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USS Rescuer (ARS-18) circa October 1942
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Class:        RESCUER (ARS-18)
Design        Small cargo, 1904
Displacement (tons):        500 light, 738 gross
Dimensions (feet):        175.5' reg x 34.0' reg
Original Armament:        None
Later armaments:        --
Complement        --
Speed (kts.):        10
Propulsion (HP):
Machinery:        1 screw, reciprocating

ARS Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
18 RESCUER 6 Feb 42 United Engg., Alameda -- 1904 --

ARS Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
18 RESCUER -- 22 Dec 44 1 Jan 43 Lost --

Class Notes:
FY 1942. In 1904 the United Engineering Works at Alameda, Cal. delivered the steel hulled steam schooner NUSHAGAK to the Alaska Packers Association. She was named for the town of Nushagak, which had a Russian church and one of her owner's many salmon canneries. She made 19 annual trips to Bristol Bay, Alaska, for the summer salmon season as a tender and tug to assist the big square riggers of Alaska Packers' "Star Fleet." Each September these sailing ships returned to San Francisco laden with canned salmon. In 1924 NUSHAGAK was acquired by a subsidiary of the Caspar Lumber Co. and made coastal voyages for this firm carrying redwood lumber piled high between her forecastle and bridge. The ship was renamed CASPAR in 1930 when her wooden-hulled predecessor was sold and was retired in 1939.

On 8 Nov 41 BuShips recommended the acquisition of CASPAR, which it described as a wooden hulled steamer, for salvage service in the Alaskan area. Four more salvage vessels were also needed for service in Newfoundland and Iceland. On 6 Dec 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board concluded that, in the absence of suitable small seagoing vessels for conversion to tugs or salvage vessels, the only option was to build them. It recommended that five wooden-hulled salvage ships (ARS 13-17, q.v.) be built for the U.S. Navy, of which four would be assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and the fifth to the 13th Naval District for use in the Alaskan area. In view of the prospective assignment of a new construction vessel to the Alaskan area, the Board recommended against the acquisition of the CASPAR.

On 5 Jan 42 BuShips asked the Board to reconsider its recommendation concerning CASPAR. The Board responded on 10 Jan 42 by recommending that, in view of the changed situation since 7 Dec 41 and the lack of any floating salvage facilities in the Alaskan Section, CASPAR be acquired at the earliest possible date and assigned to the Naval Salvage Service, then operating under the direction of BuShips. The ship was converted by Associated Shipbuilders, Lake Union, Seattle, was operated in Alaskan waters by Merritt-Chapman & Scott under contract with BuShips, and was manned by civilian company personnel.

While engaged in salvaging the Soviet merchant ship TURKSIB near Scotch Cap, Unimak Pass, RESCUER was carried into the beach and badly holed. On 2 Jan 43 Commander Northwest Sea Frontier reported that the entire bottom amidships was gone and that it was believed the ship would sink if pulled off the beach. The same command followed up on 9 Feb 43 with a report that the vessel would never be floated but that most salvage equipment could be saved if the ship didn't break up first due to heavy seas. The wrecked vessel remained on the Naval Vessel Register until 22 Dec 44.

On 27 Feb 43 BuShips reported to CNO that the results obtained by the operation of DISCOVERER (ARS-3) and RESCUER (ARS-18) under contract NObs-36 (the Merritt-Chapman & Scott contract) in Alaskan waters had been unsatisfactory to both the Navy and the contractor. The contractor had been unable to communicate with the vessels in this remote area and direction of the vessels' operations had necessarily been assumed by Naval authorities in the vicinity. As a result Alaskan waters were removed from the normal sphere of operations for salvage vessels operating under this contract and ARS-13 and ARS-14, which had been earmarked for operation there by Merritt-Chapman & Scott under NObs-36, were reassigned for operation in that region by Navy crews as commissioned Naval vessels.

Ship Notes:
ARS Name Notes
18 RESCUER Ex small cargo ship CASPAR, ex NUSHAGAK 1925 (completed May 1904). Completed conversion by Associated Shipbuilders, Lake Union, Seattle, on 7 Oct 42. Wrecked near Scotch Cap, Unimak Pass, Alaska.

Page Notes:
ARS        1942
Compiled:        31 Mar 2011
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2011