USS Lassen (AE-3)
USS Lassen (AE-3)
|Name:||USS Lassen (AE-3)|
|Launched:||10 January 1940|
|Acquired:||15 November 1940|
|Commissioned:||27 November 1941|
|Decommissioned:||15 January 1947|
|Struck:||1 July 1961|
|Class and type:||Lassen-class ammunition ship|
|Length:||459 ft (140 m)|
|Beam:||63 ft (19.2 m)|
|Draft:||25 ft 11 in (7.9 m)|
|Installed power:||2 300kw Westinghouse direct current generators driven by 2 direct-connected 6-cylinder 450hp Superior diesel engines.|
|Propulsion:||2 x 9 cyl. Nordberg diesel engines each with 3155 brake horsepower at 225 rpm geared to 1 shaft|
|Speed:||16 knots (30 km/h)|
|Capacity:||5,000 deadweight tons|
|Complement:||280 officers and enlisted|
USS Lassen (AE-3) was built as MS Shooting Star under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract, was delivered to the U.S. Navy after sea trials, and became an ammunition cargo ship during World War II. Like many Naval ships of this category that carried large amounts of explosive cargo, she was named for a volcano (or a volcanic island). In this case, the ship was named for Lassen Peak, a volcano in northern California that erupted heavily in 1914-17.
Construction and commission
Shooting Star was built by the Tampa Shipbuilding Company in Tampa, Florida, under a Maritime Commission contract. She was the second of eight C2 type motor ships of a series constructed by Tampa Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Tampa, Florida powered by twin Nordberg diesels, the first being Sea Witch. She was launched on 10 January 1940, christened by Mrs. Fred C. Cone. The ship was acquired by the Navy on 15 November 1940, and commissioned four days later for transfer to a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, for conversion to a Naval ammunition ship, with Lt. Cmdr. A. B. Kerr in command. She was re-commissioned in her modified form on 27 March 1941, with Commander Russell S. Berkey of the U.S. Navy in command.
World War II
In the months previous to the outbreak of World War II for the United States, the USS Lassen made ammunition deliveries along both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the U.S., and in July 1941, she steamed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then returned to the Atlantic Coast. On 22 November 1941, she departed from Norfolk, Virginia, en route to San Francisco, her homeport, and war broke out during this voyage.
After round-trip delivery voyages to the Samoa Islands, the Fiji Islands, and Pearl Harbor, the Lassen began duty as an advanced base supply ship. Departing from San Francisco on 26 August 1942, the Lassen replenished naval ships in New Caledonia from 19 September to 17 January 1943. The Lassen arrived back at San Francisco on 23 January 1943 for repairs, the installation of radar equipment, and an upgrade in her air-defense armament.
On 18 May 1943, the Lassen arrived at Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides, to resume dispensing war ammunition to the Navy fleet in the South Pacific. She also resupplied warships from the port of Efate, New Hebrides, and Noumea, New Caledonia, before returning to San Francisco on 24 November. An overhaul period in a drydock was a prelude to a more extensive stay in the war zone supplying the American warships that were battling the Imperial Japanese Navy.
As a part of Vice-Admiral W. L. Calhoun’s 7th Force, Pacific Fleet, the USS Lassen arrived at Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands on 2 February 1944. She replenished ships both in the Marshall Islands and at Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands. As part of the supply train of the fleet at Kossol Passage, Palau Islands, from 25 September to 2 October and at Ulithi Atoll from 4 October to 18 November 1944, she earned her first battle star. During the latter period, the USS Lassen rode out a severe typhoon, and she also underwent her first enemy air attack.
Upon returning to the western Caroline Islands on 23 February 1945, the Lassen, along with her sister ammunition ships, worked out techniques for transferring large quantities of ammunition to warships while underway at sea. The Lassen exhibited this new ability and mobility by accompanying aircraft carrier Task Group 50.8 in raids from 13 March to 14 June 1945, while supporting the conquest of Okinawa campaign. The Lassen's third battle star was earned while accompanying carrier Task Group 30.8 from 8 July to 6 August off the coasts of Japan itself.
The end of the war at V-J Day found the Lassen operating out of San Pedro Bay, Leyte. On the 25th of October, she departed the former war zone for the United States, via Eniwetok Atoll, where she embarked 112 passengers for their transportation to the West Coast.
There was little need for ammunition ships like the USS Lassen during the period of huge peacetime demobilization of the Navy fleet that followed. The Lassen was noted for carrying out her dangerous ammunition delivery and handling duties without any serious incidents during the War in the Pacific. She was held in port first at Port Discovery, Washington, from 20 November 1945 to 2 March 1946, and then she proceeded down the West Coast in stages, arriving at San Diego on 27 March 1946. The USS Lassen was decommissioned on 15 January 1947 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She remained a part of this reserved fleet until she was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1961 for disposal.
- Pacific Marine Review & 1940 (December), pp. 42—45.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Pacific Marine Review (December 1940). "MS Shooting Star Delivered to Navy". Consolidated 1940 issues (December). 'Official Organ: Pacific American Steamship Association/Shipowners' Association of the Pacific Coast: 42–45. Retrieved 18 September 2014.