USS GEORGETOWN AGTR-2 HISTORY PAGE
Below is the message sent to Joe Perrigo congratulating him on his recommendation of the name Georgetown for the new AG-165.
The following history is taken from Latin American Deployment cruise book March 7 to June 27 1967. I have taken liberty to put parts of the article in past tense. Also in places I changed the word research to intercept, intelligence gathering or operations.
The Georgetown was a member of Service Squadron Eight of the Atlantic fleet. Her homeport was Norfolk Virginia and home yard Portsmouth, Virginia. As a rule the Georgetown steamed independently. As with most newly commissioned Atlantic Fleet vessels the first stop for the Georgetown was Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and 4 weeks of shakedown training. One highlight of the training was the highline transfer exercise in that it was conducted with a sister ship, the then AG-159, USS Oxford AGTR-1. Intercept capability tests were performed during the training period.
Immediately following the successful completion of shakedown training, and a stop in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Georgetown was called back to Norfolk to receive previously un-programmed equipment which would provide her with the capability to perform specialized intelligence gathering functions that were previously exclusive to the USNS. J. K. Muller T-AG-171.
On April 1 1964, Georgetown began her first operational cruise, Muller relief operations, off the coast of Havana, Cuba. She arrived in Key West on April 13 for turnover. "Long live the free nations of the world" acquired a personal meaning to the crew when, on 3 May 1964, while operation in the Florida Straits, 14 Cubans were rescued from what would probably have been a doomed attempt to flee communism. The words of the group’s spokesman cited above give new meaning to the word "free". On 31 May 1964, after a quick turnover stop in Key West, Georgetown returned to Norfolk for a month.
The final cruise of the year, beginning 30 June 1964, was directed at following up the operation began by the USS Oxford in South American waters. The itinerary afforded the crew the opportunity to visit the urban centers of three South American nations, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where the Georgetown ban made a TV appearance, Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentine. Three Caribbean stops, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Charlotte Amalie, Virgin Islands and several successful intercept results rounded out the cruise.
Returning to Norfolk on 26 October 1964, the Georgetown was assigned a restricted availability at Norfolk Navel Shipyard to receive additional intelligence gathering equipment. On 20 November in Portsmouth, Virginia CDR G. H. Mullahy, Jr. USNR, Became the second Commanding Officer, relieving CDT W. A Gleason, USN.
December 31st found the Georgetown and her crew of 19 officers and 257 men preparing for her next cruise, which began 5 January, 1965. The USS Georgetown was deployed nearly 8 months of 1965 conduction operations. From 5 January to 14 May, operations were conducted in the Southeast Pacific and the Caribbean and included Panama Canal transits in both directions..
During a post visit to Valparaiso, Chile, the Chilean Chief of Navel Operations inspected the crew and was honored by an unusual shipboard evolution, a pass in Review on the forecastle. The last six weeks of the cruise were devoted to giving the USNS Muller T-AG-171 a break in operations by relieving her in the Caribbean.
A major personnel turnover, nearly half the crew, and a tender availability alongside the USS Amphion AR-5 occurred during the following in port period.
The deployed period 20 July – 13 October, 1965 took Georgetown through the Caribbean and south Atlantic waters, south of 36° S, continuing the execution of CNO sponsored electronic intercept operations. While in Montevideo, Uruguay, 40 crew members made an overnight tour to the cattle town of Durazn0, becoming the first U.S. sailors to visit the area. The town declared a holiday on the second day of the tour, and many of the 20,000 inhabitants assembled in the town plaza to meet the U.S. Navy.
During a restricted shipyard availability at the Norfolk navel Shipyard following the cruise, the Georgetown received on of the latest additions to the navy’s communications system inventory, CMR, or Communications Moon Relay, later to be called Tresscom. The alteration added some 25’ of deckhouse to the 01 level aft and a 16’ diameter parabolic antenna atop the new deckhouse. During the in port period, The Georgetown bid farewell to her sister ship, the USS Jamestown AGTR-3 which departed in November for duty with the Pacific Fleet.
Hart to Georgetown
The third cruise of 1965 began on December 14 to conduct electronic intercept operations in the Caribbean and equatorial Pacific waters. At a Christmas Eve ceremony in Willemstad, Curacao, CDR Martin B. Betts, USN relieved CDR G.H. Mullahy, Jr., USNR as Commanding Officer, 10 days after departure from Norfolk. Remarks were given by the U.S. General Consul and the Admiral of the Netherlands Antilles, whose headquarters are located in Willemstad.
New Years Eve in Trinidad set the pace for 1966 - a lively one which included tow rescues at sea, four Panama Canal transits, passing through the eye of a hurricane and two Navy Awards for the Georgetown.
For the third year, Georgetown found herself at sea for almost eight months, operation primarily in the south-western Caribbean and along the Pacific coast of Latin America.
Returning to Norfolk on 7 March, the all Shell back crew(Equatorial crossing with full ceremonies occurred on 4 February) of 16 officers and 284 men could look back on a memorable cruise - a port visit to Cartage, Columbia, double transit of the Panama Canal and a successful two-day search for a 50 foot tug lost and adrift at sea. The M/V Tamari out of Aruba bound for Colon, Panama had run out of fuel in heavy seas - her SOS was received and the search was begun by the Colombian authorities at Barranquilla. A joint effort - British, German, Columbian and with the arrival in the search area of the Georgetown, American- began 26 February. The tug was located by the Georgetown at dawn on the 27th, some 200 miles northwest of Cartagena, Columbia. A nearby British ship, M/V J.H. Barnes, assisted by the Georgetown's rescue party, took Tamari in tow later in the morning. Intercept efforts were also rewarding. A joint agency recognition of the results of the primary intercept goal and the first AGTR to AGTR communications (USS Belmont AGTR-4 being on the other end) and complete success in Communication Moon Relay(TRESSCOM) tests merit mention.
On 21 March while in home yard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia the Commanding Officer was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for Meritorious achievement as Chief Engineer aboard the USS Oriskany CVA-34 and the food Service Division was judged the best for ships of Georgetown's size in the Atlantic fleet Service Force. A luncheon on 11 Amy, with the Mayor of Portsmouth, R. Irvine Smith, and the Atlantic Fleet Supply Officer, RADM K. R. Wheeler, SC, USN attending, was held on board as an adjunct to the selection.
The now annual operations in relief of USNS J.K. Muller T-AC-171 off of Cuba began on 24 May, with Georgetown's effort during the point to a less enjoyable but equally dramatic experienc3, passing through the eye of a hurricane. Hurricane Alma, with winds to 119 on 8 June. The ship was well prepared for the event, suffering no damage, even though on roll of 43 degrees was noted.
For the second time, Cubans fleeing to the United States provided the reason for a rescue at sea. Three self declared exiles were making the attempt to cross the Florida Straits on an inner tube raft. They were picked up on 26 May some 12 miles north of Havana and transferred that evening to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.
On 4 August while at Acapulco, Mexico, notification that GEORGETOWN had been selected as the better AGTR in the Atlantic Fleet was received. The Ballet Efficiency "E" for the Fiscal Year 1966 competition was awarded. An unscheduled mid-night visit to Puntarenas, Costa Rice on 10 August 1966 to disembark a crew member whose broken leg had developed complications rounded out the cruise, which ended 21 August 1966.
During the ensuing in port period, GEORGETOWN received her first dry docking since c0ommissioning, and 110 crew members reported aboard prior to departure for the final cruise of the year 4 October.
Intercept operations requirements placed GEORGETOWN In the Southwestern Caribbean. Port visits to Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, Cartagena and Barranquilla, Columbia, and La Guaira, Venezuela were included in the itinerary. At the latter stop, the port city of Caracas, an unusual environment was encountered, as any crew member-group of moderate size ashore was accompanied by Venezuelan Navel police armed with sub-machine guns, as the Commanding Officer at all times ashore. The measure was probably taken by the Venezuelan authorities to discourage terrorist incidents.
After completion of assigned intercept tasks, GEORGETOWN was tagged for escort duty, accompanying the USS Walworth County LST-1164 from San Juan, to Norfolk. After rendezvous at 1500, 15 December Northwest of San Juan, the GEORGETOWN remained nearby ready to provide assistance had WALWORTH COUNTY's remaining engine suffered a casualty.
Completing the deployment on 21 December the 16 officers and 278 men of GEORGETOWN spend 31 December in Norfolk, Virginia.