USS Patoka (AO-9) - 1920s and 1930s

1920s and 1930s

Assigned to Naval Overseas Transportation Service, Patoka departed Norfolk 4 November 1919 for Port Arthur, Texas, where she loaded fuel oil and sailed for Scotland, arriving on the Clyde 6 December. She returned to Port Arthur for more oil and got under way 9 January 1920 for the Adriatic Sea, arriving Split, 12 February. Returning to the United States in April Patoka went back to the Near East, arriving at Constantinople in June. After duty in the Adriatic and Mediterranean she returned to the United States, and served on both the east and west coasts until 1924 when she was selected as a tender for rigid airship Shenandoah.

A mooring mast some 125 feet above the water was constructed; additional accommodations both for the crew of Shenandoah and for the men who handle and supply the airship were added; facilities for the helium, gasoline, and other supplies necessary for Shenandoah were built; as well as handling and stowage facilities for three seaplanes. This work by the Norfolk Navy Yard was completed shortly after 1 July 1924. Patoka retained her classification of AO–9.

Patoka engaged in a short series of mooring experiments with the Shenandoah, which had reported to the Commander, Scouting Fleet for duty 1 August 1924. The first successful mooring was made 8 August 1924.

In October, Patoka, Milwaukee, and Detroit, were assigned stations in the mid-Atlantic to furnish the airship Los Angeles with the weather reports and forecasts during her flight, 12 to 15 October 1924, from Germany, where she had been built, to Lakehurst, N.J.

During 1925 Patoka operated with both Shenandoah and Los Angeles in demonstrating the mobility of airships, and in reducing the number of ground personnel required to handle them. A projected polar flight by Shenandoah, using Patoka as her base of operations, was cancelled when the airship was lost in a storm 3 September 1925.

Between 1925 and 1932 Patoka operated with Los Angeles and served as her base of supply and operations on her longrange flights to Puerto Rico (1925), Panama (1928), Florida (1929), and during the fleet concentration off Panama (1931). During 1932 she also operated with the newly-acquired airship Akron, but the decommissioning of Los Angeles, 30 June 1932 and the crash of Akron, 4 April 1933, foretold a rest for Patoka. She decommissioned 31 August 1933.

On 10 November 1939 Patoka recommissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Comdr. C.A.F. Sprague in command, and reported to Patrol Wing 5, Aircraft, Scouting Force. Her classification had been changed to AV–6, seaplane tender, 11 October 1939.

On 18 January 1940 she departed Puget Sound and, after taking on fuel and cargo at San Pedro, arrived at San Diego on the 31st. She steamed for the east coast 5 February and reached Norfolk 25 March. Next Patoka was assigned to the Naval Transportation Service in June and reclassified AO–9, 19 June 1940.

On 13 August she departed Norfolk and sailed to Houston. Between August and December 1940, she operated out of Houston and Baytown, Tex., delivering fuel oil to Boston, Melville, Norfolk, Charleston, and Key West.

From March 1941 to September Patoka delivered fuel oil and general cargo to various units of the Fleet in the Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean areas. On 28 September she departed Norfolk and proceeded, via Aruba, to Recife, Brazil. Patoka made one more round trip to Recife before the United States entered World War II.

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