Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dad transfers to the States

On today's date in 1943, my dad, Frank Dolan, was transferred to San Francisco for "assignment to new construction."  Soon, he would be assigned duty on the newly built repair ship, USS Hector (AR-7). His old ship, Vestalon which he served since before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, is finishing its year-long assignment this month at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. On the 18th, Vestal will sail for work at the base at Funafuti in the Ellice Islands (now known as Tuvalu).

Dad sailed to San Francisco on the Matsonia, an old luxury liner converted to a troop carrier. Compared to his quarters for the past couple of years on Vestal, he remembered traveling home in relative comfort. The ship sailed via Funafuti. Then it sailed on without escort because it traveled outside of the war zone, and it was faster than warships. From San Francisco, Dad will be transferred to the Industrial Command, Naval Repair Base, San Diego, for training in Hector detail. His hometown is San Diego, so the transfer worked very well for him.

His new ship, USS Hector, was launched November 11, 1943, while Dad was en route to San Francisco. Hector was commissioned on February 7, 1944. The ship saw distinguished service, repairing ships of the Pacific Fleet throughout the remainder of WWII. It continued in service through the Korean and Vietnam wars, earning numerous service medals. After 43 years of faithful service, USS Hector was decommissioned in 1987. In 1989, she was leased to Pakistan and then returned to U.S. custody in 1994. She suffered rendering to scrap soon thereafter.

But in 1944, after its shakedown along the West Coast, Hector will sail to Pearl Harbor with Dad onboard for more fleet repair work.

USS Hector (date unknown)
USS Hector with USS Houston alongside at Ulithi Atoll in November 1944
Source: NavSource Online

Source: Frank L. Dolan's service records; History of the USS Hector AR-7

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