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Betelgeuse II (AK-260)


The second Betelgeuse was also named for the variable red giant star of the first magnitude located near one shoulder of Orion in the constellation of that name. 


(AK-260: displacement 4,660; length 455'0"; beam 62'0"; draft 29'0"; speed 16.5 knots; complement 156; armament 8 40 millimeter; class Antares; type VC2-S-AP3)

Colombia Victory was laid down on 11 February 1944 at Wilmington, Calif., by the California Shipbuilding Corp. under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C.V. hull 10); launched on 10 April 1944; sponsored by Senora G. Restrepo; and delivered to the Grace Line, Inc., at 3:00 p.m,. on 31 May 1944 for operation under a general agency agreement with the Maritime Commission's War Shipping Administration.

During World War II, Colombia Victory operated with an armed guard embarked. She participated in the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima (25 February---6 March 1945) and in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto (27 May-- June 1945).

Subsequently delivered to the Waterman Steamship Corp., Colombia Victory operated with that shipping concern under bareboat agreements, the first initiated at Mobile, Alabama, at midnight on 31 July 1946 and the second initiated at Tampa, Florida, at midnight on 17 September of the same year [1946]. At 12:01 a.m. on 11 December 1947, Colombia Victory changed hands, under a bareboat charter with the Isthmian Steamship Co., at Mobile.  Dichman, Wright & Pugh assumed custody of the vessel under a general agency agreement at Baltimore, Md., at midnight on 16 August 1948.

Less than a month later, on 4 September 1948, Colombia Victory entered the Maritime Commission's Reserve Fleet at Wilmimgton, N.C., at 12:30 p.m., where she remained until the Navy assumed custody of her at 9:20 a.m. on 31 July 1951. Having been renamed Betelgeuse  on 26 July 1951 and been designated as a cargo ship, AK-260, the Victory Ship underwent conversion for naval service; and was placed in commission at Savannah, Ga., on 15 April 1952, Cmdr. 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 that time, on 31  May 1955, the Navy took title of the ship"as is where is."

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 service 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 the nuclear-powered fleet ballistic submairine 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, Bremerton, Wash., 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 her three mariners. The Spirit of Love crewmen were transferred to the antisubmarine warfare support carrier 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 stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. She was sold to Luria Brothers & Co., Inc. on 2 December 1975 to be broken up for scrap.

Raymond A. Mann

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

13 October 2021

Published: Wed Oct 13 15:46:12 EDT 2021