The USS Bannock (AT 81) was laid down on 3 August 1942 at Charleston, South Carolina, by the Charleston Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; launched on 7 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Katharine Carswell; and commissioned on 28 June 1943, Lt. Sam P. Morgan in command.
The tug spent the remainder of 1943 and the better part of the first three months of 1944 engaged in towing operations along the east coast of North America making occasional trips to the West Indies and Brazil. Late in March of 1944, she proceeded to New York where she joined a convoy bound for Great Britain. Bannock arrived in Falmouth, England, in mid April and began assisting in the preparations for the invasion of France. During the weeks preceding the assault, the tug witnessed a number of air raids staged by the Luftwaffe but escaped damage herself. On 15 May 1944, she was redesignated ATF 81. From D day, 6 June, to the end of the third week in July, Bannock participated in a whole series of rescue, salvage, and repair operations in support of the invasion force. She performed her mission first at Utah beach and then early in July moved to Omaha beach.
On 21 July, she departed the Normandy coast to return to England. From there, she moved to Londonderry in Northern Ireland where she took the damaged American destroyer, Nelson (DD 623), in tow to return to the United States. Bannock towed her charge into Boston harbor on 26 August. Soon thereafter, the ship moved south to Norfolk, Va. She operated out of that base, engaged in coastal tow operations, until mid December. On 14 December, the tug stood out of Norfolk on her way to a new assignment in the Pacific. She arrived in Pearl Harbor on 23 January 1945 and remained there until 9 February when she got underway with a tow bound for Eniwetok Atoll. Bannock reached Eniwetok on 2 March but returned to sea on 5 March on her way to the Mariana Islands. She served at Guam until late March when she moved to Saipan to pick up a tow bound for Iwo Jima. The tug returned to Guam on 20 April but departed again a week later to join in the three week old Okinawa campaign. The ship arrived off Okinawa on 7 May.
For the remainder of the year, she engaged in a series of tows between the Marianas, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. At first, her duties continued support for the war effort, but after the Japanese capitulation in mid-August, she shifted to occupation responsibilities. During the early months of 1946, Bannock added such places as Hollandia, Milne Bay, Manus, and Kwajalein to her itinerary. Late in March 1946, the tug headed back to Pearl Harbor, arriving there on 1 April. On the 28th, she got underway and shaped a course for San Diego, Calif., where she arrived in mid May. There, she began preinactivation overhaul. By the end of January 1947, she had moved to Orange, Tex., where she was decommissioned by 21 February 1947. Bannock remained in reserve at Orange for more than four years. On 11 September 1951, Bannock was placed back in commission, Lt. Wesley C. Dreman in command.
For the next four years, the tug returned to familiar duty conducting towing operations the length of the Atlantic coast of the United States and in the West Indies. In July 1955, she was placed out of commission again and berthed at New London, Conn. Bannock remained in reserve until October 1962 at which time she was leased to Italy. On 1 December 1977, while she was still under lease, her name was struck from the Navy list. In May 1979, she was sold to the Italian government.
Bannock received two battle stars for World War II service.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships