Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

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

USS Navajo II (ATF-64)

Tribe of Athapascan Indians displaced by early American pioneers and currently residing on reservations in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

(AT-64: dp. 1,270; l. 205'; b. 38'6"; dr. 15'4"; s. 16 k.; cpl. 80; a. 1 3"; cl. Navajo)

The second Navajo (AT-64) was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Staten Island, N.Y., 12 December 1938; launched 17 August 1939; sponsored by Miss Olive Rasmussen; and commissioned 26 January 1940, Lt. Comdr. M. E. Thomas in command.

Following shakedown and a brief tour on the east coast, Navajo, an ocean going tug, steamed to San Diego, where, in June 1940, she reported for duty in Base Force, later Service Force, Pacific Fleet. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor her towing and salvage capabilities kept her busy in the central and eastern Pacific, then, after 7 December 1941, in the Pearl Harbor area. Interrupted only by a resupply and reinforcement run to Johnston Island at the end of December, she remained in the waters off Oahu into the spring of 1942. In late April she sailed to Canton Island where she attempted the salvage of SS President Taylor, then returned to Pearl Harbor whence she got underway for the war zone 12 July. Arriving in the New Hebrides just after the landings on Guadalcanal, she supported operations in the Solomons with repair and salvage work at Espiritu Santo, Noumea, Tongatabu, and Suva, as well as under battle conditions at Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and Rennell. Towing assignments during those operations took her throughout the island groups of the south Pacific, and once, in late November-early December 1942, to Sydney, Australia.

In the spring of 1943 Navajo returned to California, underwent overhaul, and in July got underway to return to the south Pacific. Steaming via Pago Pago, she arrived at Bora Bora 21 August and commenced salvage and repair work on Pasig. At the end of the month she sailed for Pago Pago, whence she got underway to tow YOG-42 to Espiritu Santo. While enroute 12 September the ship was rocked by an explosion. Within seconds a heavy starboard list resulted in a submerged starboard side. Navajo began going down, rapidly, by the bow and abandonment commenced. As the ship settled depth charges secured to port and starboard K-gun projectors exploded. An estimated two minutes had passed before she sank, but 17 of her crew accompanied her to the bottom.

Navajo earned 2 battle stars during World War II.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation