(AKN-2: dp. 14,500 (f.); 1. 441'6"; b. 56'11"; s. 12.5 k.; dr. 28'4"; cpl. 228; a. 1 5", 4 40mm.; cl. Indus; T. EC2-S-C1)
A southern constellation whose name means archer and which is depicted as a centaur shooting an arrow.
Sagittarius was laid down as J. Fred Essary (MCE hull 1835) on 8 November 1943 by the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard, Inc., Baltimore, Md.; launched 30 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. J. Fred Essary; acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Commission on a bare-boat charter on 8 December 1943; converted to a net cargo ship; and commissioned as Sagittarius (AKN-2) on 18 March 1944.
Following shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, Sagittarius departed Norfolk on 1 May; transited the Panama Canal on 9 May; and arrived at San Diego on the 21st. Ten days later, she put into Pearl Harbor; and, on 8 June, she sailed for the Marianas. Arriving at Saipan on 1 August, she installed harbor defense nets there and at Tinian until early September. On the 4th, she sailed for Noumea, New Caledonia; took on nets as cargo; and steamed for Ulithi, where she laid nets from mid-October to mid-November. She then got underway for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 29 November.
In December, Sagittarius continued on to San Francisco for repairs and alterations at Mare Island. At the end of January 1945, she headed back to Hawaii; and, in March, she steamed for Ulithi. Arriving on 2 April, she became flagship of TU 52.8.3; then waited for further routing to the Ryukyus.
Ten days later, the AKN sailed for Okinawa. She arrived in the Hagushi anchorage on the 18th; joined TF 51; and, within hours, underwent her first enemy air attack. On the 28th, she splashed her first kamikaze. On 2 May, she shifted to Nakagusuku Wan, where, as at Hagushi, the almost daily air raids continued. Despite the interruptions, however, Sagittarius conducted net laying operations until the 26th. On the 27th, having downed her second kamikaze and assisted in destroying a third, she headed for Pearl Harbor.
Steaming via the Marianas, she exploded a drifting Japanese mine one day out of Saipan, 4 June. On the 17th, she arrived at Pearl Harbor only to depart again, laden with nets, on 8 July. From the 24th to the 9th of August, she conducted net operations at Ulithi, then returned to Pearl Harbor.
Arriving after the cessation of hostilities in the Pacific, Sagittarius steamed west again in mid-September; took on reclaimed nets at Ulithi; transported them to Saipan; then headed back to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco. She arrived at the latter on 19 November; and, in December, continued on to the east coast for inactivation. Sagittarius was decommissioned at Norfolk on 16 January 1946 and returned to the Maritime Commission three days later. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 7 February 1946.
Sagittarius earned two battle stars during World War II.