Originally, since this ship and her sisters were “to perform service in the Pacific Ocean in the Marianas Islands area,” the Chief of Naval Personnel, whose office then suggested ship names to the Secretary of the Navy, recommended (5 March 1947) “names of islands in that group...as well as those in the Marshall and Caroline Islands” for assignment. The Chief of Naval Operations, however, countered (19 March 1947) that “having the subject vessels with the names of the islands and ports they frequent [could] lead to confusion in operational matters” and that “new names be furnished, preferably simple English names...” Consequently, the Chief of Naval Personnel (24 March 1947) recommended a slate of names that included Deal, for the island off the coast of Maryland.
(AG-131: displacement 520; length 177'; beam 33'; draft 10'; speed 13 knots; complement 26; armament 2 .50 caliber machine guns; class Camano)
The U.S. Army Freight Supply Ship FS-263 was built at Whitestone, Long Island, N.Y., by Wheeler Shipbuilding Corp., and delivered to the U.S. Army Transportation Service in August 1944.
Acquired by the Navy on 2 March 1947, FS-263 was named Deal on 3 April 1947 and classified as a miscellaneous auxiliary, AG-131. Deal stood out of Subic Bay, Philippine Islands, on 22 July 1947, in company with sister ships Metomkin (AG-136), Ryer (AG-138) and Whidbey (AG-141), bound for the Marianas, with their escort, PCE-885, joining them some nine miles southwest of Corregidor.
Metomkin, however, suffered a machinery casualty some four hours out, requiring Ryer’s towing her back to Subic Bay before she rejoined the little company. The ships continued on to Sorsogon Bay, southeastern Luzon, pushing on for the Carolines on 26 July 1947, and reaching Peleliu on the 29th. The auxiliaries remained at Peleliu while PCE-885 proceeded to Koror, then returned, the three auxiliaries and their escort standing out on 31 July on the final leg of their voyage to the Marianas, reaching Guam on 3 August. There, Deal was commissioned on 8 August 1947, Lt. (j. g.) Peter G. Patton in command.
Based at Guam, Deal -- reclassified as a light cargo ship, AKL-2, on 31 March 1949 -- carried freight to the small islands in the Marianas, Marshalls, and Carolines until arriving at Pearl Harbor on 11 August 1949. She conducted cargo operations from that base to the outlying islands of the Hawaiian chain – Palmyra and Canton -- until 16 May 1950. She then sailed to Kwajalein for a brief period, returning to Pearl Harbor on 3 July.
With the Korean War three months old, Deal got underway from Pearl Harbor on 14 September 1950 for Sasebo, Japan, arriving there on 8 November. She then operated as a part of the Seventh Fleet under the control of Commander, Service Squadron 3, in logistics support of United Nations forces in Korea, and visited other ports in Japan, Formosa, the Pescadores, Okinawa, and the Philippines until 28 February 1955 when she departed Yokosuka for the United States. After a short visit to Long Beach, Calif., she arrived at Astoria Bay on 13 April.
Reporting for Phase Able Inactivation Availability on 29 April 1955, Deal was placed “in commission, in reserve” on 2 August 1955, and “out of commission in reserve” at Portland, Ore., on 8 September 1955. She was later transferred to the San Diego (Calif.) Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Determined to be in “excess to the needs of the Navy...of such limited military value as to no longer warrant [her] retention...” Deal was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1961. She was sold (bidding opened on 11 December 1961) to Carlos A. Saenz Lopez, Sr., of Miami, Fla.; she was removed from naval custody on 10 January 1962.
The former light cargo ship served in a variety of liveries over the ensuing four decades, first under the Panamanian flag as Don Carlos; as Olga Patricia, a “pirate” radio ship that operated off the coast of Great Britain to provide an alternative to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); and as Laissez Faire. Ultimately, the Omega Protein, Inc., of Morgan City, La., acquired her, and employed her as Earl J. Conrad, Jr., a Menhaden fisherman operating out of Reedville, Va., in documents issued on 21 February 2007.
Robert J. Cressman
9 August 2016