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USS Fulton (AS-11)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The USS Fulton (AS-11) was a Fulton-class submarine tender, launched 27 December 1940 by Mare Island Navy Yard and sponsored by Mrs. A. T. Sutcliffe, great-granddaughter of Robert Fulton. Fulton was commissioned 12 September 1941, with Commander A. D. Douglas in command.

Underway on her shakedown cruise out of San Diego when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, Fulton was ordered at once to Panama, arriving 9 December. During the next month she established advanced seaplane bases in the Gulf of Fonseca, Nicaragua, and in the Galapagos Islands, then returned to San Diego to prepare for Pacific duty. She tended Pacific Fleet submarines at Pearl Harbor from 15 March 1942 to 8 July, putting to sea during the Battle of Midway. She transported many of the survivors of sunken aircraft carrier Yorktown back to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 8 June. She was at Midway until 17 October; and at Brisbane from 9 November. There she established a submarine base and rest camp, and in addition to refitting submarines between their war patrols, acted as tender to other types of ships. Milne Bay, New Guinea, was her station from 29 October 1943 until 17 March 1944, when she sailed for a west coast overhaul.

Returning to Pearl Harbor 13 June 1944, Fulton gave her tender services to submarines there for a month, then at Midway between 18 July and 8 September, and then at Saipan until 25 April 1945. Fulton returned to duty at Pearl Harbor from 7 May to 9 June, and then sailed for Guam, where she refitted submarines for the last patrols of the war.

After a west coast overhaul, Fulton served as tender at Pearl Harbor from February through May 1946, then sailed for Bikini to participate in Operation Crossroads, atomic weapons tests in the Marshalls that summer. In addition to caring for the six submarines assigned to the project, she acted as repair ship for other vessels in the task force. On 18 September 1946 Fulton arrived at Mare Island Navy Yard, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve 3 April 1947.

Recommissioned 10 April 1951, Fulton sailed 3 weeks later for New London, her home port until she was decommissioned in 1991. Although her primary assignment was as tender for Submarine Squadron 10 at New London, Fulton on occasion relieved the tender Orion (AS-18), stationed at Norfolk, and also left New London for exercises from Newfoundland and Iceland to the Caribbean. She first crossed the Atlantic in the fall of 1957 for Operation Natoflex, visiting Rothesay, Scotland, and Portland, England, before returning to New London. A heightening of her responsibility came 1 April 1958, when three nuclear submarines were assigned to her squadron. In August, Fulton sailed to New York City for the celebration of the arrival of Nautilus (SSN-571) from her historic submerged passage under the North Pole. From August 1959 to January 1960 Fulton underwent a modernization overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in order to be able to service both nuclear and conventional submarines, whether at home or overseas, making her the world's first nuclear support tender.

In 1972, Fulton made a five month deployment to the Mediterranean. The Fulton's mission was to prepare for full time use an advance refit site for nuclear powered fast attack submarines. This was the first deployment of a World War II vintage submarine tender to the Mediterranean since World War II.

After a shipyard overhaul in 1976, Fulton returned to New London to continue to support Atlantic Fleet Submarines. Fulton was modernized in 1983 - 1984 during an extensive overhaul conducted at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut and General Dynamics, Quincy, Massachusetts. In January 1985, Fulton made a 4 month deployment to the Mediterranean where she provided maintenance for the US Sixth Fleet submarines in La Maddalena, Italy.

Fulton made cruises to Puerto Rico in January 1986 and Bermuda in March 1987. During the period 13 January to 12 March 1988, Fulton completed a Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability at Norfolk Shipbuilding Company, Norfolk, Virginia. Fulton returned to State Pier and continued to support Squadron 10 submarines until her decommissioning in 1991.

In 1988 Submarine Squadron 10, of which Fulton was the flagship, included the Jack (SSN-605), Tinosa (SSN-606), Whale (SSN-638), Greenling (SSN-614), Gato (SSN-615), Pargo (SSN-650), Trepang (SSN-674), Billfish (SSN-676) and the Torpedo Retriever TWR-681.

In September 1991 Submarine Squadron 10 was disbanded and the Fulton was decommissioned at her berth in New London, Connecticut. At this time she was the second oldest commissioned ship in the Navy exceeded only by the USS Constitution.


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