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USS Kaula (AG-33) near Seattle, Wash., on 26 July 1945
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Class: KAULA (AG-33)
1,200 light, 2,250 lim.
266.75' oa, 250.0' pp x 38.25' e x 13.4' lim.
1-4"/50 2-3"/50 (1942)
2 Polar Atlas 7-cylinder diesels, 2 screws
||3 Jan 41
||28 Jun 38
||22 Jan 41
||14 Jan 46
||12 Mar 46
||15 Jul 46
FY: None (acquired with funds appropriated for "Maintenance Bureau of Ships"). In 1938 Henry Robb Ltd. of Leith, Scotland, delivered the 932-ton twin screw motor cargo vessel CUBAHAMA to the Bahama Line, Ltd. (a subsidiary of the Balboa Shipping Co. and the United Fruit Co.). She was one of several small Robb-built motor cargo vessels with engines aft and bridge amidships, another being KOPARA (later AG-50). She was designed to carry bananas, and allegedly failed to reach her designed speed (15 knots) during trials because the Scottish builder did not have at hand a full cargo of bananas and used concrete instead. Once in service with her proper cargo she regularly exceeded her contract speed.
On 23 November 1940 CNO directed the acquisition of this ship, whose owner had agreed to sell her, for use as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG). This action was probably taken in response to a recommendation of 13 Nov 40 from the District Craft Development Board. The ship was needed to carry cargo to outlying bases in the 14th (Hawaiian) Naval District, particularly Johnston and Palmyra Islands, and was accordingly named after an island in the Hawaiian group. (Early Navy correspondence misrepresented her Navy name as KAULAHE, and this erroneous name was actually welded on her stern in raised letters.) She was taken over from the Balboa Shipping Co. and given a limited conversion by Bethlehem SB Co., Key Highway Plant, Baltimore, Md. No guns were mounted during this conversion--they were added in 1942 at Pearl Harbor. Much of the cargo that the ship carried was ammunition and other explosives, and sprinklers were added to some of her holds in 1942 to give her some protection against fire. The Commandant, 14th Naval District reported that because of urgent need for this ship her final conversion had not been completed until 18 Apr 43. Installation of 4-20mm guns in place of the ship's four .50 caliber machine guns was authorized on 27 Mar 43 but had still not been done in June 1945. KAULA served as an inter-island supply ship in the Hawaii area until May 1945 and was then reassigned to Alaska. On 26 Sep 45 the Commandant, 13th Naval District asked to use the ship for about 60 days to dump authorized ammunition at sea and Commander, Western Sea Frontier concurred. In 1946 the ship was resold to her former owner through the MC (WSA). She remained in commercial service until 1993.
||Ex merc. CUBAHAMA (completed Aug 38). In commission in ordinary 3 Jan 41 for conversion by Bethlehem SB Co., Key Highway Plant, Baltimore, Md. Merc. CUBAHAMA 1947, WANDAJEAN 1976. Deleted 1993.
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001