|A SEASONED VETERAN
|IN TROPICAL GREEN
|Instead of the traditional, Battleship Gray worn by most U.S. Navy ships, USS Satyr
(ARL-23) is painted a dark tropical green. And while most 7th Fleet ships steam
extensively throughout the western Pacific oceans, Satyr is limited to an area of
operations in the Mekong River about 85 miles southwest of Saigon.
The landing craft repair ship is one of four tank landing ships the Navy modified and recommissioned as floating workshops for repairing river assault craft in the Republic of Vietnam. Satyr recently underwent a 7½-week overhaul in Yokosuka, Japan, after a 16-month continuous tour of duty in the Mekong Delta.
"That is probably the longest period any Navy ship has been on the line without upkeep since World War II," said Lieutenant Commander G.M. Giganti, Satyr's skipper.
The green coloring, standard among brown-water Navy craft in Vietnam, is to help camouflage her for riverine operations.
Besides furnishing intermediate repair services for river patrol boats, swift boats, and other river assault craft of the Vietnamese navy, Satyr acts as an operational focal point, handyman, and supermarket for riverine units patrolling the upper Mekong River. She has a powerful "A" frame located amidships which is used to hoist river assault craft out of the water in order to repair hull damage.
While duty in Satyr cannot be classified as the easiest in the Navy, living conditions would have to be ranked among the best in the delta. Her excellent food services and air-conditioned spaces give evidence to this. However, operations often necessitate seven-day work weeks, and the flow of repair jobs never seems to cease.
Lieutenant K.R. Myers, executive officer of Satyr, says that despite the minor problems expected when 215 officers and men live and work in the same small area for months on end, the ship's crew has done an outstanding job.
During her last lengthy line period Satyr completed nearly 3500 job orders. Her logistic liaison support section assisted thousands of allied missions, and her ship's service department often supported an average of 100 extra personnel daily-over and above her regular crew.
Because she usually anchors near military outposts and populated areas under government control, Satyr normally sees little combat. The ship's crew is, however, constantly on the alert against underwater sappers who might attempt to attach mines to her hull.
Now that the inland waterborne combat role of the U.S. Navy has been turned over to the Vietnamese, the next step is turning over the support and logistics roles to them too. Until that time arrives, however, the brown-water Navymen of the green-colored Satyr will continue their vital support and repair role in the Mekong Delta.
Article appeared in an October 1971 issue of "All Hands" magazine
Courtesy of Albert B. Moore President of the MRFA