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USS Aldebaran (AF-10) at San Francisco on 3 October 1943.
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Class: ALDEBARAN (AF-10)
MC C2-Cargo (N. News)
6,051 light, 13,860 lim.
459.25' oa, 435.0' pp x 63.0' e x 25.8' lim.
1-5"/51 4-3"/23 (1941)
Later armaments: 1-5/51 4-3/23 4-20mm (1942);
1-5"/51 4-3"/50 4<10-20mm (1942-43);
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 10>6-20mm (1943-47); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 4-20mmT (1949-51);
4-3/50 (1957); 2-3/50 (1963-65)
Machinery: Newport News turbine, 1 screw
||22 Dec 40
||Newport News SB & DD
||28 Nov 38
||21 Jun 39
||14 Jan 41
||28 Jun 68
||1 Jun 73
||30 Jun 69
||14 Nov 74
FY 1941. On 27 Sep 33 the Secretary of the Navy wrote to the Navy's General Board, stating that the latest military characteristics of naval auxiliaries had been drawn up in 1914-1917 and directing that these characteristics be brought up to date in preparation for the impending expansion of the combatant fleet. Provision storeships (AF) were among the eight types of large auxiliaries that had been built during World War I, and on 8 Jan 35 the General Board promulgated new characteristics that called for a twin-screw AF with a sustained speed of 16.5 knots, an endurance of 12,000 miles at 15 knots, and an armament of four 5-inch or 6-inch single purpose guns. The ship was to carry 1,200,000 rations with refrigerated, chilled, and dry provision holds allocated in proportion to the normal ration. However the new construction auxiliaries of the 1930s were intended mainly to support the expanding peacetime fleet, and a combination of limited funding and low priority relative to other auxiliaries kept AF's out of the annual peacetime building programs.
The Navy's war plans called for wartime requirements for auxiliaries to be handled by conversions of merchant ships rather than by new construction, and as the world crisis deepened the Navy turned to its extensive prewar mobilization studies of the U. S. merchant marine for new AF's. As of February 1940 the most attractive options on the Navy's list of candidates for conversion to AF were twelve new C2's then being built by the Maritime Commission. (The ships that became the AF-12 class were then earmarked for conversion to ammunition ships). On 20 Jun 40 the Navy sent the Maritime Commission a list of 18 auxiliaries including one Provision Store Ship that it wanted to obtain from the merchant marine. It stated that, for the AF, any C2 vessel equipped with refrigerated space would be acceptable, but that it preferred steam propulsion. Upon conversion, the ship was to have 95,000 cubic feet of insulated and chilled spaces plus 50,000 cubic feet of refrigerated spaces. This conversion was included in a large group of auxiliaries whose construction or acquisition was directed on 5 Aug 40 in the 70% Expansion Program (the second increment of the Two Ocean Navy mobilization effort) along with many combatant ships. Subsequently, the Maritime Commission told the Navy that, while it had been able to find a refrigerated C2 to fill the Navy's October 1940 requirement (see AF-11), it could not make available another refrigerated C2 for the August requirement and proposed that the Navy acquire instead an older United Fruit vessel. The Navy insisted that only a C2 would do, and the matter dragged on until a non-refrigerated C2 was finally arranged for in December. She was one of the early C2's designated C2-Cargo by the MC.
ALDEBARAN was accepted on 26 Dec 40 and placed in commission in ordinary the same date for conversion at the Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Cal. However on 27 Dec 40 the Commandant, 12th Naval District informed CNO that an urgent need had arisen for a ship to transport defense material to Samoa and suggested that ALDEBARAN be used for this purpose before conversion. Moore agreed as material for the conversion could be collected while the ship was operating, and the ship was commissioned on 14 Jan 41 after minimal conversion work. A voyage to Hawaii followed the Samoa trip, and the ship was finally converted by Moore between April and October 1941. The principal modifications made during conversion were insulating three holds and installing six units of refrigerating equipment for them, rearranging living spaces for a naval crew of 210 men, installing a new water distilling plant, and providing gun foundations and boat stowage and handling equipment. Her stack was to have been raised 10 feet. Her initial armament of 1-5"/51 and 4-3"/23 was installed in September 1941.
In April 1945 ALDEBARAN was equipped for replenishment at sea, a capability which helped keep her in service without interruption until 1968.
||Ex merc. STAG HOUND (ID-4997E, completed Dec 39). Converted by Moore DD, Oakland, Cal. (in commission in ordinary there for conversion 26 Dec 40). To NDRF 29 Oct 68, to buyer 6 Dec 74.
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2000