The USS Catalpa (YN-5, later AN-10) was named for a tree found in southern Asia. This vessel was commissioned on May 22, 1942 under the command of Lieutenant F. J. George.
Service in World War II
After being fully outfitted, the Catalpa sailed for the Fiji Islands. During her time in the south Pacific, she was responsible for the laying and caretaking of entrance nets which protected the bases in the area. After being re-designated to AN-10, she was sent to Cape Torokina. While there, she performed duties around the Solomon Islands consisting of tending nets, laying mooring buoys, towing and salvaging ships, and providing various transport duties.
In September, she combined with the forces at Guadalcanal to prepare for the invasion of the Palau Islands. She began working with the assault forces and arrived off Peleiu on the 15th. She was first ordered to wait as the first wave of troops went ashore, then was sent to Kossol Passage to prepare for what was soon to become a large fleet anchoring point. For the remainder of the time spent in these waters, her primary mission was to serve as a salvage vessel and net tender. Her efforts were integral in the support of Naval vessels in the area. The following February, she moved on to Ulithi and Eniwetok. She served near the Marshal Islands until the end of June, then left to report for duty with the Eleventh Naval District operating out of San Pedro, California.
After the War
On July 23, 1946, she set sail for Astoria, Oregon, where she was decommissioned and placed in reserve status on October 21, 1946, only to be re-commissioned in August of 1950 due to the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. She reported first to San Francisco Bay for training and some light duty in the close vicinity before being shipped out. On February 1, 1952, she was sent to the Far East for operations there. From 1952 to 1954 she was once again assigned the task of setting out nets and tending existing nets. She was stationed primarily in Tokyo Bay except for a short period of time when she was stationed near Guam.
On October 7, 1955 she was once again decommissioned and placed in reserve status. She received two battle stars for her service in World War II.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.