(AK-56: displacement 7,391; length 459'2"; beam 63'; draft 26'5"; speed 16.5 knots; complement 494; armament 1 5', 4 3", 8 .50-caliber machine guns, 2 depth charge projectors; class Arcturus; Type C-2F)
Fourth satellite of the planet Uranus.
The C-2F freighter Delalba was laid down on 17 November 1941 under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 133) at Kearny, N.J., by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp.; renamed Oberon (AK-56) on 16 February 1942; launched on 18 March 1942; sponsored by Mrs. W. Creighton Peet; acquired by the Navy on 15 June 1942, and commissioned the same day at the Robbins Dry Dock piers, Erie Basin, Brooklyn, N.Y., Comdr. Ion Purcell in command.
Oberon completed alterations and shakedown before joining a task force on 24 October 1942, bound for North Africa. Despite air raids, a submarine attack, and casualties among sister ships, she commenced off-loading supplies D-Day, on 8 November 1942, off Fedala, French Morocco. Her mission in Operation Torch thus accomplished, the cargo ship returned to Hampton Roads, Va., on 24 November.
Early in the new year 1943, Oberon transited the Panama Canal, and later, while sailing for the South Pacific, was reclassified as an attack cargo ship, AKA-14, effective on 1 February 1943. She discharged her cargo at New Caledonia and in the New Hebrides before returning to Norfolk on 12 March 1943. Completing overhaul the ship again crossed the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and took station on 10 July, off Gela for the landings on Sicily. Two months later, she participated in the invasion of Salerno, and on 6 November she participated in the defense of convoy MKF-25A against attacking German aircraft. Withdrawn to sail the Oran-to-Bizerte supply run, Oberon departed the area on 1 December with 120 U.S. Army paratroopers embarked and supplies loaded, bound for Belfast, Northern Ireland. Later that month, an Atlantic storm caused more damage than had enemy actions.
Following repairs in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Oberon returned to North Africa in April 1944 via Cardiff, Wales. As part of Assault Group II preparing for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France, she practiced landings until 13 August along both the Algerian and Italian coasts. D-day, 15 August 1944, went smoothly as she landed 151 soldiers and sailors plus valuable support equipment at St. Tropez, France. After five additional logistic missions from Oran and Naples, the attack transport joined a convoy enroute to the United States late in October.
Reassigned to the Pacific Fleet, Oberon again began a new year in transit through the Panama Canal, and then proceeded to Leyte, Philippines arriving on 21 February 1945. With other units of Amphibious Group 7 she helped to take Kerama Retto late in March and joined the attack on Okinawa 1 April. The appearance of kamikazes the next day was a challenging new experience from which she emerged unscathed and with one kill to her credit. She retired on 26 April to operate in the South Pacific and later received news of Japan's capitulation while steaming to the Philippines. With occupation troops from the U.S. Army's 81st Division embarked, she sailed into port at Aomori, Honshu, on 25 September. After an additional voyage to Yokohoma, Oberon turned homeward and early in December 1945 reached San Francisco.
In postwar years, Oberon served with the Navy Transportation Service (NTS) carrying cargo and personnel between the West Coast and American bases in the Pacific. Incorporated into the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) at its initiation, on 1 October 1949 (becoming T-AKA-14) she became an ammunition replenishment vessel during the Korean War. Arriving at Sasebo, Japan, on 15 January 1951, Oberon remained seven months serving in this new war zone. On 9 March she conducted her first rearming-at-sea mission with carriers, and later spent much of her time shuttling supplies between Sasebo and Wonsan, Korea. A second tour of duty in the war zone occurred during the first five months of 1952.
The truce signed at Panmunjom, however, in 1953 curtailed her assignments. Decommissioned on 27 June 1955, Oberon (T-AKA-14) was placed in reserve. Stricken from the Navy List on 1 July 1960, the ship was transferred to the Maritime Administration and placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Although she never returned to active service, she was reclassified from AKA-14 to LKA-14 on 1 January 1969. Ultimately, the ship was sold for scrap to Marine Power and Equipment Co., Seattle, Wash., on 3 December 1970.
Oberon received six battle stars for World War II service and five for service in the Korean War.
Revised and updated, Robert J. Cressman, 30 January 2007