. Collier in command.

After shakedown, "Kittiwake" departed Charleston, South Carolina, 3 October for Balboa, Canal Zone, arriving 8 October. Assigned to support and rescue duty with Submarine Squadron 6, the submarine rescue ship accompanied submarines during sea trials and maneuvers to monitor diving operations; to practice underwater rescue procedures; and to recover practice torpedoes. While based at Balboa, her operations carried her to the Virgin Islands, to Puerto Rico, and along the Atlantic coast to the Davis Strait.

Departing Balboa 31 May 1949, "Kittiwake" arrived Norfolk 6 June to continue duty with SubRon 6. From 17 January to 1 February 1950 she provided divers and equipment during salvage operations to free the battleship "Missouri" (BB-63), grounded in tidal banks off Thimble Shoals, Virginia. During the 1950s she cruised the Atlantic from New England to the Caribbean while supporting ships of the "Silent Service" with a trained and highly skilled crew. And while on station off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, 20 July 1960, she stood ready to assist "George Washington" (SSB(N)-598) as the mighty nuclear-powered submarine successfully launched the first two Polaris ballistic missiles ever fired from a submarine beneath the sea.

"Kittiwake" continued operating out of Norfolk until 1 August 1961 when she departed for the Mediterranean. Arriving Rota, Spain, 15 August, she cruised the Mediterranean from Spain to Greece while deployed with the 6th Fleet. After supporting submarine maneuvers out of Pireaus, Greece, from 20 September to 9 October, she departed the Mediterranean 8 November and arrived Norfolk the 18th. She then conducted operations out of Norfolk for the next 18 months. While on duty off Key West 2 February 1963, she sighted a Cuban boat, "Jose Maria Perez"; took on board 12 refugees (including 3 children) fleeing communist oppression in Cuba; and carried them to safety at Key West.

Departing Charleston, South Carolina, 16 April, "Kittiwake" arrived St. Nazaire, France, 3 May with two Landing Craft Utility (LCU's) in tow. She proceeded to the Mediterranean 10 May and reached Rota the 14th. For more than 2 months she participated in fleet operations before departing Rota 31 July for the United States. Returning to Norfolk 10 August 1963, she resumed training and support operations with submarines, along the Atlantic coast. Through 1964 and 1965, "Kittiwake" continued her role in maintaining the readiness of individual submarines which were to carry out their missions of defense and deterrent effectively. She escorted them as they left the East Coast shipyards for sea trials, standing ready to come to their rescue should difficulties arise. Constant exercise in use of weapons by submarines was furnished by "Kittiwake", such as running as a target and recovering exercise torpedoes and mines. The operations ranged from the Virginia Capes to the Atlantic missile range off Florida. On 6 April 1965, she departed Norfolk with submarines for exercises off the coast of Spain, thence to the Mediterranean Sea.

"Kittiwake" departed Toulon 31 May 1965, to operate out of Rota, Spain, in support of the fleet ballistic missile submarines of Submarine Squadron 16: "Andrew Jackson", "Woodrow Wilson", "James Madison", and "Nathan Hale". Following torpedo recovery and training off the coast of Spain, she sailed for Holy Loch, Scotland 30 June 1965, to give support to Submarine Squadron 14. She recovered torpedoes for "James Monroe" and "John Adams", provided underway training for men of the submarine tender "Hunley", then sailed 20 July for Norfolk, arriving 30 July 1965. During the autumn months, "Kittiwake" guarded new Polaris submarines, "Lewis and Clarke" and "Simon Bolivar", during their builder's sea trials prior to commissioning.

"Kittiwake" operated on the East Coast and in the Caribbean until sailing for the Mediterranean 8 July 1966. She reached the Bay of Cádiz on the 20th and transited the straits 2 days later. She operated in the Mediterranean until emerging at Rota, Spain, 1 September. She headed for Holy Loch on the 6th and arrived on the llth. Four days later she was ordered to the North Sea to assist in locating and salvaging the German submarine "Hai" (S-171). She reached the scene of the tragedy 17 September and remained on hand assisting salvage operations until the 20th. She continued to operate off Western Europe until returning to Norfolk 13 November. "Kittiwake" operated on the East Coast into 1967.


She was decommissioned on 30 September 1994 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on the same day.

According to the Cayman Islands Government [,3310578&_dad=portal&_schema=portal] , the ship will by sunk off Grand Cayman sometime in 2009 to form a new artificial reef. AP reports title will be transferred as early as November, 2008 for undisclosed value and Cayman Islands will be responsible for hazardous waste removal and reefing. []

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