USS Hennepin (AK-187)

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Career (USA) Union Navy Jack
Name: Hennepin
Namesake: A county in Minnesota
Ordered: as type (C1-M-AV1) hull
Builder: Walter Butler Shipbuilders, Inc., Superior, Wisconsin
Laid down: 29 December 1943
Launched: 27 June 1944
Sponsored by: Mrs. F. P. Heffelfinger
Acquired: by the U.S. Navy, 7 June 1945
Commissioned: 3 July 1945 as USS Hennepin (AK-187) at Galveston, Texas
Decommissioned: 16 February 1946, at Yokosuka, Japan
In service: 1 July 1950 as USNS Hennepin (T-AK-187)
Out of service: 16 July 1958
Struck: date unknown
Honours and
one battle star for Korean war service
Fate: returned to the U.S. Maritime Administration, 27 March 1959
Notes: used by the U.S. Army in Japan as USAT Hennepin
General characteristics
Type: Alamosa-class cargo ship
Tonnage: 2,382 tons
Tons burthen: 7,435 tons
Length: 388' 8"
Beam: 50'
Draft: 21' 1"
Propulsion: Diesel, single screw, 1,700shp
Speed: 11.5 knots
Complement: 85 officers and enlisted
Armament: one 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount; six 20mm guns

USS Hennepin (AK-187) was an Alamosa-class cargo ship that served the U.S. Navy during the final months of World War II. Post-war she served briefly with the U.S. Army as USAT Hennepin, and then as USNS Hennepin (T-AK-187) with the Military Sea Transportation Service where she was awarded a battle star. She was declared excess-to-needs on 27 March 1959.

Built at Superior, Wisconsin

Hennepin (AK-187) was laid down under U.S. Maritime Commission contract by Walter Butler Shipbuilders, Inc., Superior, Wisconsin, 29 December 1943; launched 27 June 1944; sponsored by Mrs. F. P. Heffelflnger; acquired by the Navy 7 June 1945; and commissioned 3 July 1945 at Galveston, Texas, Lt. Comdr. Gavin L. Field in command.

World War II-related service

After shakedown in the Gulf of Mexico, Hennepin departed Galveston 22 July to load cargo at Gulfport, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana. She departed New Orleans 6 August, steamed via the Panama Canal and the Marshall Islands, and arrived Cebu, Philippines, 23 September. Assigned to Service Squadron 8, she operated in the Philippines until 19 November when she departed Tacloban, Leyte, for Australia.

During the next month she loaded cargo at Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane before sailing 17 December with provisions for occupation troops in Korea. Steaming via Okinawa, she reached Jinsen 7 January 1946; then sailed for Japan the 25th. She arrived Yokosuka 30 January, decommissioned 16 February, and transferred to the U.S. Army.

Reacquired from the U.S. Army

Hennepin was operated by the U.S. Army for the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Japan until 1 July 1950 when she was reacquired by the Navy. After refitting at Mitsubishi Shipyard, Kobe, Japan, she was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) 28 February 1951 and designated T-AK 187.

Korean War support

Manned by a civilian crew, she participated in the Korean supply run during the American effort to repel Communist aggression in South Korea. Operating primarily out of Moji and Sasebo, Japan, she transported vital military cargo to American-held Korean ports during the remainder of the conflict.

Post-Korean War support

Following an uneasy truce in Korea, Hennepin continued supply runs between Japan and South Korea. In response to the scheduled transfer of North Vietnam to Communist control, she departed Yokohama 30 August 1954 to provide support for Operation Passage to Freedom. She arrived Haiphong, North Vietnam, 7 September, and for more than 3 months she transported cargo southward to St. Jacques and Saigon. After completing three runs to Saigon, she departed St. Jacques for Japan 22 December and arrived Sasebo 3 January 1955.

Between 1955 and 1958 Hennepin remained in the Far East, supporting America's determination to keep the peace and contain Communism in Asia. She continued to operate primarily between Japanese and South Korean ports, but cargo runs in 1957 and 1958 again sent her to Southeast Asia.

Between 13 May and 3 July 1957 she operated out of Saigon and Bangkok, Thailand, and in addition steamed to Karachi, Pakistan, and Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf. During September 1957 and April 1958 she steamed out of Yokohama, carrying cargo to Saigon.

Final deactivation

After returning to Yokohama from Pusan, Korea, 21 June 1958, she was inactivated by the Navy 16 July. She transferred to the Maritime Administration 27 March 1959.

Honors and awards

Hennepin received one battle star for Korean war service.