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USS Alhena (AK-26) circa early 1942
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        ALHENA (AKA-9)
Design:        MC C2-S
Displacement (tons):        7,151 light, 15,080 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        479.7' oa, 450.0' pp x 66.0' e x 27.1' lim.
Original Armament:        1-4"/50 4-3"/50 8-20mm (1942)
Later armaments:        1-4"/50 4-3"/50 2-40mm 18-20mm (1944);
1-5"/38 4-40mmT 18-20mm (1944)
Complement:        353 (1944)
Speed (kts.):        16.6
Propulsion (HP):        6,300
Machinery:        Bethlehem turbine, 1 screw

Construction:
AKA Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
9 ALHENA 30 May 41 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. SY 19 Jun 40 18 Jan 41 15 Jun 41

Disposition:
AKA Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
9 ALHENA 22 May 46 15 Aug 46 12 Sep 46 MC/D 16 Oct 47

Class Notes:
FY 1942. C2-S was the Maritime Commission's designator for six ships with hull dimensions between those of the standard C2 and C3 and unusually long forecastles built for the Robin Line's service between the U.S. and south and east Africa. Only one, AK-26 (later AKA-9) served as a Navy ship. The Auxiliary Vessels Board in its first report, dated 11 Feb 41, included four AKs (AK 26-29) of the C1 or C2 type in its estimate of the Navy's peacetime needs and recommended their acquisition. It based this request on the demonstrated need to have one of these vessels for every three marine transports in order to carry additional landing boats, guns, tractors, etc. The CNO, however, noted in a cover memo that the President had recently directed that the Navy not make arrangements to take over any other commercial vessels because of shortage of shipping, in effect disapproving the acquisition of 21 ships including AK 26-29. On 14 May 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board reaffirmed the Navy's need for the ships, and on 26 May the President directed the Maritime Commission to turn over to the Navy 19 ships including 12 cargo ships of 15 knot speed. Nine units, AK 23-31 were to be turned over immediately. AK-26 was completed as a merchant ship the day before the Navy took her over.

Ordnance records show AK-26 with an armament of 1-5"/51 and 2-3"50 guns for exactly a month in early 1942--she received the 5-incher from JOHN PENN (AP-51) on 21 Mar 42 and lost it to THOMAS STONE (AP-29) on 21 Apr 42, both times at Norfolk. On the former date, however, she was in the Atlantic three days from arrival at New York, and on the latter she was four days west of the Panama Canal headed to Tonga. AK-26 embarked what was probably her first significant armament, 1-4"/50 and 4-3"/50, in late June 1942 at or near San Diego. The ship had one 30-ton boom when acquired, which allowed her to handle up to three tank lighters. She operated as a general cargo ship until being fitted at San Diego in June 1942 to carry Marines for the Guadalcanal assault. She was torpedoed in September during this operation, and while being repaired at Sydney, Australia, she received a complete attack transport conversion including two of the new quadruped masts that had been developed for the AKA-15 class.

Ship Notes:
AKA Name MC# Notes
9 ALHENA 74 Ex merc. ROBIN KETTERING. Ex AK-26 1 Feb 43. Converted by Tietjen & Lang DD (Todd), Hoboken, N.J. Torpedoed in the Solomons 29 Sep 42, repairs completed in Australia Jun 43. Merc. ROBIN KETTERING 1946, scrapped 1971 as FLYING HAWK.

Page Notes:
AKA        1941
Compiled:        17-Mar-2006
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2006