USS Belet (APD-109)

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ARM California (B-3).jpg
USS Belet in service as ARM California (B03) of the Mexican Navy on 2 April 1970
Career (United States)
Name: USS Belet (DE-599)
Namesake: Robert A. Belet
Builder: Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., Hingham, Massachusetts
Laid down: 26 January 1944
Launched: 3 March 1944
Sponsored by: Mrs. Eleanor J. Belet
Reclassified: APD-109, 17 July 1944
Commissioned: 15 June 1945
Decommissioned: 22 May 1946
Struck: 12 December 1963
Fate: Transferred to Mexican Navy, 12 December 1963
Career (Mexico)
Name: ARM California (H03)
Namesake: Gulf of California
Acquired: 12 December 1963
Reclassified: B03, before April 1970
Fate: wrecked Baja California, 16 January 1972
General characteristics
Class & type: Rudderow-class destroyer escort, as ordered
Class & type: Crosley-class high speed transport, as completed
Displacement: 2,130 long tons (2,164 t) full
Length: 306 ft (93 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Draft: 12 ft 7 in (3.84 m)
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Troops: 162
Complement: 204
Armament: • 1 × 5 in (130 mm) gun
• 6 × 40 mm guns
• 6 × 20 mm guns
• 2 × depth charge tracks

USS Belet (APD-109), ex-DE-599, was a United States Navy high-speed transport in commission from 1945 to 1946.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Belet was laid down as the Rudderow-class destroyer escort USS Belet (DE-599) on 26 January 1944 by Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., at Hingham, Massachusetts, and was launched on 3 March 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Eleanor J. Belet, the widow of the ship's namesake, Master Technical Sergeant Robert A. Belet. The ship was reclassified as a Crosley-class high-speed transport and redesignated APD-109 on 17 July 1944. After conversion to her new role, she was commissioned on 15 June 1945 with Lieutenant Commander Albert P. Merrill in command.

Service history[edit]

After taking on stores, Belet got underway on 3 July 1945 for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for four weeks of shakedown training. Following shakedown, she stood out of Norfolk, Virginia, on 13 August 1945 with a full load of passengers, bound for World War II service in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The next day while at sea, the ship received the news of the surrender of Japan, but she continued on to San Diego, California, where she arrived on 27 August 1945.

On 1 September 1945, Belet departed San Diego and set course for the Mariana Islands. She stopped at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, only long enough to take on fuel and provisions and then touched briefly at Eniwetok Atoll before arriving at Saipan on 17 September 1945. Belet operated out of Saipan, shuttling troops as needed and providing escort and lifeguard services.

Belet left the Marianas on 8 October 1945 and headed for occupation duty in Japan. On 11 October 1945, she relieved the United States Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Taney (WPG-37) as port director ship at Wakayama, Japan. Belet remained at this station until ordered back to the United States in December 1945.

On her homeward voyage, Belet carried returning servicemen into San Diego in January 1946 and was then ordered back to the United States East Coast. Following repairs at the Boston Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts, she steamed to Green Cove Springs, Florida, for inactivation.

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Belet was decommissioned on 22 May 1946 and placed in reserve with the Green Cove Springs Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. After over 17 years of inactivity, she was declared excess to the needs of the U.S. Navy, and her name was struck from the Navy List on 12 December 1963.

Mexican Navy service[edit]

Sold to Mexico on 12 December 1963, Belet became ARM California (H03) in the Mexican Navy. She was later assigned the new pennant number of B03.

California ran aground on the Bahia Peninsula on 16 January 1972 broadside to the beach, and was judged unsalvageable. Abandoned, her hulk broke up on the rocks.

References[edit]