USS Baham

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History
United States
Ordered: as Elizabeth C. Bellamy, MCE hull 1217
Builder: St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company
Laid down: 10 November 1943
Launched: 21 December 1943
Acquired: 31 December 1943
Commissioned: 1 January 1944
Decommissioned: 19 July 1946
Renamed: to Baham, 13 November 1943
Reclassified: from AK-122 to AG-71 on 14 March 1944
Struck: 30 June 1947
Fate: Sold for scrap on 9 June 1972 in New York
General characteristics
Class and type: Basilan; Type EC2 S C1
Displacement: 14,350 tons
Length: 441'6"
Beam: 56'11"
Draft: 23'0" (lim.)
Speed: 12.5 knots
Complement: 927
Armament:

USS Baham (AK-122/AG-71) was a Basilan-class miscellaneous auxiliary ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II, named after Baham, the star in constellation Pegasus. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

Construction changes[edit]

Baham was laid down as Elizabeth C. Bellamy under a Maritime Commission contract (MCE hull 1217) on 10 November 1943 at Jacksonville, Florida, by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company; renamed Baham and designated AK-122 on 13 November 1943; launched on 21 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Walter F. Rogers; delivered to the Navy on 31 December 1943 under a bare-boat charter; placed in reduced commission on 1 January 1944 for the voyage to the Charleston Navy Yard; decommissioned there on 6 January 1944 for conversion to a combination repair, distilling, and stores-issue ship; redesignated AG-71 on 14 March 1944; and placed in commission on 18 August 1944, Lt. Gavin L. Field, USNR, in command.

World War II Pacific Ocean operations[edit]

The ship stood out of Charleston, South Carolina, on 1 September and shaped a course north to the Chesapeake Bay where she devoted about a month to shakedown training. She got underway on 8 October and proceeded via Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Canal Zone. After transiting the Panama Canal, Baham headed for Hawaii and reached Pearl Harbor on Armistice Day 1944. She underwent a second conversion in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard during which she received equipment that enabled her to serve as a maintenance headquarters to repair electronic equipment and to issue stores.

Those modifications were completed during the first week in January 1945; and the ship put to sea on the 10th, bound for the Central Pacific. Steaming by way of Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Baham arrived at her first duty station, Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines, on 30 January 1945 and began her multifaceted repair duties as a unit of Service Squadron (ServRon) 10. The USS Baham assisted in the repairs made on USS Randolph (CV-15) after that aircraft carrier had been damaged by a kamikaze attack in the Ulithi anchorage on 11 March.

Later that year, while engaged in the Pacific War, the USS Baham was also the victim of a kamikaze attack. The attack destroyed the 5 in (130 mm) caliber gun|5 inch gun]], which was the ship's primary armament, leaving Baham extremely vulnerable as she battled with Japanese aerial forces, which inflicted numerous casualties to personnel on board.

Leyte Gulf operations[edit]

After being repaired, on 20 May, USS Baham was put to sea again on her way to a new duty station, Leyte in the Philippine Islands. She anchored in Leyte Gulf on the 25th and began her varied repair duties. At Leyte, her chores consisted of more typhoon damage repair than battle damage work. USS Baham remained at Leyte just over a month before heading back to the Central Pacific. The ship arrived at Eniwetok on 10 July and began a noticeably more leisurely repair routine.

End-of-war operations[edit]

On 6 September, soon after Japan's formal surrender ceremony, her repair force disembarked, and their spaces were converted to accommodate several sections of the staff of the Commander, Service Division (ServDiv) 102. Two days later, she put to sea bound for Japan. After encountering a typhoon off Honshū, USS Baham dropped anchor in Tokyo Bay on 20 September. Her station ship and staff duty in Japan lasted just under six months.

Return to stateside[edit]

On 8 March 1946, she headed back to the United States with returning American servicemen embarked, and the ship arrived at San Francisco, California, on 24 March. Of the 927 servicemen who originally set sail on the USS Baham, just over 250 returned—all others were lost during the war heroically defending their country.

Decommissioning[edit]

Later, she steamed to Pearl Harbor where she was placed out of commission on 19 July 1946. Baham remained in reserve at Pearl Harbor until March 1947 when she was towed back to San Francisco. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 May 1947. The ship was transferred back to the Maritime Commission and laid up with its National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, California, on 30 June 1947. She remained at Suisun Bay until sold on 9 June 1972 to the Union Minerals & Alloys Corp., of New York, for scrapping.

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]