USS Polaris (AF-11)

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Maritime Commission photo of Donald McKay
Career (US)
Name: SS Donald McKay
Namesake: Donald McKay
Laid down: 23 July 1938[1]
Launched: 1938
Acquired: WWII: 27 January 1941
Korea: 6 October 1948
Commissioned: WWII:4 April 1941
Recommissioned: Korea: 1 July 1949
Decommissioned: WWII: 18 January 1946
Korea: 12 January 1957
In service: 1 July 1948[clarification needed]
Out of service: 12 January 1957
Struck: WWII: 7 February 1946
Korea: 10 October 1957
Reinstated: 1 July 1949
Honors and

WWII: one battle star
Korea: six battle stars:

  • 1st UN Counter Offensive: 12 February-22 March 1951
  • Communist China Spring Offensive: 30 April-6 May 1951
  • UN Summer-Fall Offensive:
    • 9-10, 24–25 July 1951
    • 8-12, 20–23 September 1951
    • 10-15, 24–27 October 1951
  • Second Korean Winter:
    • 3-6, 11-12, 20-21, 29–31 December 1951
    • 3-6, 13–14 January 1952
    • 24–30 March 1952
  • Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952 - 2 to 3 June 1962[clarification needed]
  • Korea, Summer-Fall 1953 - 24 to 26 May 1953; 3 to 6 June 1953
Fate: not recorded
General characteristics
Class and type: Aldebaran class
Type: Type C2 ship (MARCOM)
Displacement: 13,910 tons
Length: 459 ft 3 in (139.98 m)
Beam: 63 ft 0 in (19.20 m)
Draft: 25 ft 10 in (7.87 m) (limiting)
Propulsion: two boilers, two turbines, single propeller 6,000shp (one 2-stroke, 4 cylinder single-acting Doxford Diesel)[1]
Speed: 16.4 kts,
Capacity: 5,443 DWT
Complement: 287
Armament: one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount; four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts; ten single 20mm AA gun mounts

USS Polaris (AF-11) was a Type C2 "Liberty fleet" standard freighter and an Aldebaran-class stores ship acquired from the United States Maritime Commission by the US Navy for WWII and the Korean Conflict.

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Photo #NH 85494

World War II North Atlantic operations

Polaris made five round trips from the U.S. East Coast to Reykjavík, Iceland from June 1942 to February 1943. She then made five voyages from the U.S. East Coast to Port of Spain, Trinidad, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, March to July 1943. From October 1943 to February 1944 she made four more voyages to the Caribbean, touching at Port of Spain, Trinidad; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Hamilton, Bermuda; the Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

From March through September 1944 Polaris made three round-trip voyages in convoy from the east coast to Oran, Algeria, and other Mediterranean ports. In October she made another voyage to the Caribbean.

Pacific Ocean deployments

On 10 November 1944 she departed New York for the Panama Canal Zone escorted by the USS Leland E. Thomas (DE-420) and arrived at Cristóbal, Colón 16 November 1944.[2] Polaris then sailed to Enewetak, Saipan, Tinian, and Apra before returning to Seattle, Washington, 9 January 1945.

She was underway 16 January to Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Ulithi. She returned to Los Angeles, California, 31 March and was underway again 13 April on a replenishment cruise to the Carolines and the Ryukyus, firing on Tokashiki Island in the Ryukyus 9 July, and returning to San Francisco 30 August.

Post-war inactivation

After serving in Japanese waters and on the China coast, Polaris decommissioned 18 January 1946. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 7 February 1946 and transferred to the Maritime Commission 30 June 1946.

Reactivated for the Korean Conflict

Polaris served in the Korean Conflict with Service Squadron 1 and made six cruises[clarification needed] to Korean waters between 29 January 1951 and 23 July 1954. The Aldebaran-class provisions store ship set a record for her class in number of tons of provisions transferred per hour while on underway replenishment, delivering 116.10 tons per hour to Midway Island 29 April 1955.

Final decommissioning

She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 10 October 1957, and transferred to the Maritime Administration. Into 1970 she was in the National Defense Reserve Fleet berthed in Suisun Bay, California.

References and notes

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. 1.0 1.1 "AF-11 Polaris". NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  2. "Leland E. Thomas". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical Center. Retrieved 2008-08-06.