Quick Links Menu.
USS Uranus on 19 September 1944.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.
Class: URANUS (AF-14)
Refrig. Cargo, 1933
1,432 light, 3,540 full load
269.5' oa, 256.0' pp x 39.5' e x 17.3' fl
Later armaments: 2-3"/50 6-20mm (1943)
Machinery: Two Helsingor vertical twin-expansion engines with one exhaust turbine, 1 screw
||11 Aug 41
||Helsingor Iron S&E
||21 Dec 32
||27 Oct 41
||8 May 46
||21 May 46
||9 May 46
FY 1942. In 1933 the Danish shipping firm J. Lauritzen (Vesterhavet) took delivery of HELGA, a freighter with a cooling plant for carrying fruit. She was one of four relatively small near sisters built in 1933 that had the long midships island then favored by the firm, the others being STELLA, LAURA, and NINNA. In 1934 HELGA was sold to a French firm as CARAVELLE, but Lauritzen reacquired her in 1938 and renamed her MARIA. She arrived at Pernambuco, Brazil, on 10 Apr 40, a day after the German occupation of Denmark, and later sailed to New York and was laid up there.
On 6 Jun 41 Presidential Executive Order 101 authorized the Maritime Commission to take over foreign merchant vessels lying idle within the jurisdiction of the United States and place them into operation to assist in the national defense. The MC soon used this authority to take control of a number of foreign ships at New York and elsewhere. On 15 Jul 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board took under consideration a request from the Director of the War Plans Division in CNO's office to acquire cargo vessels for the purpose of servicing outlying bases. After consideration of a list of available vessels the Board recommended acquiring eight relatively small ships, several of which were foreign. The Navy asked the Maritime Commission to procure the ships, and on 18 Jul 41 the MC responded unofficially that it planned to acquire two former Danish ships, SS TUNIS and SS MARIA, for delivery to the Navy at conversion yards at New York. CNO informed BuShips of this action on 30 Jul 41 and indicated that TUNIS would be classed as a cargo vessel and MARIA as a provision store ship. They became AK-47 and AF-14 respectively. On 1 Aug 41 President Roosevelt approved the requisitioning of five ships including MARIA (they became AF-14, AK 46-48, and AP-41). The Maritime Commission took over MARIA on 2 Aug 41 and passed her to the Navy nine days later.
MARIA filled a gap in Navy procurement plans that had originated on 19 Dec 40 when the Navy notified the Maritime Commission that it required three more Provision Store Ships, which it wanted to be C2s with refrigeration. A program for acquisition of new auxiliaries approved by the Secretary of the Navy on 15 Jan 41 included these three ships, and on 15 May 41 the Navy reaffirmed its need for three converted AFs by 1 Aug 41. On 26 May 41 the President declined to provide the C2s but ordered the Maritime Commission to turn over two United Fruit "mail boats" as AF 12-13 in early June, leaving a requirement for a third AF that was fulfilled in August by this chartered ex-Danish ship.
SecNav approved the Navy name URANUS for the ship on 3 Sep 41. Her limited initial Navy conversion included the addition of foundations for four .50 caliber AA machine guns (but not the guns themselves) and accommodations for six officers and 30 men--which appeared to be all she could carry. Sailing for Iceland in December 1941, she provided stores and provisions to American forces at various points along the coast until running aground in April 1943. She received a more complete conversion, including additional superstructure, a new refrigeration system, and probably a new armament, during an overhaul at the Norfolk Navy Yard between September and December 1943 and then finished out her Navy career in the Pacific. She was returned to the Danish government at Norfolk on 16 May 46 under Public Law 101 and went on to have a twenty year career as a Danish, then Greek, merchant ship.
||Ex Danish merc. MARIA, ex CARAVELLE 1938, ex HELGA 1934 (completed 10 Feb 33). Converted by Robins DD (Todd), Brooklyn, N.Y. Returned to Danish government 16 May 46. Merc. MARIA DAN 1946, MICHAEL 1959. Scrapped 1969 after engine room fire 1968.
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001