USS Rotanin (AK-108)

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United States
  • William Kelly
  • Rotanin
Namesake: Rotanin, a star
Ordered: as a type (EC2-S-C1) hull, MCE hull 1872, SS William Kelly
Builder: California Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, California
Laid down: 24 July 1943
Launched: 18 August 1943
Sponsored by: Mrs. Andrew R. Bone
Commissioned: 23 November 1943
Decommissioned: 5 April 1946
Struck: 17 April 1946
Identification: Hull symbol:AK-108
Honors and
received one battle star for World War II service
Fate: sold for scrapping, 29 April 1966, to Nicolai Joffe Corp.
Status: scrapping completed by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co.(NASSCO), Terminal Island, CA., 30 August 1966
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: 206

USS Rotanin (AK-108) was a Crater-class cargo ship commissioned for the Merchant Marines for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

Rotanin (AK-108), originally named SS William Kelly, was laid down 24 July 1943 under Maritime Commission contract (MCE-1872) by the California Shipbuilding Co., Terminal Island, California; launched 18 August 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Andrew R. Bone; and commissioned 23 November 1943, Lt. William L. Howard, USNR, in command.

World War II Pacific Theatre operations[edit]

Completing shakedown 5 December, Rotanin loaded her first combat cargo and embarked her first military passengers at Port Hueneme, California, and on the 12th sailed for Noumea. Arriving 5 January 1944, she carried troops and cargo to Guadalcanal, then, on the 27th, continued on to the Russell Islands. By 2 February, she had discharged all cargo and was underway back to the Guadalcanal-Florida Island area. From then until March, she carried cargo and personnel throughout the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomons, the Fijis, and the New Hebrides. In April she completed a run to Auckland, New Zealand, and in May she moved supplies to Manus. She then resumed runs in the Solomons-New Hebrides-Fiji area.

Supporting the Allied invasion forces[edit]

In August, Rotanin shifted to the Marshalls-Marianas area and at the end of the month she moved further west, to Ulithi. In October, she carried Army units to the Palaus, embarked marines there, and transported them to the Russells. In November, she returned to operations in the Marianas, extended them to the Carolines, and in January 1945, returned to Nouméa. February and March took her back to Micronesia and New Zealand. In April she was in the Solomons, and, in May, she took on Army supplies and reinforcements for the Okinawa campaign. Arriving off the Hagushi beaches on the 21st she completed offloading by the end of the month and on the 31st she steamed east.

End-of-war activity[edit]

During June and July, Rotanin again operated in the Marshalls and Marianas. On 28 July she headed for Hawaii and the west coast. En route when hostilities ceased, she arrived at San Francisco, California, on 17 August. In October she joined the ships assigned to transpacific operations to ferry occupation troops to Japan and Korea and to return veterans to the United States.

Post-war inactivation and decommissioning[edit]

On 2 February 1946, Rotanin arrived at San Francisco and reported to the Commander, 12th Naval District for inactivation. She was decommissioned on 5 April 1946 and returned to the Maritime Commission. Her name was stricken from the Navy List on 17 April 1946. She was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, where she remained until 1966. In that year, she was sold and scrapped.

The novel Mr. Roberts and its stage and cinematic adaptations, may have been inspired in part by the Rotanin, one of two Navy cargo vessels on which Thomas Heggen, author of the novel, served during World War II.

Military awards and honors[edit]

Rotanin earned one battle star during World War II. Her crew was eligible for the following medals:

  • American Campaign Medal
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)


  1. ^ "USS Rotanin (AK-108)". Retrieved May 16, 2015. 

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