Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Support Ships
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

Gold Star (AK-12)


(AK-12: dp. 4,860; l. 391'9"; b. 52'2"; dr. 11'10"; s. 12 k.; cpl. 52; a. none)

Gold Star (AK-12) was built in 1920 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Del.: taken over by the Navy as Arcturus from the US SB 8 November 1921; commissioned as Arcturus (AK-12) 1 February 1922 at Philadelphia, Lt. Comdr. J. Katterfield, USNRF, in command and 5 days later renamed Gold Star (AK-12) on 6 February. The ship was reclassified AG-12, 12 May 1922.

Renamed Gold Star sailed from Philadephia 18 March 1922, arriving Seattle 1 July via the Canal Zone and California ports. During the next 2 years she served as a cargo ship on the West Coast, making three voyages with supplies for Alaskan radio stations. The ship steamed out of San Francisco 9 October 1924 to assume her duties as station ship at Guam, arriving 3 November.

During the 1920's and 1930's Gold Star became a familiar sight in the far-flung ports of Asia. Though assigned as flagship at Guam she made frequent voyages to Japan, China, and the Philippines with cargo and passengers. Prior to World War II, much of her crew was made up of Chamorros, natives of Guam.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, Gold Star was coaling at Malangas, P.I. She sailed for Manila 8 December, but was ordered by Commander, Asiatic Fleet, to proceed to Balikpapan, Borneo. She arrived 14 December as the Japanese advanced quickly southward; and after issuing urgently-needed provisions to units of the Asiatic Fleet there, steamed by way of Macassar, Celebes, to Darwin, Australia. Following her arrival at Darwin 28 December, Gold Star served as a coastal cargo carrier, steaming between such Australian ports as Brisbane, Sydney, and Fremantle. She thus contributed importantly to strengthening Australia and to checking the Japanese advance in New Guinea. After 15 August 1943 the veteran ship continued her coastal operations in Australia, but also began a series of cargo voyages to New Guinea and the Admiralty Islands. Gold Star brought many loads of vital supplies to Milne Bay as the Allies began the push toward the Philippines.

The ship arrived Manus Island 6 January 1945 for repairs and conversion to squadron flagship for Service Squadron 9. Operating in this capacity the old ship supported the mounting American advance toward Japan, sailing to Leyte and Morotai. While conducting cargo operations at Morotai 28 June Gold Star was attacked by enemy aircraft but sustained no damage. She arrived Manila 26 July via Tawitawi and remained there issuing supplies until the surrender of Japan 15 August 1945.

After supporting occupation forces in Japan, Gold Star sailed to Seattle in February 1946 and decommissioned there 17 April 1946. She had served over 21 years in the Western Pacific without once returning to the United States, and had carried countless tons of supplies, items large and small, for the warships of the fleet. The old ship was delivered to the Maritime Commission 30 June 1946, and was sold for scrap 1 December 1947 to Dulien Steel Products, Inc.

Gold Star received one battle star for World War II service.

Published: Wed Aug 10 00:19:48 EDT 2016