USS Uranus (AF-14)
|Laid down:||1933 as SS Helga|
|Acquired:||11 August 1941|
|Commissioned:||USS Uranus (AF-14),
27 October 1941
|Decommissioned:||8 May 1946|
|Struck:||21 May 1946|
|Fate:||returned to owner,
9 May 1946
|Length:||269 ft 6 in (82.14 m)|
|Beam:||39 ft 6 in (12.04 m)|
|Draft:||16 ft (4.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||reciprocating steam engine, single propeller|
|Capacity:||1,135 long tons deadweight (DWT)|
|Armament:||two single 3"/50 DP gun mounts; six single 20mm AA gun mounts|
USS Uranus (AF-14) was a Uranus-class stores ship acquired by the U.S. Navy for use in World War II. She served in both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, delivering food, including refrigerated items, to ships operating in the battle areas.
Uranus (AF-14) was built in 1933 as SS Helga at Elsinore, near Copenhagen, Denmark, by Helsingpors Shipbuilding Works, for J. Lauritzen A/S and had previously operated as SS Caravelle (1938 to 1940) and SS Marie (1940 to 1941). She served in the fruit trade between her home country – Denmark -- and Central American republics and became a ship without a country upon the fall of her homeland to the invading Germany in the spring of 1940.
Acquired by the Navy from the United States Maritime Commission on 11 August 1941, SS Marie soon entered the Robbins Drydock Co. yard at Brooklyn, New York, for conversion to a naval stores ship. Renamed Uranus and classified AF-14, the ship was placed in commission at Brooklyn on 27 October 1941, Comdr. Orrin J. Hewitt in command. During the ship's subsequent shakedown period, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; and the United States entered World War II in both oceans. Uranus departed Norfolk, Virginia, on 20 December and arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Christmas Eve. Five days later, she pushed on for Iceland.
Uranus served as a floating refrigerated storage vessel and provided stores and provisions to American forces in Iceland into the summer of 1943. During this time, her ports of call included Hvalfjörður, Budareyi, Seyðisfjörður, Reykjavík, and Akureyri. In these inhospitable and unpredictable northern waters, the ship ran aground off Akureyri while on a coastwise passage at 0129 on 10 April 1943, coming to a stop on a sloping gravel beach which was reputedly once the fairway between two holes of a coastal golf course. After repeated attempts, with the assistance of USS Symbol and USS Kewaydin, the storeship was finally refloated on the 13th.
Following repairs, she departed Icelandic waters on 21 August, with men and equipment from a Navy construction battalion on board but, due to contrary winds and currents, did not make port at her Davisville, Rhode Island, destination until 3 September. After discharging passengers, the stores ship proceeded on for New York, arriving three days later. She then pressed south for Norfolk, Virginia, where she soon commenced a lengthy overhaul. Uranus—now outfitted with a new refrigeration system—departed the U.S. East Coast on 20 December and, five days later, reached a rendezvous with a convoy bound for the Pacific Ocean. Clearing the Panama Canal on the first day of 1944, the stores ship headed on for Pearl Harbor on 3 January, proceeding independently, and reached Oahu on the 23d.
She conducted two round-trip Pacific passages between San Francisco, California, and Pearl Harbor and Midway Island, before she sailed for Majuro in the Marshalls. For the remainder of the year 1944, Uranus conducted routine cargo and stores-carrying runs between Midway Island and Pearl Harbor to the west and San Pedro, California, to the east. Overhauled at San Francisco, California, in April 1945, the ship was based at this port for the remainder of the war in the Pacific. She subsequently participated in Operation Magic Carpet operations to bring veterans back to the United States from the erstwhile Pacific battle zones.
Decommissioned on 8 May 1946 at Norfolk, Uranus was delivered to the War Shipping Administration of the Maritime Commission on 9 May and was struck from the Navy list on 21 May. Returned by the Maritime Commission to her original owner, J. Lauritzen as SS Maria Dan, re-flagged Danish, registered at Esbjerg, Denmark, she engaged in carrying wood pulp from the Baltic Sea to the United Kingdom until about 1959. She was sold to Chrisot M. Sarlis, Patras, Greece, in 1959, and renamed SS Michael.