The Tensaw was a district harbor tug of the Sassaba class laid down at the United States Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland on August 8, 1944. It was sponsored by Mrs. Albert G. Mariner, JR. and was launched on October 11, 1944. It was placed in service on March 8, 1945. The namesake of the ship comes from a Native American tribe from the area of what is now Louisiana. The Tensaw were also interchangeably referred to as the Tensas.
Action in World War II
In late March of 1945, the USS Tensaw reported to the 5th naval district in Norfolk Virginia. The large harbor tug processed to travel to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in the Pacific via the Panama Canal. It reported on May 14, 1945 to begin its duties in support of the United States Pacific Fleet of World War II.
The ship first travelled to the Mariana Islands by passing the Marshall Islands in June of 1945, then proceeding to operate there throughout the end of World War II. The USS Tensaw remained to serve in the Marianas throughout the war. After Japan capitulated, the tug continued to serve there until the Korean War, where the ship was send to Japan via the Philippines.
Action in the Korean War
The United Nations Command forces received the support of the USS Tensaw following its arrival at Yokosuka in February 1951. Until the Korean signing of the armistice in 1953 that ended the war, the USS Tensaw served the United Nations Command forces. The ship continued to serve in the Pacific from the 1950s until the 1960s.
After the War
In 1962, the USS Tensaw was redesignated as a medium harbor tug. It stayed in the Pacific fleet until it was inactivated and struck from the Navy list in July 1967. It was slated for disposal by sale, but to this day there has been no official record of the ship’s elimination.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, naval tugs also pose 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.