Arctic IV (AF-7)
(AF-7: dp. 12,600; l. 416'6"; b. 53'; dr. 26'5"; s. 11 k.; cpl. 211; a. none; cl. Arctic)
The region surrounding the North Pole. It extends outward from the pole to 70° north latitude.
Yamhill, a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built in 1919 at Oakland, Calif., by the Moore Shipbuilding Co. under a United States Shipping Board contract, was acquired by the Navy from the Shipping Board on 4 November 1921 for use as a storeship. Renamed Arctic (AF-7) on 2 November 1921, she was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 7 November 1921, Lt. Comdr. Charles H. Bullock in command.
Assigned to the Base Force, Pacific Fleet, Arctic arrived at San Diego, Calif., on 24 July 1922. For almost two decades she served chiefly in the Pacific, operating with the Fleet's train. During the second of her two voyages to Hawaiian waters in 1925, she accompanied the fleet on its Australasian cruise to New Zealand and Samoa. Assigned to Train Squadron 2, her yearly operations varied little, with the ship issuing provisions to the Battle Fleet wherever it was operating. Her cruises along the western seaboard of the United States took her to San Diego, San Pedro, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.
During the winter of 1936 and 37, Arctic found herself busier than ever. A maritime strike, which paralyzed American flag merchant shipping during this period, meant a revision in the storeship's operating schedule. As Commander, Base Force, reported after the end of the fiscal year, the shipping strike emphasized the limitations of the Train, since Arctic had to be withdrawn from servicing the fleet to provision the far-flung naval stations at Pearl Harbor and Samoa.
Since the fleet operated in Hawaiian waters with increasing frequency, starting with the Hawaiian Detachment in the fall of 1939 and continuing through the assignment of the Fleet there in the spring of 1940, Arctic's schedule was altered to include five or six round trips a year between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor. The outbreak of hostilities with Japan on 7 December 1941 found Arctic one day out of Hawaiian waters, en route to San Francisco.
For the first five months of 1942, a time punctuated with yard periods at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Arctic operated between Pearl Harbor and San Francisco. She then deployed briefly to Alaskan waters, to supply the ships of Task Force 8 and shore facilities at Kodiak between 3 and 13 July. Returning thence to the west coast, she arrived at San Francisco on 24 July and soon thereafter sailed for the South Pacific.
After touching en route at Pearl Harbor and at Tongatabu, in the Friendly Islands, Arctic commenced a routine of supplying ships and shore stations at New Caledonia and in the New Hebrides. Before the year 1942 was over, the storeship visited Noumea twice and Espiritu Santo once. During the following year, 1943, she voyaged twice to Noumea, thrice to Espiritu Santo, and once to Efate, usually stopping at Samoa en route from the Hawaiian Islands. An overhaul at Alameda and Oakland between 4 July and 27 September broke this period of operations. Following her third call at Espiritu Santo from 23 October to 5 November 1943, Arctic returned again to the west coast for engine repairs, reaching San Francisco on 29 November and remaining there into the following year.
Departing the west coast on 29 January 1944, the storeship arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 February. Assigned thence to Service Squadron (ServRon) 8 over the next six months, Arctic made five round-trip voyages to the Marshall Islands, provisioning ships at Majuro, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok. Shifting to Seeadler Harbor, at Manus, in the Admiralty Islands, on 20 September, the auxiliary ship spent the next month issuing supplies to various units afloat before she proceeded to Ulithi, in the Caroline Islands, on 24 October.
Remaining at Ulithi, temporarily attached to ServRon 10, until a week before Christmas, 1944, Arctic provided working parties for various merchant ships and took on board supplies for issue to the Fleet until she commenced a series of round-trip voyages from Ulithi to the Palau Islands; she conducted four such voyages between 18 December 1944 and 1 April 1945 to provision ships and shore installations at Kossol Roads, Peleliu, and Angaur. Touching at Saipan, in the Marianas, on 5 April, Arctic proceeded to Iwo Jima, where, between 9 and 12 April, she provisioned island forces, various units of the Pacific Fleet, and small craft. Returning to Guam on 15 April, the "beef boat" then sailed for the United States. A severe tropical storm enlivened her passage home before she arrived at San Francisco on 12 May. Sailing for the west again on 2 July, Arctic arrived at Ulithi on the 26th before she proceeded, in convoy UOK-43, for Okinawa, where, from 5 to 21 August, she issued fresh, frozen and dry provisions to fleet units. After Japan capitulated, she returned to Pearl Harbor on 11 September for repairs and reloading, before sailing for Japanese waters on 24 October. While en route to Tokyo, she sank a mine with gunfire on 12 November.
From 21 November to 13 December, Arctic provisioned fleet units off Yokosuka before she returned to Hawaiian waters, again sinking a mine en route, on 20 December. She departed Pearl Harbor on 2 January 1946 and arrived at San Diego on the 16th, where she remained for a little over a month. She left the west coast of the United States for the last time on 18 February 1946, bound for the Gulf of Mexico.
Material defects having rendered continued operation of the venerable Arctic "impracticable," the veteran "beef boat" was on her last voyage. Transiting the Panama Canal on 7 March, Arctic arrived at New Orleans, La., on the 15th. There, at Pendleton Shipyards, she was decommissioned on 3 April 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 May 1946. Transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposition on 3 July 1946, the ship was then sold on 19 August 1947 to the Southern Shipwrecking Corp. and, as the name of her purchaser implies, met her end under the scrapper's torch.