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Saturn II (AK-49)

(AK-49: displacement 5,088; length 423'; beam 55'5"; draft 24'; speed 17.5 knots; complement 207; armament 1 5", 2 3", 1 40-millimeter; class Saturn)

The Roman god of seed sowing and the harvest.


The German freighter Arauca, built in 1939 by Bremer Vulcan, Vegesack, Germany, attempting to return to Germany after having been forced to put in to Vera Cruz, Mexico, by the outbreak of war in Poland in September 1939, reached Port Everglades, Florida, on 19 December 1939, to avoid capture or destruction by the British light cruiser HMS Orion. Orion’s firing across Arauca’s bow into American territorial waters prompted a protest to the British Foreign Office and the ship remained interned at Port Everglades. Eventually taken over by the U.S. government, the ship was acquired by the Navy on 20 April 1942, renamed Saturn and designated as a cargo ship, AK-49. Saturn was commissioned the same day at Mobile, Ala., Comdr. Charles M. Furlow in command

Saturn sailed from Mobile on 5 June to Boston, stopping at other Atlantic Coast ports en route. On 19 September, she left Boston on the first of three trips supplying American bases in Newfoundland with general cargo. In March 1943, she shifted to the run between east coast ports, principally Norfolk and Baltimore, and bases in the Caribbean such as Guantanamo and Trinidad, remaining there until September 1944 except for one trip to England in October-November 1943. In April 1944, she was converted to a provision storeship at the Norfolk Navy Yard and was reclassified AF-40 on 10 April 1944.

On 2 September 1944, Saturn sailed to the Mediterranean carrying supplies for the invasion of southern France. After one trip to Iceland and several voyages to the Caribbean, she made another trip to Oran in March 1945. She then resumed her supply voyages up and down the Atlantic Coast until arriving at Norfolk, Va., on 1 July 1946, where she was decommissioned on 23 July. The ship was redelivered to the War Shipping Administration on 25 July and struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1946. She was laid up in the Maritime Commission Reserve Fleet in the James River, where she remained until sold to Mr. Isaac Varela of Castellon de la Plana, Spain, on 12 September 1972, for scrapping.

Saturn received one battle star for her World War II service.

22 June 2005

Published: Wed Sep 02 15:24:16 EDT 2015