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Taurus I (AF-25)

(AF-25: dp. 6,600 (f.); 1. 325'3"; b. 40'4"; dr. 28'8-"; s. 13.0 k. (tl.); cpl. 114; a. 1 4", 1 3")

A zodiacal constellation represented pictorially by a bull's forequarters.


San Benito, a cargo steamer constructed in 1921 at Belfast, Ireland, by the Workman Clark Co., Ltd., was renamed Taurus and designated AF-25 on 20 August 1942; was acquired by the Navy on 2 October 1942 through the War Shipping Administration from the Balboa Shipping Co., Inc., a subsidiary of the United Fruit Co.; was converted to a provision store ship by the Bethlehem Steel Corp. yard in Alameda, Calif.; and was commissioned on 28 October 1942, Lt. Comdr. Edward T. Collins in command.

After over a month of false starts and material casualties, Taurus finally loaded cargo and departed San Francisco on 1 December. Her voyage to the South Pacific took the store ship via Pago Pago, Samoa, to Auckland, New Zealand. In the course of the trip, the former fruit carrier suffered at least 32 more engineering casualties and lost a third of her cargo due to the failure of her ice machine. Upon her arrival at Auckland, Taurus went into a five-week availability to correct as many of the deficiencies as possible before beginning her tour of duty with the Service Squadron, South Pacific Force.

She completed repairs during the first week in February 1943 and loaded cargo bound for Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands. On 9 February, she began the first of four round-trip voyages carrying cargo between Auckland and Espiritu Santo to be staged on to the forward areas.

By August, her sphere of operations was widened to include the Solomons. On each of her next six voyages, Taurus carried cargo from Auckland, via Espiritu Santo, to Guadalcanal.

Through 1944 and much of 1945, Taurus continued to ply the waters of the South Pacific on relatively uneventful supply missions. Early in 1944, she added Napier, New Zealand, and Noumea, New Caledonia, to her ports of call. By late April, she was operating as far north in the Solomons as New Georgia and Bougainville. In May and June, the store ship visited Efate, Napier, Noumea, and Espiritu Santo. July and September brought resupply runs to the Russell Islands in the Solomons. Through the end of 1944 and during the first three months of 1945, Taurus continued carrying provisions to the Solomons, primarily to Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and the Russells.

Following overhaul at Auckland from 6 March to 16 April 1945, the ship got underway for Hollandia, New Guinea. Through the end of August, all her voyages, save one to Manus in the Admiralties, were between Auckland and Hollandia. She returned to Auckland on 30 August and departed again nine days later for New Caledonia and thence to the Philippines. After a stop at Noumea between 12 and 14 September, Taurus arrived at Samar on the 25th.

From there, she began her voyage back to the United States. By 23 November, she had transited the Panama Canal and had reported for duty with the Atlantic Fleet. Though originally ordered to Norfolk, Va., she was rerouted to New Orleans. She reported to the Commandant, 8th Naval District, on 29 November 1945. On 11 December 1945, Taurus was decommissioned and returned, via the War Shipping Administration, to her owner. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 3 January 1946

Published: Fri Sep 25 11:42:21 EDT 2015