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Octans

 

A constellation surrounding and including the south polar heavens.

 

(AF–26: dp. 11,600; l. 440’; b. 54’4”; dr. 26’2”; s. 13.5 k.; cpl. 227; a. 1 5”, 4 3”, 8 20mm)

 

Octans (AF–26) was built as Ulua in 1917 by Workman Clark and Co., Ltd., Belfast, Ireland; acquired by the Navy 8 May 1943 under charter through the War Shipping Administration from her owner, the United Fruit Co.; and commissioned 11 June, Lt. Comdr. Otto J. Stein in command.

 

Following two weeks of fitting out at Oakland, Octans departed San Francisco Bay on 25 June 1943, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia. Arriving there 17 July, she took up her mission of transporting fresh and frozen provisions from New Zealand and Australian ports to ships and bases located in the Solomons, the Admiralties, and New Guinea.

 

During an availability at Sydney in November 1944, another capability and task was added with the installation of a 30-bed sick bay. On succeeding trips to Australia from more-advanced bases, wounded soldiers and sailors were transferred from the battle areas to recovery havens.

 

From that time also, Octans began to range farther to the north as she made supply trips to Leyte, Mindoro, and Luzon. While returning from Leyte Gulf on 1 January 1945, she was credited with downing one of a number of Japanese planes which attacked her convoy.

 

With almost two years of supply duty behind her, Octans returned to the West Coast for a brief overhaul, arriving at Oakland 15 May. Seven weeks later, following a stop in Seattle for provisions, she again crossed the Pacific, arriving at Manila on 13 August. After two more trips to Australia, the stores ship made deliveries to Shanghai, China, and departed 29 December for the United States.

 

Octans sailed to the East Coast and arrived in Baltimore on 20 February 1946. Decommissioning on 6 March, she was returned to her owner the same day and struck from the Navy List on 20 March.