USS Pegasus (AK-48)

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USS Pegasus (IX-222).jpg
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Name: USS Pegasus
Builder: Helsingør Jernskibs og Maskinbyggeri, Helsingør, Denmark
Launched: 1939, as Rita Maersk
Acquired: by the US Navy, 18 September 1941
Commissioned: 3 December 1941
Decommissioned: 19 April 1946
Renamed: USS Pegasus, 15 October 1941
Reclassified: IX-222 (Miscellaneous Unclassified), 15 May 1945
Fate: Returned to the Maritime Commission, 19 April 1946
General characteristics
Class and type: Pegasus-class cargo ship
Displacement: 1,930 long tons (1,961 t) light
Length: 299 ft 1 in (91.16 m)
Beam: 42 ft 6 in (12.95 m)
Draft: 14 ft (4.3 m)
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 156

USS Pegasus was built in 1939 as SS Rita Maersk by Helsingør Jernskibs og Maskinbyggeri A/A, Helsingør, Denmark. Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, she sailed to the United States where she operated under charter from the Maritime Commission as Rita Maersk and later as Larwin. After completing two cruises, she was laid up at Boston, Massachusetts, until 18 September 1941 when she was acquired by the United States Navy from the Maritime Commission. Renamed USS Pegasus on 15 October 1941, the cargo ship was converted for U.S. Navy use by Sullivan Drydock and Repair Corporation, New York City, and commissioned at New York on 3 December 1941, Lt. Comdr. William Fly in command.

Helsingør Place in Capital, Denmark

Helsingør, classically known in English as Elsinore, is a city in eastern Denmark.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


World War II North Atlantic operations

Following an abbreviated shakedown, Pegasus loaded military cargo including 600 depth charges and sailed in convoy for Iceland on 27 December. Despite fierce seas and the menace of German U-boats, she reached Reykjavík, Iceland, early in January 1942. There, raging winter storms driven by winds in excess of 100 knots (190 km/h; 120 mph) imperiled the ship and her cargo, and she did not return to the U.S. East Coast until late February.

Shakedown (testing)

A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span. For example, if a bolt has a hidden flaw introduced during manufacturing, it will not be as reliable as other bolts of the same type.

Cargo goods or produce transported

In economics, cargo or freight refers to goods or produce being conveyed – generally for commercial gain – by water, air or land. Cargo was originally a shipload. Cargo now covers all types of freight, including that carried by train, van, truck, or intermodal container. The term cargo is also used in case of goods in the cold-chain, because the perishable inventory is always in transit towards a final end-use, even when it is held in cold storage or other similar climate-controlled facility.

Convoy group of vehicles traveling together for mutual support and protection

A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support. It may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas. Arriving at the scene of a major emergency with a well-ordered unit and intact command structure can be another motivation.

On 24 March Pegasus joined her second Iceland-bound convoy, and during the spring and summer months of 1942 she completed three round trips to Iceland and back. Her holds and decks carried supplies for the Allied effort in the North Atlantic. Although she escaped the German submarines, she saw several merchantmen, including two on 31 August, fall prey to torpedo attacks.

Iceland island republic in Northern Europe

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

Deck (ship) part of a ship or boat

A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary or upper deck is the horizontal structure that forms the "roof" of the hull, strengthening it and serving as the primary working surface. Vessels often have more than one level both within the hull and in the superstructure above the primary deck, similar to the floors of a multi-storey building, that are also referred to as decks, as are certain compartments and decks built over specific areas of the superstructure. Decks for some purposes have specific names.

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

Central America operations

Pegasus returned to Boston, Massachusetts, on 11 October; and, after completing repairs to her main engine, she sailed on 16 November to begin extended operations in the Caribbean. Laden with dynamite and Seabee construction material, she arrived St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, on 11 December. She continued to New Orleans, Louisiana, a week later and loaded construction supplies for Puerto Rico. Between 18 January 1943 and mid-May she made four runs to Puerto Rico and back; thence, during June and July she hauled U.S. Navy cargo to Cristobal, Panama Canal Zone. Ordered to New York, she loaded ammunition and military stores and transported them to Cuba early in September.

Engine machine designed to produce mechanical energy from another form of energy

An engine or motor is a machine designed to convert one form of energy into mechanical energy. Heat engines, like the internal combustion engine, burn a fuel to create heat which is then used to do work. Electric motors convert electrical energy into mechanical motion, pneumatic motors use compressed air, and clockwork motors in wind-up toys use elastic energy. In biological systems, molecular motors, like myosins in muscles, use chemical energy to create forces and eventually motion.

Caribbean region to the center-east of America composed of many islands and of coastal regions of continental countries surrounding the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean is a region of The Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands one of the main islands of the United States Virgin Islands

Saint Thomas is one of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea and, together with Saint John, Water Island and Saint Croix, a former Danish colony, form a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie. As of the 2010 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,634 about 48.5% of the US Virgin Islands total. The district has a land area of 32 square miles (83 km2).

The busy cargo ship resumed her cargo shuttle runs between the Gulf Coast and ports in the Caribbean and the Panama Canal Zone in October. During the next ten months she hauled thousands of tons of war material to American bases in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. While en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in mid-May 1944, she sustained extensive damage to her cargo after a fire broke out in her fire room. She discharged cargo at Key West, Florida, and quickly resumed duty.

Cargo ship ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials onboard from one port to another

A cargo ship or freighter ship is a merchant ship that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year, handling the bulk of international trade. Cargo ships are usually specially designed for the task, often being equipped with cranes and other mechanisms to load and unload, and come in all sizes. Today, they are almost always built by welded steel, and with some exceptions generally have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years before being scrapped.

Virgin Islands Island group of the Caribbean Leeward Islands

The Virgin Islands are geologically and biogeographically the easternmost part of the Greater Antilles, the northern islands belonging to the Puerto Rican Bank and St. Croix being a displaced part of the same geologic structure. Politically, the British Virgin Islands have been governed as the western island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, and form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is separated from the true Lesser Antilles by the Anegada Passage and from the main island of Puerto Rico by the Virgin Passage.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Municipality in Puerto Rico, United States

San Juan is the capital and most populous municipality in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it is the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States, with a population of 395,326. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it Ciudad de Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's capital is the third oldest European-established capital city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, founded in 1496 and Panama City, in Panama, founded in 1519. Several historical buildings are located in San Juan; among the most notable are the city's former defensive forts, Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal, and La Fortaleza, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the Americas.

Engine failure, rough seas, and return to stateside

Pegasus returned to the Panama Canal Zone in July, and on the 22nd, she transited the Canal with a cargo of Navy supplies for bases at Balboa, Panama. Yet another assignment sent her to the Panama Canal Zone on 17 August; thence, she sailed for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on 23 August. On the 25th her engine failed. She drifted for almost two days until taken in tow by the tug ATR-21. Following temporary repairs in Cuba, she reached Norfolk, Virginia, on 17 September for a three-month overhaul. She resumed duty on 30 December with a run to Puerto Rico where she encountered a severe tropical storm. While returning to Norfolk, Virginia, via the Florida coast, she encountered another storm off Cape Hatteras early in February 1945. She sustained further damage to her engine, but reached Norfolk at reduced speed on 3 February.

Panama Canal Large artificial waterway in the Republic of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

The Panama Canal is an artificial 82 km (51 mi) waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a conduit for maritime trade. Canal locks are at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 m above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. The original locks are 34 m wide. A third, wider lane of locks was constructed between September 2007 and May 2016. The expanded canal began commercial operation on June 26, 2016. The new locks allow transit of larger, post-Panamax ships, capable of handling more cargo.

Balboa is a district of Panama City, located at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.

Guantánamo Bay bay located in Guantánamo Province

Guantánamo Bay is a bay located in Guantánamo Province at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the largest harbor on the south side of the island and it is surrounded by steep hills which create an enclave that is cut off from its immediate hinterland.

Pacific Theatre operations

During the next two months Pegasus underwent extensive overhaul. On 5 April she was assigned to Service Squadron 10 for duty in the western Pacific Ocean as a dry cargo station ship. She departed Norfolk, Virginia, on 18 April, transited the Panama Canal on 27 April, and steamed via San Diego, California, to Pearl Harbor. She was reclassified IX–222 on 15 May. Between 7 and 20 June, she was towed to Eniwetok by Keosanqua (ATA-198); thence she sailed 25 June for the Philippines. Steaming via Ulithi, she arrived Leyte Gulf on 18 July.

End-of-War operations

Pegasus supplied ships of the Pacific Fleet during the closing weeks of the war as well as after the Japanese surrender. She operated in Leyte Gulf for the rest of the year and into 1946 and discharged thousands of tons of ships’ stores. She departed the Philippines in February and sailed for the U.S. West Coast, arriving San Francisco, California, on 4 March.

End-of-War Decommissioning

Pegasus decommissioned at San Francisco, California, on 19 April 1946 and was returned to the War Shipping Administration the same day. Her name was struck from the Naval Register on 1 May 1946.

See also

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This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships .The entry can be found here.