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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Celeno

 

A star in the constellation Pleiades.

 

(AK-76: dp. 4,672; l. 441'6"; b. 56'11"; dr. 28'4"; s. 12 k.; cpl. 214; a. 1 5", 1 3"; cl. Crater)

 

Celeno (AK-76) was launched 12 December 1942 as Redfield Proctor by Permanente Metals Corp., Richmond, Calif., under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. G. G. Sherwood; transferred to the Navy 19 December 1942; and commissioned 2 January 1943, Lieutenant Commander N. E. Lanphere, USNR, in command.

 

Celeno joined the Pacific Fleet and cleared San Francisco 10 January 1943 with cargo for Noumea, New Caledonia. She arrived 1 February to support the operations on Guadalcanal and throughout the Solomons with cargo brought from New Zealand to Noumea, Tulagi, and Guadalcanal itself. Unloading cargo off Guadalcanal on 16 June, Celeno was attacked by a swarm of Japanese bombers. As the freighter's antiaircraft guns roared into action, the dive bombers scored three near misses, then hit Celeno's stern, putting her 5" gun out of operation. Her men stood to the remaining guns, and aided in downing at least three enemy planes and damaging several others. A second direct hit set two of Celeno's holds on fire, and another near miss sent her deck cargo of diesel oil and gasoline flaming. With her rudder jammed from the first hit, Celeno circled, as her crew determined to save her. Skillful damage control and superb seamanship beached her safely on Lunga Point, and when the air attack had been fought off. Celeno was towed off for repairs at Port Purvis. Fifteen of her valiant crew were killed and 19 wounded in the attack.

 

Further repairs at Espiritu Santo and San Francisco fitted Celeno for action once more, and the fighting ship returned to the South Pacific in January 1944 to continue her support of the Solomons campaign. As the seizure of bases in the Admiralty Islands began, Celeno brought troops and cargo to Manus through the spring of 1944, and continued to operate throughout the Solomons, Bismarcks, and Marianas. She sailed to Australia and New Zealand, then made a cargo run to newly secured Iwo Jima. Returning to Noumea, Celeno performed rear-area support for the Okinawa operation by voyages to Eniwetok and Ulithi, en route to Okinawa itself, where she arrived 18 June. She returned to Ulithi 3 July, and resumed cargo operations throughout the South Pacific.

 

In November 1945, Celeno sailed to Iwo Jima to embark troops for transportation to Saipan, where she picked up another group of men bound for the west coast. Celeno was decommissioned at San Francisco 1 March 1946, and transferred to the Maritime Commission.

 

Celeno received three battle stars for World War II service.