USS Wallacut YTB-420 (1945-1976)
The USS Wallacut was a tugboat that served in the United States Navy during World War II and the Korean War. Her name originated from a Native American word which means “place of stones”. Her construction began in 1944 at the United States Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland. She was completed in the spring of 1945. The Wallacut’s journey from Maryland included stops in Virginia, Florida, Balboa, Guam and Saipan. She arrived at Okinawa, on the coast of Japan, the day after Japan’s surrender officially ended World War II. Despite this, the Wallacut remained in service at Okinawa for two years during the American occupation of Japan.
Service in the Korean War
In 1947, the Wallacut traveled to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where she was placed in reserve. Three years later, after the United States became involved in the Korean War, she was brought back into active service. The Wallacut journeyedA from Pearl Harbor to Kwajalein, Guam, and then Sasebo, Japan. She arrived off the coast of Korea in November of 1950. She aided the December 1950 evacuation of United Nations soldiers at Hungnam. Following this event, she rejoined the United States forces at Sasebo, Japan.
After 1950, the history of the USS Wallacut becomes unclear. There are very few records of her travels and activities after this date. She remained on the list of active vessels in the United States First Fleet for ten years. In 1960, she was reassigned to the Commander, Naval Forces, Far East. The Wallacut did not remain there long; before 1961, she was reassigned again, this time to the United States Pacific Fleet. There is no record of where or how the ship served after this.
One piece of information that is known is that the Wallacut was re-designated as a medium harbor tug in 1962. She remained listed as an active unit serving the United States Pacific Fleet until 1973. That year, she was placed in reserve at Guam. For the next three years, she was inactive. In 1976, she was officially removed from the Navy list. Her service ended shortly thereafter when she was sunk due to being used as a target.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, 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.