USS Alkes (AK-110)

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Career (US)
Ordered: as SS Increase A. Lapham
EC2-S-C1 hull, MCE hull 1584
Laid down: 10 June 1943
Launched: 29 June 1943
Acquired: 5 October 1943
Commissioned: 29 October 1943
Decommissioned: 20 February 1946
Struck: 12 March 1946
Fate: sold for scrapping, 26 October 1971
General characteristics
Displacement: 4,023 t.(lt) 14,250 t.(fl)
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)
Beam: 56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)
Draught: 27 ft 7 in (8.41 m)
Propulsion: Joshua Hendy reciprocating steam engine, single shaft, 1,950shp
Speed: 13 kts.
Complement: 206
Armament: one 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount; eight 20mm AA gun mounts

USS Alkes (AK-110) was an Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II, named after Alkes, the alpha star in constellation Crater. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

SS Increase A. Lapham was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1584) on 10 June 1943 at Richmond, California, by the Permanente Metals Corp.; launched on 29 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Chester P. Kenman; acquired by the Navy on 5 October 1943; converted for naval service by the Hurley Marine Works, Oakland, California; renamed Alkes (AK-110) on 6 October 1943; and placed in commission at Oakland on 29 October 1943, Comdr. W. H. Wight in command.

World War II Pacific Theater operations[edit]

After shakedown training, the new cargo ship got underway for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, her base of operations while she carried supplies to the forward areas in the Pacific Ocean. In early December, the ship sailed to the Gilbert Islands with Task Unit (TU) 16.15.1. She reached Makin Island on the 16th and commenced unloading. The ship moved to Baker Island on the 31st to take on cargo prior to returning to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 13 January 1944.

Supplying forces in the Marshall Islands[edit]

Shortly after returning to Hawaii, the vessel began taking on supplies and equipment for another shuttle run. Alkes sailed on 25 January for the Marshall Islands. Upon reaching Majuro Atoll, on 3 February, the ship began unloading her cargo to support ongoing landing operations. One week later, she reversed her course and arrived back at Pearl Harbor on 21 February.

Supplying the South Pacific forces[edit]

Alkes got underway again on 12 March, bound for the Marshall and Gilbert Islands with Task Group 16.12. Among her ports of call were Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Majuro, Marshall Islands; and Tarawa and Makin, Gilbert Islands. Alkes returned to Pearl Harbor on 8 May to replenish her cargo. She shaped a course back to the Marshalls on the 22d and made stops at Kwajalein and Eniwetok. The vessel arrived at Guam on 8 August, where she remained for one month discharging cargo and delivering fresh water to various ships of the fleet.

Repairs Stateside[edit]

Alkes arrived back at Pearl Harbor on 11 September. After 10 days in port, she continued sailing east toward the United States. The vessel reached San Pedro, California, on 3 October and, shortly thereafter, began alterations and repairs. She moved to San Francisco, California, on the 27th to take on cargo and, on 6 November, sailed for Pearl Harbor.

Return trips to the South Pacific[edit]

The ship reached Hawaiian waters on the 16th and sailed the next day for Eniwetok, Guam, and Ulithi. Alkes reached Ulithi on 13 December and assumed duty there as a fleet issue ship. She operated at Ulithi until 6 February 1945, when she got underway for a return voyage to California. Alkes arrived at San Pedro on 4 March and underwent repairs while taking on supplies and equipment. She sailed on the 23d to resume her cargo operations in the Western Pacific. On 12 April, the ship returned to Ulithi, where she remained until late May, preparing for the impending assault on the Ryūkyūs.

Supporting Okinawa invasion operations[edit]

Alkes got underway with TU 13.11.2 on 23 May, bound for Okinawa. She remained off that island and Kerama Retto from 28 May through 13 August issuing her cargo to units of the invasion force. She experienced numerous air attacks but continued to carry out her duties without sustaining any serious damage.

Return to Stateside duties[edit]

She left Okinawa in mid-August and sailed via Ulithi to the west coast of the United States. The ship again reached San Pedro on 14 September and remained there until early January 1946, serving as a fleet issue ship. On 3 January, she set a course for the U.S. East Coast. Having transited the Panama Canal, Alkes arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, on the 31st.

Inactivation and decommissioning[edit]

Preparations for her inactivation were then begun. The vessel sailed to Baltimore, Maryland, on 8 February and was placed out of commission there on 20 February 1946. She was returned to the Maritime Administration on 27 February, and her name was struck from the Navy List on 12 March 1946.

The ship was subsequently laid up in the James River as SS Increase A. Lapham. She was sold on 26 October 1971 to Hierros Ardes S. A., Bilbao, Spain, for scrapping.

Military awards and honors[edit]

Alkes won three battle stars for her World War II service. Her crew was eligible for the following medals:

  • American Campaign Medal
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (3)
  • World War II Victory Medal

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Alkes at the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
  • Photo gallery of Alkes at NavSource Naval History