USS Spica (AK-16)

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USS Spica (AK-16) near Boston Navy Yard, 26 April 1940.jpg
USS Spica (AK-16) near Boston Navy Yard, 26 April 1940, soon after commissioning. She has been armed with one 5"/51 gun on a platform forward and one on the fantail, two 3"/50 guns on the bridge wings and two more on a platform on the poop. The Navy was not yet fitting splinter protection (low bulwarks) around such guns. There is no visible provision for anti-aircraft machine guns.
United States
  • Shannock
  • Spica
Namesake: Spica
Laid down: 15 June 1918, as SS Shannock
Launched: 8 August 1918
Acquired: 16 November 1921, renamed Spica (AK-16)
Commissioned: 1 March 1940
Decommissioned: 18 January 1946
Struck: 7 February 1946
Identification: Hull symbol: AK-16
Fate: sold for operation, 2 April 1947, to J. T. Robinson Ltd. of Vancouver, B. C. Canada, removed, 13 June 1947, renamed SS Pleamar
Status: fate unknown
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Sirius-class cargo ship
Type: Design 1022 ship
  • 5,800 t (5,700 long tons) (standard)
  • 11,360 t (11,180 long tons) (full load)
Length: 401 ft (122 m)
Beam: 54 ft 2 in (16.51 m)
Draft: 24 ft 5 in (7.44 m)
Installed power: 2,500 shp (1,900 kW)
Speed: 11 kn (13 mph; 20 km/h)
Capacity: 5,475 DWT
Complement: 8 officers 244 enlisted

USS Spica (AK-16) was a Sirius-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering necessary goods and equipment to ships and stations in the war zone.


SS Shannock, a cargo ship built in 1919, by American International Shipbuilding Corp. at Hog Island, Pennsylvania, was acquired by the Navy from the United States Shipping Board on 16 November 1921, and renamed Spica (AK-16). Over the following 18 years, she remained out of commission, first at New York City, then at Charleston, South Carolina, and finally at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from January 1927 until 1 March 1940, when Spica was commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia, Comdr. E. D. Gibb in command.

World War II activation and operations[edit]

By mid-1940, Spica was assigned to the 13th Naval District; and, until late 1943, she sailed Alaskan waters carrying supplies to American outposts on the Alaskan coast and in the Aleutian Islands. During this period, she participated in the campaign to reoccupy Attu. On 24 November 1943, she headed south to San Francisco, California, whence she departed again on 5 December.

Heading via Funafuti, she reached Kwajalein Atoll in January 1944 and returned, via Pearl Harbor, to Seattle, Washington, on 22 March. For the next six months, Spica resumed her Alaska-Aleutian circuit. In mid-September, she began a series of voyages from the U.S. West Coast to Hawaii which continued until mid-March 1945. In all, she made four round-trip voyages between Seattle and Oahu. She returned to Seattle on 17 March 1945 and, on 7 April, once again took up the northern Pacific supply runs, completing her last at Seattle on 14 September.

Post-war decommissioning[edit]

In October, she was declared surplus to the needs of the Navy; and, on 18 January 1946, she decommissioned at Seattle. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 7 February 1946, and she was delivered to the Maritime Commission for lay-up pending disposal. On 13 June 1947, her hull was sold to J. T. Robinson, Ltd., a Canadian firm.

Military awards and honors[edit]

Spica was awarded one battle star during World War II. Her crew members were eligible for the following medals:

  • American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet clasp)
  • American Campaign Medal
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
  • World War II Victory Medal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "USS Spica (AK-16)". Retrieved June 10, 2015.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

External links[edit]