A nymph of Elis, one of the Nereids, who—in Greek mythology—was the daughter of Oceanus and one of Diana's attendants. One evening on the island of Ortygia, near Syracuse, as Arethusa was heading home from the day's hunt, she chanced upon the Alpheus, a clear and beautiful brook. When she entered its cool waters seeking relief from heat and fatigue, she heard a voice rise from the stream which frightened her into leaping to land and fleeing in terror. The river god pursued her until, in desperation at her failing strength, she prayed to Diana for help. In response the kind goddess changed Arethusa into a fountain
(IX-135: dp. 15,800; l. 438'6"; b. 57'; dr. 26'8"; s. 10.5 k.; cpl. 72; a. 1 4", 1 3", 8 20mm.)
Gargoyle—a tanker built in 1921 at Oakland, Calif., by the Moore Shipbuilding Co.—was renamed Arethusa by the Navy and designated IX-135 on 3 November 1943; acquired by the Navy on 23 March 1944 from the War Shipping Administration on a bareboat basis for use as a mobile floating storage tanker; and placed in commission on that same day at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, Lt. Walter J. Tross in command.
Arethusa remained at Majuro through early June providing fuel to various ships of the Fleet. She got underway on 8 June and proceeded to Eniwetok, where she resumed her fueling operations. The tanker sailed on 19 August for the Admiralty Islands, reached Manus on the 28th, and once again dispensed fuel to Allied ships. The tanker headed for the Philippine Islands on 12 October to support Fleet units about to begin the recon-quest of that archipelago. She reached Leyte Gulf on the 20th and commenced fueling operations.
Arethusa shaped a course back to Manus in early January 1945 and operated there through 5 May, when she got underway for the Western Caroline Islands. The vessel reached Ulithi four days later and resumed fueling services. The ship weighed anchor once again on 22 June and set a course for Kerama Retto in the Ryukyus. She was stationed at Okinawa when the Japanese surrendered in mid-August 1945 and continued operations at that island until mid-December.
Arethusa then moved to Subic Bay, Philippines. She provided fuel to fleet ships at that port through 3 March 1946, when the vessel got underway for home. She reached Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 28 March and remained there for a short period of voyage repairs. The ship left Hawaiian waters on 5 April and steamed into San Francisco Bay on the 15th. She was decommissioned at San Francisco on 16 May 1946 and returned to the War Shipping Administration on that same day. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 5 June 1946. The vessel was sold to Kaiser Co., Inc., on 8 December 1947, and was subsequently scrapped.
Arethusa won two battle stars for her World War II service.