USS Bellatrix (AKA-3)

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USS Bellatrix (AKA-3) underway in the 1950s
United States
Name: USS Bellatrix
Namesake: a star, in the constellation Orion
Builder: Tampa Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.
Laid down: Unknown
Launched: 15 August 1941
Commissioned: 17 February 1942
Recommissioned: 16 May 1952 (after being decommissioned on 1 April 1946)
Decommissioned: 3 June 1955
Reclassified: 1 February 1943
Honours and
Six battle stars
Fate: Transferred to Peruvian Navy on 20 July 1963.
Naval Jack of Peru.svgPeru
Name: BAP Independencia
Commissioned: 1963
Decommissioned: 1991
Fate: Scrapped in October, 1991, but sank on the way to breakers.
General characteristics
Displacement: 8045 tons (8175 metric tons)
Length: 459.08 ft (139.93 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19 m)
Draught: 26.5 ft (8.1 m)
Propulsion: Diesel engine, 6900 hp (5.15 MW), single propeller
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)
Capacity: 5830 tons (16,500 m³)
Complement: 369

USS Bellatrix (AK-20/AKA-3) was an Arcturus-class attack cargo ship in the United States Navy during World War II and the Korean War. The ship was named after the star Bellatrix in the constellation Orion. The name means "warrioress," and the star is usually named as the 22nd brightest star in the northern hemisphere.

Bellatrix was constructed in Tampa, Florida as a C2-T class merchant marine cargo ship for the Maritime Commission under the name Raven. In April 1941, the War Shipping Administration transferred control of the unfinished Raven to the U.S. Navy. She was reclassified as an AKA-3 attack cargo ship, and launched in August under the command of W.F. Dietrich.

USS Bellatrix (AK-20) off Tampa, Florida, in 1942.

Bellatrix served in the Pacific during 1942, and participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal by delivering troops and supplies to the initial attack on 7 August. She made two subsequent shipments to the island, bringing both cargo and reinforcements. In 1943 she became part of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, participating in the Allied invasion of Sicily. A subsequent shipment to the Gilbert Islands was terminated due to engine failure; Bellatrix returned to San Francisco for repairs.

In 1944, the repaired Bellatrix joined General Holland "Howling Mad" Smith's amphibious fleet moving to take the island of Saipan. On 16 July, she delivered her cargo, soldiers from the U.S. Army's 27th Infantry Division, just two days before the defeat of the Japanese General, Yoshitsugu Saito.

The Battle of Saipan was Bellatrix's last World War II deployment. She was decommissioned in April 1946, and returned to the Maritime Commission three months later.

Bellatrix was reacquired by the navy for the Korean War. She was recommissioned 16 May 1952, and performed cargo deliveries and training missions until 1955. Decommissioned a second time, Bellatrix subsequently spent eight years in the Pacific Reserve Fleet before being transferred to Peru in 1963. In 1991 she was sold for scrap, but sank in transit to the port of scrapping. She had been in service for almost fifty years.


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