USS Herkimer (AK-188)

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Career (USA) Union Navy Jack
Name: Herkimer
Namesake: A. county in New York
Ordered: as type (C1-M-AV) hull, MCV hull 2118
Builder: Walter Butler Shipbuilding, Superior, Wisconsin
Laid down: 10 April 1944
Launched: 2 July 1944
Sponsored by: Miss Ann Farley
Acquired: by the U.S. Navy, 25 June 1945
Commissioned: 14 July 1945 as USS Herkimer (AK-188) at New Orleans, Louisiana
Decommissioned: 1 February 1946 at Yokosuka, Japan
In service: 1 July 1950 as USNS Herkimer (T-AK-188)
Out of service: 15 July 1973
Struck: 15 July 1973
Fate: transferred to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands on 1 April 1982; later returned; fate unknown
Notes: Also served in Japan as the U.S. Army USAT Herkimer
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 Herkimer (AK-188) was an Alamosa-class cargo ship that served the U.S. Navy during the final months of World War II. Post-war she served in the Pacific Ocean theatre of operations for some time with the U.S. Army as USAT Herkimer, and then as USNS Herkimer (T-AK-188), with the Military Sea Transportation Service from 1950 to 1973. She was then transferred to the navy of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and later returned to the U.S. and sold.

Built in Superior, Wisconsin

Herkimer (AK-188) was laid down under U.S. Maritime Commission contract by Walter Butler Shipbuilders, Inc., Superior, Wisconsin, 10 April 1944; launched 2 July 1944; sponsored by Miss Ann Farley; acquired by the Navy 25 June 1945 ; and commissioned at New Orleans, Louisiana, 14 July 1945, Lt. Carlton W. Crocker, Jr., in command.

World War II-related service

After shakedown in the Gulf of Mexico, Herkimer loaded cargo at Gulfport, Mississippi, then departed 22 August for the Western Pacific Ocean. She reached Subic Bay, Luzon, 7 October; unloaded refrigerated cargo; and sailed the 13th carrying U.S. Army equipment for occupation forces stationed in Japan.

She arrived Sasebo, Japan, 20 October and operated there until 30 December when she departed for Yokosuka. Following her arrival 2 January 1946, she was stripped of Navy gear. She then steamed to Yokohama 16 January, decommissioned 1 February, and transferred to the U.S. Army.

Reacquired from the U.S. Army

Herkimer was operated by a Japanese merchant crew for the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Japan until 1 July 1950 when she was reacquired by the U.S. Navy. After refitting, she was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) 28 February 1951 and designated T-AK 188.

Korean War support

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

Following the establishment 27 July 1953 of an uneasy truce, Herkimer continued supply runs between Japan and South Korea. In response to the scheduled transfer of North Vietnam to Communist control, she departed Yokohama 6 November 1954 to provide support for Operation Passage to Freedom. She reached Haiphong, North Vietnam, 15 November; and during the next 2 months she transported cargo southward to St. Jacques and Saigon. After completing three runs to South Vietnamese ports, she departed Saigon 23 January 1955 and arrived Kobe, Japan, 1 February.

Resuming cargo runs out of Japanese ports, Herkimer remained in the Western Pacific since 1955. Cargo operations have sent her primarily to Inchon, Pusan, and other South Korean ports; and she has made numerous cargo runs along the Japanese coast from Wakkanai and Hakodate, Hokkaido, to Kagoshima and Nagasaki, Kyūshū. In addition she has steamed from Korea to Southeast Asia while supporting America's determination to maintain peace and contain Communism in the Far East. She has steamed from ports in Japan and the Philippine Islands, transporting military supplies to Formosa between 1961 and 1965.

Vietnam Crisis support

And in response to American efforts to protect the integrity and independence of South Vietnam from external Communist aggression, she resumed intermittent cargo runs to South Vietnam in February 1962. She remained in the Western Pacific, serving the forces of freedom in the Far East as a veteran carrier of vital military cargo.

Final dispositioning

Herkimer continued to support MSTS operations in the Pacific theatre until 15 July 1973 when she was placed out of service and struck from the Navy list. She was then transferred for use with the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands navy. She was eventually returned to the U.S. and sold for commercial service.

Her subsequent fate is not known.