The U.S.S. VIRGO AKA-20
was built by the Federal Shipbuilding Company, at
Kearney, New Jersey, in the winter and spring 1943. It
was originally designed for use in the U.S. Maritime
Service, but was taken over by the Navy for use as an
amphibious cargo attack ship. She is a medium-sized cargo
vessel having certain bulkheads and much equipment of a
military nature added.
Overall Length 459' 2 1/2", Beam 63' 2 1/2",
Light Draft (Fore & aft) 12' 11 3/4" Maximum
Draft 25' 9 3/4"
The ship is divided into
five (5) holds, each hold serviced by two (2) booms, one
(1) thirty ton boom and one (1) ten (10) ton boom, with
the exception of #1 hold which has two (2) ten (10) ton
booms. The total useful cargo capacity after conversion
being about 350,000 cu. ft.
The ship has a full speed
of 17 knots (95 RPM) and 8 cruising speed of l5.5 knots
(87 RPM). Fuel consumption at full speed is 575 gallons
per hour and at standard speed, 420 gallons per hour. Her
fuel capacity is 436,000 gallons fuel oil, 28,754 gallons
diesel fuel and 3,000 gallons lube oil. The fresh water
capacity of the ship total's 158,920 gallons with 6,857
gallons for boiler food. Her cruising range at cruising speed of 15.5 knots is 10,367 miles.
The ship is single
screwed, steam turbine (double reduction) driven, made by
Delaval and is rated at 6000 HP. There are two (2)
boilers made by the Combustion Engineering Corp. with
working pressure of 450 pounds, 750 degrees superheat.
The electricity for the
ship's use is furnished by two (2) General Electric 300
KW, 120-240 V-DC generators And one (1) Ideal Electric
300 KW, l20-240 V-DC generator. For emergency use there
is one (1) diesel driven 60 KW, 120-240 V-DC generator,
The steering engine is electric hydraulic made by Hydo
Windlass. The refrigerating system is composed of five
(5), four (4) ton York compressors and are freon type.
The evaporator is of the
low pressure double effect type with a 12,000 gallon
VIRGO earned seven (7) battle stars
for World War II
On the 15th. of July,
1943, the VIRGOs sea trials were held. From
observations and inspections during the triai1s, the
board considered that the ship was well-built; that her
machinery was well arranged and installed; that the
vessel was acceptable in accordance with terms of the
The vessel comprises a
cargo ship with provisions for carrying one hundred fifty
(150) troops, troop stores, troop and tank landing barges
and the Navy crew necessary for operation of the vessel
in combat areas. On July 16, 1943 the U.S.S. VIRGO (AKA-20), was placed in commission by Commander H. F.
Sasse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York;
Commander C. H. McLaughlin, Commanding with a crew of two
hundred seven (207) enlisted men and twenty-four (24)
officers. From July 16th to July 30th undergoing various
alterations as proscribed by the Navy for fitting the
vessel for use as an amphibious cargo attack ships.
On the 30th of July 1943,
the vessel went to Bayonne Terminal, Bayonne, New Jersey,
for degaussing. Later on July 30th, the compasses were
calibrated and the ships ammunition brought aboard.
On the 31st of July, 1943, to the 1st. of August, 1943,
the ship was underway from New York to Norfolk, Va. On
the 2nd. of August 1943, landing craft were received as
follows: Eight (8) 501 tank Lighters (LCM's) and sixteen
(16) 361 personnel boats (LCVP's) A crew of one hundred
nineteen (119) enlisted men and eleven (11) officers were
received to man the boats.
On the 3rd. of August 1943
the U.S.S. VIRGO entered its shakedown and training
period in the Chesapeake Bay, which lasted until the 9th.
of August . There were extensive training schedules which
consisted of launching and handling of boats, fire
drills, abandon ship drills and general quarters. On the
9th of August the vessel returned to Norfolk, Va., and
moored at the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.,
where minor alterations were made.
On August 24th. 1943 the
U.S.S. VIRGO departed from Norfolk Va. bound for the west
coast via the Panama Canal, traveling in convoy, arriving
in Panama August 30, 1943 and passed through the Canal on
August 31, 1943. Departed Panama with a number of
passengers and a small amount of cargo bound for the
United States and arrived in San Diego on the 9th. of
September. From the 9th of September until the 15th. the
vessel was in an Diego, here It was loaded with Marine
Corps. equipment for transportation to Pearl Harbor.
On the 15th, the vessel
departed from San Diego enroute to Pearl Harbor The U.S.S. VIRGO
arrived in Pearl Harbor on the 21st of
September and proceeded to unload the marine equipment.
Completed unloading cargo on the 22nd of September. While
at Pearl Harbor five (5) officers and sixty-four (64)
enlisted men of the boat crew were transferred. Here
also, four (4) officers and forty-two (42) enlisted men
for the boat crew were received aboard as replacements
for those transferred.
September 24, 1943, the U.S.S.
VIRGO departed Pearl Harbor enroute to Wellington,
New Zealand, arriving there on October 6, 1943. The
eleven (11) day trip was made without incident; various
drills were conducted enroute. Here the ship remained
until November 1st. 1943, coming under the control of
Transport Division Four Transport Group Two, Fifth
Amphibious Force in preparation for our first invasion
The place and time of the coming action being a closely
During the stay, in New
Zealand the following organizations of the U.S. Marine
Corps were embarked on the 30th of October: Two (2)
officers and fifty-two (52) enlisted men of Dot, Co. 2nd
Amphibious Tractor Battalion, their tractors (LVT's)
being embarked previously, There were fifteen (15) such
tractors embarked at that time, which replaced eight (8)
of the ship's 36 LCVP's on the hatches and, the
remainder were stowed in #3 hold and by shifting the 50'
LCM's, others were nested on deck, Much equipment such as
arms, ammunition, food, organizational equipment,
gasoline, etc. was loaded while in New Zealand. Total
weight of cargo was around 2500 tons. A total of two
hundred eleven (211) enlisted men and seven (7) officers
were embarked all being part of the 2nd. Marine Div. of
the FMF. After loading was completed various drills were
conducted in connection with amphibious landings, and the
handling of LVT's.
On 1 November 1943,
departed New Zealand in convoy, arriving at Efate, Now
Hebrides, 7 November 1943, where training exercises were
conducted during the day, Upon completion of exercises,
the convoy proceeded to Havana Harbor. Again on the 9th.
of November, exercises were conducted off Efate Harbor,
upon completion of which the ship proceeded to Fila
Harbor where more cargo was loaded,
On the 13th. of November,
1943, departed Fila Harbor, New Hebrides, and proceeded
to the Gilbert Islands, arriving off Tarawa, the scene of
the VIRGO's first action, in the early morning hours of
November 20th, 1943.
In the early morning hours
of "D" Days the ship was taken under fire by
shore batteries and numerous shells landed in the
immediate vicinity of this vessel. No hits were sustained
and no damage was received, All landing craft and LVT's
had been discharged just prior to being taken under fire.
During "D" Days the vessel's crew repaired
several damaged LVT's Water rations, hand grenades,
dynamite, torpedoes and small arms were sent to the beach
On "D" Day plus three, the
ship entered the lagoon, being one of the first heavy
ships to anchor there. Many casualties were handled and
with the limited facilities of this vessel, it was
impossible to handle all of them. Our doctor and corpsmen assisted by doctors sent by TransDiv. Comdr. did an
excellent job of aiding the wounded about fifty (50)
casualties were handled, twelve (12) of which were
evacuated to Pearl Harbor. Two (2) burials at sea were held No boats were lost during this operation,
although many were damaged, but not beyond the ability of
the Ship's force to repair.
Thus was the action at Tarawa completed
and the ship, in convoy returned to Pearl Harbor,
arriving there December 7th. 1943, where the casualties
were immediately removed.
On December 7, 1943, departed from
Pearl Harbor for Hilo, arriving there the following day.
Here part of the cargo that the vessel had aboard was
discharged. December 9. 1943, departed from Hilo for
Honolulu Harbor, arriving there on December 10, 1943,
where the remainder or of the cargo was discharged.
Departed Honolulu Harbor for Kahuli Harbor, Maui Island,
T.H. on December 11, 1943, arriving there the following
day. Here equipment was taken aboard for use in the
coming training period.
Units of the 22nd, Marines were
embarked for training. Departed Kahuli Harbor on the
14th. of December, 1943, for Maalaea Bay, Maui Island,
T.H. where various exercises were carried out dealing
with amphibious landings and the handling of cargo. The
Vessel departed this area on the 20th. of December, bound
for Pearl Harbor, T.H., arriving there on the 20th. of
December. Here necessary repairs were made to the ship's
machinery and a general rest for all personnel aboard.
From the 9th to the 11th of January,
1944, the ship was loaded with equipment for the next
operation, On the 12th of January, a landing craft
control boat (LCC) was taken aboard replacing one (1)
50 landing craft, (LCM) and one (1) 36
personnel boat (LCVP). There was a short training period
following this and then returned to Pearl Harbor for
completion of loading for the coming operation. 95% of
the cargo being loaded prior to the training period and
the remainder loaded upon return, a total of about 2000
tons, On the 21st. of January 1944, a total of ten (10)
officers and two hundred sixteen (216) enlisted man from
various organizations of the U.S. Army were embarked.
On January 22, 1944 departed Pearl
Harbor in convoy, bound for the Marshall Islands as Part
of Task Force 52, and Southern Attack Force, On the 31st.
of January, 1944, arrived oft Kwajalein Island,
Twenty-three (23) boats from this vessel took part in the
assault on the Islands. Equipment belonging to the army
was dispatched as soon an it was called for.
On the afternoon of "D" Days
the vessel in company with others of its type, entered
the Lagoon and anchored off Carlson Island. Late in the
evening of February 1944, two enemy batteries commenced
shelling the anchorage area; no shells came very close.
On February 2nd. an LCT holed this vessel between upper
and lower tween decks, #5 hold, the hole being about 2
inches long. Damage was not serious and was repaired by
ships force. No boats were lost during this
operation, but some were damaged including the LCC. No
casualties were sustained and none received from shore.
February 4th. departed Kwajalein for Funafuti, in the
Ellice Islands, arriving there on the 8th of February.
Here the ship remained until the 19th. of February. While
in Funafuti, during a recreation trip to the beach, the
first man was lost since the ship had been commissioned
he was drowned while swimming.
On February 19th. departed from
Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Islands, for Port Purvis, Florida
Island, Solomon Islands Here the VIRGO remained until
March 3rd. giving the personnel of the vessel a chance to
relax and exercise on the beach. On the 3rd. of March,
departed from Port Purvis and proceeded to Lunga Roads
Guadalcanal Solomon Islands.
March 4th. commenced loading 40th.
Division (USA) equipment aboard which included vehicles
different types of guns, ammunition, gasoline, diesel
oil, sandbags and rations. Six (6) officers and one
hundred six (106) enlisted men of the 40th. Division
(USA) were embarked on the 5th. of Marsh 1944. Departed
Lunga Roads, Guadalcanal and proceeded to Bokokimbo
Rivers Guadalcanal, in company with other ships for a
period of training.
From the 5th. to the 8th. of March
1944, remained in this area for training. On the 8th. the
ship returned to Lunga Roads, Guadalcanal, Solomon
Islands. Here the vessel remained until the 14th. of
March, when, in convoy, departed for New Caledonia, but
never arrived being recalled to Guadalcanal after
approximately half of the distance was covered. Arrived
back at Lunga Roads, Guadalcanal, Salomon Inlands on the
17th of March. All cargo then aboard was discharged.
Disembarked all 40th Division (USA) personnel. The vessel
remained in the area of Guadalcanal and Florida Islands
until March 26th. During this period a cargo of
ammunition was loaded totaling between 500 and 700 tons.
Five (5) officers and one hundred twelve (112) enlisted
men of the 23th Infantry Cannon Co. (USA) were embarked.
On the 27th of March 1944, departed Guadalcanal area for
Empress Augusta Bay, Bouganville Island, Solomon Islands
arriving there on the 28th. and discharged cargo and
personnel. The same day, departed Empress Augusta Bay for
Milne Bay, New Guinea, arriving there the 31st of March,
1944. The VIRGO remained here until the 4th. of April.
Departed Milne Bay for Buna, New Guinea, arriving at Buna
on the 5th. The vessel remained at Buna until the 14th,
during which time tactical data runs were made. The 14th
of April 1944, saw the departure of the VIRGO from Buna
bound for Goodenough Island, New Guinea, arriving there
the following day,
On the 25th Of April commenced loading
army equipment belonging to the 24th Division, U.S.A.,
for the coming operation at Hollandia, Western New
Guinea, and completed loading on the 16th. Total cargo of
about 1150 tons. On the 17th. embarked eight (8) officers
and two hundred twelve (212) enlisted men of the 24th
Div. and one (1) officer and thirty-four (34) enlisted
man of the 39th Engineers (USA). On the l7th, loading
operations were completed and the following day we were
underway proceeding to Tanamerah Bay, New Guinea, in
company with LST's. Our course took us northwest around
the newly taken Admiralty Island and then southwest to
our destination. Arrived at Tanamerah Bay 0700 April
23rd. By 0800, discharging of cargo was underway and
continued until 2000 the same evening at which time
discharging was secured. Enemy planes were in the area
several times during the night; however, none were seen
but one was clearly heard shortly after dark.
Early April 24th. discharging of cargo
was resumed and completed by 1500 the same day. 1600
departed Tanamerah Bay. On April 27th.we arrived at Cape
Sudest New Guinea. The only eventful happening on the
return trip occurred on the evening of the 24th - two
groups of about eight (8) or ten (10) enemy planes were
reported closing in on the formation at 2000. In the time
between 2000 and 2100, about thirteen (13) bright white
flares were dropped in a search for the formation. A
complete blackout was maintained, all ships holding fire
until the planes finally disappeared with no attack
developing. Fifteen (15) casualties were evacuated from
April 29th. found us proceeding to New
Guinea, where we tied up to a wharf on the morning of the
29th. Loading operations commenced April 30th and were
completed on May 1st. The same day, we were underway
again proceeding to Atiapo New Guinea.
On May 3rd, arrived at ,Atiapo and
proceeded to unload, and completed, discharging the same
evening. Departed Atiapo May 3rd. 1944 for Buna New
Guinea, arriving there May 5th. 1944. May 7th. 1944,
departed Buna New Guinea Guadalcanal arriving Lunga
Roads, Guadalcanal Solomon Islands, on the 10th of May
On the 10th of May, 1944 commenced
loading cargo for training exercises with the lst.
Provisional Marine Brigade, training exercises being
continued through May 31st. in the Guadalcanal area.
Final loading was commenced on June 1st.1944, and
completed June 3rd. Total cargo was about 2000 tons
consisting of explosives, vehicles, guns and gasoline.
The following personnel ware embarked; Seven (7)
officers, fifty-two (52) enlisted man of Battery H&S,
First 155MM Artillery Battalion, Third Corps Artillery,
Third Amphibious Corps; one (1) officer and thirty-three
(33) man of Battery "A" Seventh 155MM Artillery
Battalion, Third Corps Artillery, Third Amphibious Corps,
and ten (10) officers and ninety (90) men of the 53rd.
Naval Construction Battalion.
June.4th.1944, departed Guadalcanal for
Kwajalein, Marshall Island arrived there June 8th. 1944.
June 12, 1944, departed Kwajalein for Guam. On June 15th,
arrived designated area some distance off Saipan. and
remained in this vicinity during the capture of the
island. June 27th, ordered to return to Eniwetok arriving
there June 30, 1944. remained in Eniwetok Lagoon until
July l7th. 1944, then departing Eniwetok for the Guam
invasion and arrived at Agat Bay Guam July 21, 1944. All
boats were launched including the LCC and participated in
landing operations. July 26 1944, all cargo discharged.
No boats were lost to enemy action, but one was lost due
to striking reef while attempting to discharge its cargo.
The ship was holed twice during this operation by LCT's
coming alongside, damage was minor and easily repaired by
ship's force. On July 27th. 1944 departed Guam for
Eniwetok and arrived there July 31, 1944. While at Guam,
more than fifty (50) casualties were handled by our
July 31, 1944 departed Eniwetok for
Espiritu Santos, New Hebridos Islands, arriving there on
August 6, 1944. While here necessary repairs were made.
Recreation facilities of the base were used by the crew.
On the 10th. of August 1944, the command changed; Lt.
Comdr. H. E. RANDALL relieved Comdr. C. H. McLAUGHLIN as
Commanding Officer. On the 14th of August, departed
Espiritu Santos for Guadalcanal Island Solomon Islands,
arriving there on the 16th of August,1944. August 19,
1944, departed Guadalcanal Solomon, Islands, for the
Russell Islands; arriving there the same day, Commenced
loading cargo on the 20th of August, 1944. Our cargo was
loaded at different points in the Russell Islands.
Departed Russell Islands on 22 August for Guadalcanal,
arriving there the same day. Here more cargo was loaded.
On the 24th of August, returned to the Russell Islands.
During the loading, a total of about 2500 tons of cargo
was loaded, cargo consisted of ammunition, guns,
vehicles, tractors, trailers, gasoline, oil and Water, On
the 27th of August preliminary rehearsal was held, and on
the 29th official rehearsal held off Cape Esperance,
Guadalcanal, for the coming invasion of Peleliu.
The following personnel were embarked:
Four (4) officers and sixty-nine (69) enlisted men of
Company "C" 1st. Tank Battalion. 1st.Marine
Division FMF; two (2) officers of 8th 155MM Gun
Battalion, 3rd Artillery, 3rd Amphibious Corps; one (1)
man of Headquarters Platoon Company "A". 1st.
Engineer Battalion, 1st. Marine Division; two (2)
officers and fifty (50) enlisted man of Battery
"C", 3rd 155MM Howitzer Battalion, 3rd Corps
Artillery, 3rd Amphibious Corps; two (2) officers and
twenty-eight (28) men, USMC and one (1) man USN, of
Headquarters 8th 155MM Gun Battalion, 3rd Corps
Artillery, 3rd Amphibious Corps; two (2) enlisted men of
1st. Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Division# FMF; two (2)
officers and thirty-seven (37) men of USN Boat Pool.
September 8, 1944, departed Guadalcanal
for Palau Islands, arriving off Pololiu Island, Palau
Islands on the early morning of the 15th. Here all
landing craft launched and participated in landing
operations. Completed discharging all cargo on the 22nd.
September, but remained in area as small boat repair
ship. No boats lost during this operation due to enemy
action. One man was lost due to enemy action and one man
due to a sling breaking on LCVP while being hoisted.
Forty (40) casualties were handled, most of them later
being transferred to a hospital ship, While in this area
six (6) burials at sea were held.
The 30th of September, loaded about 250
tons of cargo, and embarked fourteen (14) Marine
officers, one hundred seventy-four (174) enlisted Marines
and six (6) enlisted man, U.S. Navy. On the 4th of
October, departed Palau Islands for Russell Islands,
arriving there on the 10th. where troops and cargo were
discharged. On the 12th. this vessel went to Tulagi,
On October 13, 1944, the following
personnel were embarked: Two (2) officers and sixteen
(16) enlisted, medical patients of the U.S. Army; four
(4) officers and sixty-eight (68) men of the U.S.M.C also
thirty (30) prisoners, all enlisted personnel of the
U.S. Navy. Departed Florida Island, Solomon Islands ,
destination San Francisco. Arrived in San Francisco, California, October 29, 1944.
While in San Francisco, a general
overhaul was made of the entire ship: Improved
ventilation system, engine and boiler repairs additional
bunks installed in Officers Country, troop quarters
installed in upper tween deck #1 hold, two double drum
winches were installed at each hatch, a total of ten
(10). The 5" 38 gun was removed and replaced by a
new one. Mark 51 directors and a 17MC Battle Speaking
System were installed. A new PA System was installed
throughout the ship. A general overhaul of the entire
ship was made, including dry-docking which took place at
Hunter's Point. Work was accomplished by the Matson
Navigation Company at pier 36, San Francisco with the
exception of the dry-docking.
The above work was accomplished
beginning November 6, 1944 to December 16, 1944. While in
the States, a short leave was enjoyed by the crew.
The vessel moored in the Naval supply
Depot on the 17th of December, 1944, and loading was
commenced, The cargo consisted of general ship-stores dry
provisions, and a small amount of fresh provisions. About
4300 tons of cargo was loaded. Completed loading shortly
after January 1, 1945 and departed for Pearl Harbor
January 4, 1945o, arriving there on the 10th. In Pearl
Harbor, seven (7) boat officers, eighty-four (84) enlisted
men were transferred, seven (7) LCMs and eleven
(11) LCVPs were taken off. The LCG also was removed
with its crew and two (2) officers. While in Pearl
Harbor, a series of exercises were conducted as practice
for our next operation which consisted of supplying ships
at sea while underway. Exercises in this respect were
successfully conducted near Pearl Harbor.
On 28 January 1945 departed Pearl
Harbor for Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, arriving there on
5 February 1945. Departed Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, on
9 February 1945 in convoy, for Ulithi Islands, arriving
There on the 13th. Departed Ulithi 15 February 1945 for
Kossol Passage Palau Islands, and arrived there on the
16th. On the 17th, departed Kossol Passage to join
service force operating in the area near Iwo Jima during
the capture of that Island, joining Task Group 50.8 on
the 20th of February. Here provisioning at sea was
carried out, destroyers-and destroyer escorts supplied
for the most Part. On the 3rd of March, 1945, arrived
back at Ulithie. Here all cargo aboard was transferred to
the U.S.S. MERCURY which had boon designated as our
relief Many small craft were provisioned during the time
cargo was being transferred to the U.S.S. MERCURY.
Departed Ulithi Island on the 16th
March for Kossol Roads, Palau Islands arriving there on
the 17th. Departed Kossol Roads March 25th for Leyte,
Philippine Islands arriving there on the 28th of March.
On the 7th of April, 1941 commenced loading cargo for
coming assignment, and completed loading on the 14th
having taken aboard about 2000 tons of cargo consisting
of all types of equipment from: barb-wire to bulldozers.
April 18, 1945, departed from Leyte,
Philippine Islands in convoy bound for the Ulithi Islands
arriving there the 21st. Departed Ulithi Islands for
Okinawa, arriving at Okinawa on May lst, 1945. Commenced
discharging cargo on the 2nd and completed discharging
all cargo on the 10th. On the 12th, started loading cargo
consisting of Japanese ordnance equipment of all types,
also some aircraft engines. On the 15th, completed
loading all cargo.
While in the Okinawa areas we were
subject to many air raids which developed mostly at
night. As far as the vessel was concerned, no damage was
sustained but unloading was interrupted many times in
this way. A total of thirty-two (32) red alerts were
sounded during our stay, some of only a few minutes
duration, other lasting for six to twelve hours. Fog
generators and smoke pots were used freely while under
attack. Many ships received suicide attacks, several in
our immediate vicinity, Upon departing this area, fifteen
(15) casualties under medical care were aboard.
On the15th of May departed from Okinawa
in convoy for Ulithi and arrived there on the 21st.
Departed Ulithi on the 22nd bound for Pearl Harbor T.H.
arriving there June 1, 1945. Here some of our cargo was
discharged and the entire ship was loaded with empty
ammunition cases for the United States, from the 5th to
the 14th of June. On the 14th, departed Pearl Harbor for
San Francisco, California, and arrived there on the 20th.
Here, remaining Japanese ordinance equipment was
discharged; the empty ammunition cases were discharged
from the 24th of June until July 2nd. Availability was
granted for necessary repairs, these being accomplished
at Moores Shipyard, Oakland California, from July
5th to the 20th, at which time were shifted to Naval
Supply Depot, Oakland California, to be loaded with
cargo. On the 24th. commenced loading cargo and was
completed on the 3rd of August. The total cargo loaded
was 3200 tons consisting of general supplies, dry
provisions and a small amount of fresh cargo for fleet
Departed San Francisco, 3 August 1945,
for Ulithi Islands arriving there on the 19th of August.
During our trip from the United States to Ulithi, peace
was declared. On August 20th, departed Ulithi in convoy
for servicing area located some 300 miles or less off the
East Coast of Japan, arriving this area on the 25th of
August. From then until 8th of September, provisioned all
types of ships, mostly carriers, battleships, and
cruisers, while underway. Approximately 250 to 360 tons
of cargo was discharged per day under just fair
conditions. On the 8th, departed servicing area for
Japan, arriving there on the 9th. The first night was
spent in Sagami Bay, Japan. On the 10th, VIRGO moved into
Tokyo Bay. Assigned as station supply ship. Our job
consisted of supplying all necessary provisions and
clothing to small craft with some work being done for
large vessels. Necessary cargo for our work was supplied
by incoming vessels and transferred to us, mostly by LCT.
This work continued through the months of September,
October and into November 1945.
At the conclusion of WWII, VIRGO began
a series of voyages from the Naval Supply Depot at
Oakland California to Pacific bases. The ship repeatedly
carried provisions and stores issued to ships of the
fleet and advanced based garrisons in the Marianas,
Admiralties, Okinawa, ports of China and Japan.
VIRGO earned nine (9) battle stars for the Korean Conflict
The Korean War section of the
U.S.S. VIRGO AKA 20 was submitted by Roland Tonnell, ships company 1952-53 firstname.lastname@example.org
While VIRGO visited the east coast,
conflict broke out in the Far East once again. On 25 June, troops of
communist North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea (ROK) to the
south. The United States, and later the United Nations, responded with
support for South Korea against the aggressors. Thus, VIRGO soon found
herself supporting combat forces once more.
On 19 August, she departed Port
Chicago, Calif., with Navy passengers embarked and with a load of
ammunition, bound ultimately for Korea. She stopped at Sasebo, Japan,
from 6 to 15 September and then headed for Inchon, Korea. She arrived
at Inchon on the 16th, the day following the amphibious landing
carried out there. She remained in the Korean war zone, first at
Inchon and later at Jinsen Ko, for about three weeks. During that
time, the attack cargo ship provisioned minesweepers, a Canadian
destroyer, an American destroyer and supplied ammunition to the troops
She departed Korea on 7 October and
returned to Japan where she visited Sasebo and Yokosuka before heading
back to the United States on 1 November. After a stop at Pearl Harbor,
the ship arrived in San Francisco on 19 November and began repairs at
the Pacific Repair Co. VIRGO served as a replenishment ship
to almost all types of ships and carried everything from
passengers to airplane parts.
On 19 January 1951, VIRGO departed
San Francisco for her second tour of duty in the Korean combat zone.
She arrived in Sasebo on 6 February to disembark passengers and unload
ammunition. From Sasebo, the ship moved to Yokosuka at mid-month ;
and, from there, she headed for Korea. The attack cargo ship entered
port at Pusan on 15 March but soon returned to sea to transfer
ammunition to Valley Forge (CV-45) and to Juneau (CL-119). Following
that, she returned to Sasebo for several days on the 19th. At the end
of the month, she resumed ammunition resupply duty along the Korean
coast, visiting Songj in, Wonsan, Suyong, and Pohang as well as
replenishing ships at sea between port calls. She returned to Sasebo
on 7 May and remained there until the 29th when she got underway to
return to the United States.
On 13 June, the attack cargo ship
entered port at Long Beach Calif., and began overhaul at the Long
Beach Naval Shipyard. She completed repairs in August and, after
refresher training out of San Diego, loaded passengers and ammunition
at Port Chicago in late September. On 5 October. she put to sea to
return to the Far East. The ship arrived in Sasebo on 22 October,
disembarked her passengers, and unloaded some ammunition before
getting underway for the war zone once more. During that tour of duty,
her mission consisted entirely of replenishments at sea in support of
United Nations naval forces operating off the Korean coast. That
assignment lasted until 12 August 1952 at which time she departed
Yokosuka for home. She stopped at Pearl Harbor along the way and
arrived in San Francisco on the 25th. VIRGO then began an availability
at the Triple "A" Machine Shop in San Francisco.
VIRGO completed repairs in October
and departed San Francisco on 1 November to resume duty in the Orient.
She arrived in Sasebo on 19 November and remained there almost two
months. On 3 January 1953, the ship stood out of Sasebo, bound for
Korean waters. For the next five months, she resumed the familiar
schedule of replenishments at sea punctuated by ammunition deliveries
at Korean ports and return trips to Sasebo for the purpose of
restocking her own supplies.
She completed her last mission early
in June and, on the 13th, headed back to the United States. She
reentered San Francisco on 28 June and entered the Mare Island Naval
Shipyard for a three-month overhaul. While she underwent repairs,
hostilities in Korea effectively ceased with the signing of an
armistice on 19 July 1953. Thus, when she emerged from the shipyard
late in September and prepared to resume voyages to the Far East, her
missions lost their combat character.
At the end of the Korean conflict, VIRGO
resumed her fleet replenishment duties until April
3rd. 1958, when she was decommissioned. On July 1, 1961
her name was struck from the Navy list and was
transferred to the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet
in Astoria Oregon.
VIRGO earned ten (10) battle stars for service in the
1965, the Navy took custody of her once
again, and her name was reinstated on the Navy list.
On 1 November 1965, she was reclassified as an ammunition
ship and redesignated AE-30. After almost a
year of reactivation and rehabilitation work on the ship,
VIRGO (AE-30) was recommissioned at Seattle, Wash.,
on 19 August 1966, Capt. Harold R. MacMillan in
command. She spent the remainder of 1966 engaged in shakedown
training and independent ship's exercises along
the west coast.
In January of 1967, she loaded ammunition
at Concord, Calif., in preparation for her first
deployment to the Western Pacific ( WESPAC ) in support of the American
effort in the Vietnamese civil war. She departed
Concord on 12 January and after a brief in Hawaii, VIRGO arrived in Subic Bay
on 6 February. There, she unloaded a part of her cargo
before departing the Philippines on the 12th for
replenishment missions in the Gulf of Tonkin.
May 1967 a change of command took place with Captain W. Carrier Jr.
replacing Captain MacMillan.
six months in the WESPAC, she made eight line swings from Subic
Bay to the gulf bringing in new stocks of ammunition to refill the
depleted magazines of American warships along the Vietnamese coast. She punctuated
those assignments with liberty calls at Subic Bay and
at Hong Kong. VIRGO finished her last such mission
15 August 1967 and returned to Subic Bay. From there, she moved to
Sasebo, Japan, for a four-day liberty call before getting underway for
the United States in early September. On 21 September,
she moored at the naval weapons station at
Concord, Calif. She spent the remainder of the year engaged
in normal operations out of her base at Concord.
first six weeks of 1968, VIRGO loaded ammunition
in preparation for and participation in the
1st Fleet exercise, Operation "Bead Stringer." In mid-February,
she loaded ammunition for her second deployment to the western
Pacific during the Vietnam conflict.
On 26 February, she began her voyage west. The
ship changed operational control to the 7th Fleet on
7 March and arrived in Subic Bay 12 days later. Once again, her
assignment fell into a pattern of replenishment
voyages to the ships operating in the Gulf of
Tonkin. In six months' time, she made eight line swings
from Subic Bay to the gulf bringing in new stocks
of ammunition to refill the depleted magazines of
American warships along the Vietnamese coast. She finished her last such
mission early in October and returned to Subic Bay on the 10th. From
there, she moved to Sasebo,
Japan, for a four-day liberty call
before getting underway for the United States on 23
October. The ammunition ship arrived back in Concord
on 11 November, offloaded ammunition, and entered
the Mare Island Naval Shipyard to begin post-deployment
stand down. On 19 December, she moved to
the Triple "A" shipyard to begin a six-week restricted
period continued until the end of January
1969. On the 31st, she loaded ammunition at Concord
in preparation for operations at sea with units of
the 1st Fleet. Those missions—primarily to train new crew
members—lasted until the beginning of April. After
final loadout at Concord, she got underway for the
Far East on 19 April. She arrived in Subic Bay on
14 May and, after two weeks of voyage repairs, began
the familiar series of voyages between Subic Bay
and Vietnamese waters to resupply 7th Fleet ships
with ammunition. However, the increasing use of
the fast combat support ship (AOE), which combined
the features of both ammunition ship and oiler, relegated
her to a reduced role.
During most of
her eight line swings, VIRGO either served
as a backup for the AOE's or concentrated on replenishing
the cruisers and destroyers operating close
to the coast. The ammunition ship completed her eighth
and final line period on 12 November and returned
to Subic Bay on the 14th. On the 19th, VIRGO got underwav
for Sasebo where she remained from the 23d to the 26th. On the latter
day, she departed Sasebo and shaped
a course for home. The ship arrived back in
Concord on 13 December and began post-deployment leave and
continued into January 1970. On 21 January,
she began a restricted availability at the Bethlehem
Steel shipyard located in San Francisco. Repairs complete
on 16 February, VIRGO moved back to Concord to load ammunition in
preparation for operations at
sea along the west coast. Refresher and type training occupied
her time until 7 May at which time she departed
San Francisco for the last western Pacific development
of her Navy career. VIRGO arrived in Subic Bay
on 29 May and embarked upon the first of six line
periods supplying ammunition to the warships off
Vietnam. She completed her final line swing early in
November and, after a stop at Sasebo, she got underway
for home on 27 November. She arrived back at
Concord on 12 December and began preparations for
decommissioning. VIRGO (AE-30) was decommissioned
at Vallejo, Calif., on 18 February 1971, and her
name was struck from the Navy list simultaneously. Subsequently
transferred to the Maritime Administration
for disposal, she was sold on 19 November 1973 to
Taipei Hsieh, of Taiwan, for scrapping.