USS Cheleb (AK-138)

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Broadside view of USS Cheleb (AK-138) off San Francisco, CA., 3 January 1944.
Broadside view of USS Cheleb (AK-138) off San Francisco, CA., 3 January 1944.
United States
  • Lyman J. Gage
  • Cheleb
Ordered: as a type (EC2-S-C1) hull, MCE hull 520, SS Lyman J. Gage
Builder: Permanente Metals Corporation, Richmond, California
Laid down: 29 December 1942
Launched: 29 January 1943
Sponsored by: Mrs. E. E. Carter
Acquired: 6 February 1943
Commissioned: 1 January 1944
Decommissioned: 25 July 1946
Struck: 22 May 1947
Identification: Hull symbol:AK-138
Fate: sold for scrapping, 27 March 1978, (PD-X-1026) to Levin Metals, Corp. for $111,653
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Crater-class cargo ship
  • 4,023 long tons (4,088 t) (standard)
  • 14,550 long tons (14,780 t) (full load)
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)
Beam: 56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)
Draft: 28 ft 4 in (8.64 m)
Installed power: 2,500 shp (1,900 kW)
Speed: 12.5 kn (14.4 mph; 23.2 km/h)
Complement: 252

The USS Cheleb (AK-138) was a Crater-class cargo ship in the service of the United States Navy in World War II. It was the only ship of the Navy to have borne this name. It is named after Cheleb, a star in the northern hemisphere constellation of Ophiuchus.

Built in Richmond, California[edit]

Cheleb was laid down 29 December 1943 as liberty ship SS Lyman J. Gage (MCE hull 520) by Permanente Metals Corporation, Richmond, California, under a Maritime Commission contract; launched 29 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. E. E. Carter; and commissioned 1 January 1944, Lieutenant A. E. McKimmey, USNR, in command.

World War II Pacific Theater operations[edit]

Cheleb cleared San Francisco 20 January 1944 for Pearl Harbor, where she loaded ammunition and explosives for transportation to newly won Kwajalein, which she reached 19 February. Here her cargo, destined for use in the assault of Eniwetok which began that day, was unloaded, and on 11 March, Cheleb cleared for Port Hueneme, California, base for the Pacific Naval Construction Battalions. After delivering construction equipment at Pearl Harbor, on 18 April, she returned to Oakland, California, where she was converted to a fleet issue ship.

Cheleb loaded a varied cargo at San Francisco, and with it arrived at Kwajalein 5 June 1944 to supply ships readying for the assault on the Marianas 10 days later. Cheleb also issued stores at Majuro and Eniwetok until 2 August, when she sailed from the Marshalls for San Francisco to reload. Returning to Ulithi 15 October, she supplied ships of the vast 3rd Fleet for the next month, as they carried out their operations supporting the assault on the Philippines. She returned to the west coast to reload in December, and on 22 January 1945 arrived at Eniwetok to provision ships bound for the invasion of Iwo Jima, and later ships destined for the assault on Okinawa. Another voyage to the west coast for repairs and reloading took place in May and June, and on 22 July Cheleb arrived in Leyte Gulf to take up the task of issuing supplies once more. During this time, she serviced some of the ships conducting the final pounding air attacks on the Japanese home islands.

Post-war decommissioning[edit]

Cheleb arrived in Tokyo Bay 17 November 1945, and remained to issue provisions and supplies to occupation forces at the ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, and Yokosuka. She returned to San Francisco 12 May, and later sailed to Pearl Harbor, where she was decommissioned 25 July 1946. After use in a special explosives test, she was turned over to the War Shipping Administration for disposal, her contribution to the Navy's great logistic effort at an end.


  1. ^ "USS Cheleb (AK-138)". Retrieved May 21, 2015. 

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