USS Ara (AK-136)
|Ordered:||as SS Daniel Boone
EC2-S-C1 hull, MCE hull 69
|Laid down:||17 July 1941|
|Launched:||14 January 1942|
|Acquired:||3 December 1943|
|Commissioned:||4 January 1944|
|Decommissioned:||26 November 1945|
|Struck:||5 December 1945|
|Fate:||scrapped in 1972|
|Displacement:||4,023 t.(lt) 11,565 t.(fl)|
|Length:||441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)|
|Beam:||56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)|
|Draught:||28 ft 4 in (8.64 m)|
|Propulsion:||reciprocating steam engine, single shaft, 1,950shp|
|Armament:||one 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; two dual 40mm AA gun mounts; eight single 20mm AA gun mounts|
USS Ara (AK-136) was a Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II, named after the constellation Ara. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone. Ara was laid down on 17 July 1941 as the liberty ship SS Daniel Boone by the California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, California; launched on 14 January 1942; sponsored by Mrs. J. K. Doolan; acquired by the Navy under a bare-boat charter on 3 December 1943; renamed Ara (AK-136); and commissioned on 4 January 1944, Lt. Comdr. W. B. Hudgins in command.
World War II
Ara sailed on 7 February for Hawaii. Upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor, the ship reported to Service Squadron 8 for duty. On 4 March, Ara sailed in a convoy bound for the Marshall Islands and discharged her cargo at Majuro and Kwajalein Atolls. Ara left the Marshalls on 14 April; made a brief stop at Pearl Harbor on the 28th; and then the ship got underway for Port Hueneme, California. After loading new cargo, Ara was back in Pearl Harbor on 29 May. The ship sailed on 7 June with Task Group (TG) 51.6, bound for Eniwetok; anchored there on 18 June; and remained through 23 July.
On 23 July, Ara was ordered to proceed to Guam to deliver U.S. Army personnel to that island. She remained offshore until 3 August and then disembarked troops and unloaded equipment. Ara got underway for Eniwetok on 20 August and arrived four days later. After a reprovisioning period, the transport sailed for Hawaii and moored at Pearl Harbor on 9 September.
Supplying Guam and Saipan
There, she loaded cargo destined for Roi Namur and Majuro and sailed on 19 September for the Marshalls. From 4 October to 20 November, supplies were discharged and taken on board at Majuro and Kwajalein. On 25 November, the ship headed for Ulithi. Five days later, Ara arrived at the atoll. She sailed again on 8 December for the Marianas to unload the remainder of her provisions at Guam and Saipan. Ara called at Eniwetok on 23 December and then continued on to Tarawa. There, she refilled her cargo holds and sailed on 4 January 1945 for Makin Island.
Shuttling cargo between island bases
During the first two months of 1945, Ara repeated her cargo shuttle services. Her ports of call included Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Ulithi, Guam, Tinian, and Saipan. From Saipan, Ara headed for Hawaii and reached Pearl Harbor on 20 March. Two days later, Ara sailed for San Pedro, California, where she arrived on 1 April for repairs. After successfully completing trials, Ara sailed on 6 May to Tacoma, Washington, to load cargo and remained there until 23 May, when she began steaming independently for the Philippines.
Supplying troops in the Philippines and Saipan
Ara began discharging cargo at Samar, Philippines, on 25 June. She then received orders to sail to New Zealand and got underway on 6 July. Ara moored at Auckland on 21 July and commenced loading supplies earmarked for U.S. Marines stationed on Saipan. She departed Auckland on 27 July and arrived at Saipan on 14 August. The next day, while she was still there, Japan capitulated on 15 August. Ara set a course for the west coast on the 21st, entered San Francisco Bay on 9 September, and began voyage repairs.
The transport left the west coast on 6 October, bound, via the Panama Canal, for Norfolk, Virginia, and arrived there on 27 October. She was decommissioned on 26 November and turned over to the War Shipping Administration in whose custody she resumed the name SS Daniel Boone. The name, Ara, was struck from the Navy List on 5 December. SS Daniel Boone was listed in registers of American merchant vessels until the early 1970s until she was scrapped in 1972.
Military awards and honors
Ara won one battle star for her World War II service. Her crew was eligible for the following medals and campaign ribbons:
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
- World War II Victory Medal
- Philippines Liberation Medal
- Photo gallery of Ara at NavSource Naval History