Hamul AK-20

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This Month in Naval History
Hamul AK-20

Hamul

Probably named after the star Hamul.

(AK-20: dp. 8,560, 1. 492', b. 69', dr. 28'6"; s. 17 k.;
cpl. 857; a. 1 5", 4 3"; cl. Hamul; T, C3 cargo)

Hamul (AK-20), formerly Sea Panther and Doctor Lake,, was launched in May 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock., Kearney, N.J. After two trips to the Orient for Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. of New Orleans, Hamul was acquired by the Navy and commissioned 14 June 1941 at Charleston, Comdr. F. M. Tillson in command.

Originally a cargo ship, Hamul rendered logistical support for occupation of Iceland prior to America's involvement in the war. After working with General Electric in experiments on night camouflage, Hamul departed Boston in January 1942 to head a convey of five ships with men and material to establish a base at Bora Bora, Society Islands. This mission completed, the cargo ship returned to the States via Chile, while she loaded 10,000 tons of nitrate. Hamul discharged the valuable cargo at Mobile and remained there for conversion to a destroyer tender. Departing Mobile 7 January 1943, as AD-20, Hamul tended destroyers and other ships in Casco Bay, Maine, until April and then sailed south to serve as flagship of the Destroyer Escort Shakedown Task Group in Bermuda. In the following 19 months she tended some 348 DE's as well as removing demolition charges from U-505. This German submarine was the first capture of a regular enemy war ship on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since 1815.

After overhaul at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Hamul sailed for the Pacific 1 January 1945, reaching Saipan 12 February via the Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor, and Entwetok. She remained there preparing amphibious craft for the massive Iwo Jima invasion until 27 March, when she sailed to Ulithi. At Ulithi Hamul kept busy repairing damaged craft returning from the Okinawa campaign until 6 May, when she sailed for the scene of the Pacific war's last mayor struggle. Hamul reached Okinawa 10 May 1945 and remained there until February 1946 to repair battle-damaged ships. With over 400 homeward bound veterans aboard, she departed Okinawa 10 February 1946. After discharging them at San Diego she proceeded to Jacksonville, Fla., and subsequently Orange, Tex., to prepare for decommissioning.

As Hamul entered the final stages of the decommissioning process, she was called back into active service as station ship at Plymouth, England. Reaching the British port 17 April 1947, Hamul remained there 3 years tending various American ships and making quarterly cruises to Atlantic and Mediterranean ports. Again ordered to decommission, Hamul departed Plymouth 17 July 1950, but the outbreak of war in Korea again called for every available ship. Going west via Norfolk, Hamul reached Sasebo, Japan, 23 October and began servicing the fleet operating off the Korean coast.

From that period on Hamul's career fell into a pattern of 6 months duty in the East, which took her to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Formosa, and other Asian ports and islands, alternating with a similar period of time in her home port, Long Beach. During the active fighting in Korea and the Cold War afterwards, she played a vital role in maintaining America's mobile presence in the Pacific. Hamul (AD-20) decommissioned 9 June 1952 at Long Beach. Returned to the Maritime Administration, she was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Calif., where she remains.

 

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