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USS Gemini (AP-75) on 21 October 1942
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Class: GEMINI (AP-75)
Design: EFC 1044
Displacement (tons): 1,745 light, 3,555 lim.
Dimensions (feet): 261.0' oa x 43.5' e x 15.75' lim.
Original Armament: 1-4"/50
Later armaments: 2-3"/50 4-20mm (1942)
Speed (kts.): 8.5
Propulsion (HP): 1,000
Machinery: Manitowoc vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||27 Sep 41
||29 Aug 18
||2 Nov 18
||4 Aug 42
||8 Apr 46
||17 Apr 46
||30 Jun 46
FY 1942. This ship was built to EFC Design 1044, a variant of the World War I Laker type freighter built by Manitowoc SB Co, Manitowoc, Wis. It had an unusual rig, copied from contemporary small freighters in the Baltic Sea, with masts on the forecastle and poop and kingpost pairs at each end of the amidships superstructure. GEMINI was completed as COPERAS, became AETNA when sold by the Shipping Board in 1925, and was sold again and became SAGINAW in 1937. She was still configured as a small freighter when the Navy acquired her.
On 8 Jul 41 the Navy asked President Roosevelt for authority to acquired five old Laker-type freighters for operation by the Coast Guard as North Atlantic weather patrol ships to release for other missions the four 327-foot Coast Guard cutters then performing this duty. The President approved the plan on 23 Jul 41, the Navy asked the Maritime Commission for the ships on 26 Jul 41, and on 11 Aug 41 CNO directed BuShips to acquire the vessels. The vessels selected were all of EFC Design 1044 and were all then located on the Great Lakes. The Navy designated them AG 36-40 and the Coast Guard prepared the specifications for the conversions. MATINICUS (AG-38) began conversion at the Marine Basin Co., Brooklyn, N.Y. on 27 Sep 41, the date of her acquisition there by the Navy. On 6 Dec 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board noted that because of changes in the locations of its weather patrol stations, the Coast Guard only needed three of the five Lakers acquired for this purpose and recommended that the conversion work planned or about to be undertaken on two of the five Lakers should be stopped immediately (an action already taken by BuShips on 4 Dec 41) and that the two ships be considered available for assignment to the Naval Transportation Service or to such naval districts that might require their use as district craft (similar to two ships of similar size that entered service as YAG 8-9 and later became AG 47-48). On 11 Dec 41 a BuShips inspection team reported that the two ships selected (AG-37 at Boston and AG-38 at Brooklyn) were best suited for conversion to cargo vessels (AK) or colliers (AC) for use in supplying Alaskan, West Indies, or Icelandic bases. On 19 Dec 41 CNO directed that the ships be converted to cargo ships and fitted to burn oil fuel instead of coal. BuShips reported on 3 Jan 42 that it had assigned the identification numbers AK 51-52 to the former AG 37-38, and the names ARIES and GEMINI were approved on 7 Jan 42. This conversion of GEMINI (AK-52) was completed on 3 Apr 42, on which date she was ordered to be manned by a civilian crew. She received an armament of 1-4"/50 and 4- .50 caliber machine guns. As a civilian-manned "U. S. Naval Cargo Ship" (USNCS) she was turned over to Marine Transportation Lines, Inc., for operation and carried an Army cargo to Iceland. On her return voyage she ran into ice, lost two propeller blades, and suffered damage to her hull plating. The ship was sent to the Bethlehem Atlantic Yard at East Boston to be repaired, given a new armament of 2-3"/50 and 4-20mm guns, and fitted for Navy manning. She began repairs on 17 Jul 42 and was placed in full commission as AK-52 on 4 Aug 42. On 7 Aug 42, one day after the repairs were due to be completed, VCNO directed BuShips to convert GEMINI into a convoy loaded troop transport. She was to carry 25 to 40 first class and 250 troop class passengers, and the Bureau was authorized to accommodate most of them in the holds to minimize additions to the superstructure. The ship was reclassified AP-75 on 15 Aug 42 and her troopship conversion was completed on 16 Oct 42.
GEMINI's first voyage as a Navy transport was in a convoy, SC-107, that lost nearly half its ships in its North Atlantic transit. GEMINI was detached to Iceland and operated there for the next ten months. After repairs at Boston she departed in October 1943 for the Pacific, where was used in inter-island service in Hawaii and the Central Pacific. The date of her transfer to the MC was recorded by the MC as 30 Jun 46 and, probably less reliably, by the Navy (Com12) as 10 Sep 46. After her postwar sale by the MC she served as a merchant ship for another 20 years before going to the breakers.
||Ex AK-52 15 Aug 42, ex USS MATINICUS, AG-38, 7 Jan 42. Ex merc. SAGINAW, originally COPERAS (ID-4370L, completed 18 Apr 19). Converted to AK by Marine Basin, Brooklyn, and to AP by Bethlehem Steel Co., Atlantic Works, East Boston. Merc. SAGINAW 1946 (MC), RAMSDAL 1948. Scrapped 1967 as TRANSDAL.
Compiled: 14 Jun 2009
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009