USS Aroostook (CM-3)

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USS Aroostook in harbor
USS Aroostook in harbor
Career 100x35px
Name: USS Aroostook
Launched: 26 March 1907, as SS Bunker Hill
Acquired: 12 November 1917
Commissioned: 7 December 1917
Decommissioned: 10 March 1931
Renamed: Aroostook, November 1917
Reclassified: ID-1256 (Mine planter), November 1917
CM-4 (Minelayer), mid-1920
AK-44 (Cargo ship), May 1941
Struck: 5 February 1943
Fate: Sold for scrap in October 1947
General characteristics
Type: Minelayer
Displacement: 3,800 long tons (3,900 t)
Length: 395 ft (120 m)
Beam: 52 ft 2 in (15.90 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Speed: 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Complement: 313
Armament: 1 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal gun, 2 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal dual purpose guns, 2 × .30 in (7.6 mm) Colt machine guns

USS Aroostook (ID-1256/CM-3/AK-44) — a 3,800 long tons (3,900 t) minelayer — was built in 1907 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the coastal passenger steamer Bunker Hill. She was acquired by the Navy in November 1917 and renamed within a few days. Placed in commission in December as ID-1256, she was converted to a "mine planter" at the Boston Navy Yard during the next several months.

World War I, 1918-1919

After a brief shakedown cruise in mid-June 1918, Aroostook took on board a load of mines and began a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in company with her sister minelayer Shawmut. The trip, facilitated by the then-novel technique of refueling at sea, took her to Scotland, where in July she began laying thousands of mines in the North Sea to create a barrier for transiting German submarines. This effort came to an end with the 11 November 1918 Armistice, and Aroostook returned home in December.

Aircraft tender, 1919-1931

In the spring of 1919 Aroostook was refitted to support a Navy attempt to fly across the Atlantic.

During the first half of May she was at Trepassy, Newfoundland, as base for the three big Curtiss NC flying boats that departed, eastbound, on the 16th. The ship then steamed to England, where she greeted the NC-4, the only plane to complete the trip by air, at the end of May. Aroostook then took the NC-4 back to U.S., and in August-early September carried a cargo of mines and supplies to California. She spent the rest of the year on the West Coast performing transportation duties and on assignment as the Pacific Fleet's aviation flagship.

Though continuing to be classified as a minelayer, and receiving the designation CM-3 in mid-1920, Aroostook's remaining active service was as an aircraft tender. Throughout the 1920s, she mainly operated in the eastern Pacific, but made occasional visits to the Caribbean area and the U.S. East Coast to take part in fleet exercises. Aroostook also steamed to Hawaii in 1925 and 1928, on the first occasion as a support ship for a pioneering attempt to fly two patrol planes from the West Coast to Hawaii.

Decommissioning and sale, 1931-1947

Placed out of commission in March 1931 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, Aroostook was laid up for the next decade. With World War II raging in Europe and threatening to spread worldwide, she was considered for reactivation as a cargo ship, and in May 1941 was redesignated AK-44. However, her age and limited capabilities kept her inactive. In February 1943, Aroostook was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register and transferred to the War Shipping Administration. Regaining the name Bunker Hill, she stayed in port for the rest of the War. Though sold in 1947 to a firm that planned to use her as a floating casino, these plans fell through and the old ship was seized by the Government, which sold her for scrapping in October 1947.


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