USS Belle Isle (AG-73)

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USS Belle Isle (AG-73) In San Francisco Bay, California, circa April 1946. Note the electronics antennas on the forecastle, used for repairing electronics equipment. The stern of USS Saratoga (CV-3) is in the background at left.
Career (USA) Union Navy Jack 100x35px
Name: USS Belle Isle
Namesake: An island in the Atlantic Ocean situated in the Strait of Belle Isle between Labrador and Newfoundland
Builder: New England Shipbuilding Corporation, South Portland, Maine
Laid down: 19 September 1944 as EC2-S-C1 hull, (MCE hull 3070)
Launched: 3 November 1944
Christened: Miss Sally Goding
Commissioned: 15 November 1944 as USS Belle Isle (AG-73)
Recommissioned: 13 July 1945
Decommissioned: 18 November 1944 and 30 August 1946, at San Diego, California
Reclassified: AKS-21, 18 August 1951
Refit: Bethlehem Steel Company, Hoboken, New Jersey
Struck: 1 April 1960
Fate: possibly sunk as a target in 1960
General characteristics
Type: Basilan-class miscellaneous auxiliary
Displacement: 5,766 tons
Tons burthen: 14,350 tons
Length: 441' 6"
Beam: 56' 11"
Draft: 23'
Propulsion: reciprocating steam engine, single propeller, 2,500shp
Speed: 12.5 knots
Complement: 895 officers and enlisted
Armament: one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; four single 40mm AA gun mounts

USS Belle Isle (AG-73/AKS-21) was a Basilan-class miscellaneous auxiliary acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. Belle Isle was configured as a repair ship and used in Pacific Ocean operations. At war’s end she was converted to a stores ship before being finally decommissioned.

Constructed in Maine

Belle Isle (AG 73) was laid down on 19 September 1944 at South Portland, Maine, by the New England Shipbuilding Corporation under a U.S. Maritime Commission contract (MCE hull 3070); launched on 3 November 1944; sponsored by Miss Sally Goding; transferred to the Navy on a loan basis on 15 November 1944; commissioned that same day for the voyage to the conversion yard, Lt. Comdr. James H. Graves, Jr., USNR, in command; decommissioned on 18 November 1944 at Hoboken, New Jersey, for conversion to an electronics repair ship by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation; and recommissioned on 13 July 1945.

World War II-related service

Belle Isle was assigned to Service Division (ServDiv) 104, Service Squadron (ServRon) 10, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and, by 7 October, was at Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands making repairs for ships of the Pacific Fleet.

She served at Okinawa until heading for Japan early in December. The ship arrived at Wakayama on 15 December and began repair duties for the occupation forces. That assignment lasted until she departed Japan on 31 March 1946 and headed back to the United States.

Post-war decommissioning

After making port at San Francisco, California, the electronics repair ship shifted south to San Diego, California, to prepare for inactivation. She was decommissioned on 30 August 1946 and berthed with the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Temporary reactivation

On 18 August 1951, while still in reserve, Belle Isle was reclassified a stores issue ship and redesignated AKS-211.

Final decommissioning

She remained in reserve until 1960. On 1 April 1960, her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. Her disposal was approved on 3 August 1960, and she was apparently sunk as a target later that year.

In November 1960, the ships in Destroyer Squadron 13 sank the Belle Isle off the coast of San Diego---I was on board one of them, the USS MORTON (DD948).