The YN-98/AN-79, also known as the USS Etlah, spent all of her career in the Pacific Ocean. The Etlah was a Cohoes-class net laying ship made for the U.S. Navy during World War II. On Demember 16, 1944, the Etlah was launched in Portland, Oregon, by Commercial Iron Works. Mrs. Phyllis Kane sponsored the ship, which was commanded by Lt. H.J. Stenler and received a commission on April 16, 1945. Etlah is a Native American Indian word which means “white lily.”
World War II and its Aftermath
Etlah sailed from San Pedro, California between the dates of June 8 and November 26, carrying out salvage operations in the eleventh Naval District and maintaining and repairing antisubmarine nets. The ship next served in Tiburon, California, at the Net Depot, giving salvage service and testing experimental equipment in the Oakland Estuary. After World War II, the net tender performed service to Joint Task Force 1 in the spring and summer months of 1946 by carrying out atomic weapon tests in Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll. The Etlah was overhauled in the fall at Bremerton, Washington, and on March 14th 1947, in reserve at Astoria, Oregon, the ship was placed out of commission.
Service in the Far East
On August 10, 1951, the ship was recommissioned and sailed to Yokosuka, Japan, after shakedown training, arriving there on December 24. The rest of the naval career of Etlah was served in the Far East. She maintained nets guarding Tokyo Bay during the Korean War and worked on nets at Cheju, Korea, and Pusan Harbor. The ship tender towed targets and ships in the waters off Japan and recovered launched radio-controlled drones that were part of gunnery exercises in the Philippines. She served as a target for surface ships and submarines until February 16, 1960. The Etlah then sailed to San Diego and Pearl Harbor from Yokosuka where on May 31, she was decommissioned.
The tender ship received two battle stars for her service during the Korean War. In 1976, the Etlah transferred to the Dominican Republic and renamed the Cambiaso (P-207). In the early part of the 1990s, the ship tender was decommissioned from the Dominican Navy service and hulked in 1994.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some tenders and tugs 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.