USS Matagorda (AVP-22)

USS Matagorda (AVP-22)

USS "Matagorda" (AVP-22/AG-122) was a "Barnegat"-class seaplane tender acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. She served in the North and South Atlantic Oceans and, at war’s end, she was loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard where she was known as USCGC "Humboldt" (WAVP-373) and later as USCGC "Humboldt" (WHEC-373).

Built at the Boston Navy Yard

"Matagorda" (AVP 22) was laid down by Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, 6 September 1940; launched 18 March 1941; sponsored by Miss Nancy Rowland Brand; and commissioned at Boston 16 December 1941, Comdr. Stanley J. Michael in command.

World War II service

Atlantic Ocean operations

"Matagorda" remained at Boston until 3 April 1942 when she departed for shakedown and training in Chesapeake Bay. After returning to Boston 22 April, she joined the Atlantic Patrol Wing (PatWingLant) and loaded torpedoes and ordnance stores at Newport, Rhode Island.

Thence, between 12 and 25 May, she sailed to Seymour Island, Galapagos, where she relieved Osmond Ingram (AVD-2) and began tending seaplanes of Patrol Wing (PatWing) 3. She returned to Coco Solo 20 June; escorted merchant ships to Cuba and Jamaica; and resumed seaplane tending duty 22 July. She operated out of Puerto Castilla, Honduras, and Cartagena, Colombia, until returning to the Panama Canal Zone 12 November. Following a supply and escort run to Puerto Rico and Trinidad, she departed Port of Spain the 23d and on 4 December arrived Boston for alterations and overhaul. Between 5 and 14 January 1943 "Matagorda" carried troops and supplies to Argentia, Newfoundland, and back. After loading aviation supplies at Norfolk, Virginia, she returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico, 11 February. During the next 5 months she operated primarily out of Puerto Rico, escorting merchant ships and transporting ordnance and aviation supplies to bases in the Caribbean. Assigned runs sent her to the Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad. "Matagorda" departed San Juan 3 August and steamed via Bermuda and Norfolk to Argentia, Newfoundland, where she arrived 26 August. On the 28th she joined Convoy UT 1 and steamed to the United Kingdom, arriving Pembroke, Wales, 4 September. After unloading cargo, she sailed via Iceland and Boston to Norfolk arriving 27 September. Between 5 October and 5 March 1944 she made two more round trips across the Atlantic Ocean. She carried men and cargo to Pembroke and Bristol and made escort and supply runs to Casablanca and Gibraltar.

Rescuing downed fliers

Departing Boston 18 April, "Matagorda" loaded seaplane supplies at Bayonne, New Jersey, and sailed the 22d for Brazil, reaching Recife 6 May. During the better part of the next year she conducted extensive training and supply operations and ranged Brazilian waters from Belem to Florianopolis. In late May and again in July she tended seaplanes at Florianopolis.

She interrupted this duty 24-25 July when she searched for and rescued the entire crew of 67 men from the American merchant ship "SS William Gaston", torpedoed late the 23d off the Brazilian coast. Again, while operating out of Fortaleza, she rescued five survivors of a downed PBY-55 plus the crew from an assisting PBM on 29 August. "Matagorda" made numerous runs along the coast during supply and training missions. Based at Recife, Brazil, she visited many Brazilian ports including Victoria, Natal, the island of Fernando de Noronha, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro. She departed Recife 1 April 1945, touched briefly at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and reached Norfolk 14 April. From 2 June to 6 July she made two runs to Bermuda and Puerto Rico, returning to Norfolk with men of seaplane squadrons.

End-of-war conversions

"Matagorda" steamed to New York City 10 July to begin conversion to a press information ship. As such her mission would be to provide all proper news facilities for the press and transport them to the coast of Japan where they would cover the projected operations “Olympic” and “Coronet”, the invasion of Japan.

Reclassified "AG-122" on 30 July, her conversion was halted in early September when Japan surrendered. Reclassified "AVP-22" from 10 September, she sailed to Norfolk 17 October and on the 31st departed for Orange, Texas. Arriving there 5 November, she decommissioned 20 February and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet Group at Orange, Texas.

Transfer to the Coast Guard

Reactivated in early 1949, "Matagorda" was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard 7 March 1949 and commissioned on the same day as USCGC "Matagorda" (WAVP 373). Reclassified WHEC 373 on 1 May 1966 and transferred to the Coast Guard permanently in October 1966, she continued her weather ship duties until decommissioned in mid-1968 at the Sand Island Coast Guard Base, Honolulu, Hawaii. "Matagorda" was used as a target to destruction in early 1969.

See also

* United States Navy
* World War II

References

*
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/43/4322.htm NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - USS Matagorda (AVP-22) (AG-122) - USCGC Matagorda (WAVP-373) (WHEC-373)]


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