USS MATACO (ATF-86)
was laid down 27 June 1942 by United Engineering Co., San Francisco, Calif.;
launched 14 October 1942; sponsored by Miss Evelyn B. Piper; and commissioned
29 May 1943, Lt. William G. Baker in command.
Following shakedown off San Diego, Mataco early
proved her endurance when she towed a floating drydock 43 days nonstop from San
Francisco to Brisbane Australia, arriving 1 October 1943. This passage
accounted for 6,800 of 55,000 miles steamed her first year.
She underwent her first air attack in the Ellice
Islands 17 November, and 3 days later stood by to aid ships invading the
Gilberts. Training and target towing in Hawaiian waters preceded her joining TF
53 for the invasion of the Marshalls. She stood off Kwajalein 31 January 1944
to screen transports, free beached landing craft, and send her divers to
recover documents from sunken Japanese ships. She carried out escort and towing
missions in the Marshalls and to the Gilberts, Marianas, and Pearl Harbor until
3 December, when Ulithi became her base for the next 6 months. In January 1945
she carried out a major salvage assignment at Leyte, in February she made a tow
to Saipan and Guam, and in April she joined the assault on Okinawa. There on 2
April an aerial torpedo passed harmlessly beneath her keel.
Redesignated ATF‑86 on 15 May 1944, she
pitched in on the enormous amount of salvage work to be done around Okinawa,
and at war's end began tows to Japan. She returned home as she had come to war,
towing a drydock from Guam via Pearl Harbor ‑to San Francisco, where she
moored 25 July.
Five months later, 19 December, she returned to
the western Pacific on the first of the annual deployments to the 7th Fleet
which alternated with west coast and Alaskan duty. She was in the Philippines
at the outbreak of the Korean conflict, and after investigating smuggling in
the Ryukyus, sailed to Korea, where she performed combat salvage and air‑sea
rescue missions beginning with the 15 September Inchon landings. In mid‑October
she rounded the peninsula, extending those services to Wonsan. Target towing
missions in Japan and between Guam and Pearl Harbor completed this tour, and
she arrived in San Diego 12 August 1951.
Mataco began her next
western Pacific deployment 10 January 1952 and during the next 14 months
supported United Nations forces in Korea, in October twice rendering fire
support at Pippa Kotsu. The next year she reported for 3 continuous years of
Far Eastern service, and from 1956 to 1966, made five additional 7th Fleet
cruises as well as serving in Alaskan waters for four extended periods.
On 29 February 1967 she began a tour which
brought her for the first time to the coast of embattled Vietnam. On 21 April Mataco
brought YFR‑890 in tow to Vung Tau, and in May took up trawler
surveillance on Yankee Station. After towing a damaged LST from Da Nang to Guam
in July, she trained Korean navy men in salvage in Chinhae, then returned San
Diego 6 November. The hard‑working fleet tug remains an active unit of
the Pacific Fleet into 1969.
Mataco received five battle stars for World War II
service and four for Korean service.
[Note: The above USS MATACO (ATF-86) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS MATACO (ATF-86), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]