Thursday, September 6, 2012

Repairs to the Saratoga

While at Tonga, 4 officers and 25 crewmen from my dad's repair ship, USS Vestal, began emergency repairs on the carrier Saratoga, on today's date in 1942. At the same time, 5 destroyers also were tied alongside the Vestal awaiting urgent repairs. It wasn't unusual for the repair ship to work on multiple vessels at one time.

The Saratoga put into Tongatabu after being torpedoed on August 31. Vestal's divers combined forces with the USS Navajo to inspect the damage and later trim and brace the hole. Dad assisted the divers but was not yet qualified to dive. He worked in the flooded fireroom pumping out the water and also helped to pour tons of cement in the hole to patch the damaged area. Within 12 days of her arrival at Tongatabu, Saratoga was able to return to the United States for permanent repairs. This won't be the only time the Vestal will work on Saratoga. In September of 1943, she will visit the Vestal in Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides.

USS Saratoga underway to Pearl Harbor for permanent repairs, Sept. 17, 1942
Source: NavSource Online
Sources: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, T-V; USS Vestal War Diary, September 1942; Frank L. Dolan's oral account

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