Pleiades II AK-46

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This Month in Naval History
Pleiades II AK-46

Pleiades II

(AK-46: dp. 8,185; 1. 383'2"; b. 50'11"; dr. 23'; B. 12 k.;
cpl. 42; a. 2 3")

The second Pleiades (AK-46), built in 1939 aB Mangalia for the Roumanian State Maritime Service by Cantieri Navali Riuniti, Palermo, Italy, was taken over while Iying idle at New York, 25 June 1941, by the U.S. Maritime Commission under the authority of Publie Law 101 (77th Congress) and Executive Order 8771; acquired by the Navy on a bareboat charter from WSA, 11 August 1941; renamed Pleiad e (AK-46), 3 September 1941; and commissioned 25 October 1941, Comdr. Drayton Harrison in command.

FoHowing an abbreviated shakedown, Pleiades loaded cargo at Quonset Point, R.I. and on 22 November, got underway on her first convoy run through the U boat infested waters of the North Atlantic to Ieeland. Returning to New York the day after the United States entered World War II, Pleiades completed ten more convoy runs, six to Ieeland and four to the United Kingdom by July 1943. Of those convoys, SC-107, which departed New York 24 October 1942, was the most hazardous. On 1 November, with five ships in each column, the 9 column convoy took departure from Canada for Iceland and the United Kmgdom. Shortly before 2000, a wolfpack closed the convoy, and, for almost 70 houre, struck at the columns, repeatedly scoring hits. At 1837, 4 November, they sank their last ship and departed, having sunk 15, and damaged one other.

Steaming south, 25 July 1943, Pleiades Bpellt AUgUBt, September, and October on a Brazilian run, then, in mid-November returned to the North Atlantic to pl~,, those waters again until June 1944. Converted to a genera] stores issue vessel, she joined Service Force, Atlantic, 3 July, and three weeks later departed Lynnhaven Roads for the Mediterranean.

She anchored at Naples 17 August; discharged cargo there until 2 September, then, acting as flagship for a convoy of LCI's, got underway for southern France. Eneountering a mistral enroute, ehe delivered her charges to St. Tropez, 4 September. From the 5th through the 23rd, she distributed suppHes to 8th Fleet units at St. Tropez, San Raphael, and Marseilles, then sailed to Bizerte, whence she returned to the United States, mooring at Boston 29 October.

Following alterations, Pleiades steamed to Bayonne, N.J., to load cargo for Brazil. She completed that Belem-ReeifeBahia run at New York, 12 January 1945; underwent repairs and then commenced a series of sugar runs to the Caribbean which continued until after the end of World War II. On 4 November, she arrived at New York to complete her last cargo run as a U.S. Navy ship. Decommissioned 21 November, she was returned, the same day, to the Maritime Commission, under which she resumed merchant service with the name Scepter.

Pleiades (AK-46) earned two battle stars for World War II service.


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