Algol is a fixed star in the Constellation Pegasus. It varies periodically in brightness because of eclipses by a satellite.
(A.K.A. -54; dp. 13,910 (tl) I. 459’2”,b.63’0 ” dr. 226’4 ” (lim),s. 16.5 k. (tl.); cpl. 429; A. 15’, 8.40 mm; cl. Andromeda; t. C 2-S- BI)
She was the first ship of the United States Navy by this name, and served as a commissioned ship for 22 years and 1 month.
Algol (A.K.A.-54) was laid down on 10 December 1942 at Oakland, California by the Moore DryDock Company under a Maritime C commission contract (MC hull 1153), as James Bames. She launched on 17 February 1943, sponsored by Mrs. J. A. McKeown, and renamed Algol on 30 August 1943. She was placed in reduced commission on 27 November 1943 for the voyage to the Willamette Shipyard in Portland Oregon, where she was de-commissioned on 3 December 1943. Later the ship was converted to an attack cargo ship, and placed back to full commission on 21 July 1944 with Lt. Comdr. Axton T. Jones U.S.N.R. in full command.
World War II
Algol completed shakedown training along the California coast by 3 September. She then sailed to Oakland, California and began loading cargo. She departed Oakland, California on 4 October bound for the Western Pacific. Steaming via Eniwetok Atoll., she arrived at Saipan in the Marianas late in October. After loading her cargo in Saipan, Algol got underway for New Guinea on 31 October. The attack cargo ship sailed to Hollandia on 6 November and remained there two days before pushing on to Noumea, New Caledonia, where she stopped between 24 November and 17 December. On 17 December, Algol headed for Guadalcanal where she participated in landing exercises in participation for the assault on Luzon at Lingayen Gulf. At the end of the year, she moved up to the staging area at Manus in the Admiralty Islands.
On 2 January 1945, the attack cargo ship put to sea as an element at task unit (TU) 78.11.7 Along the way, many reports came in of submarines, torpedoes, and unidentified aircraft in the area. However, no verified attacks occurred. Algol and her colleagues arrived safely in Lingayen Gulf on 11 January. Her boats and boat crews went immediately to help unload SS President Monroe. The attack transport began her own unloading the following day. She completed cargo operations on 13 January and got underway for Leyte on the 15th. During the voyage, she towed the SS President Monroe which had suffered a main propulsion plant casualty. The two ships arrived in San Pedro Bay on 20 January. There, she immediately began loading for a second invasion of Luzon. When she arrived off the coast of Zambales province on the western coast of Luzon just north of Subic Bay, she and the other ships found things very peaceful, and so it was. The entire area was in the friendly hands of Filipino guerrillas. The prelanding bombardment was cancelled and troops and cargo moved ashore easily.
Upon her return to Leyte on 3 February, Algol spent about six weeks catching up on minor ship repairs, and her crew enjoyed more frequent liberty in mid March; however, it was time to back to get back in the war and she began preparations for the assault on the Ryukyu Islands. On 27 March, the attack cargo ship departed Leyte with cargo and elements of the 184 Th. Regimental Combat Team (RTC) 7Th. Infantry Division, embarked. She arrived off Okinawa early in the morning of 1 April and began unloading soon after the invasion started. That night instead of retiring with the other transports and cargo ships, Algol moved into the inner transport area to serve as a tender for the landing craft.
The ship remained at Okinawa until 10 April at which time she shaped a course for Guam, in company with TU51.29.12. from Guam, Algol continued east to Hawaii and thence to San Diego, California where she arrived on 4 May. A three week availability followed. On 28 May, the attack cargo ship embarked upon a voyage to Hawaii, from which she returned to the west coast at San Francisco, California on 18 June. She put to sea once again on 6 July bound for the Western Pacific. After stops at Eniwetok and Ulithi en route, the ship arrived at Kerema Retto off Okinawa on 9 September. From there, she moved down to the northern Solomons, arriving at Cape Torokina, Bougainville, on 4 October. There, she loaded cargo and equipment for Marine Air Group (MAG) 25 transportation to China. Algol arrived in Tsingtao, China early in November, unloaded her cargo and departed the port at the end of the third week in November.
Pacific & Atlantic, 1946-1949
In August of 1950, just weeks after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, she was transferred to the Pacific. The ship embarked elements of the 1st. Marine Division and set sail for Kobe, Japan, on 31 August. Algol arrived in Kobe, Japan on 16 September but put to sea again the following day to join in the Inchon invasion. The initial assault in Inchon had gone forward the day before Algol’s arrival in Japan. Her mission, therefore, was one of resupply and reinforcement. She remained at Inchon, unloading, from 21 to 27 September. On the latter day, the attack cargo ship headed back to Japan.
At that time, the Chinese communists intervened massively and sent the UN forces reeling southward. Algol went to Chinnampo where she assisted in the evacuation of UN troops during the first week in December. The following week, she moved to Inchon to help evacuate troops at that location. Those operations lasted until the beginning of the second week in January of 1951.
For the next two months, the attack cargo ship visited a number of ports in both Japan and Korea. Early in March, she participated in an amphibious feint at Chinnampo and then headed back to Japan. In late April and early May, Algol visited Hong Kong. There she embarked the British 28th Brigade and transported them to Inchon Korea. After that mission, she returned to Japan where she conducted amphibious exercises until 17 June. On that day, the ship shaped a course back to the United States. She arrived in San Diego, California on 30 June.
Pacific Fleet, 1953–1958
Later that month she moved south to her new home port, San Diego. Normal west coast operations, including a series of amphibious exercises, carried her through the remainder of 1954 and well into 1955. In August 1955, the attack cargo ship entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for a regular overhaul. She completed repairs in November and after refresher training out of San Diego, resumed normal operations out of her home port. That occupation lasted more than two years. On 2 January 1958, she was decommissioned and assigned to the Bremerton Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Algol was recommissioned on 17 November 1961 at the Northwest Marine Iron Works at Portland, Oregon with Capt. F.L. Edwards in command. After shakedown training out of San Diego, the attack cargo ship departed port on 12 January 1962 on her way to the Atlantic Fleet. She was assigned to Amphibious Group (Phib Gru) 2, Amphibious Squadron (Phib Ron) 4 Atlantic Fleet, and spent most of 1962 operating in the West Indies. Notable among her assignments in the fall of 1962 was as a support unit for the “Quarantine” of Cuba imposed by President John F. Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Algol spent the remaining seven years of her Navy career operating primarily along the east coast of the Unites States and the West Indies. That duty consisted almost solely of the amphibious warfare training in conjunction with marines. The only break in that schedule of operations came at the end of the summer of 1964. At that time, the attack cargo ship deployed to the Mediterranean Sea to participate in the massive amphibious exercise Operation “Steel Pike 1”. By early 1965, she returned to more familiar waters and spent the remaining years of her career operating along the eastern seaboard and in the West Indies. During that period, on 1 January 1969, the attack cargo ship was redesigned an amphibious cargo ship and was assigned the hull designation LKA-54.
In January 1969 she conducted two training exercises in retrieving an Apollo command module with UDT-22 (Underwater Demolition Team) personnel who were deployed from the boat. On 14th February she completed loading of Apollo recovery equipment before setting off to her designated abort recovery station on 17th February. This is referred to as Station 3. By the 26th the Algol was in position to conduct a SIMEX (simulation exercise) with RCCA (Recovery Control Centre Atlantic) and ARRS aircraft. Three days later she carried out what is referred to as an ‘in house’ SIMEX. The report records this as happening on the 29th February in what is clearly a typing error. It’s worth noting also at this point that on the 8th March the prime recovery ship, the Guadalcanal, also conducted an ‘in house’ SIMEX though this entry in the CTF-140 report specifically mentions that a boilerplate capsule was involved. It would be logical to infer from this that the Algol also would have had a boilerplate onboard to enable her to carry out her ‘in house’ SIMEX as mentioned above. This would seem to tie in with a report in the London Times recording that according to a statement by NASA reported in September 1970 by the London Times that the capsule was washed overboard during a storm whilst in transit to an exercise off the coast of Spain. On 3rd March, some sixty-seven minutes before Apollo 9 left the pad at the Kennedy Space Centre the Algol reported a surface contact within fifty miles and twelve minutes after lift-off she was released from her launch abort station to cover what is referred to as TP 13-2A. The Algol on was finally released from ship Station 3 on 12th March. In these maneuvers the Algol steamed some 1650 miles to cover twenty-two target points. The weather throughout this time was poor with high winds and seas as a result of a chain of low pressure cells and frontal passages moving slowly across the Atlantic.
Algol was decommissioned on 23 July 1970 and was transferred to the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet at James River, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 January 1977. As of the beginning of 1984, the ship is still berthed at James River.
Here is a Scuba Diving paged dedicated to the ship. http://njscuba.net/reefs/site_nj03sr_uss_algol.html
Algol, earned three battle stars during World War II and five battle stars for service in the Korean conflict.