The Penguin class submarine rescue and salvage vessels were ordered as part of the 205-foot fleet tugs of the Navajo class, also referred to as the Indian class since they were named for tribes of native North Americans. There were 70 of these ships built, originally classified as ATs, but redesignated ATFs on May 15, 1944.
The third Penguin (ASR-12), a submarine rescue and salvage vessel. was laid down as Chetco (AT99) by the Charleston Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Charleston, S.C., 9 February 1943; launched 20 July 1943; renamed and reclassified Penguin (ASR-12), 23 September 1943; and commissioned 29 May 1944. In 1961, Penguin entered another first on her record. On 20 March she departed for Rota, Spain, becoming the first ASR to be deployed to the 6th Fleet. Since that time she has continued salvage operations, primarily on downed aircraft, and weapons evaluation tests; provided target and torpedo recovery services; and performed towing services for the Atlantic Fleet and, in 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1969, for the 6th Fleet.
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