USS RAINER (AE-5)
The second Rainier
(AE-5) was laid down on 14 May 1940 by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Tampa, Fla.,
as Rainbow (MC hull 124); launched 1
March 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Robert E. Anderson; transferred to the Navy 16
April 1941; converted for use as an ammunition auxiliary; and commissioned as Rainier (AE-5) on 21 December 1941 at
Norfolk, Va., Capt. William W. Meek in command.
After a 6-week shakedown in Cuban waters, Rainier transited the Panama Canal and
reported to Commander, Service Force, Pacific Fleet. Between February and May
1942, she made two ammunition runs from Port Chicago, Calif., to Pearl Harbor,
whence, on 10 May, she steamed for Tongatabu. There, through the battles of the
Coral Sea and Midway, she offloaded her cargo for transfer to shore depots and
issued ammunition to Allied ships, particularly task forces 18, 15, and 16. At
the end of July, she shifted to the Fijis to supply ships preparing for
Operation "Watchtower," the assault on the Solomons. Then, on 5
August, she continued on to Noumea, New Caledonia, where she remained through
the initial phases of the Guadalcanal campaign.
On 24 September, Rainier
moved southeast to Auckland and on the 27th headed back to the United States.
For the remainder of the year and into 1943, she made ammunition and general
cargo runs between the west coast and Hawaii. At the end of February, she
sailed once more for the South Pacific.
She arrived at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 17
March and remained until 5 May. She then shifted to Efate where she offloaded
her remaining torpedoes and ammunition; took on empty shell cases and damaged
ammunition; and on the 14th got underway to return to San Francisco and another
5 months of west coast-Hawaii shuttle operations.
On 25 October, she headed back to Efate. Arriving on 11
November, just prior to the Gilbert Islands campaign, she discharged general
and ammunition cargo in Havannah Harbor into December. On the 21st, she shifted
to Espiritu Santo; thence proceeded to Funafuti in the Ellice group. There, she
issued ammunition to ships of the fast carrier forces, to the defense forces of
the occupied areas, and to the forces preparing for the Marshalls offensive.
On 31 January 1944, Majuro was occupied and work was begun
to turn the atoll into a major advance base. Rainier arrived in the lagoon three day later. In mid-April, she
returned to San Francisco. At the end of May, she was back at Majuro to rearm
the fast carrier forces prior to strikes supporting the initial assault on
Saipan. On 11 June, as the assault force moved toward Saipan, Rainier shifted to Eniwetok, whence, in
mid-July, she steamed to Saipan. On 30 July, she sailed east again; completed
an abbreviated overhaul at San Francisco; filled her holds at Port Chicago; and
returned to Eniwetok on 31 October.
The Philippine campaign had started and the fast carrier
forces were striking at Japanese positions and shipping from Indochina to the
Ryukyus. Rainier moved west, to the
western Carolines. On 5 November, she arrived at Ulithi, where she remained
until after Okinawa operations were well underway. On 25 May 1945, the
ammunition ship headed for the Philippines, where she served the Allies from
the 28th until after the signing of the surrender documents.
Assigned to support occupation forces, Rainier steamed for Okinawa in mid-September. On 6 December, she
sailed for the United States, arriving at Port Angeles, Wash., on the 23d. With
the new year, 1946, she began preparations for inactivation. In the spring she
shifted to San Diego; decommissioned there on 30 August, and was berthed with
the Pacific Reserve Fleet through the end of the decade.
In June 1950 the North Korean Army crossed the 38th Parallel
and invaded the Republic of South Korea. United States and other United Nations
forces deployed to bolster South Korean forces attempting to slow the advance
of the Communists. Supplies, however, were inadequate. Munitions depots in the
Far East and in Micronesia were limited in quantity and type. Mount Katmai (AE-16) was the only
ammunition ship active in the Pacific.
Ammunition facilities on the west coast were expanded. As
the Military Sea Transportation Service and the Maritime Administration were pressed
for cargo space, reserve fleet ships were ordered activated.
recommissioned 25 May 1951, but remained in the eastern Pacific for 6 months.
On 3 November, she sailed west.
Through December of that year and into the summer of 1952,
she operated out of Sasebo, carrying her vital cargo to replenishment areas off
the coast of the embattled Korean peninsula and to shore facilities at Pohang
and Pusan. In September, she returned to California for overhaul, but was back
in Korean waters to resupply United Nations naval forces in early February
The end of July 1953 brought an uneasy truce, and in August Rainier headed back to the United
States. In November, however, she returned to the Far East on her first,
peacetime, 6-month WestPac deployment. Through 1955, her annual deployments
included shuttle runs between Japanese ports and 7th Fleet replenishment areas
in waters off Japan and Korea. In 1956, her operating schedule was expanded and
into the 1960s included operations in the Philippine area out of Subic Bay.
In 1964, as the war in Vietnam expanded, Subic Bay became
the focal point of Rainier's 7th
Fleet support activities. There when the Tonkin Gulf crisis occurred, 4-5
August, she put to sea immediately and steamed to the gulf to rearm carriers
conducting strikes on North Vietnamese bases.
For the next months, Rainier
operated between Subic Bay and replenishment areas off Vietnam. In late
October, she sailed for Japan and in December, she arrived back at her
homeport, Concord, Calif. In the late spring of 1965, she resumed 7th Fleet
operations and by January 1966, had transferred at sea almost 12,000 tons of
ammunition, 83 tons of freight, and 11,500 pounds of mail. In February, she
returned to Concord. In April, she moved to San Francisco for overhaul and, in
August, began refresher training with new equipment aboard which increased her
underway replenishment capabilities.
In February 1967, Rainier
resumed her annual deployments to provide underway logistic support to the 7th
Fleet. By 16 September, the date of her last at-sea munitions transfer on that
tour, she had transferred 13,000 tons during 204 underway replenishments.
Departing Subic Bay on 25 September for her homeport, Rainier touched at Yokosuka, and Pearl
Harbor before arriving at Concord on 25 October. Throughout the remainder of
1967 and the first half of 1968, Rainier
conducted independent underway replenishment exercises and participated in
fleet exercises along the southern California coast.
On 29 June, she departed Concord for the western Pacific,
arriving at Subic Bay on 21 July. Following a week in port, Rainier got underway for her first
replenishment cycle. It was during this first cycle that she was awarded the
Battle Efficiency "E" for fiscal year 1968. On 21 November, during
her sixth line cycle, Rainier
established her best underway replenishment record by transferring 826 tons to Camden (AOE-2) in a 5-hour period. By
the end of the year the converted World War II C-2 cargo ship had transferred
more than 11,000 tons in support of carriers, their escorts, and SAR vessels in
the Gulf of Tonkin and to gunfire support and coastal surveillance units
operating along South Vietnam's coast.
to Concord in February 1969 and following 6 months of operations along the west
coast, once again deployed for the western Pacific. Upon completion of her last
tour off Vietnam in January 1970, Rainier
sailed for home and preparation for inactivation. She was decommissioned and
struck from the Navy list on 7 August 1970.
earned four battle stars during the Korean Conflict and eight off Vietnam.
[Note: The above USS RAINER (AE-5) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS RAINER (AE-5), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]