A star—frequently spelled AlChiba—in the constellation Carvi.
(AK-23: dp. 14,125; 1. 459'1"; b. 63', dr. 26'5", s. 16.5 k., cpl. 356; a. l 5", 4 3", 4 .50 cal. mg.; cl. Arcturus; T. C2)
Marmacdove was laid down under a Maritime-Commission contract (MC hull 21) on 15 August 1938 at Chester Pa., by the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; launched on 6 July 1939; sponsored by Miss Alice W. Clement, owned by operated by the MooreMcCormack Lines, acquired by the Navy oh 2 June 1941, renamed Alchiba the next day and simultaneously designated AK-23; converted by the Boston Navy Yard for naval service as a cargo ship; and placed in commission at Boston on 15 June 1941, Comdr. Allen P. Mullinix in command.
Alchiba was assigned to the Naval Transportation Service and sailed to Charleston, S. C., for shakedown training. She then carried out training exercises along the east coast through early October and sailed—via Quonset Point, R.I.—for Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take on cargo and personnel for transportation to Iceland. She departed Halifax on 22 October and reached Reykjavik, Iceland, on 31 November. The vessel discharged cargo there before sailing back to the United States. She reached New York City on 26 December, was briefly drydocked there for repairs, and got underway again on 11 January 1942.
The ship arrived at Charleston—via Norfolk, Va.—on the 19th took on supplies and equipment destined for the Pacific theater and set sail on 27 January. She transited the Panama Canal on 2 February; joined the Base Force, Pacific Fleet; and continued on to the Society Islands. Alchiba reached Bora Bora on the 17th and began discharging her cargo. She departed that port on 14 March and shaped a course for Chile. She reached Antofagasta Chile, on 29 March and took on a load of ingot and electrolytic copper. After transiting the Panama Canal on 8 April, the cargo ship arrived back in New York City on 19 April and unloaded her cargo.
One week later, Alchiba moved to Charleston and underwent a period of repairs and alterations. She resumed duty late in May and sailed for Hampton Roads to take on cargo and personnel destined for service in the South Pacific. The ship then got underway on 10 June, transited the Panama Canal on the 17th, and reached Wellington, New Zealand, on 11 July.
The vessel was assigned to Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, and became a member of Transport Division 10. On 22 July, she sailed for Koro Island, Fiji Islands, to participate in amphibious landing exercises—the rehearsal for the first American assault landing in the Pacific theater. Upon completing this training, she embarked marines and filled her holds with ammunition, amphibious tractors, gasoline, and general supplies and got underway for operations in the Solomon Islands. The vessel arrived off Guadalcanal on 7 August, disembarked her troops, unloaded her cargo, and left the Solomons two days later, bound for New Caledonia. After her arrival at Noumea on the 13th, the ship loaded on more cargo and, nine days later, commenced a voyage which took her to Pago Pago, American Samoa; Tongatabu, Tonga Islands; and Espiritu Santo New Hebrides.
Alchiba returned to Guadalcanai on 18 September. After unloading cargo to support marines struggling for that island, she sailed back to New Caledonia for more supplies and returned to Guadalcanal on 1 November. During November the ship shuttled supplies and personnel between Guadalcanal and Tulagi. She was anchored off Lunga Point at 0616 on 28 November when two torpedoes from the Japanese submarine 1-16 exploded on the vessel s port side. At that time, her hold was loaded with drums of gasoline and ammunition, and the resulting explosion shot flames 150 feet in the air. The commanding officer ordered the ship to get underway to run her up on the beach. This action undoubtedly saved the ship. Hungry flames raged in the ship for over five days before weary fire fighting parties fnally brought them under control.
Salvage operations began soon thereafter. Most of her cargo was saved, and temporary repairs were in progress when Alchiba was torpedoed again on 7 December. An enemy submarine's conning tower had been spotted shortly before two torpedoes were fired. One passed close under the cargo ship's stern, but the other struck her port side near the engine room. The blast killed three men, wounded six others, and caused considerable structural damage. Once the fires and flooding were controlled salvage operations resumed and enabled the ship to get underway for Tulagi on 27 December 1942. Alchiba remained there through 18 January 1943. On that day, she was moved to Espiritu Santo for further repair work. While at that island, the ship was redesignated AKA-6 on 1 February. She left Espiritu Santo on 6 May, bound for the west coast of the United States, and entered the Mare Island Navy Yard, Valleio, Calif., on 2 June.
Her refurbishing there lasted until earty August when she conducted sea trials off the California coast before sailing on 13 August for Port Hueneme, Calif., to take on cargo. Six days later, she headed for the South Pacific to continue her service providing logistics support for Allied fighting men. She made runs to New Caledonia and Guadalcanal and in mid-November participated in the landings on Bougainville. Alchiba continued her supply duties in the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia through late March 1944. On the 25th, the ship began a voyage via Pearl Harbor back to the west coast of the United States.
On 30 May, Alchiba entered the Moore Drydock Co., Oakland,