USS Lesuth (AK-125)
as SS William M. Gwin|
EC2-S-C1 hull, MCE hull 1638
|Laid down:||24 March 1943|
|Launched:||17 April 1943|
|Acquired:||9 October 1943|
|Commissioned:||1 November 1943|
|Decommissioned:||16 August 1946|
|Struck:||17 July 1947|
|Fate:||scrapped in 1964|
|Displacement:||4,023 t.(lt) 11,565 t.(fl)|
|Length:||441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)|
|Beam:||56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)|
|Draught:||28 ft 4 in (8.64 m)|
|Propulsion:||reciprocating steam engine, single shaft, 1,950shp|
|Armament:||one 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; two dual 40mm AA gun mounts; eight single 20mm AA gun mounts|
USS Lesuth (AK-125) was an Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.
Lesuth (AK-125) was laid down as SS William M. Gwin 24 March 1943 by California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, California, under a Maritime Commission contract; launched 17 April 1943; sponsored by Miss M. B. Follis; acquired by the Navy 9 October 1943; renamed Lesuth 11 October 1943; converted at United Engineering, Alameda, California; and commissioned 1 November 1943, Lt. Comdr. B. H. Bassett in command.
World War II Pacific Theatre operations
After loading cargo, Lesuth departed San Pedro, California, 14 November, arriving Pago Pago, Samoa, on the 30th. Four days later she arrived Funafuti, Ellice Islands and for the next 3 months engaged in training exercises in the South Pacific.
Serving South Pacific island bases
From Funafuti she steamed to the Marshall Islands, arriving Kwajalein 6 March 1944 as a unit of Service Squadron 8. Lesuth remained in the Marshall Islands until she departed Kwajalein 6 August for Guadalcanal. She loaded cargo in the Solomons and Russell Islands, then sailed from Manus 14 September en route to the Palau-Western Caroline campaign.
Supporting the Philippine invasion
The Palau Islands were of strategic importance as an advance base for the invasion of Leyte. The initial landings took place 15 September, 5 days before Lesuth arrived off Kossol Passage. For the next 2 months she remained off Peleliu unloading cargo needed for the Philippine assault. Sailing to Tulagi and Guadalcanal in late November, the cargo ship departed on the 26th for San Francisco, California.
After overhaul, Lesuth rejoined Service Squadron 8 at Eniwetok 11 February 1945. Later that month she sailed for the Philippines, arriving San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on the 28th. Following 6 weeks of cargo operations off Leyte, she steamed to the United States during May and June for additional supplies, then returned to Ulithi 25 July.
When the Japanese surrender ended World War II, Lesuth was used to carry provisions to the occupation troops in the Far East. From September 1945 to May 1946, she made cargo runs to Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Saipan, finally departing Saipan 5 May. Arriving San Francisco, California, on the 24th, Lesuth remained there until 2 July when she sailed for Pearl Harbor.
Military awards and honors
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
- World War II Victory Medal
- Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)
- Philippines Liberation Medal
- Photo gallery of Lesuth at NavSource Naval History