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Severn IV (AO-61)


A river in Maryland which joins the Chesapeake Bay at Annapolis.


(AO-61: displacement 7,136; length 553'; beam 75'; draft 32'; speed 18 knots; complement 298; armament 1 5-inch, 4 3-inch, 8 1.1-inch, 12 20 millimeter; class Ashtabula)

The fourth Severn (AO-61) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 727) on 24 November 1943 by the Bethlehem-Sparrows Point Shipyard, Inc., Sparrows Point, Md.; launched on 31 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Harold B. Hinton; and delivered and commissioned on 19 July 1944, Lt. Comdr. Owen Rees in command.

Following shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, Severn departed the east coast for the Panama Canal and duty as a fresh water carrier in the Pacific. Assigned to ServRon 8, she arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 September and at Eniwetok on the 22d. There she discharged her cargo into YO's; and, on the 28th, sailed for the Admiralties. At Manus, on 3 October, she commenced watering amphibious craft of the 7th Fleet preparing for the Leyte invasion; and, on the 13th, got under way for Hollandia, whence she sailed for Leyte Gulf on the 18th.

The 23d brought the beginning of the Battle for Leyte Gulf; and, as that day turned into the 24th, Severn entered the gulf. After daylight, she moved into San Pedro Bay. An hour later, she underwent her first air attack; and, on the 25th, began discharging fresh water.

Through the daily air attacks of the next few weeks, Severn continued to provide 7th Fleet units with water. By November, the attacks were down to two a day and were usually broken up by friendly aircraft. But, on the 24th, an enemy plane penetrated the CAP cover and released a bomb aimed at the water carrier. The bomb missed Severn, but hit PC-1124 then receiving water.

In December, Severn returned to Manus; took on more water, clothing, dry provisions, and lube oil; loaded an LCVP and 2 jeeps at Hollandia; then returned to the Philippines in time to support the landings in Lingayen Gulf. Arriving in that gulf on 13 January 1945, she distributed water and fuel oil through the 26th; then returned to San Pedro Bay. From Leyte, she proceeded back to the Admiralties; and, on 14 February, got under way for the Western Carolines.

During March, Severn filled her cargo tanks with water at Guam and offloaded at Ulithi into ships staging for the Okinawa campaign. In April, she continued to focus her operations on Ulithi, which she left only to rendezvous with 5th Fleet units at sea to return to the Marianas to refill her cargo tanks. In May, with the arrival of Ataban (AW-4) at Ulithi, she commenced roughly triangular operations which took her from the Carolines to the Admiralties to the Marianas and back to the Carolines, taking on potable water at Manus and Guam and discharging it into water carriers and small craft at Saipan and Ulithi.

In August, Severn moved up to Okinawa to discharge water to ships in Buckner Bay and in the Hagushi anchorage. After the end of hostilities, she remained at Okinawa, and (during September, October, and November) she shuttled water from Samar to the Ryukyus. In December, she carried water to distributing ships at Sasebo, Kagoshima, and Wakayama, Japan; and, on the 27th, sailed for the United States.

Severn arrived at San Pedro, Calif., on 10 January 1946. Overhaul followed; and, in May, she sailed for the Marshalls. There, into October, she provided fresh water to units of Joint Task Force 1 during Operation "Crossroads," the atomic test series conducted that summer at Bikini. She then returned to the United States; and, in December, assumed the duties of an oiler and initially transported Navy special fuel and diesel fuel between west coast ports. At mid-month, Severn sailed for Japan where she joined ServRon 3 and commenced shuttling fuel between Japanese and Korean ports. In February 1947, she was transferred to Persian Gulf runs; and, into July, moved fuel from Ras at Tannura to Yokosuka. In July, she returned to the west coast for overhaul; and, in November, resumed runs between Japan and the Persian Gulf. In May 1948, her schedule was altered; and, into September, she carried petroleum products from the Middle East to the east coast of the United States. She then returned to the Pacific; and, but for a run to Europe, she conducted Persian Gulf-Japan runs until ordered back to the United States for inactivation in January 1950.

At the end of that month, she proceeded to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for tank cleaning and voyage repairs; then, in early April, moved south to San Diego to complete inactivation. Despite the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, she was decommissioned as scheduled on 3 July but was soon reactivated again as that conflict drew available shipping into the Pacific and produced unfilled demands in other areas.

Severn was recommissioned on 29 December 1950 and, although assigned to Service Force, Atlantic, was initially employed in transpacific service. By April 1951, when she transited the Panama Canal to take up duties with the Atlantic Fleet, she had completed two runs to Japan.

Homeported at Newport, Severn operated along the east coast and in the Puerto Rican area into the fall and, in November, was deployed, for the first time, to the Mediterranean for duty with the 6th Fleet. In March 1952, she returned to Newport. During the summer, she participated in midshipman cruise "Baker;" and, in the fall, after availability and independent ship exercises, resumed participation in scheduled operations in the western Atlantic and Caribbean.

Severn returned to Newport, R.I., from her last Mediterranean deployment on 26 August 1973. On 1 July 1974, she was decommissioned and towed to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pa. The service subsequently turned her hulk over to the Maritime Commission for disposal.

Severn earned two battle stars during World War II.

Published: Wed Sep 09 07:53:33 EDT 2015