United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Pelias AS 14

USS Pelias AS 14 in 1940

8,236 Built / Launched 5/8/1939 / 11/14/1939
Length 492' 0" Built By Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock.,
Chester, Pa.
Beam 69' 6" Class Griffin
Draft 21' 1" Commissioned1941
Speed (rated) 16.5kts Decommissioned1970
Compliment 925 DispositionSold

Pelias (AS-14) was laid down as SS Mormacyork under Maritime Commission contract by Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa., 8 May 1939; launched 14 November 1939; sponsored by Miss Barbara W. Vickery; and delivered to Moore-McCormick Steamship Co., 1 April 1940. Mormacyork served for a short time on passenger service between ports in the United States and South America. Acquired by the Navy late in 1940, she was renamed Pelias 9 January 1941 and converted for Navy use as a submarine tender by Bethlehem Steel Co., Brooklyn, N.Y. Pelias commissioned at New York 5 September 1941, Comdr. William Wakefield in command.

Following shakedown off New England, Pelias sailed for the Pacific 9 October. Steaming via San Diego, Calif., she arrived Pearl Harbor 21 November. Six days later she began sub overhauls at the Submarine Base where she was berthed during the Japanese attack 7 December 1941. During the sneak attack her guns splashed one enemy torpedo plane, and damaged a second, as they made their deadly runs along the main channel little more than 100 yards from her port side. She resumed repair duty shortly after the attack and during the early months of the war provided valuable assistance as the Pacific Fleet prepared for the long struggle for supremacy of the Pacific.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN (center) presenting awards on board USS Grayling (SS-209), at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base, following ceremonies in which he took command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, 31 December 1941. The former fleet commander, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel is standing to the right, in a white uniform with two-star insignia. Admiral Nimitz has just presented the Navy Cross to Ensign F.M. Fisler, USNR. Others receiving awards, standing left-to-right in line behind Nimitz and Fisler, are: Ensign C.F. Gimber, USNR; AMM1c L.H. Wagoner (also awarded the Navy Cross); AMM1c W.B. Watson; R3c H.C. Cupps; R2c W.W. Warlick and AMM2c C.C. Forbes. They were the crew of a Navy bomber.. USS Pelias with two submarines along side moored just aft.

After servicing almost a score of submarines at Pearl Harbor Pelias steamed to San Francisco late in May 1942 and took on spare parts, provisions, and ammunition. Departing for the Southwest Pacific 22 June, she touched at Melbourne, Australia, 16 July and reached Albany, Australia, the 23d. Assigned to duty under Rear Admiral Lockwood, ComSubSoWesPac, she refitted 10 submarines at Albany before shifting her base to Fremantle, Australia, 27 October. There, she relieved Holland as mother ship for the SoWesPac submarines, which pressed the attack against Japanese naval and merchant shipping. Except for brief deployments to Exmouth Gulf in May 1943 and to Albany in March 1944, Pelias operated out of Fremantle during her Australian employment. Between July 1942 and May 1944 she overhauled, repaired, and refitted 59 submarines of Submarine Squadrons 6, 12, and 16.
USS Pelias tending submarines - time and place unknown. Photo courtesy of Mrs. "Nettie" Maurer, formerly of Perth, Australia- and forwarded to us by Mike Wood. Mrs. Maurer's late husband MM1C Firl Maurer was a crewmember of PELIAS during WWll.

While date and place are not known - it is quite typical of her deployment to Fremantle, Australia - between July 1942 and May 1944 during which time she tended 59 submarines.

Busy Fremantle--Busy Mother
Griffith Baily Coale #40
Charcoal drawing, 1944

At the narrow mouth of the Swan River, which flows into the Indian Ocean on Australia's western coast, is the port of Fremantle, Australia. Here tenders overhauled submarines. This picture shows the USS Pelias in the midst of her arduous duties, her people swarming over the subs, while their crews were ashore for well-earned leave. Before arriving in Fremantle the USS Pelias was present during the attack on Pearl Harbor and afterwards performed seventy-five complete overhauls of the ships there.

A "Drive-in" movie theater... for Submarines!
Not sure how good the sound was - but the movie screen aboard USS Pelias could easily be seen by the submarines crews tied up aft. While not intended as one of the more important services provided by the tenders, movies provided a welcome - if only temporary - reprieve from the rigors of war. Of course - the submarine sailors were welcome to watch the movie aboard the tender as well...

Ordered home in May 1944 she departed Fremantle 15 May, touched at Pearl Harbor 6 June and reached San Francisco the 15th. For more than two months she underwent overhaul at Mare Island; thence, from 10 to 18 September, she steamed to Hawaii. Engine repairs delayed her deployment to Midway, but they did not hinder her sub-tending duties. She refitted 7 subs before sailing to Midway 9 January 1945. Assigned to Submarine Squadron 32, Pelias completed 15 sub refits and voyage repairs during the next four months. Between 26 May and 10 June she steamed via Pearl to San Diego where she undertook the repair and decommissioning overhaul of the S-class submarines of Submarine Squadron 45.

Based at San Diego when hostilities ended 15 August, Pelias steamed to Tiburon Bay 10 September, thence to Mare Island 24 February 1946. She was placed in commission in reserve 6 September 1946, and in service in reserve 1 February 1947. On 21 March 1950 she was placed out of service in reserve, but later performed berthing ship duty at Mare Island until she decommissioned 14 June 1970.

Pelias received one battle star for World War II service.

AS 15 USS Bushnell
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