(AK-260: dp. 4,660; l. 455'0"; b. 62'0"; dr. 29'0"; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 156; a. 8 40mm.; cl. Antares; T. VC2-S-AP3)
A variable red giant star of the first magnitude located near one shoulder of Orion in the constellation of that name. The star is of extremely low density and has a diameter of the order of 350,000,000 miles.
The second Betelgeuse (AK-260) was laid down on 11 February 1944 at Wilmington, Calif., by the California Shipbuilding Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (MCV hull 10) as SS Colombia Victory; launched on 10 April 1944; sponsored by Senora G. Restrepo; and delivered to the Grace Lines on 31 May 1944 for operation under contract to the War Shipping Administration. Between 1944 and 1948, she was operated, first, by the Grace Lines; then, by the Waterman Steamship Corp.; and, finally, by the Isthmian Steamship Co. In 1948, the ship entered the Maritime Commission's National Defense Reserve Fleet. She was taken over by the Navy in 1951; renamed Betelgeuse (AK-260) on 26 July 1951; converted for naval service; and placed in commission at Savannah, Ga., on 15 April 1952, Comdr. Leonard A. Parker in command.
Between 1952 and 1960, the ship carried a variety of cargoes to ships and bases in the Mediterranean and in the West Indies. She also made occasional voyages to Bermuda and the Azores. During the summer of 1960, Betelgeuse received extensive modifications altering her for a more specialized mission, that of a resupply ship to support fleet ballistic missile (FBM) submarines. For almost two years, she supported the small, but growing, fleet of ballistic missile submarines. Only three had been commissioned before the completion of her conversion in 1960. However, before she began another series of extensive modifications in June 1962, five more had joined the fleet. Between 1 June and 7 September 1962, Betelgeuse's equipment was modernized and rendered much more efficient, particularly in the area of missile stowage.
She returned to active service in September 1962. At that time the FBM resupply ship began regular runs in support of FBM submarines based at Holy Loch, Scotland, and at Rota, Spain. That occupation lasted for the remainder of her active career. During the first eight months of 1967, the ship varied her routine by providing target and torpedo retrieval services for Atlantic Fleet submarines. In the latter part of August 1967, Betelgeuse suffered extensive damage during a collision with Simon Bolivar (SSBN-641).
The FBM resupply ship remained in the Charleston Naval Shipyard until early October 1967 undergoing repairs. Later in October, she resumed resupply missions alternated with target services. In November, Betelgeuse departed Charleston for her first resupply mission to the west coast. She arrived in Bangor, Wash., on 27 November and, after completing her task, entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a brief period of repairs to her boilers. Upon conclusion of this yard work, the ship headed back to the east coast and reached Charleston late in December.
Thereafter, she resumed resupply operations and target and torpedo retrieval services. In November 1968, while on her way to Holy Loch, Betelgeuse tried to assist the foundering sailboat Spirit of Love by taking her in tow. In the end, however, the elements won the battle. The sailboat sank, but Betelgeuse rescued the three members of her crew. The Spirit of Love crewmen were transferred to Essex (CVS-9) for a flight to Bermuda, and the FBM resupply ship resumed her voyage. Betelgeuse continued her resupply missions to the FBM submarine commands at Holy Loch and Rota through 1969 and most of 1970.
The ship began inactivation procedures at Charleston on 15 October 1970 and was decommissioned on 15 January 1971. Betelgeuse was later towed to Philadelphia where she remained, in an inactive status, until early in 1974. On 1 February 1974, her name was struck from the Navy list. She was sold to Luria Brothers in December 1975 for scrapping.
Raymond A. Mann
16 February 2006