Rainier II AE-5

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This Month in Naval History
Rainier II AE-5

Ranier II

(AE-5: dp. 13,876 (f.~; 1. 459'; b. 63', dr. 25'10", s. 15.5 k. cpl. 281; a. 1 5", 4 3", 4 40mm., 10 20mm.; el. Lassen T. C2-T Cargo)

The second Rainier (AE-5) was laid down on 14 May 1940 by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Tampa, Fla., as Rainbow (MC hul1 1244; launched I March 1941, sponsored by Mrs. Robert E. Anderson; transferred to the Navy 16 April 1941 converted for use as an ammunition auxiliary, and commissioned as Rainier (AE-5) on 21 December 1941 at Norfolk Va., Capt. William W. Meek in command

After a 6-week shakedown in Cuban waters, Rainier transited the Panama Canal and reported to Commander Service Foree, Pacific Fleet. Between February and May 1942, she made two ammunition runs from Port Chicago Calif., to Pearl llarbor, whence, on 10 May, she steamed for Tongatabu. There through the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, she offloaded her cargo for transfer to shore depots and issued ammunition to Allied ships, particularly task forces 18, 15, and 16. At the end of July, she shifted to the Fijis to supply ships preparing for Operation "Watchtower," the assault on the Solomons. Then, on 5 August, she continued on to Noumea, New Caledonia, where she remained through the initial phases of the Guadaleanal campaign.

On 24 September Rainier moved southeast to Auckland and on the 27th headed back to the United States. For the remainder of the year and into 1943, she made ammunition and general cargo runs hetween the west coast and Hau-aii. At the end of February she sailed onee more for the South Pacific

She arrived at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 17 March and remained until 5 May. She then shifted to Efate where she offloaded her remaining torpedoes and ammunition took on empty shel1 eases and damaged ammunition, and un the 14th got underway to return to San Francisco and another 5 months of west coast-Hawaii shuttle operations.

On 25 October, she headed haek to Efate. Arriving on 11 November, just prior to the Gilbert Islands campaign, she discharged general and ammunition cargo in Havannah Harbor into December. On the 21st, she shifted to Espiritu Santo, thence proceeded to Funafuti in the Elliee group. There she issued ammunition to ships of the fast carrier forces, to the defense forces of the occupied areas, and to the forres preparing for the Marshalls offensive.

On 31 January 1944, Majuro was occupied and u-ork was begun to turn the atoll into a major advance base. Rainier arrived in the lagoon three day later. In mid April she returned to San Francisco. At the end of May, she uas hack at Majuro to rearm thc fast carrier forces prior to strikes supporting the initial assault on Saipan. On 11 June, as the assault force moved toward Saipan, Rainier shifted to Eniwetok, whence, in mid-July, she steamed to Saipan. On 30 Julv she sailed east again, completed an abbreviated overhaul at San Francisco, filled her holds at Port Chicago
and returned to 1,Einetok on 31 Octoher.

The Philippine campaign had started and the fast carrier forces were striking at Japanese positions and shipping from Indoehina to the Ryukyus. Rainier moved west, to the western Carolines. On 5 November she arrived at Ulithi where she remained until after Okinawa operations uere weli underway. On 25 May 1945, the ammunition ship headed for the Philippines, where she served the Allies from the 28th until after the signing of the surrender documents.

Assigned to support occupation forces, Rainier steamed for Okinawa in mid September. On 6 December she sailed for the United States, arriving at Port Angeles, Wash., on the 23d. With the new year, 1946, she began preparations for inactivation. In the spring she shifted to San Diego; decommissioned there on 30 August, and was berthed with the Pacific Reserve Fleet through the end of the decade.

In June 1950 the North Korean Army crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded the Republie of South Korea. United States and other United Nations forces deployed to bolster South Korean forces attempting to slow the advance of the Communists. Supplies, however, were inadequate. Munitions depots in the Far East and in Micronesia were limited in quantity and type. Mount Katmai was the only ammunition ship active in the Pacific.

Ammunition facilities on the west coast were expanded. As MSTS and the Maritime Administration were pressed for cargo space, reserve fleet ships were ordered activated.

Rainier recommissioned 25 May 1951, but remained in the eastern Pacific for 6 months. On 3 November she sailed west.

Through December of that year and into the summer of 1952, she operated out of Sasebo, carrying her vital cargo to replenishment areas off the coast of the embattled Korean peninsula and to shore facilities at Pohang and Pusan. In September she returned to California for overhaul, but was back in Korean waters to resupply United Nations naval forces in early February 1953.

The end of July 1953 brought an uneasy truce, and in August Rainier headed back to the United States. In November, however, she returned to the Far East on her first peacetime, 6-month WestPae deployment. Through 1955 her annual deployments included shuttle runs between Japanese ports and 7th Fleet replenishment areas in waters off Japan and Korea. In 1956 her operating schedule was expanded and into the 1960's included operations in the Philippine area out of Subie Bay.

In 1964, as the war in Vietnam expanded, Subie Bay became the focal point of Rainier's 7th Fleet support activities. There when the Tonkin Gulf crisis ocourred, 4-5 August, she put to sea immediately and steamed to the gulf to rearm carriers condueting strikes on North Vietnamese bases.

For the next months, Rainier operated between Subie Bay and replenishment areas off Vietnam. In late October, she sailed for Japan and in December she arrived back at her homeport, Concord, Calif. In the late spring of 1965, she resumed 7th Fleet operations and by Januarv 1966 had transferred at sea almost 12,000 tons of ammunition, 83 tons of freight, and 11,500 pounds of mail. In February she returned to Coneord. In April, she moved to San Francisco for overhaul and, in August, began refresher training Wit]l new equipment aboard which increased her underway replenishment capabllitles.

In Fehruary 1967, Rainier resumed her annual deployments to provide underway logistic support to the 7th Fleet. By 16 September, the date of her last at-sea munitions transfer on that tour she had transferred 13,000 tons during 204 underway repienishments.

Departing Subic Bay on 25 September for her homeport Rainier touched at Yokosuka, and Pearl Harbor before arriving at Coneord on 25 October. Throughout the remainder of 1967 and the first half of 1968, Rainier conducted independent underway replenishment exercises and participated in fleet exercises along the southern California coast.

On 29 June she departed Coneord for the western Pacific arriving at Subie Bay on 21 July. Following a week in port Rainier got underway for her first replenishment cycle. It was during this first eyele that she was awarded the Battle Effieienev "E" for fiscal year 1968. On 21 Novemher, during her sixth line year, Rainier established her best underway replenishment record by transferring 826 tons to Camden (AOE-2) in a 5-hour period. By the end of the year the converted World `War II C-2 cargo ship had transferred more than 11,000 tons in support of carriers, their escorts, and SAR vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin and to gunfire support and coastal surveillance units operating along South Vietnam's coast.

Rainier returned to Coneord in February 1969 and following 6 months of operations along the west coast, onee again deployed for the western Pacific. Upon completion of her last tour off Vietnam in January 1970, Rainier sailed for home and preparation for inactivation. She was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list on 7 August ]970.

Rainier (AE-5) earned four battle stars during the Korean Conflict and eight off Vietnam.


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