The daughters of Atlas who were placed among the stars by Zeus; giving a name to a large group of stars in the constellation Taurus. The first ship of this name retained her merchant name.
(AK–46: dp. 8,185; l. 383’2”; b. 50’11”; dr. 23’; s. 12 k.; cpl. 42; a. 2 3”)
The second Pleiades (AK–46), built in 1939 as Mangalia for the Roumanian State Maritime Service by Cantieri Navali Riuniti, Palermo, Italy, was taken over while lying idle at New York, 25 June 1941, by the U.S. Maritime Commission under the authority of Public Law 101 (77th Congress) and Executive Order 8771; acquired by the Navy on a bareboat charter from WSA, 11 August 1941; renamed Pleiades (AK–46), 3 September 1941; and commissioned 25 October 1941, Comdr. Drayton Harrison in command.
Following an abbreviated shakedown, Pleiades loaded cargo at Quonset Point, R.I. and on 22 November, got underway on her first convoy run through the U-boat infested waters of the North Atlantic to Iceland. Returning to New York the day after the United States entered World War II, Pleiades completed ten more convoy runs, six to Iceland and four to the United Kingdom by July 1943. Of those convoys, SC–107, which departed New York 24 October 1942, was the most hazardous. On 1 November, with five ships in each column, the 9 column convoy took departure from Canada for Iceland, and the United Kingdom. Shortly before 2000, a wolfpack closed the convoy, and, for almost 70 hours, struck at the columns, repeatedly scoring hits. At 1837, 4 November, they sank their last ship and departed, having sunk 15, and damaged one other.
Steaming south, 25 July 1943, Pleiades spent August, September, and October on a Brazilian run, then, in mid-November returned to the North Atlantic to ply those waters again until June 1944. Converted to a general stores issue vessel, she joined Service Force, Atlantic, 3 July, and three weeks later departed Lynnhaven Roads for the Mediterranean.
She anchored at Naples 17 August; discharged cargo there until 2 September; then, acting as flagship for a convoy of LCI’s, got underway for southern France. Encountering a mistral enroute, she delivered her charges to St. Tropez, 4 September. From the 5th through the 23rd, she distributed supplies to 8th Fleet units at St. Tropez, San Raphael, and Marseilles, then sailed to Bizerte, whence she returned to the United States, mooring at Boston 29 October.
Following alterations, Pleiades steamed to Bayonne, N.J., to load cargo for Brazil. She completed that Belem-Recife-Bahia run at New York, 12 January 1945; underwent repairs; and then commenced a series of sugar runs to the Caribbean which continued until after the end of World War II. On 4 November, she arrived at New York to complete her last cargo run as a U.S. Navy ship. Decommissioned 21 November, she was returned, the same day, to the Maritime Commission, under which she resumed merchant service with the name Scepter.
Pleiades (AK–46) earned two battle stars for World War II service.