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Akutan (AE-13)


(AE-13: displacement 14,225; 1ength 459'; beam 63'; draft 25'11"; speed 15.3 knots; complement 281; armament 1 5-inch, 4 3-inch, 4 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Mauna Loa)

Akutan (AE-13) was laid down on 20 June 1944 at Tampa, Fla., by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 17 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Roswell B. Dagett, the wife of Capt. Dagett, USN, the supervisor of shipbuilding at Tampa; and commissioned on 15 February 1945, Cmdr. R. C. Brown in command.

Following shakedown training in the Chesapeake Bay, the ammunition ship entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for availability. In early April 1945, she moved to Earle, N.J., to take on ammunition and cargo, and by the 9th, Akutan set a course for the Pacific. She transited the Panama Canal on 16 April and proceeded independently to Ulithi, Caroline Islands. On crossing the International Date Line, the ship observed the time-honored traditions of the sea, a celebration observed, conditions permitting, even in time of war. Upon reaching Ulithi on 11 May, the ship reported to Service Squadron (ServRon) 10, Service Force, Pacific Fleet.

On 15 May 1945, Akutan got underway with Task Group (TG) 50.8, bound for Okinawa. The ship arrived there on the 21st and operated from the island during the next four weeks, supplying ammunition to various units of the fleet. The crew quickly realized that the enemy was near when they began to experience up to five air raids per night. Akutan sailed for Ulithi on 18 June and weathered a typhoon before arriving there on the 22nd. Two days later, the vessel set course for Leyte, Philippine Islands.

Akutan reached San Pedro Bay on 26 June1945 and was assigned to ServRon 8 for duty. She remained in Philippine waters until mid-August discharging and receiving ammunition. On 14 August the ship got underway with TG 30.8 to replenish ammunition for vessels of the Third Fleet. The following day, Japan surrendered, therefore Akutan returned to San Pedro Bay on 10 September and operated there until 28 October, when she sailed for the east coast of the United States. The ship paused en route at Eniwetok, where she embarked 44 sailors who were heading home for their separation from service in the Navy. Afterwards, she visited briefly at Pearl Harbor, transited the Panama Canal, and reached Norfolk in December where she transferred her 44 passengers and 52 of her own men for discharge.

Following a brief stay there, Akutan sailed to Earle, N.J., to discharge ammunition. While she was in the New York City area, her crew was released for leave during the Christmas holidays. When her cargo had been unloaded, the ship got underway for Orange, Texas, in January 1946. She left Texas on 10 March and proceeded to New Orleans, La., to undergo repairs. Five days later, the vessel set sail for Houston, Tex. and entered a shipyard for further repairs upon her arrival. On 26 April, she returned to Orange, Texas, and the Sixteenth Fleet to begin preparations for deactivation. Akutan was decommissioned on 19 October 1946.

Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1960, the ship was transferred to the Maritime Administration for layup at Beaumont, Texas. On 31 October 1975, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) was authorized by the Secretary of the Navy to dispose of ex-Akutan. The Maritime Administration then offered her for sale at auction on 9 February 1978 at the Commerce Building in Washington D.C. for non-transportation use or for scrapping. The high bidder was B.S. & S. Inc. of Washington D.C. and the veteran ammunition ship was sold for $215,001.00.

Akutan earned two battle stars for her World War II service.

Paul J. Marcello

1 July 2016

Published: Fri Jul 01 10:13:47 EDT 2016