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USS Auriga (AK-98) on 1 April 1943
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Class: ALCOA PENNANT (AK-50) & AURIGA (AK-98)
Design: MC C1-B
Displacement (tons): 5,006 light, 12,875 lim.
Dimensions (feet): 416.0' oa x 60.0' e x 27.6' lim.
Original Armament: 1-4"/50 (1942: AK-50 as merchant ship)
Later armaments: 1-5"/51 1-3"/50 8-20mm (1943: AK-98);
1-5"/38 1-3"/50 4-40mmS 4-20mm (1945: AK-98)
Speed (kts.): 14.7
Propulsion (HP): 4,000
Machinery: Westinghouse turbine, 1 screw
||Consolidated Steel, Long B.
||25 Nov 40
||26 Jun 41
||18 Mar 43
||Consolidated Steel, Wilm.
||9 Jun 42
||7 Sep 42
||1 Apr 43
||30 Mar 42
||12 Apr 65
||22 Jan 46
||7 Feb 46
||22 Jan 46
||17 Apr 70
FY 1943 (AK-98). Technical data (except armament) are for AK-98. On 12 Dec 41 CNO informed BuShips that he had negotiated with the Maritime Commission for the indefinite time chartering of seven ships, including SS ALCOA PENNANT, a C1-B freighter, which was to be delivered to the Commandant, 12th Naval District, about 18 Dec 41 and classified as a cargo ship (AK). (Five of the other ships in this list were eventually acquired as AF 19-20 and AP 50-52.) According to a letter of 27 Dec 41 AK-50, along with AF 15-20 and AP 50-52, were to retain their original names because they were to be acquired under indefinite time charter from the Maritime Commission. (New names were requested for AP 50-52 on 1 Jan 42 when it was decided to purchase them instead.) AK-50 was shifted to an operational status on 26 Jan 42 following completion of construction. Her further acquisition and designation as AK-50 were officially cancelled on 30 Mar 42 but she was still operating in the Pacific on time charter to the Navy in September 1942 and may have so operated for the entire war.
On 24 Mar 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board noted that the success of South Pacific operations required the delivery of organized construction units (SEABEES) by Navy manned ships direct to combat zones immediately after the attacking forces and that restrictions did not permit merchant crews to go into combat areas and that valuable time was lost transshipping the units and their cargoes at rear bases. On 20 Feb 43 the VCNO had recognized this need and identified one C2 hull, HOTSPUR, as available for acquisition to transport construction unit personnel and a C1 hull, ALCOA PARTNER, as available for the delivery of construction unit cargo. Following an oral agreement between the Director, Naval Transportation Service and WSA in Washington on 15 Mar 43, VCNO on 16 Mar 43 directed the Commandant, 12th Naval District, to accept delivery of S.S. ALCOA PARTNER from WSA upon the ship's arrival at San Francisco. She was to be converted with a minimal crew and an armament of one 4" or 5" gun aft, one 3" gun forward, and 8-20mm guns. As a merchant ship, she had just received 1-3" and 5-20mm guns at San Pedro on 14 Mar 43, one day after her completion. The Navy took over the ship on 18 Mar 43. The Auxiliary Vessels Board on 24 Mar 43 ratified the actions already taken by recommending the acquisition of the two ships and their conversion to accommodate Navy crews. They became respectively USS LA SALLE (AP-102) and AURIGA (AK-98).
||Merc. ALCOA PENNANT 1941 (completed 16 Dec 41). Not acquired by the Navy, operated on indefinite time charter. To NDRF 29 Aug 63, to buyer 19 May 65, scrapped by 7 Apr 67.
||Ex merc. ALCOA PARTNER (completed 13 Mar 43). Converted by Matson Navigation Co., San Francisco, 20 Mar 43 to 6 Apr 43. Merc. ALCOA PARTNER 1946. To NDRF 1 Nov 63. To Army 17 Jun 66 for stevedore training, returned 2 Oct 68. To buyer 27 May 70, scrapped by 5 Oct 70.
Compiled: 10 Jan 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009