USS OPPORTUNE (ARS-41)
Opportune (ARS-41) was laid down 13 September 1944 by Basalt Rock Co.
Calif.; launched 31 March 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Kenneth Sanger
and commissioned at Mare Island
5 October 1945
Lt. Comdr. Charles L. Knopp in command.
After training on the California coast
Opportune sailed from San Pedro 11 December 1945 for San Juan
her base for the next eight years. Operating primarily as a salvage schoolship for the Atlantic Fleet
Opportune also towed disabled craft among Caribbean ports and on occasion
to Norfolk and New York. Frequently she acted as air-sea rescue tug during fleet operations off Culebra Island.
She made her homeport at Norfolk from 23 October 1953. Each year she sailed north to take part in resupply operations for northern stations of the Army
and Weather Service
often serving for extended periods as station ship at the Naval Air Station
Newfoundland. On each such deployment
she performed the variety of services which makes the fleet repair and salvage ship a Navy workhorse: towing barges and disabled craft
repairing other ships
and port facilities; salvaging and lifting sunken ships and equipment; laying cable; fighting fires; tending buoys providing deep sea divers
searching for and recovering downed aircraft
and aiding men and ships in distress at sea. She carried out the same duties from Norfolk and in the Caribbean when not operating in the north.
Opportune performed missions of international goodwill and mercy on her first European cruise (April-June 1960). She escorted two Iranian ships to the entrance of the Mediterranean
then sailed directly to Agadir
where she delivered 50 tons of clothing donated by the Navy for victims of the recent earthquake. Princess Lasla Aisha
sister of the King of Morocco
came on board to thank Opportune for her aid.
A second European cruise (May-June 1961) represented a major contribution to the strengthening of the Navy's power to keep peace. Opportune's captain
Lt. Comdr. Thomas F. Byrnes
took command of a task group which included four Navy and two civilian tugs. The assignment: tow to the Polaris Submarine Base at Holy Loch
four large sections of AFDB-7
an enormous floating drydock. The 4
400-mile passage began at Mayport
and took 32 days at sea at an average speed of 5.9 knots. This difficult mission accomplished
Opportune visited Belfast
before returning to Norfolk 23 June.
For the next three years the salvage ship operated on the east coast and in the Caribbean
devoting most of her effort to cable laying operations. Highlights of this period were assistance to Norwegian ship Tarrantel which had been damaged in a collision off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay in the spring of 1962
service off Cape Canaveral
Fla. at the launch of Major Gordon Cooper's "Faith 7" Project Mercury space capsule a year later
and searching for inactive destroyer escort Fogg (DE-57)
which had broken free during hurricane "Jenny" while being towed to Charleston
and escorting the maverick to safety at Norfolk late in October 1963.
Opportune shed her cable laying gear at Norfolk the summer of 1964 and spent the remainder of the year supporting fleet training operations. After overhaul during the summer of 1965
Opportune visited Scotland in the fall to take in tow a leased Royal Navy lift craft ALC-24 for delivery to Subic Bay
Philippine Islands. She departed Rosyth 24 November and touched Gibraltar and Crete before transiting the Suez Canal. The long voyage ended when Opportune delivered her tow to Subic Bay 2 February 1966. Underway again four days later
she made Yokosuka
Calif.; and Acapulco
Mexico en route to the Panama Canal. The ship reached Little Creek
8 April 1966. She took pride in having completed the longest tow on record by a U. S. Navy salvage ship and in being the first Navy salvage ship to circumnavigate the globe.
For the remainder of the year Opportune operated along the east coast visiting the Canal Zone in June and in August she returned to Cape Canaveral for the unmanned Apollo launch. Into 1970 Opportune continues to serve the Atlantic Fleet.
[Note: The above USS OPPORTUNE (ARS-41) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS OPPORTUNE (ARS-41) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]