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Zeus I (ARB-4)

1944-1973

I

(ARB-4: displacement 3,960 (limiting); length 328'0"; beam 50'0"; draft 11'2" (limiting); speed 11.6 knots (trial); complement 254; armament 1 3-inch, 8 40 millimeter, 8 20 millimeter; class Aristaeus)

LST-132 was laid down on 17 June 1943 at Seneca, Ill., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co.; launched on 26 October 1943; and sponsored by Mrs. C. A. Brown, wife of Lt. C. A. Brown, USNR, who was assigned to the shipyard. With the reallocation of the ship to carry out battle damage repairs, the ship was named Zeus on 4 November 1943 and reclassified as ARB-4.  The Maryland Drydock Co., Baltimore, Md. carried out the conversion work, and Zeus was commissioned at her conversion yard on 11 April 1944, Lt. William C. Groves in command.

12_12_2015 19LCM66068 Zeus in Chesapeake Bay off Md DDCo  Baltimore MD 18 Apr 44
Three-quarter bow view of Zeus underway, 18 April 1944, one week after commissioning. Note shielded 40 millimeter Bofors mount forward, and the ship’s distinctive tank landing ship origins. (U.S. Navy Photograph 19-LCM-66068, Bureau of Ships [19-LCM] Collection, Still Pictures Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)
12_12_2015 19LCM66069 Zeus off Md DDCo Baltimore MD 18 Apr  44 crop
View from off Zeus’s starboard quarter, 18 April 1944. Note single 3-inch/50 caliber gun at stern on the centerline, with a quadruple 40 millimeter Bofors mount in the superfiring position just forward of it. Also note motor launch (instead of the usual landing craft) in the boat davits, king post and boom forward on the starboard side. (U.S. Navy Photograph 19-LCM-66069, Bureau of Ships [19-LCM] Collection, Still Pictures Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

Shifting to Port Covington, Baltimore, on 16 April 1944 to take on supplies and fuel, Zeus reported to Commander Amphibious Training, Atlantic Fleet, on 23 April for shakedown. She sailed for the Naval Operating Base (NOB), Norfolk, on the 24th, and calibrated her radio direction finder en route. After taking on ammunition and supplies at NOB Norfolk (26 April), the ship depermed at Lambert’s Point, Norfolk, the following day (27 April), then began her shakedown on the 28th, conducting an eight-hour full power run on the 29th.

Anchoring off Cove Point, Solomons Island, Md., on 30 April 1944, Zeus carried out short range battle practice in Chesapeake Bay, firing at a moored sled target, her gun crews putting the weapons through their structural tests on 3 May, and conducted antiaircraft practice the next day. She then proceeded to the Norfolk Navy Yard on the 5th for scheduled work.

Underway once more on 11 May 1944, Zeus fueled at Craney Island, Va., the following day, and the following morning received ammunition from a lighter moored alongside. She returned to NOB Norfolk and moored later that day. She took on board supplies and provisioned from the Naval Supply Depot, Norfolk, then reported to the Commander Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, for duty and for onward routing, on 14 May.

A little over a half hour after the start of the afternoon watch on 16 May 1944, Zeus got underway in company with the internal combustion engine repair ship Oahu (ARG-6), and the submarine chaser SC-706, their escort. The ships joined convoy 435, encountering a moderate sea on the beam that caused Zeus to roll quickly to 30 degrees. The convoy reached Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without incident at 1743 on 22 May, then sailed less than 24 hours later with convoy GZ-62, setting course for Panama.

Zeus made arrival at Cristobal, Canal Zone, late on the morning of 27 May 1944, then transited the Panama Canal. The next day, she reported to Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet for duty and Commander Panama Sea Frontier for onward routing. On the morning of the 29th, Zeus sailed for San Diego, Calif., in company with Oahu. During the passage, a moderate sea on the beam again prompted the battle damage repair ship to roll – on this occasion to 35 degrees. On 5 June, Zeus fired an antiaircraft practice at balloons released by Oahu, then released balloons so that her consort could conduct firing later that same afternoon.

Reaching her destination on 10 June 1944, Zeus reported to Commandant Eleventh Naval District for onward routing. She fueled the next day, then shifted moorings the next morning, taking on fresh water and stores. She got underway on the morning of the 14th, sailing in company with Oahu, with the latter’s captain, senior to Zeus’s, becoming officer in tactical command (OTC). The next afternoon, the latter’s reversing course left Zeus to proceed independently, but Oahu rejoined Zeus on the afternoon of 19 June, and the two ships proceeded together to their destination.

Arriving at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, early on the afternoon on 23 June 1944, Zeus reported to Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet (ComServPac), for duty, and received assignment to Service Squadron (ServRon) 2. Shifting to Ten-Ten Dock during the first dog watch the following day to begin a 48-hour availability, the battle damage repair ship loaded stores and provisions during that period, and received fresh water, ultimately sailing in convoy 4032A late in the afternoon watch on 27 June, setting course for the Marshall Islands. The ships proceeded toward Eniwetok, zig-zagging for an hour (1600-1700) on 1 July, and crossed the International Date Line at midnight on 3 July, advancing the calendar date to 4 July. The assemblage steered zig-zag courses again, beginning at 0800 on 4 July and ending at 1900 the following day, then began zig-zagging again one hour later (2000) on the 5th.

During the forenoon watch on 6 July 1944, however, an escort on the port side of the convoy obtained a sound contact, the alarm prompting the ships to make an emergency 45 degree turn to starboard at 1053. Zeus went to general quarters at 1056, after which time an escort dropped depth charges at 1057. The battle damage repair ship resumed her original base course at 1113, then secured from general quarters seven minutes later. The convoy resumed zig-zagging (1130-1530), suspended steering those courses for a brief period while one escort and two ships from the group left on duty assigned (1540), then again began steering zig-zag courses twenty minutes later, with Zeus being ordered to assume a new position at 1615. The passage proceeded uneventfully for a little over an hour, before an escort ahead of the disposition made a sound contact at 1716, with general quarters being sounded again, with the convoy steering another emergency 45 degree turn to starboard. Subsequently, the disposition resumed steering zig-zag courses at 1730, with Zeus standing down from general quarters two minutes later. The convoy continued its zig-zagging until noon on 8 July, then reached Eniwetok a little less than four hours later. Steering various courses and speeds to conform to the channel, Zeus anchored in berth 526 in the central anchorage at 1845.

The following day [9 July 1944], in compliance with orders received from ComServPac, Zeus reported to Commander ServRon 10 for duty. She shifted berths within the central anchorage that afternoon, dropping anchor in berth 562, then on 15 July set about her work, carrying out repair work for her first three vessels: the infantry landing craft LCI-371, the motor minesweeper YMS-385, and the tank landing ship LST-38. Zeus shifted her berth to M-8 on the 16th, doing repairs for the escort carriers White Plains (CVE-66) and Corregidor (CVE-58), then moved back to the central anchorage (berth 563) on the 18th, where she soon began repairs on the old tug Ontario (ATO-13) and a landing craft (vehicle and personnel) LCV(P). For the remainder of the month, the ship carried out work on a variety of vessels ranging from two submarine chasers (SC-775 and SC-670) to three pontoon barges and a pair of target rafts.

Zeus’s first full month of work at Eniwetok (August 1944) found her interrupted by Flash Red alerts that sent the ship to general quarters twice (0405-0428 on 5 August and a fortnight later, on 19 August, from 2225-2250). The rest of her time that month continued to be occupied with repairs to 42 ships and small craft that ranged from the heavy cruiser New Orleans (CA-32), the destroyer escorts Cloues (DDE-265), Parks (DE-165), Riddle (DE-185) and Fair (DE-35), and the minesweeper Captivate (AM-156), to four LCV(P)s and five target rafts. During September, from her anchorage in berth 563 during the first half of the month, Zeus’s work encompassed not only a tank landing ship, LST-684, but one of that ship’s LCV(P)s as well, and ranged from 110-foot submarine chasers SC-759 and SC-775, 136-foot submarine chaser PCS-1457 and the 173-foot submarine chasers PC-1127 and PC-1135, to the big harbor tug Waneta (YTB-384), the water barge YW-88 and the garbage lighter YG-30. Zeus shifted to berth 579, still in the waters of Eniwetok’s central anchorage, where, outside of a Flash Red that sent her to general quarters (1553-1604) on 21 September, she continued her toil, her customers ranging from the minesweeper Vigilance (AM-324) and salvage vessel Preserver (ARS-8) to 12 LCV(P)s and three medium landing craft (LCM), one of which belonged to the cargo ship Ascella (AK-137).

Remaining anchored in berth 579 into the month of October 1944, as the fleet prepared for the return to the Philippine Islands in the invasion of Leyte, Zeus provided repairs to ships and craft that ranged from minesweeper Capable (AM-155), fleet ocean tug Lipan (ATF-85), and net-laying ship Mahogany (AN-23) to small coastal transports APc-110 and APc-111, the seaplane wrecking derrick YSD-36 and U.S. Army Crash Boat 20989. Shifting to Eniwetok’s south anchorage (berth K-1) at the end of the afternoon watch on 14 October, the battle damage repair ship conducted work on 26 vessels ranging from six 173-foot submarine chasers and three 110-footers, the miscellaneous auxiliary Gemsbok (IX-117) and big harbor tug Oconostota (YTB-375) to two U.S. Army crash boats and the Army small tug LT-392, during the second half of the month.

The first half of November 1944 proceeded without incident, Zeus continuing her vital repair work to units of the fleet – three dozen all told -- from large to small, including six motor minesweepers and eight 173-foot submarine chasers. On 17 November, however, an hour before the end of the mid watch, the wind increased in velocity to 15-20 knots – the ship would clock those during the rest of the day but occasionally reached 45 knots for brief periods of time – and by the end of the morning watch (0800) Zeus, with PC-600, old ocean tug Keosanqua (ATO-38), transport Gemini (AP-75), and non-self-propelled covered lighter YF-385 moored alongside to starboard at the time -- was dragging her anchor.  PC-600 got underway and cast off immediately. Zeus employed her engines “to ease [the] strain on the chain” until Gemini’s black gang lit off her propulsion plant, permitting her to get underway, too. Zeus shifted back to K-1, anchoring at 1350. 

Zeus’s clientele expanded to include the steel-hulled floating dry dock AFD-21 – the type suitable for docking minesweepers (AM) and net-laying ships (AN) – as well as to the concrete-hulled storage barge Lignite (IX-162), during the first week of December 1944. At the end of that period, the battle damage repair ship got underway for the first extended period of time – albeit brief – since her arrival at Eniwetok. She upped anchor and fired antiaircraft practices, her gunners on all of her battery, from 3-inch to 40- and 20-millimeter weapons, firing at towed sleeves twice on 7 December and once the following day, before she returned to K-1 at 1059 on the 8th. Her customers ranged from the destroyer Meade (DD-602), seven destroyer escorts of various types and classes, to miscellaneous auxiliaries (IX), four 173-foot submarine chasers, motor minesweepers, floating dry dock AFD-19, and the War Shipping Administration EC-2-type cargo vessel Philip Livingston, a total of 37 vessels.

The ship’s workload clearly reflected the pace of the war, such as the invasion of Luzon, and of the many types and classes of naval vessels involved as the New Year 1945 began. During January 1945, Zeus’s skilled specialists forged ahead through work on 77 ships of 21 different types and classes, the most numerous being destroyer escorts (11), followed by tank landing ships (9) and 173-foot submarine chasers (PCs) (8). Small craft serviced included 11 LCMs. She also provided repairs to three War Shipping Administration (WSA) Victory Ships, and the WSA, U.S.-registry troop ship Cape Newenham.

During February 1945, Zeus serviced 108 naval vessels of 34 different types, including battleship New York (BB-34) and aircraft carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17), the most numerous vessels needing repairs being destroyer escorts (17), wooden hulled motor minesweepers (14), 173-foot submarine chasers (13) and tank landing ships (8). Some 18 WSA ships required varying degrees of work as well. Toward the end of that month, Lt. Groves, Zeus’s commanding officer, assumed the duties of ComServRon 10 representative and administrative senior officer present afloat (SOPA) at Eniwetok, relieving Oahu’s commanding officer of those responsibilities, on 24 February.

Zeus provided repairs to 35 different types of U.S. Navy ships and craft, totaling 81 vessels, during March 1945. The more numerous of those included 22 173-foot submarine chasers (in addition to 11 of the 110-foot wooden class), 22 tank landing craft (LCT), 15 destroyer escorts, 15 motor minesweepers, 14 fleet minesweepers and ten LSTs. In addition, 39 WSA ships received repairs, as did one U.S. Army inter-island freighter, FS-374.

As the war moved closer to the Japanese homeland with the invasion of Okinawa, during April 1945, Zeus performed repairs to 101 U.S. Navy vessels of 31 different types (the most numerous type of ship being destroyer escorts – 13 – and 11 PCs) in addition to 18 WSA ships. Early in that month, on 8 April, Oahu’s commanding officer relieved Zeus’s Lt. Groves as administrative SOPA at Eniwetok. Two days later, the ship shifted her anchorage from J-3 to L-3, and on 21 April, in compliance with orders from ComServRon 10, reported to Commander Marshalls-Gilberts Area for temporary duty.

During May 1945, Zeus serviced 69 U.S. Navy ships and craft, representing 28 different types, from berth L-3, in addition to seven WSA vessels. In June, the battle damage repair ship worked on 74 naval ships and craft, 27 types ranging from nine PC, seven YMS, and six DE, to a transport and a non-self-propelled floating workshop (YR), in addition to 11 WSA vessels and one small U.S. Army tug. During July, still lying anchored in berth L-3, Zeus repaired 82 U.S. Navy ships, nine WSA and one small U.S. Army freighter, FS-230.  On 2 July, ComServDiv 102 (formerly ComServRon 10 Representative ABLE) assumed duties as the administrative SOPA at Eniwetok, in Argonne (AG-31), and Zeus reported to ComServDiv 102 one week later, on 9 July, for temporary operational control.

The relentless pressure upon the Japanese Empire continued into August 1945, while Zeus continued her work out of Eniwetok, shifting her anchorage from L-3 to berth 552 on the 13th. In the wake of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan finally agreed to the terms put forth in the Potsdam Declaration, and indicated its willingness to surrender. The end of hostilities, however, meant no cessation of the repair ship’s work, and during the month of August her artificers toiled on 67 vessels of 21 types, the most numerous being infantry landing craft (LCI) – 13 of them  – in addition to 30 medium landing craft (LCM) from the local boat pool.

With the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945, however, Zeus’s workload decreased to 39 naval vessels of 16 types, the most numerous being barracks ships (APL) – seven in all, with no WSA or U.S. Army vessels worked-on. During October, Zeus conducted work on 41 ships of 23 types, in addition to the marine railway at Parry Island and a British ship, HMS Letitia. Also during that month, Zeus entered the floating dry dock ARD-30 for a brief period of repairs (22-23 October), returning to berth 552 to resume her work. In November, the battle damage repair ship worked on 45 naval vessels (the most numerous again being APLs) and two WSA ships, shifting her berth twice, to berth 564 on 5 November and back to L-3 on the 12th.

Zeus departed Eniwetok a little over an hour into the forenoon watch on 6 December 1945, set course for the west coast of the United States. After a “quiet and uneventful” passage, the battle damage repair ship reached San Pedro Bay, Calif., on Christmas morning 1945, finding “various units of the United States Fleet, local defense craft, and merchantmen…” there. She reported her arrival to Commander Western Sea Frontier, Commandant Eleventh Naval District, and Commander Naval Base, Terminal Island. Her repair work in December had encompassed only four ships:  the destroyer Hyman (DD-732), cargo ship Hidalgo (AK-189) and two barracks ships, APL-47 and APL-2.

Zeus remained at San Pedro through mid-March 1946, spending part of that time providing repairs to a quartet of destroyer escorts – Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360), Rombach (DE-364), Gentry (DE-349) and Traw (DE-350). Shifting to the Ammunition Depot at Seal Beach, Calif., on 19 March, she discharged ammunition there until the following morning, at which point she got underway again and proceeded to San Diego. Assigned to the 19th [Reserve] Fleet, Zeus remained at San Diego, ultimately moored at the Naval Repair Base there, for the remainder of her commissioned service.  

On 30 August 1946, as she lay alongside the internal combustion engine repair ship Culebra Island (ARG-7), Zeus was placed out of commission and berthed at San Diego with the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained in reserve until 1 June 1973 at which time her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.  

Commanding Officers                                                          Date Assumed Command

Lt. William C. Groves                                                             11 April 1944

Lt. Eugene A. O’Brien                                                           14 June 1946

Robert J. Cressman

6 March 2016

Published: Mon Mar 07 14:52:49 EST 2016