Achernar- AKA-53


A Greek river god whose name has been Achernar

The brightest star in the southern constellation Eridanus with a magnitude of .6. It is at least 200 times more luminous than the sun and one of the 10 brightest stars in the sky. It is about 118 light-years from the Earth.

(AKA-53: dp. 14,200,1. 469'2"; b. 63' dr. 26'4", s. 16.6 k., cpl. 429; a. 1 6", 8 40snm., 18 20mm.; cl. Andromeda; T. C2-S-B1)

Achernar (AKA-53) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 208) on 6 September 1943 at Kearney, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.; launched on 3 December 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Adela Rogers St. John; acquired by the Navy on 29 January 1944, and commissioned on 31 January 1944, Comdr. H. R. Stevens in command.

Following conversion and fitting out at the New York Navv Yard, the attack cargo ship got underway on 28 February and held shakedown in the Chesapeake Bay. On 13 March, she arrived at Staten Island, N.Y.—where she loaded cargo and embarked Arsny personnel for transportation to Great Britain— and stood out to sea on the 19th, with Convoy CU-18. She arrived at Swansea, Wales, on 30 March and spent the next two months transporting cargo and personnel between various ports in the United Kingdom in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

The last week in May found Achernar in Plymouth, England. On 1 June, she was designated the 1st Army's headquarters shin. On 6 June she steamed across the English Channel and, at 1609, anchored m her preassigned position in Baie de la Seine, France. For the next few days, she acted as a nerve center for troops fighting for a foothold in France. On ll June, the 1st Army's head-quarters disembarked; and, at 1148, Achernar got underway for England. After a three-day respite in Plymouth, the ship moved to Roseneath Scotland, to take on the cargo and personnel of two construction battalions. On 19 June, she returned to Plymouth to onload materials to repair damaged assault craft and, on 22 June, got underway for the assault area in France. While on station, sne underwent several enemy air attacks. The cargo ship again left the French coast on 29 June to return to England and arrived in Plymouth on 1 July. On 5 July, the ship was ordered to sail as a part of Task Group (TG) 120.6, which was bound for the Mediterranean to support the invasion of southern France. The ship entered the harbor at Oran, Algeria, on 10 July, but, six days later, sailed to Naples. After loading operations there, she switched to an anchorage at Castellamare, Italy, on 2 August. Here, she embarked personnel of the 36th Division and proceeded to sea on the 13th for the assault in southern France. On the morning of 15 August, her crew commenced discharging her cargo and sending it to the beaches. The next day, after finishing the delivery of cargo, she received casualties on board and embarked 13 German prisoners of war before getting underway at 2100 to return to Maples.

For the next two months, Achnar continued making trips from Naples and Oran to points along the southern coast of France. On 25 October, she sailed from Oran westward through the Strait of Gibraltar towards the United States. She arrived at Hampton Roads on 8 November and underwent repairs and overhaul at the Norfolk Navy Yard. On 7 December, Achernar got underway for a brief period of trials and exercises in Chesapeake Bay. The ship returned to Norfolk on 11 December, took on cargo, and got underway on 18 December. She transited the Panama Canal on Christmas Day 1944 and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 10 January 1945.

Following tactical maneuvers off Oahu from 17 to 19 January the cargo ship began loading Cargo on 12 February and put to sea on the 18th. Achernar stopped at Eniwetok on 26 February Kossol Roads on 4 March, and anchored in San Pedro Bay, Philippine Islands, from 15 to 20 March, before arriving off Okinawa on 1 April to support the seizure of that key island. At 0043 the next day, a Japanese suicide plane hit the attack cargo ship's starboard side, and, almost simultaneously, a bomb exploded on her port side. Fires broke out, and the ship began listing slightly toport. Achernar lost five crew members killed and 41 injured.

By 0100, the fires were out and the list had been corrected. At 1525, the battered ship transferred her casualties to Solace (AH-5) and proceeded to anchor off Hagushi beach, where temporary repairs began. On the morning of 3 April, Achernar moved to Kerama Retto to begin unloading her cargo. She remained at Okinawa until 19 April, when she sailed for the United States via Ulithi and Pearl Harbor. The vessel arrived at San Francisco on 13 May and began offloading ammunition and fuel. Two days later, she entered drydock for repairs and overhaul. She got underway again on 10 July for shakedown along the California coast. On 4 August, Achernar left San Francisco to return to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived a week later and immediately began discharging her cargo. She was still in Hawau when hostilities ended on the 15th. Achernar then shuttled personnel and equipment between Japan, various other Pacific islands, and took part in "Magic Carpet" operations, returning veterans to the United States.

On 28 November, Achernar arrived in Seattle. One week later S.S. H. H. Raymond collided with her during a storm. As a result of the damage she sustained in the accident, Achernar entered drydock on 22 December for repairs.

Achernar got underway again on 16 January 1946 and resumed operations between the west coast and various ports in the Far East and the Pacific. When the Military Sea Transportation Service was formed on 1 October 1949, she was one of a group of attack cargo ships selected for service in the new organization. At the outbreak of the Korean War, Achernar was completing overhaul at the Hunters Point Naval Shipvard. She got underway on 7 July 1950 and soon began unloading troops and cargo for transportation to the war zone. On the 14th, the ship joined TG 63.7 and sailed for Japan. She unloaded her cargo at kobe Sasebo, and Yokosuka. On 22 September, she left Japan and proceeded to Inchon, Korea, to support nearby ground operations.

After American forces had liberated the territory near Inchon and Seoul, elements of the 1st Marine Division and their equipment were loaded on board Achernar for landing on the east coast of Korea at Wonsan. She sailed as part of TG 90.2 and amved in Wonsan on 25 October. She unloaded her passengers and proceeded to Moji, Japan, arriving there on 31 October. There, she took on men of the 2d Infantry Division for transportation to Wonsan. Following this mission, she returned to Yokosuka on 20 November.

The attack cargo ship was then ordered to report back to the United States. She left Japan on 27 November accompanying Brush (D-745) and Mansfield (D-728) both of which had been damaged by mines—ready to assist them, if necessary. They made brief stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor before reaching San Francisco on 17 December.

Following a short availability period, Achernar went to Port Hueneme, Calif. on 18 January 1951 to onload cargo and personnel for transportation to the Aleutians. After unloading at Amchitka, she visited Adak, Whittier, Alaska, and Kodiak Island to pick up cargo to be returned to Seattle. On 17 March Achernar set course for Norfolk. She transited the Panama Canal on the 26th; paused at Morehead City, N.C., on 1 April, and finally arrived at Norfolk on 3 April. The ship was assigned to the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, and took part in various fleet exercises and cargo runs in the Caribbean and along the east coast. On 18 February 1956, Achernar was decommissioned placed m reserve; and berthed at Orange, Tex.

Achernar was placed back in commission at New Orleans on 1 September 1961. She arrived at Norfolk on 1 December 1961 and became a unit of Amphibious Squadron 6, Atlantic Fleet. Achernar held shakedown in the Caribbean and spent the remainder of her career conducting various training exercises in the Virginia capes operating area.

Achernar was placed out of commission on 1 July 1963 and transferred to the Maritime Administration. She was reacquired by the Navy on 29 January 1964 but saw no active service before she was transferred to the government of Spain on 2 February 1965. She served the Spanish Navy as Castilla (TA-21) until scrapped in 1982.

Achernar received three battle stars for World War II service and three battle stars for Korean War service.given to the largest river in Greece. Achelous—the eldest son of Oceanus and that titan's sister, Tethys—is usually depicted as a bull with a human head.

(ARL-1: dp. 4,100,1. 328', b. 50', dr. 11'2" s. 11.6 k., cpl. 255; a. 1 3", 8 40mm., 8 20mm.; cl. Achelous)

Achelous (ARL 1) was laid down as LST-l0 at Pittsburg, Pa. On 15 August 1942 by the Dravo Corp., launched on 25 November 1942; sponsored by Mrs. George F. Wolfe the wife of the chief engineer of the Dravo Corp., named Acheious and redesignated ARL 1 on 13 January 1943; and commissioned at Baltimore, Md., on 2 April 1943, Capt. B. N. Ward in temporary command.

Later that day, command of the landing craft repair ship passed to Lt. Walter Ringies. Achelous held shakedown in Chesapeake Bay; stopped at Norfolk, Va., on 22 April to take on supplies on 28 April; and sailed on the 28th with a convoy bound for North Afriea. She paused in Bermuda from 2 to 9 May and arrived in Oran, Algeria, on 26 May.

Achelous moved to Bizerte, Tunisia, on 1 June and remained there until 14 July providing varied services to landing craft. Following the Allied invasion of Sicily, Achelous moored at Licata, Sicily, from 15 July through 14 August performing repair work. She returned to Bizerte on 15 August and, in the next three days, underwent two enemy air raids. During the second raid, Achelous' guns assisted in downing two German planes.

Achelous spent one week in mid-September at Palermo, Sicily.

She got underway with Convoy UGS-19 on 16 October, reached Port Said, Egypt, on 23 October; and transited the Suez Canal on 25 October. The repair ship then headed for Massawa, Italian Eritrea, where she arrived on 31 October. The next day, she entered a British-owned floating drydock at Massawa. The ship left the drydock on 4 November and got underway for India. She arrived at Calcutta in early December and spent approximately one month providing services in the China-Burma-lndia theater.

In early 1944, Achelous left India and sailed to the Mediterranean to support operations along the Italian coast. She remained at these duties for seven months. In July, the landing craft repair ship began preparations for the assault on the southern coast of France. In mid-August, she dropped anchor off the French coast and set up a pontoon drydock to service landing craft used in the invasion. These duties occupied her through most of 1944.

Late in the year, the repair ship was reassigned to the Pacific and began her voyage via the Strait of Gibraltar and the Panama Canal to her new area of operations. She transited the Panama Canal on 7 March 1945 and proceeded to Eniwetok where she arrived on 24 April. Achelous then was assigned to support the invasion and occupation of Okinawa, her last combat operation of World War II.

Following the war, Achelous returned to the west coast. She was placed out of commission in reserve in January 1947 and berthed in the Columbia River Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Achelous' name was struck from the Navy list on 1 June 1973, and the ship was sold on 21 January 1974 to Overseas Shipyard, Ltd, of Hong Kong for scrapping.

Achelous earned two battle stars for World War II service.