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The future USS Cygnus (AF-23) on 7 August 1942.
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Class: CYGNUS (AF-23)
Refrig. Cargo, 1924
4,233 light, 7,171 full load
336.25' oa, 325.0' wl x 48.0' e x 23.75' full
1-4"/50 1-3"/50 6-20mm (1942)
Later armaments: 2-3"/50 6-20mm (1945)
Machinery: Cammell-Laird vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||11 Aug 42
||22 Mar 24
||11 Aug 42
||15 Jul 46
||31 Jul 46
||18 Jul 46
FY 1942. One of a class of three United Fruit freighters ordered in 1922, said to be the first ocean-going ships with diesel-electric propulsion. Because of troubles with her two sisters, LA PERLA (the future CYGNUS) was delivered with triple expansion engines. One sister, LA MAREA (renamed DARIEN when she was re-engined and lengthened in 1929), served in World War II as a civilian-manned WSA supply ship, the other, LA PLAYA, remained in merchant service.
On 9 Jul 42 CNO directed the acquisition of "three AKs with approximately 100,000 cubic feet of refrigerator space and 26,000 cubic feet of general cargo space" which were required for urgent use to supply island bases in the South Pacific Area by 1 Oct 42. The Auxiliary Vessels Board endorsed this action on 21 Jul 42. On 1 Aug 42 VCNO informed WSA that the three vessels that most nearly met the Navy's needs were SAN BRUNO, LA PERLA, and SAN BENITO. He noted that the last two had been allocated for Army use in services to Hawaii and requested that WSA substitute equivalent tonnage so that these ships could be made available to the Army, which was agreeable to the change. He explained that "it is essential that small vessels be used in the South Pacific due to the vulnerability of larger ships and the requirement of discharging small quantities at various ports. On the other hand, large vessels may be used for reefer cargo between San Francisco and Hawaii and higher temperatures allowed since the entire cargo is discharged at one port." The three "small" ships became AF 23-25 and the first, CYGNUS, began conversion on 6 Aug 42, a few days before her official acquisition. VCNO's conversion instructions to BuShips of 5 Aug 42 noted that "these vessels will operate for long periods and great distances from any American Navy Yard and should therefore be sent out in as good a condition as can be achieved in the time allowed."
||Ex merc. LA PERLA (ID-4718, completed Jul 25). Converted by Bethlehem Steel, Alameda, Cal. Merc. LA PERLA 1946. Scrapped 1970 as FRIGO ASIA.
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001