USS Shaula (AK-118)
|Ordered:||as a type (EC2-S-C1) hull, MCE hull 1213, SS James Screven|
|Builder:||St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company, Jacksonville, Florida|
|Laid down:||4 October 1943|
|Launched:||23 November 1943|
|Acquired:||4 December 1943|
|Commissioned:||5 May 1944|
|Decommissioned:||24 June 1946|
|Struck:||19 July 1946|
|Fate:||Sold to Achille Lauro, Italy, 24 July 1947, renamed SS Olimpia|
|Status:||scrapped at La Spezia, Italy in 1968|
|General characteristics |
|Class & 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)|
|Installed power:||2,500 shp (1,900 kW)|
|Speed:||12.5 kn (14.4 mph; 23.2 km/h)|
USS Shaula (AK-118) was a Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.
Shaula was laid down as SS James Screven (MC hull 1213) under Maritime Commission contract by St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company, Jacksonville, Florida, on 4 October 1943; launched on 23 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Gardner T. Gillette; acquired as Shaula by the Navy from the War Shipping Administration under bareboat charter on 4 December 1943; converted from a freighter by Gibbs Gas Engine Co., Jacksonville, Florida; and commissioned on 5 May 1944.
World War II Pacific Theatre operations
On 17 May, Shaula departed for Hampton Roads, Virginia, on her shakedown cruise. On 1 June, she was attached to the Naval Transportation Service and, two days later, sailed for Davisville, Rhode Island, where she loaded cargo. In mid-June, she was underway for Pearl Harbor, via New York City, Guantánamo Bay, and the Panama Canal Zone.
Converted to fleet issue ship
Shaula arrived at Pearl Harbor on 13 July; discharged her cargo; and sailed for Naval Supply Depot (NSD), Oakland, California, on 3 August. There, she was converted to a fleet issue ship for dry provisions, loaded with cargo, and ordered to return to Pearl Harbor. Upon arriving there on the 30th, she was rerouted to Seeadler Harbor, Manus. From 20 September to 16 October, she discharged cargo to U.S. 3rd Fleet units and, when empty, sailed for San Pedro, California, to reload.
Servicing South Pacific units
Shaula stood out of San Pedro on November 23d. She called at Pearl Harbor and continued to Eniwetok where she provisioned fleet units from 15 to 25 December 1944, when she moved to Ulithi. She remained there until 12 February 1945, when she sailed in convoy for Guam. Eight days later, she sailed for San Francisco. After completing voyage repairs and reloading, she headed west, on 3 April, for Ulithi and Leyte Gulf.
The cargo ship remained in Leyte Gulf from 25 May to 2 October when she sailed for Wakayama, Japan, via Okinawa. Shaula departed Wakayama three weeks later for Bungo Suido to provision minesweepers; thence to Hire Wan, Nagasaki, and Sasebo.
Caught in damaging typhoons
On 19 November, she was underway from Sasebo to Samar, Philippine Islands. On the 24th, Shaula was in the center of the typhoon containing winds in excess of 100 knots. She lost one lifeboat and one life raft. The next day, she was in the center of a similar typhoon. In heavy seas and rolling 47°, Shaula lost two LCM's over the side. She reached Samar the next day and entered drydock for repairs. After they were completed, she operated in the Philippine Islands until departing for Shanghai on 15 February 1946. She also visited Yokohama and Manus before entering Pearl Harbor on 3 May, en route to the U.S. West Coast.
Shaula arrived at Seattle, Washington, on 31 May and prepared for decommissioning. She was returned to WSA on 25 June; stricken from the Navy List on 19 July 1946; and sold to Italy on 24 July 1947. She was temporarily used as an emigrant carrier but reverted to a cargo only role in 1951. Achille Lauro was a right wing politician who expanded out of cargo shipping into the emigrant business. The SS Olimpia was a ship with basic accommodation which had been hastily crammed for emigrant passengers. She was included in the list of vessels on whose regular line voyages the International Refugee Organization proposed to make block bookings in the year to July 1950. In 1951 her passenger accommodation was removed and she sailed from 1952 to 1968 on Lauro's cargo-only service. Her route was Genoa to Australia via Naples, Italy, Suez, Aden, Bombay, Singapore, Fremantle and Sydney, Australia. In 1968 she was scrapped at La Spezia.
Military awards and honors
No battle stars are recorded in the Navy Listing for Shaula. However, her crew was eligible for the following medals and campaign ribbons:
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery of Shaula at NavSource Naval History