USS Lesuth (AK-125)
Bow on view of USS Lesuth (AK-125) off San Francisco, 11 November 1943.
|Name:||William M. Gwin|
|Namesake:||William M. Gwin|
|Owner:||War Shipping Administration (WSA)|
|Operator:||American President Lines (APL)|
|Ordered:||as a Type EC2-S-C1 hull, MCE hull 1638|
|Builder:||California Shipbuilding Corporation, Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California|
|Laid down:||24 March 1943|
|Launched:||17 April 1943|
|Sponsored by:||Miss M. B. Follis|
|In service:||29 April 1943|
|Fate:||transferred to the US Navy, 9 October 1943|
|Namesake:||The star Lesuth|
|Acquired:||9 October 1943|
|Commissioned:||1 November 1943|
|Decommissioned:||16 August 1946|
|Renamed:||Lesuth, 11 October 1943|
|Refit:||converted for Naval service at United Engineering, Alameda, California|
|Struck:||17 July 1947|
|1 × battle star|
|Fate:||returned to MARCOM, 29 May 1947, laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay Group, Benicia, California|
|Status:||sold for scrapping, 31 July 1964, withdrawn, 20 August 1964|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type:||Crater-class cargo ship|
|Length:||441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)|
|Beam:||56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)|
|Draft:||28 ft 4 in (8.64 m)|
|Speed:||12.5 kn (14.4 mph; 23.2 km/h)|
|Complement:||15 officers 222 enlisted|
USS Lesuth (AK-125) was a Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the US Navy for service in World War II. Lesuth was named after the star Lesuth in the constellation Scorpius. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.
Lesuth was laid down 24 March 1943, under a Maritime Commission (MARCOM) contract, MC hull No. 1638, as the Liberty ship SS William M. Gwin, by California Shipbuilding Corporation, Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California; launched 17 April 1943; sponsored by Miss M. B. Follis; acquired by the Navy 9 October 1943; renamed Lesuth 11 October 1943; converted at United Engineering, Alameda, California; and commissioned 1 November 1943, Lieutenant Commander Bertrand H. Bassett, USNR in command.
After loading cargo, Lesuth departed San Pedro, California, 14 November, arriving Pago Pago, Samoa, on 30 November. Four days later she arrived Funafuti, Ellice Islands and for the next 3 months engaged in training exercises in the South Pacific.
Serving South Pacific island bases
From Funafuti she steamed to the Marshall Islands, arriving Kwajalein 6 March 1944, as a unit of Service Squadron 8. Lesuth remained in the Marshall Islands until she departed Kwajalein 6 August, for Guadalcanal. She loaded cargo in the Solomons and Russell Islands, then sailed from Manus 14 September, en route to the Palau-Western Caroline campaign.
Supporting the Philippine invasion
The Palau Islands were of strategic importance as an advance base for the invasion of Leyte. The initial landings took place 15 September, 5 days before Lesuth arrived off Kossol Passage. For the next 2 months she remained off Peleliu unloading cargo needed for the Philippine assault. Sailing to Tulagi and Guadalcanal in late November, the cargo ship departed on 26 November for San Francisco, California.
After overhaul, Lesuth rejoined Service Squadron 8 at Eniwetok 11 February 1945. Later that month she sailed for the Philippines, arriving San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on 28 February. Following 6 weeks of cargo operations off Leyte, she steamed to the United States during May and June, for additional supplies, then returned to Ulithi 25 July.
When the Japanese surrender ended World War II, Lesuth was used to carry provisions to the occupation troops in the Far East. From September 1945 to May 1946, she made cargo runs to Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Saipan, finally departing Saipan 5 May. Arriving San Francisco, California, on 24 May, Lesuth remained there until 2 July, when she sailed for Pearl Harbor.
She was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay Group, until purchased by Union Minerals & Alloys Corp., on 31 July 1964, for $49,660. She was physically removed from the Reserve Fleet on 8 August 1964.
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
- World War II Victory Medal
- Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)
- Philippines Liberation Medal
- "Lesuth". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 16 February 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "California Shipbuilding, Los Angeles CA". www.ShipbuildingHistory.com. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- "USS Lesuth (AK-125)". Navsource.org. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- "LESUTH (AK-125)". United States Department of Transportation. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- Photo gallery of USS Lesuth (AK-125) at NavSource Naval History