Monday, July 30, 2012

ATA 202

What a rare treat we were served up with the visitation of ATA 202, the last of her kind on planet earth, right here in Port Townsend, Washington this past weekend. For a modest donation, visitors were able to take a "self guided tour" of the vessel.

A rare treat indeed. The foundation restoring the tug is bound and determined to restore her to her 1944 configuration. For a vessel 68 years old, the interior was not that shabby. I was stuck by the number of souls sharing narrow companionways and cramped quarters.

And it didn't take too much imagination to hear and smell activities on board - such as restless chatter in the mess. The smell of coffee. The aroma of ham and eggs on the griddle.

Built as a fleet ATA (Army Tug Auxiliary) the Comanche began life in December 1944 as the ATA 202. It was not until July 1948 she was given a real name, the USS Wampanoag. This was an Indian tribe found in the area roughly defined from Narragansett Bay and the Pawtucket River, Rhode Island, to the Atlantic Ocean, including Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The name means "eastern people."

In 1959, she was transferred to the US Coast Guard, and re-named Comanche.

Officers enjoy single occupancy quarters
Crew shared two and four bunk quarters

With 41 souls aboard - 7 officers 34 crew - the mess was in constant use.

Enlisted Head (restroom) With no freshwater machine, 12,000 gallons of fresh water had to be used judiciously.

Looking carefully, you can see where the 3" 50 caliber deck gun was mounted.

The ATA tugs were designed for major towing operations at sea. They had relatively long endurance, ability make long tows. Their mission was towing operations outside combat areas and Fleet support in peace- time.

They would stand by just outside a combat or operational area and be in position to take the tow from an ATF that might be towing a disabled vessel to a repair base or safe haven. Although not intended for it, the ATAs were capable of some salvage and fire suppression duty. Eighty-nine of this class was built between 1943 and 1945

As you can see from the utilitarian pilothouse and super structure, these vessels were designed to be built quickly, not for looks!  

Sparse pilot house interior. No insulation.

Now before my rail buddies remind me once again that this is supposed to be a rail blog, once again I have threaded "the eye of the needle" and came up with on heck of rail - ship connection. That being the twin Cleveland Diesel 12V-278A main propulsion engines. See also "Sixteen of 'em to a block." 
Twin engines supplied direct current to a single dc motor rotating the prop. The 278A evolved from the Winton 201A engine, under the direction of Charles F. Kettering.

Lazarette and Tow Room
Almon A Johnson Towing Machine
The Almon A. Johnson AAJ222 towing machine was originally loaded with 2,100 feet of 2" wire rope. This page contains a detailed history of towing machines used on various Army vessels.

Tug Comanche, the "last unaltered vessel of her class." Not quite. There is one other ATA "hull" - the ATA 194. As with the ATA 202, ATA 194 was given a real name, USS Bagaduce, and like the 202, she was claimed by the US Coast Guard and re-named Modoc. The Modoc are a Native American people who originally lived in the area which is now northeastern California and central Southern Oregon.

Amenity not found on your typical ATA!
But unlike the Comanche, she has been converted to a yacht. The "Modoc" is up for sale at Gig Harbor, Washington. [Ed Note: Verified 7-30-2012.]

The restoration group managing the Comanche has, as a stated goal: "Restoration as close to her day of commissioning in 1944." Visit Comanche 202 Foundation for more photos and learn how you can contribute to her restoration. And here you can read her detailed history.

1 Comments - Click here:

Andy Rezsnyak said...

Up the road from me is the tug "MAJOR ELISHA K. HENSON", moored in Oswego NY at the H. Lee White Marine Museum. She is also the last of her breed.

here is a bit about her:

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