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The USS Ute (AT-76) was laid down on 27 February 1942 at Alameda, Calif., by the United Engineering Co.; launched on 24 June 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Robert Tate; and commissioned on 13 December 1942, Lt. William F. Lewis in command.  After shakedown training in the San Francisco Bay region, Ute got underway on 10 February 1943, bound for Alaskan waters, and reached Dutch Harbor a week later. Ute immediately sailed for Amchitka, Alaska, where she participated in the salvage operations on the attack transport Arthur Middleton (APA-25) which had been thrown aground in one of the vicious "willi-waws" common to that area of the world.

Throughout March, Ute, assisted by the fleet tug Tatnuck (AT-27), continued in her efforts to haul the stranded attack transport off the beach. Ute utilized two sets of beach gear in the attempt to free the vessel. Ute. interrupted that work only once during the month —to assist the merchantman SS Wallace to clear the harbor after the merchantman's mooring had parted.  After suspending her operations on the Arthur Middleton for the first week of April because of bad weather, the plucky auxiliary resumed her work when the weather cleared on the 8th. Success crowned her efforts the following day, when the attack transport shuddered free of the beach. Within a few days, Ute and Tatnuck got underway and towed Arthur Middleton to Dutch Harbor where they arrived on the 13th.

Ute fueled and left immediately for aptly named Cold Bay where she assisted the stranded Russian merchantman Krasnyl Oktyabr. Passing a tow line to the Soviet vessel, Ute pulled her free the next day. That mission completed, the fleet tug cleared Cold Bay for Women's Bay where she took two tank landing craft (LCT's) in tow and proceeded via Dutch Harbor to Sweeper's Cove.  During the first week of May, Ute assisted in laying an antisubmarine net at Sweeper's Cove. On the 6th, she joined TF 51 as the carriers were steaming toward the Kuril Islands for strikes against Paramushiro to support the invasion of Attu. While the task force was returning from the raid—which Ute had participated in as a salvage unit—reduced visibility caused the tug to be separated from the rest of the force. After failing to regain her position, Ute received orders to proceed to Attu.

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