USS Talamanca (AF-15)
|Laid down:||1931 as SS Talamanca|
|Acquired:||16 December 1941|
USS Talamanca AF-15, |
28 January 1942
|Decommissioned:||29 November 1945|
|Struck:||19 December 1945|
|Fate:||Returned to United Fruit Co., in 1946|
|Displacement:||6,963 t.(lt) 11,880 t.(fl)|
|Length:||447 ft 10 in (136.50 m)|
|Beam:||60 ft (18 m)|
|Draught:||25 ft 2 in (7.67 m)|
|Propulsion:||Turbo-electric, twin screws, 11,000shp|
|Speed:||18 kts. (max)|
|Capacity:||2,615 long tons deadweight (DWT)|
|Armament:||one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount, four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts|
USS Talamanca (AF-15) was a Mizar-class stores ship acquired by the U.S. Navy for use in World War II. She served in the dangerous Pacific Ocean, delivering food and household goods to ships and bases.
Talamanca -- a combination luxury liner and fruit cargo carrier built in 1931 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia -- was acquired by the Navy on 16 December 1941 from the United Mail Steamship Co., New York, New York; converted to an auxiliary stores ship at Baltimore, Maryland, by the Maryland Drydock Co.; designated AF-15 on 27 December 1941; and commissioned on 28 January 1942, Comdr. Nathan W. Bard in command.
World War II Pacific Theatre operations
Talamanca put to sea for the first time as a naval vessel on 13 February. Six days later, laden with cargo, passengers, and mail, she transited the Panama Canal; proceeded via Talara, Peru, across the southern Pacific; and arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, on 16 March. On 1 April, following a voyage to Melbourne, Australia, and back to Wellington, she headed once more toward the United States. She made a brief stop in Manzanilla, Mexico, on the 16th and reached San Francisco, California, on 21 April. Between 9 May and 1 June, Talamanca made a round-trip voyage from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor and back again. The stores ship spent the whole month of June in the Mare Island Navy Yard, undergoing further conversion and some repairs.
Delivering goods to the South Pacific
Talamanca stood out of San Francisco on 8 July with a Hawaii-bound convoy. She reached Pearl Harbor on the 16th and remained there for five days taking on fuel and stores before heading southwest on the 21st. On 1 August, she parted company with the convoy, headed -- via the Fiji Islands -- for New Zealand, and reached Auckland on the 7th.
Long and unexciting days at sea
For the next three years, Auckland served as Talamanca's home port. Between August 1942 and April 1945, the ship plied the waters of the southwestern Pacific supplying American bases in that area. She visited such places as the Fiji Islands; Espiritu Santo; Efate; Manus; and. Napier, New Zealand. The closest she ever came to the combat zone were stops at Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Florida Island, and the Russell Islands in the Solomons. However, these voyages came in 1944 after the fighting had moved up the Solomons chain past Bougainville and into the Bismarck Archipelago. In all, Talamanca made some 36 resupply voyages from Auckland to various bases in the South Pacific and back again, all of them relatively routine affairs.
On 28 April 1945, the stores ship set sail from Auckland for the last time. She headed to Noumea, New Caledonia, thence to Manus, from where she was routed to the Marianas. Talamanca reached Saipan on 10 May; discharged cargo; and, on the 15th, shifted to Tinian where she completed discharging her cargo. From Tinian, she sailed, via Eniwetok Atoll, for the west coast. She entered San Pedro, California, on 2 June 1945 and loaded cargo. On the 9th, she headed back to the western Pacific. Following fuel-and-water stops at Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok, Talamanca entered Apra Harbor, Guam, on 26 June. Her crew unloaded her cargo there; and, four days later, she set sail for Manus. The stores ship arrived at Manus on 3 July and embarked patients from the hospital for transportation to the United States. Two days later, she steamed eastward again. She stopped at Pearl Harbor on 13 July and entered San Francisco Bay on the 19th.
Her passengers disembarked, she moored to a pier at the Moore Dry Dock Co. for overhaul. She completed overhaul and repairs on 31 August and—after degaussing, compass compensation, and trials—began loading cargo on 3 September. On the 9th, she stood out of San Francisco Bay for Pearl Harbor and arrived there on the 14th. Two days later, she continued on to Eniwetok where she stopped on the 23d for fuel and water. From there, she voyaged to Guam, thence to Iwo Jima, where she unloaded cargo. On 8 October, Talamanca departed Iwo Jima with Saipan-bound passengers and arrived at her destination that afternoon. She discharged her passengers that same day and her cargo the following day. After stopping at Guam to embark passengers, the stores ship got underway for Hawaii and the United States. She stopped at Pearl Harbor from 27 to 29 October and then continued on to Panama.
Loading bananas for the WSA
The stores ship reverted to her former employment as a fruit carrier on 10 November when she loaded bananas at Puerto Armuelles, Panama, for the War Shipping Administration. She transited the canal on the 13th and set sail for New Orleans, Louisiana, the following day.
Return to civilian duties
She reached her destination on the 18th and was placed out of commission there on 29 November 1945. She was returned to the War Shipping Administration for eventual return to her owners. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 19 December 1945.
She was returned to United Fruit Co., in 1946, who sold her in 1959 to Elder & Fyffes, and was renamed SS Sulaco. Final disposition: to be scrapped at Bruges, Belgium, arriving there 28 July 1964. She was finally scrapped in 1965.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
- NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - AF-15 Talamanca