Ute, 1981 (WMEC 76)

June 19, 2020

Ute, 1981

AT / T-ATF-76; WMEC 76

A photo of USCGC Ute

A Native American people formerly inhabiting a large area of Colorado, Utah, and northern New Mexico, with present-day populations in northeast Utah and along the Colorado–New Mexico border.

Builder: United Engineering Company, Alameda, California

Length: 205' 3"

Beam: 38' 7"

Draft: 16' 10"

Displacement: 1,641 tons

Cost: N/A

Commissioned: 13 December 1942 (USN); 20 March 1981 (USCG)

Decommissioned: 26 May, 1988

Disposition: Sunk as a target

Machinery:  4 electric motors driven by 4 Allis Chalmers generators driven by 4 General Motors diesel engines; 3,000 BHP; single propeller.

Performance & Endurance:

        Max: 16.5 knots; 4,055 mile range
        Cruising: 10.1 knots; 13,097 mile range

Complement: 76 (1961)

Armament: 1 x 3"/50 (1980)

Electronics: SPN-25 radar (1961)

Nicknames: "Ute-R-Us"


USS Ute (AT-76) was laid down on 27 February 1942 at Alameda, Calif., by the United Engineering Co.; launched on 24 June 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Robert Tate; and commissioned on 13 December 1942, Lt. William F. Lewis in command.  After shakedown training in the San Francisco Bay region, Ute got underway on 10 February 1943, bound for Alaskan waters, and reached Dutch Harbor a week later. Ute immediately sailed for Amchitka, Alaska, where she participated in the salvage operations on the attack transport Arthur Middleton (APA-25) which had been thrown aground in one of the vicious "willi-waws" common to that area of the world.

Throughout March, Ute, assisted by the fleet tug Tatnuck (AT-27), continued in her efforts to haul the stranded attack transport off the beach. Ute utilized two sets of beach gear in the attempt to free the vessel. Ute interrupted that work only once during the month —to assist the merchantman SS Wallace to clear the harbor after the merchantman's mooring had parted.  After suspending her operations on the Arthur Middleton for the first week of April because of bad weather, the plucky auxiliary resumed her work when the weather cleared on the 8th. Success crowned her efforts the following day, when the attack transport shuddered free of the beach. Within a few days, Ute and Tatnuck got underway and towed Arthur Middleton to Dutch Harbor where they arrived on the 13th.

Ute fueled and left immediately for aptly named Cold Bay where she assisted the stranded Russian merchantman Krasnyl Oktyabr. Passing a tow line to the Soviet vessel, Ute pulled her free the next day. That mission completed, the fleet tug cleared Cold Bay for Women's Bay where she took two tank landing craft (LCT's) in tow and proceeded via Dutch Harbor to Sweeper's Cove.  During the first week of May, Ute assisted in laying an antisubmarine net at Sweeper's Cove. On the 6th, she joined TF 51 as the carriers were steaming toward the Kuril Islands for strikes against Paramushiro to support the invasion of Attu. While the task force was returning from the raid—which Ute had participated in as a salvage unit—reduced visibility caused the tug to be separated from the rest of the force. After failing to regain her position, Ute received orders to proceed to Attu.

Reaching that island on 12 May, Ute immediately found employment during the initial landings there. The merchantman SS Perida—transporting an Army combat team—had struck a pinnacle rock, rupturing two holds, and was in danger of foundering. The tug passed a line to the stricken vessel and pulled her out of danger to a position near the beach where she could unload her vital cargo.  Transferring pumps and other salvage gear to Perida, Ute continued salvage operations from the 12th to the 28th. During that period, enemy air raids enlivened the proceedings and caused several ships to stand out to sea. Ute, like a faithful companion, stayed near the stranded Perida to lend a hand should the occasion arise. On the 29th, Ute passed a towline to Perida and took her to Adak. The valuable tug then rounded out the month towing targets.

Ute remained at Adak until 8 June, when she headed for Shemya Island. En route there, she assisted the subchaser/patrol craft, PC-487, which had only a short time before rammed and sunk a Japanese submarine, 1-24. Taking the submarine chaser's men and equipment on board, the tug stood by the scene of the action until relieved on station by Lamberton (DMS-2).  Upon reaching Shemya, Ute went to work dynamiting shoal spots until the 16th. On that day, she was ordered to Nizki Island to assist SS MacVeigh after that merchantman had been stranded on a reef. Ute easily pulled the vessel free and assisted Tatnuck in towing her to Massacre Bay.  Ute carried out a small repair job on an Army tug and then commenced salvage operations on SS MacVeigh, That task kept her busy until the 28th when she left to tow an antisubmarine net to Shemya. Two days later, the tug returned at flank speed to Attu and soon thereafter proceeded to Alexai Point to assist the grounded Hulbert (AVD-6).

Throughout the first three weeks of July 1943, Ute attempted to pull Hulbert off the beach and still continued her efforts to salvage SS MacVeigh. She interrupted those efforts on the 19th to assist the grounded merchantman Delwood. However, an LCT passed between the two ships, cutting the towline. Again passing a line, Ute persisted in her attempt to free the ship and finally succeeded in getting the ship off the rocks. Unfortunately, the damage to Delwood proved to be greater than at first thought; and, soon after she had been refloated, she was in a dangerously "sinking condition." Thirty minutes later, Delwood listed heavily to port and began to go down by the stern.  Ute cut herself free from the foundering merchantman with an acetylene torch. Happily, no men were lost in the operation. Ute later took the damaged LCT in tow and delivered her to Massacre Bay.

Ute operated at Massacre Bay, Attu, until 7 August when she towed two LCT's to Constantine Harbor, Amchitka. After leaving her tow there, the tug picked up another LCT and proceeded to Adak which she reached on the 10th. Two days later, she sailed with the Kiska-bound attack force. However, that operation proved to be unnecessary, since the Japanese had evacuated the island a short time before, leaving only a few stray dogs to contest the invasion.  Weather and mines still endangered the ships. The latter damaged the destroyer Abner Read (DD-526); and, on 18 August, Ute towed that destroyer to Adak.

A few days later, Ute returned to Kiska with a barge in tow. On the 26th, she got underway to investigate the report that a sunken Japanese submarine lay in the vicinity of Twin Rocks. Divers sent down from Ute confirmed the report, locating a submarine lying on her port side in 10 fathoms of water.

On 13 September, Ute proceeded to the location of the disabled LST-461; but upon reaching the scene soon thereafter, found that LST-461 was already underway, travelling at the end of a towline astern of the tug Robert Preston. Ute returned to Kiska Harbor and, the next day, took a barge in tow. The towline parted, however, and heavy weather forced the tug to abandon her attempt to regain the barge.  Two days later, Ute proceeded to Buldir Island to assist LCT-356. Arriving there on the 19th, the tug took the landing craft in tow and subsequently delivered her safely to Kiska.

For the remainder of September, the fleet tug tackled a number of odd jobs, such as clearing fouled anchors and recovering tackle from sunken Japanese vessels. On the 29th, she recovered a Navy plane which had capsized in the harbor.  Ute continued salvage evolutions on sunken and damaged enemy ships in the harbor before she moved to Adak in early October. There, the tug underwent a needed availability alongside a tender until the 22d when she returned to Kiska and sailed thence to Attu. There, Ute pulled the merchantman, SS Ole E. Rolvaag off the beach, with little trouble, and spent the remainder of the month searching for Army barges reported adrift at sea.

After failing to locate the derelicts, Ute returned to Massacre Bay on 1 November. A week later, she salvaged a PT-boat and towed it to a mooring buoy. The next day, the tug once more headed for Kiska and spent the days salvaging sunken Japanese ships. The fickle Alaskan weather added to her workload, and Ute again found herself engaged in pulling ships free of the beach. The destroyer King (DD-242), an old "flush-decker," ran aground at Kuluk Bay, Adak; and Ute pulled her free on the 27th before proceeding to Lash Bay, Tanaga Island, for salvage operations on LST-451.

Neptune's capricious antics in wintry Alaskan waters continually interrupted Ute's, work on the LST, and heavy seas finally forced the tug from the anchorage. She cruised at sea until the weather moderated and then returned to pull the landing ship free a few days later. With the LST in tow, Ute started out for Adak, but weather and sea conditions worsened and forced the ships to take shelter in the lee of Tanaga Island for two days before continuing.

After finally delivering the LST, Ute fueled and rushed to aid the Russian merchantman Valery Chkalov, a ship that had split in half in the heavy seas. Arriving a few hours later, Ute stood by while Cree (ATF-84) took the after section of the halved ship in tow and then herself went to work recovering the forward half. Ute rescued a Soviet seaman from one of the hulks after the man jumped overboard into the freezing waves.

The next morning, Ute secured a grapnel to the wreck and towing commenced. The following day, the wire parted. After several unsuccessful attempts to secure another towline to the hulk, the resourceful American sailors welded a 400-pound anchor to a depth charge arbor and fired it off in the direction of the wreck. A second try at this ingenious method succeeded when one of the flukes of the anchor caught on the Russian ships' deck. After taking up the slack, Ute towed the hulk once more.

Two hours later, though, the towing wire chafed and parted. With the derelict drifting aimlessly in the stormy seas, no move could be made to resume the tow until the tempest abated. Then, five volunteers clambered on board the drifting bow section and took the line passed from Ute and once more secured the anchor chain to the wreck. Finally, on 22 December, Ute transferred her charge to an Army tug at Sand Bay, Great Sitkin Island. Soon after returning to Adak, Rear Admiral F. E. M. Whiting presented Lt. William F. Lewis, Ute's commanding officer, with the Legion of Merit for his performance of duty in the tug.

Subsequently, the day after Christmas 1943, Ute got underway for Shemya Island to assist grounded SS Scotia. On the way, a heavy storm forced Ute to seek protection in the lee of Tanaga Island. Thence, under new orders, the fleet tug pushed on via Attu to Kiska where she obtained additional salvage and diving equipment necessary for the Scotia salvage project.  Just before the salvage operations on the grounded Scotia could commence, the ship's master gyro compass failed, holding up the salvage work for nearly two weeks before repairs could be effected. No sooner had work begun, than Ute was forced to shift to Tanaga Island to aid the grounded YMS-127. Three days later, the fleet tug pulled the motor minesweeper off the rocks and towed her to Adak before returning to Attu at the end of the month.

Early in February 1944, Ute was assigned to standby salvage duty during another bombardment of Japanese installations on Paramushiro. Led by the light cruisers Richmond (CL-9) and Raleigh (CL-7), the American ships conducted a successful shelling; and Ute returned to Adak.  One week later, the busy fleet tug proceeded to Con-stantine Harbor, at Amchitka, to save a gasoline barge. After cruising off the harbor entrance for a day waiting for the weather to improve, Ute entered the harbor and commenced operations. Upon completion of her mission four days later, she proceeded to Kiska—to shift a cruiser's moorings—and thence moved on to Adak to tow targets. However, bad weather prevented the scheduled gunnery exercises, and the fleet tug returned to Attu.

Ute operated on standby during another bombardment of Japanese installations on Paramushiro early in March. After returning to Attu, she shifted to Adak, delaying long enough to tow targets there in mid-month before shifting to Great Sitkin Island. During the last week of March, Ute towed the bow section of the Russian merchantman Valery Chkalov to Dutch Harbor. She later returned to Great Sitkin in April to prepare the after section of that ship for towing. Departing Great Sitkin on 1 May, Ute delivered the bow section of Valery Chkalov to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the 21st and then pushed on to Seattle for an availability. During that stint in Aleutian waters, the ship was re-classified as a fleet tug, ATF-76.

After repairs and alterations at the Puget Sound Navy Yard during June and most of July, the fleet tug left Puget Sound on 28 July and pointed her bow once more toward Alaskan waters.  Stopping long enough at Kodiak to pick up a tow, Ute proceeded to Dutch Harbor, where she was dry-docked for repairs to her bilge keel. Underway with her tow again a few days later, the fleet tug ultimately reached Adak on 21 August.  For the first half of September, Ute remained at Adak, doing odd jobs and towing sleds for gunnery exercises before she proceeded to Dutch Harbor on 14 September. Except for a salvage job to perform on YP-87, the remainder of the month proved uneventful.

In October, Ute put to sea to assist the Russian merchantman SS Altgelt which was reportedly breaking up at sea. However, the Soviet ship reached Kodiak safely; and Ute returned to Dutch Harbor for the remainder of the month. The ship then sailed south for another availability, this time at the Pacific Repair and Dry-dock Co. in Oakland, Calif.

With repairs and trials behind her, Ute cleared San Francisco Bay on 16 December 1944, in a convoy bound for the Hawaiian Islands. She reached Pearl Harbor two days into the new year, 1945. A week later, she pushed on for the Marshalls.  Towing Limestone, a concrete supply barge, Ute touched first at Majuro, then at Eniwetok where she arrived on 1 February 1945. There, the fleet tug was assigned to the logistics support group of TG 50.8 to service the main striking force of the 5th Fleet with oil and provisions while underway and thus enable the Fleet to stay at sea nearly continuously to support the Iwo Jima campaign.

On 9 February, Ute sortied in company with TG 50.8 for an area east of Iwo Jima and remained at sea for the rest of the month. On the 16th, Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's carrier planes bombed airfields, aircraft factories, and shipping in the Tokyo area and repeated those strikes on the 17th as well.  On the 21st, Ute attempted to assist escort carrier Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), damaged by a Japanese kamikaze. However, before Ute could arrive on the scene, Bismarck Sea sank. After searching for survivors, the fleet tug returned to her station in the task group.  Task Group 50.8 returned to Ulithi for a rest, putting into that lagoon on 6 March, but sortied again a fortnight later to support the Fleet in the operation against Okinawa Gunto. As before, Ute steamed in company, ready to perform her vital but unglamorous salvage mission. However, except for sighting numerous mines in the vicinity, the tug found this assignment uneventful.

Ute cruised with TG 50.8 until 16 April, when she was detached to head for Okinawa. Once again, she was ordered to assist one of the kamikaze-damaged flattops —this time the fleet carrier Franklin (CV-13). However, Franklin recovered her power of self-propulsion before Ute arrived.

On the night of 24 May, Ute fired at—but missed—a Japanese plane that roared by, close aboard. The next morning, however, her gunners splashed a "Val" that had attempted to bomb the helpless SS William B. Allison. A few hours later, Ute got underway and churned to the assistance of the high-speed minesweeper Butler (DMS-29), kamikazied off the anchorage.

At dusk on that day, after assisting the damaged Butler, Ute proceeded to Chimu Wan to extinguish a fire on PC-160S and to assist that patrol craft which had been hit by two kamikazes. During the night, the efforts of the firefighters succeeded, and Ute prepared to take the craft in tow.  However, before Ute could get a line to the submarine chaser, new orders sent the tug to the assistance of the destroyer Braine (DD-630), also the victim of a kamikaze, 40 miles east of Okinawa. Ute got underway, but as she did so, a "Val"—pursued by a trio of Corsair fighters (Vought F4U's)—attacked her.  Undeterred by Ute's gunfire and that of the three fighters, the "Val" made a suicide dive in the direction of the fleet tug. Fortunately, the airmen and Ute's gunners gained the upper hand and splashed the "Val" into the sea about 50 yards on Ute's port quarter.

Ute's usefulness was proved before the month was out as she assisted ships on the picket lines (frequent targets of kamikazes) and in the harbors. On the 17th, she towed an LSM from the Hagushi beach anchorage to Kerama Retto and, the following day, salvaged the damaged tank landing craft, LCT-13S5. After Daly (DD-519) took a kamikaze on 28 April, Ute set out to her aid; but, since Daly could make it to Kerama Retto .under her own power, Ute returned to Hagushi. That night, the fleet tug opened fire on a Japanese plane which attacked ships in the anchorage nearby, and the suicider crashed about 500 yards from the ship. 

The next day, Haggard (DD-555), damaged by a kamikaze, required assistance. Ute brought the stricken "tin can" to Kerama Retto before being sent to Buckner Bay for duty. Shortly after arriving there, the tug salvaged an LCI (landing craft, infantry) that had hit a reef and later relieved another tug in towing an ammunition barge. Then, for nearly two weeks, Ute performed repairs on the damaged merchantman, SS William B. Allison.  Ute located the damaged kamikazied destroyer Braine on the afternoon of 27 May and delivered her, at the end of a towline, to Kerama Retto the following morning. Ute next returned to the crippled William B. Allison—then leaking badly and threatening to sink— but interrupted that work the next day to conduct salvage operations on LST-844.  After pulling the LST off a reef on 2 June, Ute returned to William B. Allison and commenced pumping operations. Three days later, she went to the assistance of J. William Ditter (DM-31), after that light minelayer had mixed it up with Japanese suiciders, and towed the damaged ship to Kerama Retto, the refuge for battered and sinking ships.  Ute managed to pitch in with some antiaircraft action of her own on the 11th and shot down a Japanese plane that passed over her during a suicide run.

By this time, one of Ute's engines was out of operation, so the fleet tug sailed for Saipan on the 16th, exactly two months after she had first made landfall at Okinawa. During that period, the ship had been at general quarters between 20 and 30 percent of the time, saw antiaircraft fire nearly every night, and observed Japanese aircraft numerous times. After reaching Saipan, she proceeded on to Leyte Gulf for availability.  Moored alongside Jason (ARH-1), Ute underwent repairs and alterations through mid-August 1945 when Japan capitulated. She remained in San Pedro Bay until the 28th, when she proceeded in convoy back to Okinawa.  

With the war now over, Ute was sent to occupy lower Korea. Early in September, she proceeded to Jinsen (now Inchon), Korea, where she remained through mid-month. She headed for Shanghai, China, on the 18th, and reached the mouth of the Yangtze a few days later. After taking on a pilot, the fleet tug proceeded up the Whangpoo River to Shanghai, where she remained for the remainder of the month.

On 1 October, Ute towed the Yangtze River lightship into position at the mouth of that river and returned to Shanghai soon thereafter. Early in the second week of October, the fleet tug received orders to proceed up the Yangtze, taking in tow with her four lighters laden with aviation gasoline.  Reaching Hankow on the 16th, she discharged her cargo there and returned to Shanghai within a few days. Six miles above Keichow, two mines detonated close aboard, dislocated the tug's shaft bearings, ruptured her fuel tanks, and caused considerable damage throughout the ship. Seize (ARS-26) assisted the crippled fleet tug; and Tekesta (ATF-93) took over Ute's barges. The little convoy reached Shanghai on 2 November. On that day, Ute went alongside the heavy-hull repair ship Dixie (ARH-14) and remained there undergoing temporary repairs through the end of the month.

On 15 December, Ute got underway for the Marianas —in company with and towed by ATR-72—and reached Guam on the day after Christmas. From that island, she continued on via Eniwetok and Kwajalein to the United States and arrived at San Francisco on 27 February 1946. After a drydocking at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard from 5 to 19 April, the tug proceeded north to Astoria, Oregon, where she was placed in out-of-commission, in-reserve, status on 13 July 1946.

Called back to service in the Korean War mobilization, Ute was recommissioned at Tongue Point, Oreg., on 14 September 1951. Upon completion of an overhaul at Oakland on 23 November 1951, she sailed for San Pedro and four weeks of intensive underway training. On 4 January 1952, Ute departed San Diego and headed for the Far East, stopping at Pearl Harbor for two weeks en route. After touching at Sasebo, Japan, Ute proceeded on to the Korean war zone.

From 23 February to 21 March 1952, Ute operated in Wonsan harbor, primarily laying buoys to mark swept channels and at Nan Do laying mooring buoys for boats in rough weather. She made one trip to Hungnam to replace a vital navigation buoy. During that period, Ute also participated in shore bombardments at Wonsan, Hungnam, and Songjin, engaging targets of opportunity.  On 27 February in Songjin harbor, Ute cleared the fouled screw of the minesweeper AMS-34. On 14 March, she assisted the Republic of Korea (ROK) minesweeper, AMS-518, with emergency repairs after that vessel had broken her starboard propeller shaft and suffered a flooded engine room. Following the emergency repairs, Ute took the minesweeper to Chinhae, Korea.  Not only did Ute perform salvage duties and shore bombardments at Wonsan, but she also was assigned picket stations inside the harbor and performed other duties that included the detail of taking mail and supplies to islands held by friendly forces. She also supplied American and ROK small craft with fuel, provisions, and some 20,000 gallons of fresh water.

Upon completion of her first tour in Korean waters, Ute returned to Sasebo for a short period of replenishment. Her second trip to the combat zone took her to Cho Do, on the western coast of Korea, where she operated from 31 March to 27 April. Her numerous duties included: furnishing local escort and fire support for LST's en route to Cho Do or Sok To, carrying mail and stores for friendly ships in the immediate vicinity, and repairing friendly LCM's and minesweepers. Each night, Ute conducted picket patrols.

On 6 April, Ute commenced salvage of an ROK salvage ship that had run aground and needed help to pull free and out of danger. During the operation, Ute drew heavy fire from communist shore batteries; 21 rounds landed between 20 to 100 feet from the ship. However, the valiant fleet tug bore a charmed life, for she was able to maneuver safely out of gun range on every occasion, and her crew suffered no casualties.  On 24 April, Ute fired a shore bombardment mission and earned the nickname "Good Shoot Ute" from the American and British forces blockading the Korean west coast. Fires started by the ship's shells burned all night. The crew also noted several explosions indicating damage done to the enemy. That engagement proved to be the last before she retired from Korean waters.  During her replenishment at Sasebo, Ute received emergency orders to assist a SCAJAP LST that had broached at Cheju Do island. This task kept the tug busy from 29 April to 11 May, when, with her task completed, she returned to Sasebo.

Ute's fourth trip to the combat zone took her back to Cho Do, on the west coast of Korea. Her duties were similar to those of her earlier stays on the line but placed more emphasis on the ship's repair capabilities. She furnished 10,000 gallons of fresh water to small craft during that particular tour and conducted a successful salvage operation on a damaged LCM that had been beached during a storm. After refloating the craft, she delivered it to an LSD for repairs.  On the night of 15 June 1952, Ute was ordered to take a wooden barge—laden with a cargo of gasoline, oil, food, and water—to an island deep in enemy waters which was held by friendly troops. Since it was imperative that the delivery be made under cover of darkness, Ute threaded her way to the island which was located only 35 miles from the mouth of the Yalu River and in an area reportedly patrolled heavily by communist aircraft. Innumerable navigational hazards and poorly charted waters made the passage an anxious one; but, by navigating with her radar, the tug made the trip successfully and delivered the barge and its eagerly-awaited cargo in record time. Returning to Cho Do before daybreak, Ute's combat air patrol—provided lest she be discovered by enemy planes-—was not needed.  Ute's, other duties during this time included the evacuation of wounded and the transportation of prisoners of war (POW's) to the British light cruiser, HMS Ceylon. Other routine tasks included the stopping and searching of alien sampans coming down the Yellow Sea from the north. Relieved on station, Ute proceeded to Yokosuka, Japan, for a well-earned rest.

That autumn, Ute labored in Korean waters for a fifth time, from 20 August to 30 September 1952. During that time, she operated in company with the destroyer Bradford (DD-545) and, on one occasion, witnessed that "tin can's" firing on MiG jets that passed close by. The tug performed salvage work and fired eight more shore bombardment missions.  Having logged 155 days in the combat zone, Ute headed for Pearl Harbor on 7 October. After a yard availability there, the tug picked up the disabled PC-IHI at Johnston Island, returning her to Pearl Harbor on 26 January 1953.  Ute plied the Pacific, performing routine towing duties, to Midway and Wake Islands, before she began her second Western Pacific (WestPac) deployment early in September. She then operated in Far Eastern waters until the following March, when she returned via the Marshalls to Pearl Harbor.

Over the ensuing decade, Ute conducted numerous WestPac deployments and operated in the northern Pacific as well. Her missions included tows, salvage work, and search and rescue missions. During those years, Ute was homeported at Pearl Harbor and ranged from Japan to Indochina; from Johnston Island to Bikini Atoll; and from Adak—her old "stomping grounds"—to the Marianas.   

Early in 1966, American involvement in Vietnam began to show in the ship's routine. The tug departed Sasebo on 27 March, bound for South Vietnam, with APL-55 in tow. Shifting to Danang soon after her arrival at Camranh Bay, she towed YD-127 to Subic Bay, Philippines, between 6 and 10 April. Ten days later, the veteran tug relieved Bausell (DD-845) in shadowing a Soviet trawler to keep the Russian ship from interfering with the operations of American carriers in Tonkin Gulf.  After continuing that "skunk patrol" for five days, Ute salvaged the merchantman, SS Excellency, a ship that had run aground while carrying munitions to Vietnam. She arrived at the scene—at Triton Island, 180 miles southeast of Danang—on 26 April and, after surveying the bottom offshore, began laying beaching gear. After tearing Excellency from the bulldog grip of the reef at 1602 on 30 April, Ute returned to the Tonkin Gulf on 1 May to resume "skunk patrol."

Relieved by Abnaki (ATF-96) at Danang in mid-May, Ute put into Hong Kong on the 22d for rest and recreation. She operated in southeast Asian waters into the summer, touching at Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Subic Bay; Singapore; and Sattahip and Bangkok, Thailand, before returning to Subic Bay for upkeep.  After a brief visit to Japanese waters, Ute returned to Pearl Harbor in early October. She did not return to WestPac operating areas again until the following summer. She performed services for the Royal Thai Navy between 28 and 30 August and then towed APL-55 from An Thoi, Vietnam, to Sasebo, Japan. For a month that autumn, from 15 October to 15 November, Ute carried out surveillance of a Soviet "trawler" in the Tonkin Gulf with TF-77, before conducing salvage operations on Clarke County (LST-601) at Doc Pho, Vietnam.

Ute spent much of 1970 in the southeast Asian area —numbering Camranh Bay, Vung Tau, Danang, Sattahip, and Singapore among her ports of call. After participating in salvage operations with SS Laredo Victory near Midway, Ute returned to the west coast of the United States, towing two old Fletcher-class hulks, ex-0'Bannon (DD-450) and ex-Nicholas (DD-449) from Pearl Harbor to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard between 31 January and 14 February 1971.  Subsequently deploying to the northern Pacific operating area and then to Pearl Harbor in mid-year, Ute spent much of that autumn undergoing salvage and refresher training in Hawaiian waters. Deploying to WestPac again in early November, Ute "chopped" to the 7th Fleet on 13 November.  

Ute did not return to continental American waters until 1972; her home port was officially changed from Pearl Harbor to San Diego on 15 October. One of her first tasks upon arrival "stateside" was the tow of the erstwhile fleet carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17) to San Clemente Island in November for shock tests. After the tests were completed, Ute returned Bunker Hill to San Diego. Commander, Destroyer Squadron 33 reported that the overall success of the tests ". . . can be largely attributable to the expertise and versatility of USS Ute in performing a variety of assignments."

Ute performed coastwise tow and tug services for the Fleet, off the southern California coast, into 1974. Her WestPac service was not over, however, for she commenced yet another deployment on 7 January 1974. Over the seven months that ensued, Ute visited such ports as Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay and Poro Point in the Philippines; Singapore; Hong Kong; Yokosuka, Kure, and Sasebo in Japan; Keelung, Taiwan; and Pusan, South Korea. The Fleet utilized her services in such diverse activities as torpedo recovery, target tows, diver requalification, and ocean towing. She capped off the deployment by towing YMS-789 from Poro Point to Tacoma, Wash. One month of hectic activity followed her return from WestPac, and then the ship was decommissioned and simultaneously turned over to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) on 30 August 1974.

Manned by a civilian crew, the valuable veteran served actively with MSC into the late 1970s until being transferred to the Coast Guard.  She, along with Escape and Lipan, were acquired to augment the Coast Guard fleet during the Cuban "Mariel" Exodus when the service realized it did not have the assets necessary to control the flood of migrants leaving Cuba.  The original plan was to use them for only two years before returning them to the Navy and as such no major renovations were made on any of the three cutters at that time.  The Coast Guard placed her in commission on 30 September 1980.  She was assigned to the Seventh Coast Guard District and was based out of Key West, Florida and assigned to law enforcement and search and rescue patrols.  It was during this time that the "increased tempo of maritime drug interdiction operations" made it necessary for the Coast Guard to plan to retain the Ute, Escape and Lipan for longer than the original two years.

On 11 July 1982 she helped turn back an 18-foot sailboat with eight Haitians on board off southeast Cuba.  On 10 June 1983 she rescued four from the fishing vessel Don Pepe II in the Yucatan Channel.  On 26 June 1983 she fired 15 rounds of .50 caliber at Miss Shirley.  On 22 December 1983 she seized the Cayman Neptune carrying 42.5 tons of marijuana.  On 6 February 1984 she intercepted the sailboat Saint Augustin in the Windward Passage carrying 57 illegal migrants and returned them to Haiti.  On 4 August 1984 she helped seize the Grand's Anse II in the Yucatan Channel with 30 tons of marijuana aboard.  On 12 August 1984 she seized the M/V San Andrea 30 miles southwest of Freeport carrying 7.5 tons of marijuana.  On 15 September 1984 she seized the M/V Garcia Masiques 200 miles southwest of Jamaica for carrying 1.5 tons of marijuana.  On 12 November 1984 she seized the M/V Bierum 100 miles east of Belize carrying 10 tons of marijuana.  

On 3 January 1985 she seized the sailboat Maranatha in the Yucatan Channel carrying 175 pounds of marijuana.  On 9 March 1985 she seized the Cayman Chata One carrying 19 tons of marijuana.  On 13 March 1985 she seized the M/V Andro carrying 8 tons of marijuana.  On 18 February 1987 she seized the M/V Ileanne carrying over 10 tons of marijuana.  On 12 November 1987 she seized the M/V Escargot carrying 565 pounds of marijuana and 37 gallons of hash oil.  She ran aground outside the northern edge of the Entrance Channel to Bayboro Harbor in Tampa Bay later that year.

Due to increasing breakdowns and leaking fuel tanks, necessitating extensive and expensive repairs, the Coast Guard decided to retire the Ute.  She was decommissioned on 26 May, 1988 and returned to the Navy.  She was laid up in the Reserve Fleet for three years before being expended as a target on 4 August 1991.  She was struck from the Naval Register on 23 January 1989.  Ute received three battle stars for her World War II service, two for her Korean War service, and nine for her service in Vietnam.


Cutter History File.  USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.  Washington, DC: USGPO.

Robert Scheina.  U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990.