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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Uranus

 

One of the more remote of the known major planets, discovered in 1781 by Sir William Herschel. The planet itself was named for the personification of heaven. Uranus was the husband (or son) of Gaea (Earth) and the father of Titans, Furies, the Cyclops, and giants. Hating his offspring, Uranus confined them to Tartarus but was attacked and dethroned by his son Chronus.

 

(AF-14: dp. 3,348 (f.); 1. 269'6"; b. 39'6"; dr. 16'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 93; a. 1 4"; cl. Uranus)

 

Uranus (AF-14)—built in 1933 as Helga at Elsinore, near Copenhagen, Denmark, by Helsingpors Shipbuilding Works, for J. Lauritzen—had previously operated as Caravelle (1938 to 1940) and Marie (1940 to 1941). She served in the fruit trade between her home country —Denmark—and Central American republics and became a ship without a country upon the fall of her homeland to the invading Germans in the spring of 1940.

 

Acquired by the Navy from the United States Maritime Commission on 11 August 1941, Marie soon entered the Robbins Drydock Co. yard at Brooklyn, N.Y., for conversion to a naval stores ship. Renamed Uranus and classified AF-14, the ship was placed in commission at Brooklyn on 27 October 1941, Comdr. Orrin J. Hewitt in command. During the ship's subsequent shakedown period, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; and the United States entered World War II in both oceans. Uranus departed Norfolk, Va., on 20 December and arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Christmas Eve. Five days later, she pushed on for Iceland.

 

Uranus served as a floating refrigerated storage vessel and provided stores and provisions to American forces in Iceland into the summer of 1943. During this time, her ports of call included Hvalfjordur, Budareyi, Seydisfjordur, Reykjavik, and Akureyi. In these inhospitable and unpredictable northern waters, the ship ran aground off Akureyi while on a coastwise passage at 0129 on 10 April 1943, coming to a stop on a sloping gravel beach which was reputedly once the fairway between two holes of a coastal golf course. After repeated attempts, with the assistance of Symbol (AM-123) and Kewaydin (AT-24), the storeship was finally refloated on the 13th.

 

Following repairs, she departed Icelandic waters on 21 August, with men and equipment from a Navy construction battalion on board but, due to contrary winds and currents, did not make port at her Davisville, R.I., destination until 3 September. After discharging passengers, the storeship proceeded on for New York, arriving three days later. She then pressed south for Norfolk, where she soon commenced a lengthy overhaul.

 

Uranus—now outfitted with a new refrigeration system—departed the east coast on 20 December and, five days later, reached a rendezvous with a convoy bound for the Pacific. Clearing the Panama Canal on the first day of 1944, the storeship headed on for Pearl Harbor on 3 January, proceeding independently, and reached Oahu on the 23d.

 

She conducted two round-trip Pacific passages between San Francisco, Calif., and Pearl Harbor and Midway, before she sailed for Majuro in the Marshalls. For the remainder of the year 1944, Uranus conducted routine cargo and stores-carrying runs between Midway and Pearl Harbor to the west and San Pedro, Calif., to the east. Overhauled at San Francisco in April 1945, the ship was based at this port for the remainder of the war in the Pacific. She subsequently participated in "Magic-Carpet" operations to bring veterans back to the United States from the erstwhile Pacific battle zones.

 

Decommissioned on 8 May 1946 at Norfolk, Uranus was delivered to the War Shipping Administration of the Maritime Commission on 9 May and was struck from the Navy list on 21 May.

 

Returned by the Maritime Commission to her original owner, J. Lauritzen, the former naval stores ship was renamed Maria Dan in 1946 or 1947 and operated in the mercantile trade until 1960.