Reclaimer (ARS-42) was laid down on 10 November 1944 by Basalt Rock Company in Napa, California; launched 23 June 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Daniel Clark, Jr.; and commissioned on 20 December 1945, Lieutenant D. A. Bendinelli in command.
After shakedown off San Pedro, Reclaimer steamed to Pearl Harbor where she operated until assigned to Joint Task Force 1, arriving at Bikini on 1 June 1946. There she served as salvage vessel and was contaminated during the "Operation Crossroads" atomic tests, but received final radiological clearance on 13 January 1947. She returned to Pearl Harbor in September 1946 and to the west coast in October where she remained until decommissioned 23 June 1947. She was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet and berthed at San Diego.
Reclaimer recommissioned on 1 December 1950 for service in the Korean War and, after shakedown off San Diego towed AP-23 to Hawaii. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 12 February 1951, she then proceeded on across the Pacific touched at Majuro and Guam, and reached Sasebo, Japan on 29 April.
On 8 May Reclaimer got underway to aid SS Muhlenberg Victory, grounded on Uku Shima, an island near Sasebo. With the aid of Grasp, she re-floated the ship a week later and on 27 May towed YO-179 to Pusan, Korea. She then steamed to Wonsan for patrol duties between that port and Songjin. In mid-June, she escorted Walke, damaged by a mine, to Sasebo. Six days later, she returned to Pusan to tow the burning merchantman Plymouth Victory, back to Sasebo where the fire was extinguished. During August Reclaimer assisted in mine sweeping and laid buoys in Wonsan Harbor. On 7 September, she re-floated the beached Japanese LST Q 081 at Kangnung, Korea. On 10 October, with Yuma, she towed the Royal Navy hospital ship RFA Maine which had lost a propeller, on a westward passage through the crowded and narrow Shimonoseki Straits. This was the only hospital ship supporting U.N. forces at that time.
On 22 January 1952, she departed Yokosuka to return to her homeport, Pearl Harbor, where she remained until 21 October. Returning to WestPac with YC-104 in tow, Reclaimer reached Sasebo on 17 November. On 2 December she arrived at Sokeho Hang, Korea, to rescue two LST's aground in heavy seas. With one of the LST's in tow she reached Sasebo on 18 December. After brief duty with the Wonsan blockade force, Reclaimer took SS Gulf Haven in tow while she was foundering in a typhoon, and successfully brought her to Japan.
Reclaimer continued to operate in Japan and Korea until returning to San Diego on 25 July 1953. For the next three months she operated on the West Coast, steaming back to Pearl Harbor in late October. In March 1954, she headed southwest to the Marshall Islands for salvage work during "Operation Castle", the hydrogen bomb test series at Bikini. Departing Bikini on 4 May she continued on to Japan. Through the summer she operated in Japanese and Korean waters, then, during September and October, stood by off French Indochina while French and American ships, in "Operation Passage to Freedom", evacuated refugees from what was to become North Vietnam.
Returning to the United States, Reclaimer spent the first six months of 1955 operating off the West Coast, then deployed to the Far East. During early 1956, she operated in the Hawaiian Islands, reaching Yokosuka on 30 September. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 12 February 1957.