USS Belet (APD-109)
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|
|Name:||ARM California (H03)|
|Namesake:||Gulf of California|
|Acquired:||12 December 1963|
|Reclassified:||B03, before April 1970|
|Fate:||wrecked Baja California, 16 January 1972|
|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)|
|Armament:||• 1 × 5 in (130 mm) gun
• 6 × 40 mm guns
• 6 × 20 mm guns
• 2 × depth charge tracks
Construction and commissioning
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.
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
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.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive USS Belet (APD-109) ex (DE-599)