Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Naval History Division • Washington

USS Paiute (ATF-159)

The Corn Creek Indian tribe of Southwestern Utah, generally extended to include many tribes of Shoshoni stock, common to many Southwestern states.

(ATF-159: dp. 1,675; l. 205'; b. 38'6"; dr. 15'4"; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 85; a. 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Achomawi)

Paiute (ATF-159) was laid down 27 February 1945 by Charleston DB & DD Co., Charleston, S.C.; launched 4 June 1945; sponsored by Mrs. L.W. Grothaus; and commissioned 27 August 1945, Lt. Stanley J. Lewandowski in command.

After commissioning, Paiute was assigned salvage, towing and logistics duties throughout the North Atlantic, and operated from her home port at Norfolk, Va. in to 1953.

In September of 1953, Paiute's home port was changed to Balboa, Canal Zone, where she carried out salvage operations and provided services to the fleet under the operational control of Commander Panama Sector, Caribbean Sea Frontier. Here she also operated the Diving School for second class divers at the U.S. Naval Station, Rodman, Canal Zone.

In July 1958, Paiute again changed her home port, to Mayport, Fla., but subsequent years found her operating mostly out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 1959, while at Guantanamo, she participated in a most complicated three-week operation, salvaging Traverse County (LST-1160), at San Salvador Island, and recovering a Marine helicopter from 150 feet of water off Vieques Island. During 1960 she detected and sought out an unfriendly vessel presumed to be gathering intelligence information. Paiute not only prevented this act, but collected important information vital to our own interest. Commander Naval Base, Guantanamo commended her for this outstanding service. She also became the only ship of her class to display a Golden "E" on her gun mount for five consecutive years of outstanding accuracy.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Paiute carried out patrol assignments, and following the isolation of the Guantanamo naval base by the Castro Government, she supplied much needed water by towing water barges from the States, until a desalinization plant was installed and operational.

In 1965 she delivered fuel barges to the Dominican Republic during the hot political crisis there. She was on Prime Recovery Station One during the Gemini 6 and 7 manned space flights of 1965, and for Gemini 8 in 1966.

Paiute moved to the New England area to provide services through 1967, returning to Guantanamo at the year's end. During 1968 she participated in several major salvage operations and fleet exercises. In the fall of, she was again on recovery station for the Apollo 7 space shot.

During February 1969, Paiute was awaiting splashdown of Apollo 9. In April she began a much needed overhaul, after which, she resumed her services to the fleet. Into 1970, Paiute continues a vital service to the United States Navy.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey