USS UTINA (ATF-163)
1565) was a leading chief of the
now-extinct Timucua Indians who occupied the territory along the middle reaches of the St. John's River in Florida near the present-day site of St. Augustine.
(AFT-163: dp. 1,589
(tl.); 1. 205'0"; b. 38'6"; dr. 15'4" (lim.); s. 16.5 k. (tl.); cpl. 85; a. 1 3", 2 40mm., 4 20mm.; cl. Abnaki
Utina (ATF-163) was laid down on 6 June 1945 at Charleston, S.C., by the Charleston Shipbuilding
& Drydock Co.; launched on 31 August 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Jonathan Yerkes; and commissioned at the Naval Base, Charleston, on 30 January 1946, Lt.
A. J. Vetro in command.
Since commissioning, the
major portion of Utina's long
Navy career was spent in the western Atlantic and in the West Indies. She carried out a variety of towing missions, helping damaged ships into port, towing decommissioned ships to berthing areas,
towing targets for gunnery exercises, and the like. Throughout her active career, Utina was closely
associated with the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Right after commissioning, she conducted her shakedown training out of that port, and when she completed
it, Guantanamo Bay became her home port for over five years. In 1951, she was reassigned to Norfolk but continued to deploy each year to the base in Cuba
for several weeks of
operations-frequently in conjunction with
the annual "Springboard" fleet exercises held in the West Indies. She was at Guantanamo Bay in February of 1964 when Cuban Premier Castro cut off the base's water supply. When the United States
government decided to respond by
permanently serving the water link to
illustrate the base's self sufficiency, Utina played an important
role by bringing in Guantanamo Bay's first
potable water before two large tankers
could be activated for the purpose.
Throughout her quarter of
a century of service with the Navy, Utina altered her routine of
operations along the eastern seaboard and in the West Indies only twice. In May of 1965, she embarked upon her only deployment to the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Her missions, however, remained the same though the emphasis shifted to target towing for 6th Fleet
surface gunnery exercises. She
returned to Norfolk in early October
1965 and resumed 2d Fleet services once more. Her second departure from
her primary zone of operations came in June of 1967 when she steamed to Iceland
to assist Aeolus (ARC-3) in a special
project. The tug returned to Norfolk
on 13 July 1967 and resumed east coast-West
Indies operations for the remaining four years of her career. On 3 September 1971, Utina was decommissioned at Norfolk, and she was transferred,
on a loan basis, to the Venezuelan
Navy. She was commissioned as Felipe
Larrazabal (R 21) and served in
the Venezuelan Navy until December of 1977. At that time, she was returned to the United States Navy, retransferred to Venezuela on a sale basis,
and her name was struck from the Navy
list-all simultaneously. As of the
beginning of 1980, she was still active
with the Venezuelan Navy.
The fleet tug Utina (ATF-163).
[Note: The above USS UTINA (ATF-163) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS UTINA (ATF-163), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]