In Greek legend a king of Ithaca, father of Odysseus; and, in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, the impetuous and resolute son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia.
(AR-20: dp. 5,801; l. 441'6"; b. 56'11"; dr. 22'; s. 12.5 k.; cpl. 525; a. 1 5", 3 3", 4 40mm., 12 20mm.; cl. Xanthus; T. EC2-S-C1)
Laertes (AR-20) was laid down as SS Dutiful under a Maritime Commission contract 7 August 1944 by Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Inc., Baltimore, Md.; launched 14 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. F. A. R. McNab; acquired by the Navy 28 September; converted into a repair ship by Maryland Dry Dock Co., Baltimore; and commissioned as Laertes 24 March 1945, Comdr. Leslie H. Hawkins in command.
Sailing to Norfolk 31 March, Laertes underwent shakedown before departing 6 May for the Pacific. Arriving Pearl Harbor 6 June, she proceeded to Eniwetok 19 June; for almost 4 months she repaired ships damaged during the final battles of the war. She steamed to Okinawa 16 through 25 October, then sailed 8 November for the west coast, arriving Bremerton, Wash., 1 December. She served as a preinactivation repair ship until 17 April 1946 when she steamed to San Diego for similar duty. Laertes decommissioned 15 January 1947 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
During the Korean conflict Laertes recommissioned 19 December 1951 at San Diego, Capt. Beth A. Shepard in command. She operated out of San Diego as a unit of Service Force, Pacific Fleet, until 7 June 1952, then deployed to the Far East. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she reached Sasebo, Japan, 10 July for operations with Service Squadron 3. She served in the Far East for more than 5 months, servicing ships of the mighty 7th Fleet at Sasebo and at Pusan, Korea, and steaming off the coasts of Japan and Korea.
Departing Sasebo, 3 January 1953, she sailed for San Diego, arriving 27 January. Laertes deployed to Pearl Harbor from 10 March to 6 June, then steamed to Long Beach 8 July. She returned to San Diego 1 December, decommissioned 26 February 1954, and entered the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. In August 1961 she joined the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay.
Laertes received two battle stars for Korean service.