Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
spotlight

SALVAGE CHIEF: To the rescue again?

  • Updated
  • 0
SALVAGE CHIEF: To the rescue again?

ASTORIA — In 1943, in the midst of World War II, Navy ships and amphibious seaplanes moored in a sheltered harbor east of Astoria, then known as Naval Air Station Tongue Point.

Today, nearly 80 years later, one former Navy vessel still remains, and the owners and supporters hope it can serve once again in a new capacity with help from federal funding.

Return to service

Today, owner Floyd Holcom and former crewman Don Floyd, pictured, have been leading a campaign to rehabilitate and secure federal funding for the aging Salvage Chief, which they feel could serve a new role, particularly as an emergency response and training vessel. “They’ve been talking about Cascadia and putting the chief back into service,” Don Floyd said.

Crew photo

A picture from one of the final crews of the Salvage Chief, believed to be from 1999, hangs on the wall.

WWII origin

A poster from 40s hangs on the wall inside the Salvage Chief as a reminder of it's WWII origin.

Cable

A spool of 1 3/4"-inch cable, used to winch stuck vessels, is seen inside the Salvage Chief.

Floyd details new role

Salvage Chief crew member Don Floyd details the new role the vessel could potentially play as an emergency and training vessel.

Transition to salvage ship

In 1948, the first conversion of LSM 380 to the newly named Salvage Chief was completed, led by then-owner Fred Devine.

“This ship was the LSM 380, a Landing Ship Medium. When Fred Devine built this, he bought these big winches and took a piece of LST deck and put a lid on it,” Floyd said.

First job

The first job, in 1952, involved pulling a barge off the beach about a mile north of the Grays Harbor Entrance, a feat that would inspire and give rise to the Salvage Chief’s reputation of ‘doing the impossible’ while sparing contaminate-related environmental catastrophes.

“It was historic because it was the first major ship pulled off the West Coast. They said it couldn’t be done. They were so sure that they were going to fail that they pre-dug a big pit. They were going to pump all the bunker oil off and burn it up on the sand dunes,” Floyd said.

Fred Devine

A portrait of former owner Fred Devine, pictured, hangs inside the Salvage Chief. “That’s what bugged Fred Devine. Ships would run aground and tugs just couldn’t do it. After the war, these boats came back and he knew they were perfect with their shallow draft,” Floyd said.

Retired at Tongue Point

Since 2009, the Salvage Chief, a 202-foot re-purposed WWII-era landing vessel, has sat ‘retired’ at Tongue Point in Astoria, having last completed it’s last salvage mission retrieving a buoy off the coast of Coos Bay in 2008.

Senate Bill 826

Through Oregon Senate Bill 826, Holcom is seeking $1.9 million in federal funding that would be used to ‘Ready the Chief’ as part of disaster relief preparations, particularly a Cascadia earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Don Floyd details unique history

Don Floyd details the unique history of the Salvage Chief in May. The venerable vessel, built in 1945, served a significant role in hundreds of salvage operations from Alaska to Washington after initially being built to transport war armaments.

Chief 'retired' since 2009

Since 2009, the Salvage Chief, a 202-foot re-purposed WWII-era landing vessel, has sat ‘retired’ at Tongue Point in Astoria, having completed it’s last salvage mission retrieving a buoy off the coast of Coos Bay in 2008.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

Local News

Sports