USNS Private John R. Towle (T-AK-240)

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Name: Private John R. Towle
Namesake: A name retained
Ordered: as type (VC2-S-AP2) hull, MC hull 162
Builder: Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon
Laid down: 9 December 1944, as SS Appleton Victory
Launched: 19 January 1945
Sponsored by: Mrs. John Goodland, Jr.
Commissioned: 20 June 1946 as USAT Private John R. Towle
Decommissioned: date unknown
In service: 1 March 1950 as USNS Private John R. Towle (T-AK-240)
Out of service: date unknown
Struck: 31 July 1982
Fate: sold for scrapping, 4 June 1982
General characteristics
Type: Greenvile Victory-class cargo ship
Tonnage: 4,512 tons
Tons burthen: 15,589 tons
Length: 455'
Beam: 62'
Draft: 29' 2"
Propulsion: cross compound steam turbine, single propeller, 8,500shp
Speed: 15.5 knots
Complement: 99 officers and enlisted
Armament: none

USNS Private John R. Towle (T-AK-240) was a Greenville Victory-class cargo ship that served as a commercial cargo ship during the final year of World War II. Post-war she was acquired by the U.S. Army as USAT Private John R. Towle until the 1950s when she was assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sea Transportation Service for various duties, including runs to Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound.

Victory built in Oregon

Private John R. Towle (AK-240) was laid down, under U.S. Maritime Commission contract, as Appleton Victory (MCV hull 162) by the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon, 9 December 1944; launched 19 January 1945; sponsored by Mrs. John Goodland, Jr.

World War II service

She was delivered to the Maritime Commission, thence to the American Mail Line for operation, 23 March 1945. She operated along the Pacific coast for a year, was returned to the Maritime Commission.

U.S. Army service

Appleton Victory was transferred to the Army Transportation Service (ATS) at New York City, in June 1946. Later returned to the U.S. West Coast, she was renamed Private John R. Towle, 31 October 1947, and, under that name, continued to serve ATS until returned to the Maritime Commission; transferred to the Navy, and designated AK–240 in March 1950.

U.S. Navy service

Between 1950 and 1955, the Victory ship, assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) and manned by a civil service crew, continued cargo operations in the Pacific Ocean.

Antarctic operations

Then reassigned to MSTS, Atlantic, she began preparations for her first Antarctic resupply mission. During the southern summers of 1956–57, 1957–58, 1959–60, and 1960–61 she steamed south to deliver cargo to McMurdo Sound.

Needed elsewhere, the ice-strengthened AK did not return to Antarctic waters until the 1963–64 season. Since then, however, and into 1970, she returned annually to support the military and civilian personnel working there.

Post-war decommissioning and career

On 25 August 1980 Private John R. Towle was returned to the U.S. Maritime Administration and laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Group, Lee Hall, Virginia. She was struck from the Navy list on 31 July 1982 and was sold for scrapping on 4 June 1982.

Honors and awards

Eligible vessel personnel were authorized the following: