Paul Eugene Piellusch
HISTORY OF U.S.S. ATR-10
At 0930 on 4 October 1944 the USS ATR-10 was commissioned at the Frank L. Sample JR., Inc., Shipyard, Boothbay Harbor, Maine. From then until 23 October she went through the usual routine of completing necessary installations, and preparing for shakedown. On that date she arrived at N.O.B. Norfolk, Virginia for her shakedown repairs, she began her useful naval career, proceeding to Chester, Pennsylvania for a towing mission.
It was turbulent maiden mission, towing three carfloats to Davisville, Rhode Island during stormy weather. There were many difficulties caused by the weather, including the loss of one of the barges. It was recovered by another tug and the two made up again. On 25 November she arrived at Davisville.
On 28 November she left Davisville with three loaded carfloats alongside, bound for Pearl Harbor. Less than an hour after she got underway a blinker message ordered her into Coddington Cove to find protection from an approaching storm.
By 2 December the storm had passed and she proceeded to sea, streamed the tow, and headed for Miami, Florida, the first refueling stop. Bad weather prevailed for almost the entire trip, and her fuel barely carried her to Miami. After refueling and reprovisioning she proceeded on to Cristobal, Panama. Fuel ran so low, that it was necessary for a tug to be sent from Cristobal to tow her and her barges into Cristobal. They arrived 28 December.
Operational plans were changed, and the carfloats were left in Panama. The TEN proceeded to San Diego, then to San Francisco. From there she set out for Pearl Harbor on 5 February as retriever for two other tugs towing pontoon barges, arriving 24 February.
On 4 March she left Pearl Harbor in a convoy of tugs bound for several outlying bases. The TEN’s destination was Guam. She was towing two barges and a scow. On the third day the scow came adrift. Another tug with a two of her own went back for it, as the Ten did not have sufficient speed to have stopped without unduly delaying the convoy. The convoy proceeded to Johnston Island, where the TEN passed her tow to a retriever tug, and refueled. The tug that had gone back for her scow caught up with the convoy at Johnston Island and reported having lost the scow three hours previously. After refueling, the TEN took back her tow and ten went off in search of the twice-lost scow. She at length successfully retrieved it, and followed after the convoy, catching up with it at the next refueling stop, Eniwetok. She completed the trip to Guam on 16 April.
On 11 May the TEN left Guam for Okinawa in convoy, towing two YF’s (large supply barges) and arrived in Nakagusuku Wan (later renamed Buckner Bay) on 22 May. From then until 23 September 1945 she operated out of Buckner Bay, Hagushi, and Kerama Retto as firefighting and rescue, salvage, and harbor tug. There were numerous air raids during this period, but she was directly attacked only once, on 27 May.
The TEN stood out of Nakagusuku Wan with the YF 750 in tow at 0600, 27 May and lay to with the escort, YMS 203, waiting for the two other tugs of the convoy to join. An air raid attack was made on the ship outside the harbor. At 0802 a plane crossed overhead and dropped four bombs, straddling the TEN, but they were all duds and did no damage. A few minutes later a Kamikaze plane dove into the USS FOREST (DMS-24), about five miles to seaward. The TEN steamed out to assist her, but by the time she had reached the FORREST, the fires were under control. The TEN returned to the harbor entrance with the escort and waited for the other tugs. The convoy formed and proceeded around the island. The TEN went to Hagushi where the air base was urgently in need of aircraft parts carried in the YF.
On the following day the TEN proceeded to Kerama Retto, reporting for duty to Commander Service Squadron 10, Representative Baker. On 3 June she was ordered to Hagushi for duty under Commander Task Group 31.6. On 27 June she returned to Kerama Retto for repairs to her anchor windlass, and operated out of there while the repairs were being effected. On 16 July she proceeded to Buckner Bay, reporting for duty to Commander Service Division 104. She remained under his operational control until 23 September 1945.
During the entire period of her operations at Okinawa, the Ten was never called upon to perform her primary duty of fire fighting. All the damaged ships to which she was sent succeeded in controlling their fires without assistance. She put salvage pumps aboard the APA-200 shortly after she had been hit, but that was the only case in which her pumps were used to help keep a ship from sinking. Her most important service to combatant ships was as harbor tug, moving disabled destroyers, putting then alongside tenders and, in one case putting a destroyer into dry-dock. The range of her harbor duties was wide, also including taking gasoline barges where needed to supply airfields, moving various other types of barges within the harbor and between harbors, retrieving menaces to navigation, rendering assistance to their ships and barges in preparing for typhoons, and performing miscellaneous services with her boom and in other ways. As salvage tug she laid an eels anchor that was instrumental in pulling the LST 826 off the beach, put pumps aboard damaged ships, recovered anchors, and pulled the wrecked PGM-17 off the beach.
On 23 September the TEN left Okinawa and proceeded to Wakayama, Honshu, Japan, reporting for duty to Commander Amphibious Group Eight. Her primary duty was to assist landing craft in retracting from the beach when assistance was required.
USS ATR-10 Retrieves a Barge at Sea
(a true WWII story as told by ATR-10 Captain, LT Paul E. PIELLUSCH, USNR)
Tug boating is not glamorous. Generally it is dull and monotonous. Sometimes it becomes exciting. It is always exhausting work.
One day will be remembered by all hands about the U.S.S. ATR-10 as symbolic of life in the tugboat navy. We had spent two days transferring our tow in the open sea to a small tug, refueling, then taking back our tow. When our tow was secured we had begun searching for a barge that had been lost out of our convoy, which had left us behind to retrieve it. We located the barge at 0340, after about thirty-two hours of searching, and stood by it until daylight.
The sea was rough, too rough to attempt to launch a boat. It was impossible to go alongside the plunging barge. Barges at sea seem to be alive and filled with the devilish desire to ram and smash anything that approaches them. It was a ticklish problem, and not one to be answered out of Navy Regs. But it was one that had to be answered. This was an instrument of warfare for which they were waiting at an advanced base.
Reluctantly the Captain approved an unorthodox plan. Chief Electrician’s Mate Philip F. SHULLO, of 5101 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburg, Pennsyslvania volunteered to swim a line to the barge. He is an excellent swimmer, a former member of the Westinghouse High School swimming team, and a former lifeguard at Miami Beach. He has concentrated during his twenty-nine years on keeping physically fit.
The ship was maneuvered as close to the barge as was safe. Shullo, with a light line about him, stood by on the forecastle. Charles K. WRIGHT, Gunner’s Mate, Second Class, of Louisa, Kentucky, stood alongside of him with a “tommy” gun to discourage any uncooperative sharks. The Captain gave Shullo permission to dive in when he was ready. Hardly had he given that permission when he spotted a large fish almost directly beneath Shullo and shouted to him to stop. But it was too late. He had already dived in. The fish was non-belligerent and swam away.
There was only one man who was not nervous, tense, and worried as Shullo swam smoothly and swiftly to the barge. That was Shullo himself. He reached the barge, climbed up a length of manila line that dangled into the water, and was safely aboard. For the present all hands could breathe easily again. Sharks and barracudas could not reach Shullo now. He could not be crushed between the barge and the ship.
But Shullo’s work had only begun. A heavier messenger was bent on to his lifeline and he hauled that to the barge. Then a seven inch manila hawser was bent on to the messenger and he began hauling that to him. The barge was drifting slowly away from the ship as the ship could not be maneuvered well with her tow astern. As more and more of the hawser slid into the water, it became heavier. Shullo’s excellent physical condition alone made his task possible. We could see him straining harder with each foot of messenger that he hauled aboard. Soon he had to secure his line anew with each slight gain he made, to keep it from sliding back. The eye of the hawser at last reached the barge. But he was almost completely exhausted by now. And the line grew heavier as he lifted the hawser itself out of the water. Inch by inch the eye of the hawser moved up the side of the barge. With each inch we became more convinced that he could not make it. It was too much for one man to do by himself.
As Shullo staggered about on the barge a new worry crept into our minds. Would he in his exhaustion fall off the barge? Could he be reached in time to save him if he did?
But he did not fall off the barge, and he did not give up. He hauled that line doggedly until he had the eye on the deck. Yet the worst was still to come. The eye had to be lifted up and placed over the bitt. For a man as exhausted as Shullo, it soon became evident that it was impossible. Again and again he tried with all his strength to reach the bitt with the eye. Between each try he collapse exhaustedly on the bitt for a few moments of rest. But with each attempt he grew more feeble. As he struggled he lost some of the hawser that he had on deck. At last when we had given up hope, Shullo found the answer. He put the eye of the hawser over a pad eye (a heavy eye bolted to the deck), slid two iron bars through the pad eye over the hawser, and lashed the bars so that they couldn’t slide out. At last he gave us to signal to heave around and we brought the barge close astern.
From that point on the job was in the hands of our First Lieutenant, Bos’n Paul J. DULEY of Oakland, California, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Bernard L. HINES of Cincinnati, Ohio, and all hands that weren’t on watch. Tools, a block, and a shackle were passed to Shullo. He secured the block on the barge and passed the bight (or loop) of a messenger through it so that both ends of it were on our fantail. In that way the men on the fantail pulled a wire hawser out to the barge. Shullo shackled the wire into the bridle so that when a strain was taken the shackle slid down to the center of the bridle.
He then put on his clothes and a life jacket that had been passed to him, tied a lifeline around his chest, and cast off the manila hawser. Six men took the lifeline well forward and, as soon as Shullo jumped feet first into the water, hauled him aboard to safety. I wonder if any of the sharks which were sighted and fired upon some minutes previously could have matched his speed through the water?
The rest of the job was difficult, but an anticlimax to what had been done so far. The wire was eased over the stern, chafing gear was rigged, and the ATR-10 gathered up speed and followed after the convoy.
The record shows no Jap planes shot down, no Jap ships sunk, one more barge delivered to its destination.
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