Orion II (AS-18)
(AS-18: dp. 9,250; l. 529'6"; b. 73'4"; dr. 25'6"; s. 15.4 k.; cpl. 1,487; a. 4 5", 8 40mm., 23 20mm.; cl. Fulton)
The equatorial constellation Dear Taurus; The Hunter.
Orion, a wooden schooner, was purchased by the Navy at Baltimore, Md., 13 August 1861 for use in the -stone fleet- to be sunk as obstructions blocking channels leading to Southern ports. She was sunk in the North Carolina sounds in the fall of 1861.
Monitor Chimo (q.v.) was renamed Orion, 15 June 1869, and on 10 August 1869 she became Piscataqua.
The second Orion (AS-18) was laid down 31 July 1941 at the Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif.; launched 24 June 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Robert A. White; and commissioned 30 September 1943, Capt. C. S. Isgrig in command.
Following shakedown off southern California, Orion got underway for Pearl Harbor 23 November 1943. Arriving there on the 28th, she received her first submarine, Gar (SS-206) alongside for repairs two days later. On 10 December she steamed for Australia, arriving at Fremantle 5 January 1944 to begin her mission of maintaining the material readiness of, and an adequate stock of supplies for, submarines operating in the southwest Pacific. She remained in Western Australia until 6 August when she proceeded to Mios Woendi to establish Advanced Submarine Base Able. Arriving 26 August, she serviced 24 submarines, and 466 surface vessels, before being relieved, 9 December, by Griffin (AS-13).
The next day Orion headed back to Hawaii for overhaul. On 8 April 1945 she sailed west again. At Saipan between 23 April and 1 September, she served as CTG 17.7 and as SOPA (Admin) for Tanapag Harbor in addition to her tender and repair activities which were performed for over 300 ships.
As the formal surrender documents were being signed in Tokyo Bay, Orion was en route to the United States. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she operated off the east coast for four months, then sailed south to Balboa, C. Z. Taking up duties with SubRon 6, 24 January 1946, she remained in the Canal Zone, with one interruption for overhaul, until 11 May 1949. Then, with SubRon 6, she steamed to Norfolk, her new homeport.
After that change of homeport, Orion continued to service SubRon 6 at Norfolk and, during fleet exercises, in the Caribbean. A FRAM II overhaul and conversion to nuclear support, 6 September 1960-25 February 1961, was followed by refresher training off Cuba. In June; her first nuclear submarine job came alongside in the form of Shark (SSN-591). Three years later she added foreign nuclear submarines to her long list of services performed after completing work on HMS Dreadnought. Support of SubRon 6, however, has continued to be Orion's primary mission. Into 1970 she services the conventional and nuclear powered ships of that squadron from the Destroyer/Submarine Piers at Norfolk.