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S.S. Platano at San Francisco circa 1943.
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Class: PICTOR (AF-27)
Refrig. Cargo, 1930
434.0' oa, 415.0' pp x 56.3' x 25.75 full
1-4"/50 (as merchant ship, 1942)
Machinery: Turbo-electric, 1 screw
||14 Mar 30
||22 May 44
FY 1943. PLATANO was a large United Fruit freighter built in 1930 and registered in Panama with a subordinate firm, the Balboa Shipping Co. She and her sister, MUSA, served under requisition with WSA during World War II.
On 2 Nov 42 the Navy asked the Maritime Commission for three fully refrigerated C2s for use as Fleet Provision Storeships in the South Pacific. (See OCTANS, AF-26, for full details on this request). In early 1943 COMSERVPAC stated that, instead of the proposed C2s, he would prefer ships that were only partly refrigerated, as the latter would meet the needs of the fleet to better advantage. He had previously informed the Navy Department that two partially refrigerated "banana boats" then allocated to the Army, PLATANO and MUSA, would be suitable substitutes for two of the C2s. On 18 Feb 43 the Director of the Naval Transportation Service, acting for CNO, approved the acquisition of these two ships. The Auxiliary Vessels Board endorsed this arrangement on 1 Mar 43. ULUA was soon substituted for MUSA as AF-26.
On 16 Mar 43 the Naval Transportation Service requested that PLATANO be assigned to the navy under allocation with her merchant crew pending acquisition and manning by the Navy at a later date. He noted that a quick response was required because of the vessel's present position. On 24 Mar 43 the Board indicated that this had occurred and noted that the ship could not be acquired immediately because it was required in the San Francisco-Hawaii service for the present. In preparation for the expected Navy acquisition of ULUA and PLATANO, the VCNO assigned Navy names and hull numbers to both ships on 22 Apr 43. OCTANS (ex ULUA, q.v.) was quickly acquired, but PICTOR (ex PLATANO) was never taken over. Her acquisition was cancelled on 26 May 44, probably by the same phone call as AF-17, following a decision by the Auxiliary Vessels Board on 22 May 44 that all directives for her acquisition and manning be cancelled.
||Panamanian merc. PLATANO (ID-5014, completed Jun 30). Honduran, same name, 1947. EL TORO 1965. Scrapped 1966.
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001