USS Tawakoni (ATF-114)

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USS Tawakoni (ATF-114), date and location unknown.
Career (United States) 100x35px
Name: USS Tawakoni
Builder: United Engineering Company, San Francisco, CA
Launched: 23 October 1943
Commissioned: 16 September 1944
Struck: 1 June 1978
Motto: Salvage, Towing, Diving
Honors and
2 battle stars (World War II); 3 battle stars (Korean War); 4 campaign stars (Vietnam War)
Fate: Sold to Taiwan, 1 June 1978; recommissioned as Ta Mo (A-553).
Status: Serving in Taiwan Navy as of 2005
General characteristics
Class and type: Abnaki class Fleet Ocean Tug
Displacement: 1,330 long tons  standard
Length: 205 ft (62 m)
Beam: 38.5 ft (11.7 m)
Draft: 17 ft (5.2 m)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, single screw
Speed: 16.5 kn (19.0 mph; 30.6 km/h)
Complement: 8 officers, 68 enlisted
Armament: 1 × 3"/50 dual-purpose gun; 2 x twin 40mm antiaircraft guns; 2 x 20mm single antiaircraft guns; 2 depth charge tracks

The USS Tawakoni (ATF-114) was an Abnaki class Fleet Ocean Tug that served on active duty with the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1978, seeing action in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. After thirty-four years of service, she was sold to the Republic of China Navy (Taiwan), where she was still serving as of 2005.

World War II

Tawakoni was named after a Caddoan Indian tribe of the Wichita group that lived in Texas on the banks of the middle Brazos and Trinity Rivers during the 18th and 19th centuries. She began her naval career in the Pacific theater, joining the U.S. 5th fleet just in time for the invasion of Iwo Jima, which took place in February 1945. During this battle, Tawakoni assisted the destroyer minesweeper USS Gamble (DM-15) which had been hit by two 250 pound bombs on the 18th. She also assisted in retraction, towing and salvage operations off Iwo until the latter part of March, when she returned to Ulithi for repairs to minor damage suffered during the battle.

On 6 April 1945, Tawakoni was involved in the invasion of Okinawa when she was attacked by several Japanese kamikaze planes while assisting the badly-damaged USS Bush (DD-529) about fifty miles from the island. Through violent maneuvering and excellent gunnery on the part of her crew, the ship managed to down five Japanese aircraft while suffering minimal damage herself. On 16 April, Tawakoni participated in the invasion of Ie Shima, where she towed the damaged USS Laffey (DD-724) to safety while downing yet another kamikazi plane. On 1 July, she made for Leyte in the Philippines, which is where V-J day found her.

Korean Conflict

Following the Second World War, Tawakoni generally operated in the Pacific area, performing towing and other services and visiting ports from America to Asia. In November 1950, she joined Task Force 90, Amphibious Force, Far East, operating in support of United Nations efforts in Korea. During the Korean War, she took part in three campaigns: Communist China Aggression (1950–51); First UN Counteroffensive (1951); and the Communist China Spring Offensive (1951). She planted buoys in the channels at Wonsan, Hungnam and Inchon harbors, and provided towing services to ships of the 7th Fleet during her Korean service.

Operation Castle

In March 1954, Tawakoni was one of the ships tasked to support Operation Castle, a series of high-energy (high-yield) nuclear tests by Navy Joint Task Force SEVEN (JTF-7) at Bikini Atoll. The highest level of contamination recorded aboard the ship during this operation was 0.2 mr/hr.

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, Tawakoni would see service in three campaigns: Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase VI (1968–69), Tet 69 Counteroffensive (1969), and Winter-Spring 1970. During Phase VI, she participated in the surveillance of Soviet electronic intelligence trawlers monitoring U.S. operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. She also assisted in towing, recovery and similar operations during her time in Vietnam.


Tawakoni was awarded the appropriate service medals for World War II (including the American Campaign Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal), Korea and Vietnam. She was also awarded two battle stars for her World War II service, three for her Korean service, and four campaign stars for her Vietnam service, together with a Combat Action Ribbon and a Navy Unit Commendation. She won the Navy Occupation Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal, among other awards.

Taiwan Navy service

In June 1978, Tawakoni was decommissioned and sold to Taiwan under the Security Assistance Program, where she was recomissioned in the Taiwan Navy as the ARM Ta Mo (A-553). She was still serving with this force as of 2005.


External links

  • ATF-114. Offers partial list of past crewmembers of the Tawakoni.
  • USS Tawakoni. Offers several photos from the Tawakoni's service, circa 1958-78.
  • USS Tawakoni ATF-114. Offers six photos of the Tawakoni, including one of her as the Ta Mo.
  • Tawakoni and Castle. From pp. 26–27 of Towline, Summer 2007 edition. Reminiscences of a Tawakoni crewman on his vessel's participation in Operation Castle. Includes large B&W photo of the ship.
  • Tawakoni Helps Fishing Vessel. A typical towing operation on the Towakoni, on this occsation involving a civilian fishing boat in Alaskan waters.