Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • Boats-Ships--Support Ships
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  • World War II 1939-1945
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Sappho II (AKA-38)

1945–1946

The first Sappho (S. P. 1427) retained the name she carried at the time she was chartered, the second was named for the sixth-century B.C. Greek lyric poetess.

II

(AKA-38: displacement 4,087; length 426'; beam 58'; draft 16'; speed 16.9 knots; complement 303; armament 1 5-inch, 8 40-millimeter, 10 20-millimeter; class Artemis; type S4-SE2-BE1)

The second Sappho (AKA-38) was laid down on 12 December 1944 at Providence, R.I., by the Walsh-Kaiser Co., Inc., under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C. Hull 1899); launched on 3 March 1945; sponsored by Mrs. J. G. Stone; and commissioned on 24 April 1945, Lt. Cmdr. Merrick A. Beach in command.

After shakedown, Sappho sailed on 28 May 1945 from Norfolk, Va., with cargo and 211 Navy passengers just welcomed from the Receiving Station at Norfolk, setting course for Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, where she arrived on 18 June. On 29 June, she got underway for Palmyra and Fanning islands, then, with U.S. Army passengers embarked who had orders to report to the U.S. Army Base, Honolulu, sailed on 7 July, returning to Honolulu on the 11th. The ship began amphibious training off Maui Island on 4 August but terminated those exercises shortly after learning of the Japanese acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and capitulation in mid-August.

Sappho sailed from Pearl Harbor on 1 September 1945 [the day before the scheduled Japanese surrender ceremonies had been slated to take place in Tōkyō Bay] with occupation troops for the former enemy’s homeland. The attack cargo ship later embarked PhM1c Ronald C. Lawton, from Company “B,” Headquarters Company, Medical Battalion, Corps Troops, V Amphibious Corps, on 15 September so that the attack cargo ship’s medical officer could perform an emergency appendectomy on the ailing corpsman. The ship ultimately arrived at Sasebo, Japan, on 22 September.

Sappho then made one trip to Manila, clearing that port on 9 October 1945, returning to Sasebo on 20 October where she reported for Magic Carpet duty. Sappho consequently made two voyages carrying troops home; one from Sasebo sailing for Shanghai, China, on 20 November, and one from Shanghai, departing that fabled port five days before Christmas of 1945.


Sappho lies moored at Shanghai, China, during her visit there to embark U.S.-bound troops. Note native sampan, a familiar sight in local waters, in the stream in the foreground; the Union Jack (right) is most likely being flown from the British light cruiser Black Prince (81). (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 89743)
Caption: Sappho lies moored at Shanghai, China, during her visit there to embark U.S.-bound troops. Note native sampan, a familiar sight in local waters, in the stream in the foreground; the Union Jack (right) is most likely being flown from the British light cruiser Black Prince (81). (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 89743)

At the start of the year, the Bureau of Naval Personnel (formerly the Bureau of Navigation) authorized the amalgamation of the ship’s landing boat group with her complement; soon thereafter, Sappho was released from Magic Carpet duty at Seattle on 10 January 1946. Sappho was decommissioned on 23 May 1946 at Seattle, stricken from the Navy Register on 15 October 1946, and delivered to the Maritime Commission’s reserve fleet at Olympia, Wash., on 13 January 1947, the vessel being delivered at 4 p.m. that day.

The ship that had taken part in the occupation of Japan and returned veterans to their homeland was sold by the Maritime Administration [the redesignated Maritime Commission] on 7 September 1965 to Zidell Explorations, Inc., to be broken up for scrap, and was delivered to her purchaser at 9:12 a.m. that day.

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Lt. Cmdr. Merrick A. Beach 24 April 1945


Updated, Robert J. Cressman

15 July 2020

Published: Thu Jul 16 08:48:35 EDT 2020