"Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind."
- John F. Kennedy
On Nov. 16, 1942, The USS Pine Island, a Currituck-class seaplane tender, was "laid down." The nautical term "laid down" refers to the date that construction of the ship began, from the traditional method of construction from the keel (bottom) upwards. The USS Pine Island was built at the Todd Pacific Shipyard in San Pedro, Calif., and launched Feb. 26, 1945. She was commissioned April 26, 1945. To commission a ship is to place her in active duty.
The USS?Pine Island was commissioned April 26,1945, and remained in the Reserve Fleet until Feb. 7, 1972.
The USS Pine Island was 540 feet long and 69 feet wide. She weighed 14,000 tons and could travel 18 knots per hour. A knot per hour is similar to a mile per hour, but wetter.
The USS Pine Island was primarily used to transport seaplanes to their forward operating positions during times of war. She contained a large crane to hoist seaplanes aboard the ship for servicing. The seaplanes would take off and land from the water. The ship also provided housing and support for the aircrew. Below deck were service and repair facilities (workshops, fueling stations etc.).
On June 16, 1945, the Pine Island departed from California and steamed to Okinawa in the South Pacific Ocean. There she tended seaplanes engaged in air-sea rescue operations. At the end of the war she cruised to Tokyo Bay and provided seaplane flight operations for the United States occupation of Japan in 1945.
At the onset of the Korean War in 1950, the USS Pine Island sailed to the western Pacific Ocean. There she tended seaplanes that flew missions over enemy held territory in Korea. She operated in numerous missions throughout the Korean War until December 1957.
During the Vietnam War the USS Pine Island was deployed back to the western Pacific Ocean in June 1964. She served at Da Nang, South Vietnam. In September 1965, she returned and conducted seaplane operations in Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam. She also participated in the 1966 Coral Sea anniversary festivities in Australia and New Zealand before returning to San Diego in June 1966.
The USS Pine Island was decommissioned (taken out of active duty) June 16, 1967, and entered the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet.
She received one battle star for World War II service, and service medals for Korea and Vietnam. Yes, ships can receive medals just as solders do. She remained in the Reserve Fleet until Feb. 7, 1972, when she was sold for scrap steel.
One final note regarding the USS Pine Island; she was not named for our lovely island, but after Pine Island Sound. The four ships in her class were the Currituck Sound; Norton Sound; Salisbury Sound and Pine Island.
To all current and past members of our nation's armed forces, I wish to offer a sincere thank you for your service to our country.
For more history of Pine Island, visit the Museum of the Islands, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
The museum is conveniently located next to the Pine Island Library at 5728 Sesame Drive off Stringfellow Road. Call 239-283-1525.
A follow-up note to my article about the Island Pharmacy. It quietly closed shortly after opening when it was discovered that the owner, Dr. Crawford, was not a real doctor.
Tim Knox is museum historian at the Museum of the Islands.