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USS CAPRICORNUS (AKA-57) - an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship

In Commission 1944 to 1948

AKA-57 Deployments - Major Events

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Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
AUG 1943 - Launch Date: 14 AUG 1943
MAY 1944 - Commissioned: 31 MAY 1944
APR 1957 - SEP 1957 Mediterranian
MAY 1958 - MAY 1958 Med - Lebanon
OCT 1960 - MAY 1961 Mediterranean
JAN 1962 - JUL 1962 Mediterranean
OCT 1962 - NOV 1962 Caribbean
NOV 1962 - DEC 1962 Cuban Missle Blockade
MAY 1965 - OCT 1965 Caribbean
MAY 1965 - JUL 1965 Caribbean
NOV 1966 - MAY 1967 Caribbean
OCT 1968 - FEB 1969 Caribbean
FEB 1970 - Decommissioned: 10 FEB 1970

AKA-57 General Specifications

Class: Andromeda-class attack cargo ship

Named for: Capricornus

Complement: 429 Officers and Enlisted

Displacement: 6830 tons

Length: 459 feet 2 inches

Beam: 63 feet

Flank Speed: 16 knots

Final Disposition: Scrapped 1985


Capricornus (AKA-57) was launched 14 August 1943 as Spitfire by Moore Drydock Co. Oakland Calif. under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. J. E. Mock; acquired by the Navy 25 November 1943; placed in partial commission the same day; decommissioned 29 November 1943 and converted by Willamette Iron and Steel Corp. Portland Oreg.; and commissioned in full 31 May 1944 Commander B. F. McGuckin USNR in command.

Capricornus made two voyages to carry cargo between San Pedro Calif. and Hilo Hawaii from 22 July to 19 August 1944 then sailed by way of Eniwetok and Manus for the invasion of Leyte. Cruising with the Southern Attack Force she entered the Gulf uneventfully began landing her cargo in the first landings on 20 October and worked furiously under enemy air attack to complete unloading and withdraw. Safely underway on 24 October she withdrew to Hollandia then sailed to Wakde where she loaded Army reinforcements. As she steamed north to bring her reinforcements to Leyte there were several air raid alerts on 13 November and Capricornus joined in splashing the lone torpedo plane which attacked her group. She returned from Leyte to Manus 19 November to take part in rehearsals for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf.

Clearing Manus in TF 79's Attack Group "Baker" for Lingayen Capricornus with her group came under desperate enemy air attack at sunset on 8 January 1945 when a kamikaze severely damaged Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). As scattered individual enemy aircraft continued to attack Capricornus' guns joined in driving them away. The landings took place on schedule 9 January although sporadic attacks by Japanese aircraft and small ships continued. Just before sunrise the next day Capricornus was straddled by two bombs close aboard spraying her with shrapnel but no serious damage was inflicted. Capricornus returned to Leyte Gulf 13 January and continued to support Philippine operations landing troops and equipment at San Antonio on 26 January and servicing landing craft. She sailed out of Leyte Gulf 27 March bound for the beaches of Okinawa.

In the grey dawn of 1 April 1945 Capricornus arrived at the invasion scene laden primarily with ammunition. For the next 8 days her men labored to deliver her priority cargo while manning antiaircraft guns almost continually as furious Japanese air attacks were hurled at the invasion forces. Night retirements and days off the beaches were the rule until 9 April when she cleared for Seattle Wash. and overhaul.

Capricornus sailed from San Francisco 2 June 1946 with cargo for Eniwetok Guam and Espiritu Santo at which island she heard the word of Japanese surrender. Carrying occupation troops she stood in to Nagasaki 23 September then sailed to Manila and Hong Kong to load Chinese troops for the reoccupation of Northern China. Similar support of the occupation continued until 11 December when she arrived at Seattle.

Between 8 February 1946 and 2 November 1947 Capricornus carried cargo on four voyages to the Far East and on 16 November sailed for Norfolk Va. Here she was placed out of commission in reserve 30 March 1948.

With the expansion of the fleet dictated by the outbreak of the Korean War Capricornus was recommissioned 12 October 1950. Through 1960 she operated from Norfolk in training and exercises in Chesapeake Bay and in the Caribbean along with five periodic deployments to the Mediterranean for service with the 6th Fleet. Notable in her operations have been her rescue and salvage assistance to the burning Searcher (YAGR-4) on 13 November 1955 followed by the difficult towing of the rescued ship to Brooklyn for repairs. In July 1968 Capricornus supported the landing of Marines in Lebanon which forestalled a serious Middle Eastern eruption.

Capricornus received four battle stars for World War II service.

[Note: The above USS CAPRICORNUS (AKA-57) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS CAPRICORNUS (AKA-57) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]