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USS Macaw at Moore Drydock Co., Oakland, California, 12 July 1942

The USS Macaw (ASR 11) was a Chanticleer-class submarine rescue vessel built in 1941-42 by the Moore Drydock Company in Oakland, Calif., on the Oakland Estuary at the foot of Adeline Street. (ASR stands for auxiliary submarine rescue; the USS Chanticleer was the prototype of the class.)

Construction of the Macaw, her sister ships — Chanticleer, Coucal, Florikan and Greenlet — and a pair of submarine tenders was carried out under a contract announced December 21, 1940, at a total price reported at $37,630,000.

The Chanticleer class represented a new type of ship, among the first submarine rescue vessels built as such. Earlier submarine rescue vessels were generally converted minesweepers. The new ASRs were essentially big, armed ocean-going tugs furnished with decompression chambers for deep-sea divers, huge booms for heavy lifting, and other equipment to aid in salvaging sunken or otherwise stranded submarines and rescuing their crews.


Lieut. Cmdr. Paul W. Burton speaks at the USS Macaw commissioning ceremony, 12 July 1943. The civilian to his right represented the Moore Drydock Company, which built the ship.

The Macaw was 251 feet, 4 inches long and 42 feet wide. She drew 14 feet 3 inches and displaced 1,780 tons. Propulsion was by diesel electric, single screw, 3,000 horsepower; top speed 16.5 knots. She was armed with depth charges, two 3-inch 50-caliber guns and eight 20-mm antiaircraft guns.

The Macaw was laid down October 15, 1941, launched in tandem with the Greenlet July 12, 1942, and commissioned exactly one year later under the command of Lieut. Cmdr. Paul Willits Burton, a resident of Asbury Park, NJ, and graduate of the US Naval Academy, class of 1933.

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