(AF-55: dp. 7,050; 1. 459'2"; b. 63'; dr. 28'; s. 16 k.; cpl. 292; a. 12 3"; cl. Alstede; T. R2-S-BV1)
A star in the constellation Canis Major.
The refrigerated cargo ship Matchless was laid down for the War Shipping Administration under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1202) on 23 August 1944 at Oakland, Calif., by the Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.; launched on 14 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Harry E. Kennedy; and was delivered to the United States Lines under a bare boat charter on 23 March 1945. That firm operated the ship in the Pacific during the final months of the war and during the first four years following Japan's capitulation. On 11 August 1949, the ship was returned to the Maritime Commission at Mobile, Ala., and she was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet berthing area at Bay Minette, Ala.
In November 1950, the Navy selected Matchless for reactivation as it was expanding the Fleet to meet its greatly increased responsibilities resulting from United Nations decision to oppose communist aggression in Korea. The vessel was towed to Camden, N.J., where she was overhauled and converted to a store ship by the New York Shipbuilding Corp. During this work, she received the best and most modern equipment to enable her to carry out her primary mission, underway replenishment. Renamed Aludra on 16 January 1951, the ship was placed in commission by the Navy on 19 June 1952, Comdr. Ralph H. Moureau in command.
Assigned to Service Squadron 3, Service Force, Pacific Fleet Aludra arrived at Sasebo, Japan, on 28 October 1952 and took up the tasks of supporting Task Force (TF) 77 in strikes along the east coast of Korea and TF 72 in patrols in the East China Sea and off Formosa. Ending her first deployment to the western Pacific, she returned to San Francisco on 4 May 1953.
Thereafter, for more than 16 years, she alternated operations on the west coast of the United States with tours in the Far East resupplying ships serving in the Orient. Among the highlights of her service was her participation in Operation "Passage to Freedom," the evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese refugees from communist-controlled areas of Vietnam after that country had been partitioned in 1954. During the early years of her career, she was considered to be a pioneer in the development of improved and faster methods of fleet replenishment. To help her achieve this end, she received many alterations and tried out a great deal of experimental logistical equipment. The ship again visited Vietnamese waters in March 1965 and, for a bit over three and one-half years thereafter, devoted most of her efforts to supporting American warships fighting aggression there. She left that war-torn country for the last time on 19 April 1969 and headed-via Sasebo, Japan-for home.
Aludra arrived at Oakland on 11 May and, a month later, began preparations for inactivation. Decommissioned on 12 September 1969, she was returned to the Maritime Administration and berthed with the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, California. She was withdrawn from the reserve fleet on 19 January 1977 for stripping by the Navy prior to sale. She was sold in November of 1977.
Aludra received one battle star for Korean service and eight engagement stars for her operations in Vietnam.