USS Matar (AK-119)
|Ordered:||as SS Napoleon B. Broward
EC2-S-C1 hull, MCE 1214
|Builder:||St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company|
|Laid down:||16 October 1943|
|Launched:||30 November 1943|
|Acquired:||10 December 1943|
|Commissioned:||17 May 1944|
|Decommissioned:||15 March 1946|
|Struck:||31 October 1947|
|Fate:||scrapped in 1972|
|Displacement:||4,023 t.(lt) 14,250 t.(fl)|
|Propulsion:||Joshua Hendy reciprocating steam engine, single shaft, 1,950shp|
|Armament:||one 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount; eight 20mm AA gun mounts|
USS Matar (AK-119) was a Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II, named after Matar, the star in constellation Pegasus. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.
Matar (AK 119) was laid down as SS Napoleon R. Broward under Maritime Commission contract by St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company, Jacksonville, Florida, 16 October 1943; launched 30 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Napoleon B. Broward; acquired by the Navy under bareboat charter 10 December 1943; converted for Navy use by Merrill Stevens Drydock & Repair Co., Jacksonville, Florida; and commissioned as Matar at Jacksonville 17 May 1944, Lt. Comdr. Erwin E. Smith in command.
World War II Pacific Theatre operations
After completing conversion, Matar steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, 28 May for shakedown in Chesapeake Bay. Thence, she loaded cargo at Davisville, Rhode Island, and Bayonne, New Jersey, before departing New York for the Pacific Ocean 25 June, arriving Pearl Harbor 25 July. Matar discharged cargo and refilled her holds with ammunition, field rations and amphibious equipment. Operating under Service Squadron 8, she sailed with units of task force TF 31 on 20 August for the Palaus.
Transporting troops to invasion beaches
Steaming via the Marshalls and the Admiralties, Matar reached Kossol Passage 20 September. As flagship for CTG 31.4, she operated at Kossol until 17 October when she departed for Angaur Island. From 19 to 24 October she discharged cargo into boats for transfer to the beaches; thence, she embarked marines and amphibious tanks at Peleliu and sailed for the Russell Islands the 30th. She debarked her troops there 7 November; arrived off Guadalcanal the 9th; and embarked 130 troops. Departing Lunga 18 November, she arrived San Francisco, California, via Pearl Harbor 11 December.
Modified as a stores issue ship
Altered for duty as a stores issue ship and loaded with medical supplies and ship's stores, Matar departed San Francisco, California, 18 January 1945 and arrived Eniwetok 8 February. Assigned to Service Squadron 10, she steamed to the Marianas between 10 and 14 February. For the next 3 months she operated out of Saipan and Guam dispensing medical and general stores to the fleet.
Supporting Okinawa invasion forces
Matar arrived Kerama Retto, the Ryūkyūs, 14 May; discharged some cargo; and shifted to the anchorage off Hagushi, Okinawa, 29 May. She issued dry provisions and medical stores and in addition provided smoke cover during enemy airstrikes. On 27 June she sailed for Ulithi and Pearl Harbor.
Replenishing there between 2 and 14 August she steamed to Eniwetok thence to Japan 7 September arriving Tokyo Bay 15 September to service ships on occupation duty in Japanese waters. She completed this duty early in November and between 5 November and 1 December steamed via Pearl Harbor to San Francisco.
Matar sailed 6 February 1946 for Pearl Harbor, arrived the 15th, and decommissioned 15 March 1946. She transferred to the custody of the Maritime Commission 8 October 1947 and entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Her name was struck from the Navy List 31 October 1947. Matar was berthed in Suisun Bay, California, and was scrapped in 1972.
Military awards and honors
Matar received two battle stars for World War II service:
- Western Caroline Islands operation (Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands -Angaur Island, 19 to 24 October 1944)
- Okinawa Gunto operation (Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 14 May to 27 June 1945)
Her crew was eligible for the following medals and campaign ribbons:
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (2)
- World War II Victory Medal
- Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)
- Photo gallery of Matar at NavSource Naval History