Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Allegan (AK-225)


A county in Michigan.

(AK-225: displacement 14,550; 1ength 441'6"; beam 56'11"; draft 28'; speed 12.5 knots; complement 229; armament 1 5-inch, 1 3-inch, 8 20 millimeter; class Crater; type EC2-S-Cl)

Van Lear Black was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (M. C. E. Hull 2416) on 21 December 1943 at Baltimore, Md., by Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard; launched on 21 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Van Lear Black; acquired by the Navy under a bareboat charter on 7 August 1944; renamed Allegan and designated AK-225 on 12 August 1944; converted for naval service at Baltimore by the Maryland Drydock Co.; and commissioned on 21 September 1944, Lt. Cmdr. J. Huling in command.

Following shakedown training in the Chesapeake Bay, Allegan took on a cargo of pontoons at Davisville, R.I., for transportation to the Philippines. She left Davisville on 19 October 1944 and shaped a course for the Pacific. The ship transited the Panama Canal on the 30th and continued sailing westward. She reached Eniwetok on 27 November and departed that atoll on 6 December in a convoy bound for Leyte. The vessel paused en route at Ulithi before reaching Leyte on 22 December.

Allegan operated in Philippine waters in and Samar through late January 1945, discharging cargo and assembling pontoons. She successfully carried out this assignment despite being subjected to frequent enemy air attacks. The ship left the Philippines on 23 January and shaped a course for the west coast of the United States. She paused en route at Manus, Admiralty Islands, on 30 January; then sailed on for California and reached San Pedro on 23 February. There, she took on board another cargo of pontoons and got underway again on 9 March bound for Okinawa.

After making brief port calls at Eniwetok and Ulithi, the vessel arrived off Okinawa on 3 May 1945. During the next three months, she remained in the area discharging and assembling pontoons. She was subjected to frequent air attacks throughout this period and assisted in downing three enemy planes.

Allegan departed Okinawa on 5 August 1945, bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, via Saipan. She arrived in Hawaiian waters on 26 August, and stood out two days later for San Francisco, Calif. The vessel reached San Francisco Bay on 5 September and, after a period of voyage repairs, got underway again on 6 October bound for Hampton Roads, Va. After retransiting the Panama Canal, Allegan reached Norfolk on the 27th. She was decommissioned at Portsmouth, Va., on 15 November 1945; was returned to the War Shipping Administration three days later [18 November 1945] and entered the Reserve Fleet's berthing area at Lee Hall, Va., at noon that day. Allegan was stricken from the Navy list on 28 November 1945.

Once more carrying the name Van Lear Black, the Liberty ship was originally acquired by the Hinkins Steamship Agency, but with that allocation cancelled, she remained in the waters off Lee Hall until purchased by the Fordom Trading Co. on 14 November 1947. She then operated under the Panamanian flag until returned to U.S. colors on 28 April 1959. Sold on that date to the Force Steamship Co., she was renamed Valiant Force the same day.  She wore that house flag until sold to the Potomac Steamship Co. on 16 October 1963, being renamed Wanderer simultaneously.  Ultimately, sold to foreign interests, Wanderer began operating under the Liberian flag on 6 December 1963.

Allegan received one battle star for her World War II service.

Published: Sun Dec 11 22:07:48 EST 2016