United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Coucal

USS Coucal
USS Coucal
1,780 Built / Launched 12/5/1885
Length 251' 4" Built By Moore Shipbuilding and Drydock
Beam 442' Class Chanticleer
Draft 14' 3" Commisioned 1/22/1943
Speed (rated) 16.5kts Decommissioned 9/15/1977
Compliment 108 Disposition Sunk as Target 1991
Coucal: A bird of Africa and Southern Asia.

Coucal (ASR-8) was launched 29 May 1942 by Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif.; sponsored by Mrs. D. A. Scott; and commissioned 22 January 1943, Lieutenant Commander D. H. Byerly, USNR, in command. Coucal arrived at Brisbane, Australia, 23 June 1943 to serve the submarines of the 7th Fleet. After 4 October, she gave escort, fueling, and tender services from Milne Bay, New Guinea, and in March 1944, carried cargo to Manus and the bombarded Koruniat Island while sailing south to Brisbane for repairs. She returned to Manus 21 April for diving operations, and to set up a rest camp for submariners. On 25 June she sailed for overhaul at Brisbane, and on 12 August arrived at Darwin to serve submarines once more. Between 29 October 1944 and 29 December, Coucal joined in convoy exercises with submarines out of Fremantle, returning to duty at Darwin. Between 10 February 1945 and 3 June, she continued her tender service at Exmouth Gulf, [see below for more details on this -Ed] then loaded cargo and passengers at Fremantle for the submarine base at Subic Bay, where she arrived 4 July. Aside from the period between 23 July and 18 August when she escorted British submarines to Borneo, Coucal served at Subic Bay until clearing for Okinawa on 14 September. She was ordered on to Sasebo, where she served on occupation duty until returning to San Francisco 24 November. Assigned to Operation "Crossroads," the atomic weapons tests in the Marshalls, Coucal put out from San Francisco 25 February 1946 for Pearl Harbor. From13 April to 30 September she planted moorings at Bikini, and carried out a variety of diving assignments in the tests, then returned to San Francisco for overhaul. From her home port at Pearl Harbor, she sailed to conduct diving and salvage operations on sunken targets at Bikini in the summer of 1947, then operated in the Hawaiian Islands until 12 April 1948, when she sailed westward for the Suez Canal, and Izmir, Turkey. Here she trained men of the Turkish Navy in submarine rescue, salvage, and deep sea diving techniques, and continuing west to round the world, returned to Pearl Harbor 8 January 1949. Serving Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, Coucal operated in the Hawaiian Islands training deep sea divers, and carrying out rescue and salvage missions, and serving in the Far East in 1951, 1952-53, 1954-55, 1956-57, 1958, and 1960. Her base in the western Pacific was Yokosuka, Japan, from which she cruised to the Korean coast, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Okinawa on salvage and rescue duty.

History from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.

More information about USS Coucal at Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia.
In 1942 the United States set up a submarine base at Exmouth, while the RAAF established an air presense to protect the base. In early 1943 the tender USS Pelias was moved from Fremantle to Exmouth to service submarines. However it was soon realized that Exmouth was within the range of Japanese "Bettie" bombers - as several raids demonstrated. While these raids had so far caused no serious damage to the submarine base - the US Navy decided to not press their luck risking the Pelias - and she was quickly moved back to Fremantle. After the submarine base was formally abandoned - Exmouth became a stop-over point or rendevous point - with any services to submarines by which ever ship happend to be on hand - to "lend a hand". So it was with Coucal on several occasions. USS Bluegill's (SS-242) logs noting the Coucal at Exmouth are typical of many such notes in other submarine's records as well.

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