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Built as a seaplane tender by Associated Shipbuilders Inc.,Harbor Island, Seattle, Washington for the USA Navy.
15 February 1942 laid down.
27 May 1942 launched as the USS UNIMAK (AVP-31), sponsored by Mrs. H.B. Berry the wife of Captain H.B.Berry, the personnel officer of the 13th Naval District. Named after the Unimak Bay on the southern side of Unimak Island, Alaska. She was one of the Barnegat class.
Displacement 1.766 tons light, 2.592 tons full load. Dim. 94.7 x 12.5 x 4.1m. (draught).
Powered by two Fairbanks-Morse diesels, 6.080 bhp, twin shafts, speed 18 knots.
Armament 1 – 5 inch, 4 – 40mm AA, 8 – 20mm AA guns, 2 – depth charge tracks and 2 Mousetrap depth charge projectors.
Crew 215 without aviation unit.
31 December 1943 commissioned under command of Commander Hilfort C. Owen.
She carried supplies, spare parts, repairs and berthing for some seaplanes squadron. Aviation bunkers 302.833 liters.
Following shakedown and fitting-out into late January 1944, the small seaplane tender departed San Diego, Calif., on 20 March, bound for the Canal Zone. Arriving at Balboa eight days later, the seaplane tender operated on the Pacific coast of Central America into April, providing logistics support to advanced seaplane bases at Santa Elena Bay, Ecuador, and at Aeolian Bay, Battra Island, in the Galapagos group. She soon shifted to Coco Solo on the Caribbean side of the Canal and transported men and materiel to Barranquilla’s Colombia, arriving there on 25 April.
After escorting SS GENEVIEVE LYKES back to Coco Solo on 23 and 24 June, UNIMAK conducted routine exercises with patrol planes into July. On 4 July, she received reports that a tanker near her position had been torpedoed and headed for the damaged ship. When she arrived on the scene late that day, she found the tanker still underway, making for the Panama coast. She immediately commenced screening the disabled ship and, aided by an escort of Army and Navy planes, shepherded the tanker safely to Colon late on the following afternoon.
Soon thereafter, UNIMAK shaped her course towards the last reported position of Navy blimp K-58. At 1532 on 9 July the seaplane tender sighted two yellow rubber rafts and the wreckage of the crashed blimp floating on the water. At 1558, UNIMAK took on board nine survivors and sank the unsalvageable blimp by collapsing the bag with 40-millimeter gunfire; the ship then landed the survivors at Portland Bight, Jamaica.
A few days later, on 12 July, UNIMAK joined with JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216) in hunting for a submarine reported to be lurking nearby. Within a few days, word of a crashed plane sent the two ships speeding for the last reported position of an aircraft. UNIMAK located only wreckage and one body and buried it at sea on 16 July.
UNIMAK remained in the Caribbean through the autumn, tending patrol planes, conducting logistics support missions for advanced seaplane bases, and occasionally towing targets for the patrol planes training in the area. On 15 December, ROCKAWAY (AVP-29) relieved UNIMAK, releasing her to steam north via Norfolk to Boston, Mass.
Arriving there at the end of December 1944, UNIMAK underwent availability at the Boston Navy Yard for the entire month of January 1945. She got underway for England on 14 February, but an engineering casualty forced the ship to return to Boston for a major propeller shaft alignment which lasted into March.
On 7 April, UNIMAK got underway for the British Isles and proceeded, via Bahia Praia in the Azores, to Bristol, on the first of two voyages to England to bring back supplies and men from decommissioned Navy patrol plane squadrons in the British Isles. On the second voyage, from 5 to 15 June, UNIMAK transported the men and materiel of Patrol Bomber Squadrons 103 and 105 from Bristol to Norfolk.
Departing Hampton Roads on 20 July, bound for the west coast, the ship transited the Panama Canal on the 26th and arrived at San Diego on 3 August. She got underway for Pearl Harbor on the 12th. The seaplane tender subsequently operated in the Hawaiian chain until 7 September when she headed for the Aleutians.
She operated in northern climes (calling at Adak, Kodiak, and Attu, Alaska; and once at Petropavlovsk Siberia) into November of 1945 before heading southward to prepare for inactivation. Subsequently reporting to Commander, 19th Fleet, in December, UNIMAK was decommissioned on 26 July 1946. She remained in reserve until transferred to the Coast Guard on 14 September 1948.
She served the Coast Guard as UNIMAK (WAVP-379).
The UNIMAK was home ported in Boston from 3 January 1949 to 1 September 1956 and used primarily for law enforcement, ocean station, and search and rescue operations. In June 1956, she patrolled the Newport, RI to Bermuda race. She was subsequently stationed at Cape May, NJ from 1 September 1956 to 7 August 1972 and used primarily for training reservists, including training cruises to Brazil and Nova Scotia. She took part in the cadet cruise of August 1965. On 7 March 1967 she rescued six Cuban refugees in the Yucatan Channel. On 10 March 1967 she rescued survivors from F/V BUNKIE III in Florida waters. Five days later, she rescued 12 Cuban refugees who were stranded on an island. On 29 May 1969, UNIMAK towed the disabled F/V SIROCCO 35 miles east of Fort Pierce, FL, to safety. On 3 April 1970, UNIMAK stood by the grounded M/V VASSILIKI near Mayaguana Island until a commercial tug arrived.
From 7 August 1972 to 31 May 1975, the UNIMAK was stationed at Yorktown, VA, and was again used to train reservists. Between 31 May 1975 and August 1977 she was placed out of commission and stored at Curtis Bay. MD. On 22 August 1977, UNIMAK was reactivated and was home ported at New Bedford, MA, until 1988. She was used primarily for fishing patrol.
On 6 October 1980, she seized M/V JANETH 340 miles southeast of Miami, FL, carrying 500 bales of marijuana. On 14 October 1980, she seized P/C RESCUE carrying approximately 500 bales of marijuana and P/C SNAIL with two tons of marijuana in the Gulf of Mexico. Three days later, she seized M/V AMALAKA southwest of Key West, FL, carrying 1,000 bales of marijuana. On 19 October 1980, UNIMAK seized F/V WRIGHT’S PRIDE southwest of Key West, carrying 30 tons of marijuana. In March of 1981, while on an OCS training cruise, UNIMAK intercepted M/V MAYO with 40 tons of marijuana. On 9 December 1982, she towed the disabled F/V SACRED HEART away from Daid Banks, 45 miles east of Cape Cod, in 30-foot seas.
Between 28 January and 9 March 1983, the UNIMAK was again deployed to the Caribbean for law enforcement patrol. On 27 and 28 February 1983, she towed the dismasted WANDERING STAR to Mathew Town, Great Iguana. On 3 March 1983, she towed the disabled M/V YADRINA to Mathew Town. On 30 November 1984, UNIMAK seized the sailboat LOLA 100 miles north of Barranquilla, Colombia, carrying 1.5 tons of marijuana. Another drug bust occurred on 2 November 1985, when the UNIMAK seized tugboat ZEUS 3 and a barge 200 miles south of the Dominican Republic carrying 40 tons of marijuana.
After her return to the Navy in April of 1988, she was expended as an artificial reef off the Virginia coast.
Tuvalu 1990 30c sg579, scott544.
Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. USA Coastguard web-site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Unimak_(AVP-31