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USS Gold Star (AG-12) circa the late 1930s
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Class: GOLD STAR (AG-12)
Design EFC 1046
Displacement (tons): 4,679 light, 10,550 full
Dimensions (feet): 391.75' oa, 377.0' pp x 52.0' wl x 24.0' mn
Original Armament: None installed (1922)
Later armaments: 1-12pdr AA (British) (1942);
4-3"/50 4<8-20mm (1942)
Complement 110 (1929)
Speed (kts.): 11
Propulsion (HP): 2,500
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||8 Nov 21
||Bethlehem Steel, Wilm.
||15 Jan 20
||5 Jun 20
||1 Feb 22
||17 Apr 46
||1 May 46
||1 Jul 46
||4 Sep 47
EFC Design 1046 was a design to which the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co., Sparrows Point, Md., had built four ships for the British (requisitioned by the U.S. in August 1917) in 1917-1918. The Shipping Board's Emergency Fleet Corporation ordered ten more ships to this design, seven at Sparrows Point and three more at Bethlehem's yard at Wilmington, Del. Three of the Sparrows Point ships were cancelled and the Wilmington ships were not completed until mid to late 1920. In November 1921 the Navy acquired two of the Wilmington ships as ARCTURUS and REGULUS (AK-12 and AK-14). ARCTURUS soon became GOLD STAR (AG-12).
By 1920 the Navy realized that many of its pre-war auxiliary vessels were reaching the end of their useful lives, that Congress would not provide appropriations for replacements, and that the Shipping Board had a large number of surplus vessels from its wartime building program that would fill the Navy's needs. In 1920 the Navy's lawyers determined that ships could be acquired from the Shipping Board by Presidential Executive Order, and by 17 Oct 21 negotiations between the Navy and the Shipping Board had reached the stage at which 27 specific hulls (12 tankers, 3 refrigerating ships, 11 cargo ships, and one passenger & cargo ship) had been selected, all but the tankers to replace an equivalent number of worn out Naval auxiliaries. On 29 Oct 21 Executive Order No. 3570 authorized the transfers. SecNav on 2 Nov 21 assigned new Navy names to 17 of the ships including two EFC Design 1046 freighters, GOLD STAR and GLENORA, which became ARCTURUS (AK-12, later AG-12) and REGULUS (AK-14). Both ships were inoperative and available without delay at Hog Island, Pa.
On 2 Nov 21 CNO directed the Commandant, 4th Naval District, to place ARCTURUS and REGULUS in commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as reliefs for USS CAESAR (AC-16) and QUINCY (AK-10) respectively. CAESAR and QUINCY were, after their arrival on the Atlantic Coast, to transfer to ARCTURUS and REGULUS at Philadelphia the personnel and material necessary to place these two ships in commission as their reliefs. By 8 Dec 21 relief assignments had been changed and ARCTURUS was now scheduled to relieve SATURN (AG-4). The expected completion dates for ARCTURUS and REGULUS were now 1 Mar 22 and 1 May 22 respectively. As of 7 Jan 22 SATURN was expected to sail from San Francisco for Philadelphia about 15 Jan 22. On 7 Jan 22 CNO indicated that SATURN should arrive at Philadelphia with the equipment from NANSHAN about 15 Feb 22.
The name of AK-12 provoked a controversy in early 1922. On 6 Apr 20 the Shipping Board changed the name of BENWOOD, EFC hull 1142, to GOLD STAR to recognize the gold star that families hung in their windows in honor of family members killed in the war and the bereaved mothers who came together to support each other and care for wounded veterans. The Navy, however, had a policy of naming cargo ships after stars and constellations, and in the process of renaming the ships that it acquired in November 1921 it assigned the name ARCTURUS to GOLD STAR. The result was a miniature public relations disaster and the Navy retracted the name change on 6 Feb 22, five days after the ship was commissioned. Her reclassification from AK-12 to AG-12 followed on 12 May 22, and in the next two years she made three voyages with supplies for Alaskan radio stations, formerly the mission of the now-decommissioned SATURN (AG-4).
On 3 Nov 24 GOLD STAR replaced PENSACOLA (AK-7) as station ship at Guam. As station ship she was rarely "stationary," instead serving as the only link that Guam had with the outside world and traveling all over the Pacific with highly varied cargoes. In 1929 she was listed as having berths for 20 passengers in addition to her own complement. Her home yard between the wars was at Cavite in the Philippines, and between November 1924 and November 1945 she did not once return to the continental United States. She received a badly needed overhaul at Melbourne, Australia, between 12 Jun 42 and 24 Oct 42 and also received a proper armament there for the first time. After service in the southwest Pacific theater she was converted in January 1945 at Manus as flagship of Commander Service Squadron Nine, who occupied the old quarters of the Governor of Guam. She finally returned to Seattle in February 1946 and was decommissioned and sold there.
||Ex AK-12 12 May 22, ex USS ARCTURUS 6 Feb 22, ex merc. GOLD STAR (ID-4421, completed Jul 20), ex BENWOOD. To buyer 1 Dec 47, scrapped by 26 Aug 48.
Compiled: 02 Sep 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012