USS Ariel (AF-22)
|Namesake:||Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest|
|Builder:||Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co|
|Laid down:||9 March 1931|
|Launched:||15 August 1931|
|Acquired:||by bareboat charter, 24 March 1942|
|Commissioned:||14 May 1942, as USS Ariel (AF-22)|
|Decommissioned:||21 June 1946|
|Struck:||3 July 1946|
|Notes:||Ship delivered: 24 February 1933|
|Length:||446 ft 10 in (136.19 m)|
|Beam:||60 ft 3 in (18.36 m)|
|Draft:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||turbo-electric transmission, twin screws, 11,000 shp (8,203 kW)|
|Speed:||18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph)|
|Capacity:||2,615 long tons deadweight (DWT)|
USS Ariel (AF-22) was built as SS Peten, later renamed Jamaica, as United Fruit Company cargo and passenger liner that served as a United States Navy Mizar-class stores ship in World War II. The US Navy renamed her after the "airy and playful spirit" Ariel in William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The ship was returned to United Fruit in 1946 and operated for that company until sold to a German company in 1957.
Building and pre-war service
The Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia built the ship as SS Peten for United Fruit Company's United Mail Steamship Co subsidiary. Peten was one of six UFC sister ships with General Electric turbo-electric transmission, the others being Talamanca and Chiriqui from Newport News Shipbuilding and Antigua, Quirigua and Veragua from Bethlehem Shipbuilding's Quincy, Massachusetts, plant, built under the Merchant Marine Act of 1928. The prospective name for the ship had been Segovia, hull #345, but that hull had been burned at the outfitting pier as it neared completion in 1931 and was rebuilt as hull #354 with the new name of Peten. Peten's keel was laid 9 March 1931 with launch on 15 August 1931 and delivery on 24 February 1933. On 2 March 1933 Peten made her maiden voyage from New York to Caribbean ports. In 1937 she was transferred to United Fruit's direct ownership and renamed Jamaica. The ship's peacetime service was in carrying fruit, passengers and mail on regular liner services between Central America and the USA.
Jamaica was delivered to the War Shipping Administration (WSA) on 24 March 1942 at New Orleans with allocation to the Navy under bareboat charter. Todd Pacific Shipyards of Galveston, Texas converted her for Navy use. She was renamed USS Ariel and commissioned at Galveston on 14 May 1942, commanded by Captain E.P. Hylant.
On 25 May Ariel sailed for Norfolk, Virginia. On arrival she assumed duty with Service Squadron 7, Service Force, Atlantic Fleet. In the next 18 months Ariel operated along the east coast and made numerous voyages to ports in the Caribbean. Among her stops were Bermuda; Trinidad; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Havana and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. This routine was interrupted by a voyage to Iceland in 1943. She left New York City on the 15 August and sailed to NS Argentia, Newfoundland before continuing on to Iceland and reaching Reykjavík on 24 August. After unloading her cargo she returned to the east coast, arrived back at New York City on 7 September, and resumed her supply service to the Caribbean.
On 4 January 1944 the store ship left Norfolk, with a convoy bound for the Mediterranean Sea. She called at Algiers, Algeria on 24 January and soon sailed for Naples, Italy, where she unloaded supplies. She then sailed east and called at Oran, Algeria, in early February before sailing back to the United States. The ship arrived at New York City on 13 February.
Ariel sailed for the Caribbean on 20 February and called at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, to unload. She then returned to New York. In late March, she commenced another voyage to Iceland and arrived back at New York on 10 April. After a few weeks of upkeep, Ariel sailed for the United Kingdom. On arrival she provided food and supplies to ships preparing for the cross-channel Invasion of Normandy. She operated from the ports of Clyde, Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Plymouth and Portland Harbour, England. She left England on D-Day, 6 June, and returned to the United States.
Ariel reached New York on 16 June. After a fortnight of leave and upkeep she sailed to Norfolk. On 1 July she set out across the Atlantic to resupply Mediterranean ports. She unloaded stores and equipment at Oran and Naples before returning to the United States via a stop in the Azores, reaching New York on 3 August.
After a week in New York, Ariel made a round trip to supply Guantanamo Bay and Trinidad. In September she made a round trip from New York to Bermuda. On 20 September she sailed from Norfolk, VA to Oran and Naples. Her return voyage was to New York, where she arrived on 23 October. From there she took supplies to San Juan and Guantanamo Bay. In early November she returned to Norfolk for servicing. She returned to duty on 10 December, sailing laden for Oran and Naples. She returned to Norfolk on 6 February 1945. Later that month she made another round trip to Oran.
In March Ariel left New York for San Juan, Puerto Rico. She returned to the east coast and put into Boston, Massachusetts on 12 April. From there she took a cargo to Argentia and arrived back at Boston in late April. She then took a cargo to Bermuda.
She continued her supply runs to Caribbean ports from New York, Norfolk, and Boston until 1946. On 12 May 1946 Ariel left New York for a final voyage via Argentia, Newfoundland to Reykjavík, where she docked on 29 May and unloaded. She left for New York on 1 June, arrived a week later, and entered New York Naval Shipyard for decommissioning.
On 21 June 1946 Ariel was decommissioned at New York and transferred to the War Shipping Administration. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 3 July 1946. She was returned to former owner, the United Fruit Company, under charter under her pre-war name Jamaica until redelivered to the owners 9 December 1947.
Jamaica returned to liner work for United Fruit but later was sold to new owners. In April 1957 the ship was converted to a refrigerator type. Jamaica was sold in December 1957 to Union-Partenreederei T/S of Bremen, Germany, which also acquired her United Fruit sister ship Chiriqui. Union-Partenreederei changed Jamaica's name to D/S Blumenthal. She was scrapped in 1969 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
- Colton, T. (May 2, 2014). "Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News VA". ShipbuildingHistory. T. Colton. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
- Maritime Administration. "Jamaica". Ship History Database Vessel Status Card. U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- Naval History And Heritage Command. "Ariel". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History And Heritage Command. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- Pacific Marine Review (1932). "Burned Liner Being Reconditioned". Consolidated 1932 issues (August 1932). 'Official Organ: Pacific American Steamship Association/Shipowners' Association of the Pacific Coast. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- Pacific Marine Review (1933). "Pacific Marine Review". Consolidated 1933 issues (February 1933). 'Official Organ: Pacific American Steamship Association/Shipowners' Association of the Pacific Coast. Retrieved 22 June 2014.