Nov 232013


I’m currently working on a project to create a reasonably accurate drawing of the Quapaw… perhaps to be printed as a poster (if it comes out decent).

In trying to find references for this project, I stumbled on the “Dimensions and Data” page from a BUSHIPS “General Booklet of Plans” for an ATF*. In it, it’s noted that the draft above keel (amidships) was designed at 13′ 9-1/2″. This would be the waterline. Looking at this photo of ATs being built (by the way, where was the Quapaw?!?!):

…in that photo, you can see that the waterlines seem to be in agreement with that 13′ 9″ number (between the 3 and 4 on the stem markings). However, in pretty much everything else I’ve ever seen in photos or documentation (and personal experience), draft/waterline for AT(F)s is shown as 15′ 4″, (the waterline is painted above the 5 on the stem). The difference basically moves the painted waterline from just below the exhausts (on the “side-burner” AT(F)s), to just above them.

Waterline drawing

Click for larger view

For my drawing, I’m going to use the 15′ 4″ figure, since that’s where I painted it on the Quapaw when I was aboard… but I’m curious as to why the draft/waterline on these ships seems to have moved .
Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas on this?

* I understand that these drawings were NOT meant to be 100% accurate – like actual ship’s plans would be.

 Posted by at 08:57
Nov 112013

Here’s a fantastic book for any former Quapaw sailor as well as anyone with an interest in US Navy marine salvage.

Mud, Muscle, and Miracles Book Cover (click for larger view)

Mud, Muscle, and Miracles – Marine Salvage in the United States Navy (Click for larger view)

Click here to download or view the 645 page PDF

(5.8MB file)

The Mighty Q is mentioned in a section about Vietnam salvage operations (excerpt from pages 421-422):

A few months later the waters off the coast of Vietnam were the site of another important search and recovery operation conducted for a very different purpose. As the Air Force C–5A transport #68218 flew outbound from Vietnam on 4 April 1975 with a load of refugees, mostly children, it suffered a rapid and complete decompression that carried away the after pressure door and a major portion of the after cargo ramp. The aircraft returned safely to Tan Son Nhut airport; the door and ramp fell into the South China Sea from 23,400 feet. Because passenger-carrying formed a major part of the mission of the C–5A transport, the Air Force wanted the door and ramp back to determine the cause of the failure.

Seventh Fleet ships Deliver, Abnaki, and Quapaw, under the overall command of Commander Task Force 73, Rear Admiral John D. Johnson, proceeded to the scene at their best speed while the Supervisor of Salvage mobilized a contractor search team. The Air Force Accident Investigation Board undertook the task of determining the probable impact point from the inertial navigation position of the aircraft and a ballistic trajectory analogy.

Lieutenant Commander J.A. Mack, the Seventh Fleet Salvage Officer, was assigned to coordinate the overall operation, while Lieutenant Commander Gerald L. Anderson, commanding officer of Deliver, com- manded the salvage force at the scene. While waiting for the search team to arrive from the United States, 230 dives were made to search the high probability impact area visually. Some pieces of debris located by the divers helped to refine the search areas.

The operation took on unusual urgency because North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces were very close to delivering the coup de grace to the Republic of Vietnam. By the time the search team arrived, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam could not guarantee the security of shore-based precision navigation stations. Inability to place the navigation stations ashore resulted in an innovation. Deliver and Abnaki moored and became floating bases for the precision navigation equipment while Quapaw carried the side-scan sonar and navigation system receivers. The concept worked well.

Forty-eight hours of searching produced no contacts. Diving operations and refinement of the search position continued. Increasing pressure ashore began to affect the operation during the weekend of 26–27 April. Activity in the mountains north of Vung Tau increased and refugee boats began to appear in the search area. Round-the-clock search operations continued. On Sunday morning two substantial contacts were made and marked. Divers identified the cargo ramp and a major portion of the cargo door a few hundred yards away. Quapaw recovered the ramp first, then just at dark, the door. A search for the remaining section of the door began as soon as the first segment had been secured on board. By 10:30 on the night of Sunday, 27 April, only a few hours after the ramp and door segment had been recovered, Commander Seventh Fleet ordered the operation terminated and the area cleared. The situation ashore had deteriorated too much to continue.

Enough debris had been recovered to permit analysis of the failure.35 The Navy’s ability to recover objects from the ocean had taken on a new dimension with the recovery of free-falling debris from an altitude of several miles. Finding a needle in a haystack was easy compared to this kind of search. This operation and many similar ones were now demon- strating that objects lost in the ocean under almost any conditions could be located by combining the proper technology with the patience and determination to work thoroughly and methodically.

Great stuff!

Oct 252012

Just received this photo via Freda:

USS Quapaw - photo taken at Cam Ranh Bay in April 1969

USS Quapaw – photo taken at Cam Ranh Bay in April 1969

Gary wrote:

This snapshot was taken at Cam Ranh Bay in April 1969.  At that time, I was a BM3 aboard USS Albatross MSC 289. Albatross had just  completed a Market Time patrol and made a brief stop as we steamed north to  our home port of Sasebo, Japan. I remember being impressed enough with her  size to snap the photo. I thought you and members of the Quapaw  Association might enjoy seeing it. Best wishes.

Gary  Whitcutt
Camano Island, WA

 Posted by at 11:28
May 082012

All crew members who pay their Quapaw Association dues (and stay current) will be eligible for a e-mail address:

Usernames will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.


I’ve set it up so that members will be able to pay their dues online, but I’m not sure how much interest there is.

If  you think this is something that you would take advantage of, please leave a comment:

Comment Here


 Posted by at 06:34
Apr 182012

All hands,
I just received these notes regarding USS Quapaw’s involvement in Operation Frequent Wind:

Hi: Thanks for your email. I have forwarded this email on to Hugh Doyle.
Yes, I can confirm that your ship was in Operation Frequent Wind 29 & 30 April 1975 but was involved with the rescue of the Vietnam Navy and about 30,000 refugees 1-7 May 1975

Paul H. Jacobs
Captain USN Retired
CO USS KIRK1087 {74-76}

 I read the Captain’s note to you (above) and I think he omitted one word.  USS QUAPAW was most certainly a part of the 50+ fleet of ships gathered for Operation Frequent Wind, but your good ship QUAPAW was not one of the ships that escorted the remnants of the Vietnamese Navy from Con Son Island to Subic Bay.  The ships were KIRK (with CDS-23 embarked), COOK, TUSCALOOSA, ABNAKI, DELIVER, and LIPAN.  In addition, we received logistic support from time to time during the transit from a number of ships, such as MOBILE, FLINT, and a couple others.

A few years back, we had to pester the Navy to review their own records (and correct them) so that KIRK would be recognized as one of the Frequent Wind units.  It took them a while, but we were finally successful (Captain Jacobs was the key “mover and shaker” in untangling that administrative and bureaucratic mess.)  As a result of that effort, our KIRK Frequent Wind shipmates were finally recognized and authorized the award of the “Vietnam Service Medal.”  You might want to have someone in your USS QUAPAW Association double check with the Navy’s “Awards Manual” (it’s online) and confirm that your good ship is on the list as a part of that large force back in 1975.  And if you need some help rattling the Navy’s cage, please let us know and we’ll give you our “lessons learned” when we had to do it.

Hugh Doyle
Vice President, Secretary, Historian (and Jack of the Dust!)
USS KIRK (DE/FF-1087) Association

What I find interesting is the strong rescue/salvage support in the immediate group mentioned above:
USS Lipan ATF-85
USS Abnaki ATF-96
USS Deliver ARS-23

Bravo Zulu to all involved in Operation Frequent Wind.

And many thanks to Paul Jacobs and Hugh Doyle for the information!

Thor Hansen BM 2/c


 Posted by at 06:05
Mar 162012

I received this e-mail:


Yes the tug that sank at Richmond, Calif. She is now back up. Still looks proud.

She is now owned by the City of Richmond, Richmond Harbor as the old owners from Turkey walked away. The Harbor-master Michael Williams said both Quapaw and Moctobi are going to be scrapped. He can be reached at

I wanted one or both to make static displays out of, putting one in Mare Island, and one maybe in SF. The Harbor will not let them go, they want the scrap money.

How can we force the City Harbor to stop the scrap plans of such historic vessels? Some kind of injunction or law suit, a *cease and desist* order or request to halt activity? I don’t know law, I was a CM.

This must be stopped, this is an outrage to destroy such historic items. I love these ships and would like to find a way.

Kindest regards,


Any ideas shipmates?

 Posted by at 17:45
Mar 152012

I received the following e-mail regarding “Operation Frequent Wind” and “The Lucky Few”:

Dear USS Navy veterans,

As your ship was involved in “Operation Frequent Wind” in 1975, I wanted to let you know of an event taking place on April 21, 2012, at the Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, California.  It’s called “Vietnamese Americans, The Lucky Few”, and it will pay tribute to the US and Vietnamese Navy personnel who were a part of the fleet of Navy ships during “Operation Frequent Wind” in 1975, saving the lives of two hundred thousands of Vietnamese refugees.

This event expands upon the
success of a 2011 event which included a screening of the Navy documentary, “The Lucky Few”.

Amongst the speakers will be Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson, Jr. (Ret) (36th Surgeon General of the Navy), Capt. Paul Jacobs (Ret) (USS Kirk, DE/FF 1087), along with entertainment (see flyer).

Please forward this information to your shipmates who may be interested.

We are looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards,

Sharon Nicholas


 Posted by at 16:54
Feb 062012

The latest on the Quapaw from Al Anderson:

The ship has been refloated and all the holes in the hull have been plugged. The Richmond California Port Authority (Which now owns the ship) has issued this statement:

The ships (Quapaw and Moctobi) will be slated for immediate destruction by the awarded contractor.

This is all the information we have. We do not know when, where, or by whom the Quapaw will be dismantled. We will keep you posted on any changes as we become aware of them.

Quapaw Afloat

Quapaw Afloat



 Posted by at 05:42
Dec 132011

To the former crew of the USS Quapaw,
I am a United States Coast Guard Chief currently tasked to remove all of the oil and hazardous materials from the USS Quapaw after she sank 11DEC11 at the old shipyard in the Port of Richmond, California. I have attached a few photos of the vessel as she currently sits firmly grounded inside the dry dock. As the situation develops I will send more photos to you if you would like.
Chief Kyle Chapman
United States Coast Guard

 Posted by at 08:32
© USS Quapaw .