USS PETREL (ASR-14)
The fifth Petrel, a submarine rescue ship
laid down 26 February 1945, was built by Savannah Machine Foundry Co.,
Savannah, Ga.; launched 26 September 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Ellie Jeffreys;
and commissioned at Savannah 24 September 1946, Lt. Dennis Hima in command.
After fitting out at Charleston and
shakedown at Guantanamo and Panama Bays, Petrel returned to Charleston 18
December 1946. She sailed for New London 6 January 1947 to join SubRon 2, and
operated out of that base for the next 3 years training and qualifying deep-sea
divers and salvage crews, and escorting ships such as Piper and Cochino in
Departing New London 23 January 1950, she
steamed off Old Point Comfort, Va., where Missouri (BB-63) had run aground.
Divers from Petrel surveyed and excavated around the bottom of the battleship,
and on 1 February Petrel aided in the big pull that drew Missouri into deep
water. After this operation, Petrel returned to New London 6 February but was
reassigned to Key West 5 May.
Petrel continued training operations,
with SubRon 4, at Key West throughout the 1950s, with occasional variations.
She towed ex-German sub U-2513 off Dry Tortuga Flats in October 1950 to be sunk
in firing exercises by destroyer Owens (DD-827). Exercises in 1952 included
re-floating U-2513. In 1956, Petrel had a key role in freeing Nantahala,
aground in Key West Channel.
On 14 February 1958, Petrel received a
distress call at Key West from Guavina (SSO-362), stranded in heavy seas off
San Salvadore, Bahama Islands. Steaming to the area and off-loading some of
Guavina's oil cargo, Petrel towed the lightened sub to Key West. Petrel
continued to operate along the Atlantic coast of the southern United States
until sailing in the Spring of 1961 for the Mediterranean for exercises with
SubDiv 41, 6th Fleet in June and operated off Portugal in salvage operations
after a DC-8 passenger airplane crash. Petrel
returned to Charleston 28 August for coastal operations until she again
joined the 6th Fleet from January to May 1964. She departed Charleston 12 July
for Hamilton, Bermuda, where she aided the Air Force in recovering wreckage and
personnel from a 2-plane, mid-air collision. Highlights of subsequent coastal
service included accompanying Von Steuben
in sea trials in September, work with Sam
Rayburn in April 1965, and duty at Guantanamo 28-30 September and during
departed New London 6 January 1966 for Holy Loch, Scotland,
with YTB-780 in tow. On 17 January, an Air Force B-52, carrying 4 unarmed
nuclear weapons, collided with a KB-135 off Palomares, Spain. Petrel was sent to the area to aid in
salvage operations and had the delicate task of maintaining position over the
bomb. The weapon was brought to the surface 7 April, by Alvin, placed on Petrel, and
transferred to Cascade. Petrel then
returned to Charleston.
Deployed to the Mediterranean again in 1968, Petrel searched for the lost Israeli
submarine Dakar 26 January, and
missing French submarine Minerve on
the 30th. On 12 February, she helped salvage destroyer Bache (DD-470) at Rhodes, Greece. After return to Charleston in
May, she joined in the search for missing submarine Scorpion the 27th, and retured to Charleston from the Azores 12
July. She continues operations with SubDiv 41 into 1970.
[Note: The above USS PETREL (ASR-14) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS PETREL (ASR-14), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]