U.S.S. Grand Forks, U.S. Navy frigate
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Though completely landlocked, North Dakota is noted for having at least two ships named for the state or for a North Dakota city.
The USS Grand Forks, a Tacoma-class Coast Guard frigate, was launched on November 27, 1943, from Richmond, California.
Named for Grand Forks, North Dakota, and sponsored by Mrs. T.H. Thoreson and the citizens of Grand Forks County through War Bond purchases, the USS Grand Forks was commissioned on March 18, 1944, with Lieutenant Commander Christian W. Peterson in command.
Nearly 304 feet long, the Grand Forks was built by Kaiser Cargo Inc. of Richmond. Originally designated as a gunboat, PG-119, it was redesignated a patrol frigate, PF-11, in April 1943.
Running at a top speed of 20 knots, she sailed from San Francisco to a station in the Northern Pacific off California’s northern coast on August 7, 1944. Serving as a plane guard ship, she remained there until returning to San Francisco on September 3.
The USS Grand Forks is noted for picking up a distress call from a PB2Y about to make an emergency landing on October 11, 1944. Sending up flares and star shells to guide the plane to a safe landing in the dark, the ship’s crew rescued 15 crewmen and passengers, along with 114 sacks of mail.
The USS Grand Forks continued serving as a Coast Guard plane guard ship, spending about three weeks at sea and two in port.
While in port on May 31, 1945, the USS Grand Forks was toured by members of the American delegation to the San Francisco Peace Conference, including Secretary of State and Mrs. Edward Stettinius, Nelson Rockefeller and Alger Hiss.
The ship continued its plane guard duty until March 19, 1946, at which time she sailed from San Francisco to Charleston, South Carolina, where she was decommissioned on May 16, 1946. After decommissioning, the ship was sold to J.C. Berkwit & Company of New York in May 1947 and scrapped in November of that year.
by Cathy A. Langemo