(AK-55: dp. 13,910 (tl.); 1. 459'2"; b. 63' dr. 26.5' (lim.); s. 16.5 k. cpl. 266; a. 1 5", 4 3" 8 .50-car.mg., 2 dep.; cl. Arcturus; T. C2-F)
Titania was laid down as Harry Culbreath under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 132) on 25 October 1941 at Kearney, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., renamed Titania and designated AK-55 on 16 February 1942, launched on 28 February 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Bennett Champ Clark acquired by the United States Navy on 27 March 1942; and commissioned on 27 May 1942, Lt. Comdr. Dale E. Collins in command.
Titania began her career plying coastal waters between New York and Norfolk during the summer of 1942. On 19 September, the new cargo vessel got underway from Hampton Roads for training in Chesapeake Bay; then, in October, she conducted landing exercises to prepare for the Allied invasion of North Africa.
Late in November, she departed Norfolk and steamed eastward to play her part in Operation "Torch." As a member of the Southern Attack Group, she arrived in the transport area eight miles from Safi around midnight on 7 November 1942. Early in the morning, a landing craft from the ship rescued the crew of a tank landing craft which had been destroyed by a gasoline explosion. In the afternoon, she entered Safi Harbor; began discharging vital equipment and stores and, 78 hours later, had unloaded her entire combat cargo. On the afternoon of 12 November, as Titania escorted by Cole (DD-155), steamed toward Fedhala German U-boat U-150 unsuccessfully attacked them. A few days later, after delivering landing craft at Fedhala, Titania steamed home.
During the first two weeks in December, Titania underwent repairs and was combat loaded at Norfolk to prepare for service in the Pacific. On 17 December she got underway from Hampton Roads in convoy steamed through the Panama Canal on Christmas Day, and arrived at New Caledonia on 18 January. During January and February, she operated out of Noumea making runs to Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal with troops and equipment.
Titania's reclassification as an attack cargo ship on 1 February 1943 changed her destination to AKA-13. In the following months, she continued to carry men and material to the Solomons. Unloading at Guadalcanal was a hazardous business for, at any time, Japanese airplanes might appear to harrass the transports or attack nearby targets ashore. Whenever this occurred, Titania got underway as her men raced to their general quarters stations. When the last raider disappeared, the ship pulled back into Port and resumed unloading. On 5 March, while the transport was steaming from Guadalcanal to New Caledonia with a load of disabled aircraft, an unidentified plane dropped three bombs unnervingly close to her-only 10 to 20 yards astern.
On 7 April, she again got underway for the Solomons. After discharging much of her cargo at Tulagi and Gavutu, the transport moved to Lunga Point to finish unloading. In May, Titania operated between Noumea and Guadalcanal and made one voyage to Efate. On the 13th, Titania witnessed an air engagement taking place over Cape Esperance as American planes intercepted Japanese raiders attempting to approach Henderson Field.
Late in May, she arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, for repairs in drydock. She returned to Noumea on 1 July and spent almost four months transporting military equipment, stores, and troops in the waters east of Australia.
In the last week of October, Titania departed Guadalcanal to rehearse the coming assault on Bougainville, the northernmost of the Solomons. On 1 November, she took part in Operation "Cherryblossom," the initial landing at Cape Torokina, Bougainville. Anchored off the beach, while unloading marines and their equipment that day, Titania twice came under air attack. During one of these raids, her guns opened up on a "Kate" which had dropped its bombs near a destroyer and then passed over the transport group. Hit by machine gun fire from the attack transport, the Japanese plane began to smoke; then splashed several miles away. By 1739 that evening, Titania had finished unloading, freeing her to depart Bougainville that night and head for Guadalcanal.
On 8 November 1943, Titania was back at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, unloading needed troops and equipment when the Japanese struck with a fullscale air raid. Shortly after noon, five different waves of three to four "Vale" each attacked the unloading transports. Fuller (AP-14) was damaged during this attack, but Titania escaped unscathed, despite three bombs which exploded nearby and one dud which barely missed the ship. Meanwhile, Titania splashed five attackers and damaged at least two more.
Throughout the remainder of 1943 and into the new year, Titania continued to operate in the Solomons. On 12 January 1944, she disembarked elements of the 12th Marines, as well as supplies and equipment for units of the American Division, then operating~ near Cape Torokina. After finishing the month with division tactical exercises off Tambunuman Beach, Guadalcanal she visited New Zealand in February before ending the month with tactical and amphibious exercises out of New Caledonia. Throughout the following months, she continued ferrying men and material in the Solomons and Bismarcks. She stopped at Kwajalein early in June and, later that month, set her course for the Marshalls.
With elements of the 3d Marine Division embarked Titania got underway from Eniwetok on 17 July bound for the assault on Guam. At 0606 on the 21st Titania was Iying to in the transport area six miles off Asan Point. Minutes later' she hoisted out her landing craft; and, at 0830, the first wave of the 3d Marine Division landed on the northwest shore of Guam between Asan and Adelun Points. The ship began unloading cargo shortly before 1000 and, for the next four days, discharged vital material, including ammunition, to support American fighting men in the bitter struggle taking place on shore. On 26 July, she departed Guam and set her course for the Marshalls, arriving at Eniwetok on 30 July.
In September, she operated out of New Guinea where the 7th Fleet was preparing for the coming assault on the Philippines. Early in October, she participated in exercises with Transport Division 6, then, on Friday, 13 October, headed for Humboldt Bay, the staging area for the impending invasion of Levte. Assigned to the Palo Attack Group, Titania entered Leyte Gulf on the morning of 20 October. At 0845, Titania began releasing her boats which carried supplies and equipment for the American Army's 24th Division. At 1400, she approached within two miles of the beach to facilitate unloading. Later in the afternoon, as the Army's Light Tanicr No. 425 came alongside Titania to help her unload, one of the tanker's machine guns accidentally discharged, making 100 holes in Titania's side and severing her degaussing cable in two places. Yet no serious damage resulted; and the next day, after discharging over 1,000 tons of cargo, the cargo ship departed Leyte Gulf, returning to New Guinea on the 27th.
After loading cargo at Humboldt Bay for the 32d Army Division, she got underway on 9 November in company with a 25-transport convoy steaming for Leyte. On 13 November, the Japanese launched four air raids at the convoy. During one of these attacks a "Jill" torpedo bomber dove out of a cloud and levelied off at 100 feet for an approach. Titania joined in the firing which soon splashed the raider. On the morning of 14 November, the ship arrived in San Pedro Bay. During the day, she unloaded supplies and equipment of the 32d Army Division and also splashed a Japanese plane which sank only 1,500 yards off her starboard bow. On 15 November, she finished discharging her cargo and departed. Early in December 1944, the transport took part in exercises in Huon Gulf, New Guinea, then anchored in Seeadler Harbor. On the last day of the year, she got underway from Manus and steamed for the Philippines in company with the Luzon Attack Force.
In the days which followed, Japan launched mass kamikaze attacks to deter this formidable invasion force. On 6 January 1945, combat air patrol (CAP) planes shot down a Japanese plane just 1,000 yards from Titania's port bow. Air activity picked up two days later as the convoy's CAP downed four ~lanes. A "Val" approached from Titania's port quarter, crossed her stern, and dropped one bomb 100 yards from the ship's port quarter and another only 50 yards off her starboard bow. Titania and other members of the convoy had taken the plane under continuous fire and finally splashed it only 100 yards off her starboard bow.
On 9 January, as Titania anchored off Crimson Beach, the Lingayen Gulf landings began. Despite a heavy cross swell which made unloading difficult, Titania serviced small craft and discharged her cargo of vehicles, ammunition, and gasoline, as well as personnel. On the 18th, she got underway for the Netherlands East Indies where she loaded supplies and equipment of the 33d Infantry Division. Throughout February and March, she continued to support ground forces in the Philippines.
On 17 April, Titania began loading supplies and equipment for Australia's 26th Infantry Brigade (Reinforced). She got underway on 27 April for the assault on Tarakan Island and arrived off Yellow Beach on P-day, 1 May. Titania's first shore parties discovered soft, sticky, mud beaches and a 10-foot tidal range, both of which slowed and hampered unloading efforts. Finding the pier badly burned but its supporting structure intact, Titania sent a work party ashore to obtain logs to restore the pier to usable condition. Seventy tons of bridge planking from the transport's hold completed the repair job and made it possible for trucks to load from the pier at four hatches. Under these improved conditions, Titania discharged the materials, engineering equipment, and supplies needed to construct and operate an airfield at Tarakan by the 9th. She retired toward Morotal that day and remained at anchor there throughout the rest of the month.
In early June, the veteran attack transport was again underway, this time with elements of the 9th Australian Division of the Australian I Corps on board, bound for Brunei Bay. On 10 June, Z-day, the transport arrived off the "Oboe Six" assault area and unloaded her cargo despite a surprise air attack by a Japanese "Nick" which dove out of low clouds and dropped a bomb which exploded some 300 yards off her port beam. Titania departed Brunei Bay on the following afternoon.
After loading an Australian division at Morotal, Titania engaged in rehearsals for the coming preoccupation of Balikpapan. She arrived off the coast of Borneo on 1 July to unload units of the Australian I Corps and members of Company "A," United States Engineering Boat and Shore Regiment. Anchored in the transport area, the ship did not come under fire, although her landing boats were fired on by mortars and machine guns as they landed their cargoes on Red Beach. Titania unloaded 575 tons of cargo, including high explosives, and departed Balikpapan at 1930 the same day.
Throughout the remainder of July, Titania was at anchor at Morotal. On 30 July, she got underway and visited San Pedro Bay, Leyte, and Ulithi, before steaming for the Hawaiian Islands. At Pearl Harbor, she loaded LVT's (track landing vehicles) for shipment to the United States, embarked personnel, and departed on 22 August.
After more than two and one-half years in foreign waters, the veteran arrived at Bremerton, Wash., on 30 August for overhaul which lasted through the end of October.
In the early months of 1946, Titania operated out of California ports, then steamed to Samar, arriving on 1 March. She remained in the Philippines until May when she returned to the west coast for repairs. Throughout the next two years, she continued to shuttle between the west coast of the United States and the islands of the Pacific, carrying cargoes to occupation forces. In September 1948, she departed Pearl Harbor and proceeded via the Panama Canal to the east coast arriving at Yorktown, Va., on 6 November. She again passed through the Panama Canal in December en route to Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan. On 16 March 1949, she arrived at San Francisco and remained through the spring and summer, operating in coastal and Alaskan waters.
In October 1949, she was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service but retained her commissioned status and Navy crew.
When fighting broke out in Korea on 25 June 1950, Titania was at Yokohama. Early in July, she carried troops and cargo from Naha to Pusan; then returned to Japan to embark marines and troops of the 1st Cavalry Division for the assault on Pohang. Underway on 16 July, the darkened ship crossed the Japanese Inland Sea and passed between Kyushu and Honshu through the Shimonoseki Strait, arriving off the assault area at 0415 on 18 July. Debarkation was uneventful and, by 2225, her landing craft had returned to the ship, their mission completed. Titania remained anchored at Geitjetsu Wan until 23 July when she got underway for Yokosuka.
Following the Pohang operation, the transport returned to the United States, arriving at San Diego on 7 August. There, she began taking on ammunition and marine cargo; but, in the early hours of 15 August, before the loading had been completed, a fire broke out in her number 1 boiler. Within three hours, the fire was brought under control, but the damage incurred required two weeks of repairs. It was 3 September before Titania got underway for Japan. As she crossed the Pacific, she skirted Typhoon Missantha, encountering 53-knot winds before she arrived at Kobe on 21 September.
On 25 September, only 10 days after the initial landings at Inchon, Titania arrived off that port to unload marines, equipment, and ammunition, and to embark members of the 1st Naval Beach Group. Although Titania did not come under fire, frequent alerts and the sights and sounds of night shore bombardment made this a tense operation. Her mission completed, Titania departed Inchon on 1 October. She made additional voyages to Inchon and Wonsan carrying combat cargo before getting underway from Yokohama on 17 November 1950 for San Francisco.
Until the signing of the armistice on 27 July 1953, Titania continued to carry men and material between American ports and the Far East. Much of her time was spent rearming and provisioning ships at sea in the waters off Korea. Rough seas, rain, and snow hampered the ship's operations during the winter months, taxing the resilience and resourcefulness of her crew on many
occasions. Following the cessation of hostilities in the summer of 1953, Titania remained in the Far East operating out of Japanese ports and in Korean waters until February 1954 when she returned to San Francisco.
On 15 July 1954, she departed San Francisco steaming, via the Hawaiian Islands and Japan, for the Philippines. She operated out of Subic Bay until October when she visited Hong Kong and Sasebo before getting underway from Japan on 6 November. After spending the early months of 1955 in California ports, Titania was decommissioned on 19 July 1955. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1961.
She received seven battle stars for World War II service and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation seven times. She also received seven battle stars for Korean service.