USS Regulus (AF-57)
Regulus replenishing USS America, in 1970
|Laid down:||29 April 1944|
|Launched:||7 June 1944|
|Acquired:||5 May 1952|
|Commissioned:||3 February 1954|
|Decommissioned:||10 September 1971|
|Struck:||10 September 1971|
|Fate:||grounded on a reef, damaged beyond economical repair|
|Displacement:||4,960 tons(lt) 10,850 tons(fl)|
|Length:||455 ft 3 in (138.76 m)|
|Beam:||62 ft (19 m)|
|Draught:||28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)|
|Propulsion:||geared gas turbine, single propeller, 8,500 shp|
|Armament:||four twin 3'/50 dual purpose gun mounts|
USS Regulus (AF-57) was a Denebola-class stores ship acquired by the United States Navy. Her task was to carry stores, refrigerated items, and equipment to ships in the fleet, and to remote stations and staging areas.
The second vessel to be named Regulus by the Navy, Regulus was built under United States Maritime Commission contract, was laid down as Escanaba Victory (MCV hull 112) by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon, 29 April 1944; launched 7 June 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Aubrey D. Day; and delivered to the Maritime Commission 29 June 1944.
Initially operated for the Maritime Commission by the American South African Line, Escanaba Victory was acquired by the Navy from the Commission's successor, the United States Maritime Administration, 5 May 1952; converted by the Todd Shipyard, Brooklyn, New York; and commissioned as Regulus (AF-57) 3 February 1954, Comdr. John D. Lautaret in command.
Completing initial training and outfitting on the west coast, Regulus, homeported at Alameda, California, loaded at San Francisco, California, and on 8 May 1954 got underway for the Far East. A unit of Service Squadron 3, she operated out of Sasebo and replenished units of the United States Seventh Fleet at sea and in ports from Japan to the Philippines until November when she steamed for the United States. Returning to San Francisco 2 December, she was deployed again 26 February–26 August 1955, extending her range on that tour to ports in Indochina.
Supporting Vietnam operations
For the remainder of that decade and through the next, she continued to rotate regularly to the western Pacific Ocean, transporting in 1957 art treasures from Korea to the United States for exhibition. During the early 1960s, her deployed time in the Western Pacific was increased and from 1964 her primary mission was shifted to replenishment of Seventh Fleet units operating off the coast of Vietnam. Her triennial overhaul periods excepted, Regulus, equipped in 1965 with a helicopter deck for vertical replenishment, continued to carry provisions to the units of the United States Pacific Fleet until the night of 16–17 August 1971.
Grounded on a reef in a typhoon
While riding out typhoon Rose at Hong Kong, Regulus grounded on Kau I Chau Island on 17 August 1971, ripping open her hull. After three weeks of attempting to refloat Regulus, it was finally decided that the damage she had incurred was too severe to warrant salvage. The ship was cut up and removed in pieces. Regulus was decommissioned 10 September 1971 and subsequently struck from the Navy List.
Military awards and honors
Regulus’ crew was eligible for the following medals:
- National Defense Service Medal (2)
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (6-Vietnam)
- Vietnam Service Medal (11)
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Ross M. Contini; EM 5 Aboard the Regulus at the time of wreck.