Military Wiki
Class overview
Operators:  United States Navy
Built: 1938-1940
Planned: 3
Completed: 3
Active: 0
Lost: 2
Retired: 1
Preserved: 0
General characteristics
Type: Fleet tug
Displacement: 1,235 long tons (1,255 t)
Length: 205 ft (62 m)
Beam: 38 ft 6 in (11.73 m)
Draft: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 1 shaft, 3,600 hp (2,685 kW) [1]
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Complement: 85+
Armament: • 1 × 3"/50 caliber gun
• 2 × twin 40 mm guns
• 2 × 20 mm guns

The Cherokee class, originally known as the Navajo class, was a class of fleet tugs built for the United States Navy prior to the start of World War II. They represented a radical departure from previous ocean-going tug designs, and were far more capable of extended open ocean travel than their predecessors. This was due in large part to their 205' length, 38' beam, and substantial fuel-carrying capacity. They were also the first large surface vessels in the US Navy to be equipped with diesel/electric drive.

The original ships of the Navajo class differed from their later, more numerous counterparts (the Bannock, Abnaki, and Achomawi classes) in various ways, most noticeably by the inclusion of a full-counter stern. Other, less visible differences included variances in armament, lifting boom design and capacity, superstructure arrangement, and internal layout.

The first three three vessels were constructed from 1938-1940, at the Staten Island Shipyard division of Bethlehem Steel Corp. Navajo and Seminole joined the Pacific fleet in 1940, and Cherokee to the Atlantic fleet. Navajo was en route to San Diego from Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and immediately reversed course once news broke of the attack. She became a critical element of salvage operations there, as did her sister ship Seminole, in the days following the attack.

Following the loss of the first two ships of the class, Navajo and Seminole, the class was renamed from its original name of Navajo-class to Cherokee-class.[2]



This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. "Huge Diesel Electric Tugs Attend Fleet At Sea" Popular Mechanics, December 1940
  2. Polmar, Norman. (2005) The Naval Institute Guide To The Ships And Aircraft Of The U.S. Fleet, 18th edition. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 978-1591146858. p.282.

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