USS Sausalito in War and Peace

By Larry Clinton, Sausalito Historical Society

The USS Sausalito, renamed the Imchin, on patrol in Korea.  Photo from Google Images

The USS Sausalito, renamed the Imchin, on patrol in Korea.

Photo from Google Images

The only ship of the United States Navy to be named for our town was USS Sausalito, a Tacoma-class patrol frigate. Ironically, it wasn’t built here at Marinship, but across the Bay in Richmond. However, the management of Richmond’s Kaiser shipyard recognized the ship’s Sausalito roots by inviting Mrs. Richard Shaler, a former president of the Sausalito Woman’s Club, to sponsor her launching in July 1943. As Historical Society founder Jack Tracy wrote in 1975, Mrs. Shaler “was told by a public relations man as she swung the champagne bottle, ‘Don’t miss the ship and hit the admiral.’ As it turned out, she hit the ship neatly as it slid down the ways at Kaiser’s Yard No. 4 at the Richmond shipyard. Apparently, there was no admiral on the scene.”

According to Navy records, after shakedown, Sausalito arrived at Adak, Alaska, in October 1944 for convoy escort duty in the Alaskan Sea Frontier. She performed these duties until she was transferred to the Soviet Navy at Cold Bay, Alaska in Project Hula. Hula was a secret program for the lend-lease of U.S. Navy ships to the Soviet Navy, in anticipation of the Soviet Union joining the war against Japan. After an overhaul at Seattle in June 1945, she returned to Alaska and began training her new Soviet crew. Then she departed for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Soviet Union where she patrolled the Soviet Far East.

The Sausalito was decommissioned on August 16, 1945 ─ one day after Japan’s unconditional surrender ended WWII. The Naval History and Heritage Command of Washington, D.C. reports that she was recommissioned and then transferred to Republic of Korea Navy on in September 15, 1950 ─ the same day that General MacArthur launched the Inchon landing.

In November 1950, she departed Yokosuka for Hŭngnam, North Korea. There she performed harbor control duties, which included escorting ships through the mineswept channel, passing instructions to ships entering the harbor, patrolling the entrance against hostile craft and drifting naval mines, and conducting shore bombardment when required. The U.S. Navy awarded the ship (renamed “Imchin”) six battle stars for her Korean War service.

After drydocking and upkeep at Yokosuka, Sausalito departed for the Philippine Islands in October 1951 to patrol against unauthorized fishing vessels in the western Caroline Islands, apprehending one vessel. After spending Christmas 1951 in Subic Bay on Luzon, she made a good-will tour to Saigon, Bangkok, Singapore, and Penang, Federation of Malaya (predecessor of today’s Malaysia). February 1952 found her back in Korean waters, where she resumed escort and patrol duties before returning to Yokosuka for the last time under the United States flag on 31 May 1952.

The decorated patrol frigate was decommissioned on June 9, 1952 and remained in mothballs until she was scrapped in 1973.