Chara-AKA-58

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This Month in Naval History
Chara-AKA-58

Chara

A star in the constellation Canes Venatici.

(AKA-58: dp. 6,737; 1. 459'3"; b. 63'; dr. 26'4"; s. 17 k.;
cpl. 380; a. 1 5"; cl. Achernar)

Chara (AKA-58) was launched 15 March 1944 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J., under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. E. P. McHugh, acquired by the Navy 16 March 1944; and commissioned 14 June 1944, Commander C. B. Hamblett, USNR, in command.

Chara cleared Norfolk 22 July 1944 for Pearl Harbor arriving 10 August for training. Her initial combat action came on 20 October when she hove to in Leyte Gulf, P.I., with the Southern Attack Force, and swiftly landed troops and cargo in the momentous assault that was the first step in the liberation of the Philippines. Chara withdrew on 24 October, while the decisive naval Battle for Leyte Gulf raged in the area. She returned to New Guinea to reload essential supplies which she delivered to support the continuing land battle for Leyte on 18 November.

After rehearsal landings in New Guinea, and staging at Manus, Chara cleared 31 December 1944 for the assault on Lingayen. As TF 97 penetrated Philippine waters, on 8 January 1945, a Japanese kamikaze attack was hurled at them and succeeded in damaging one escort carrier of the group. On board Chara three men were wounded, one fatally, as a result of the heavy antiaircraft fire thrown up by the task force. The assaults were made on 9 and 10 January Chara's men landing their troops and Cargo successfully despite heavy surf conditions and a beach so difficult that the Japanese never anticipated an amphibious assault in the location. Chara remained in the Leyte area, participating in. the landings on San Antonio on 26 January, until 26 March, when she steamed from San Pedro Bay combat loaded for the beaches of Okinawa.

Once again at Okinawa, her men worked skillfully in an amphibious assault, as Chara landed troops and heavy equipment on 1 April 1945. She remained off Okinawa in this invasion, famous for the Japanese desperation kamikaze attacks, to unload reinforcements and additional equipment until 6 April. After overhaul in the States and a return to Okinawa with cargo on 5 July, Chara returned to San Francisco where she loaded supplies for the Philippines, calling en route for additional supplies at Pearl Harbor thus beginning a period of cargo operations in the Philippines and to Japan in support of the occupation.

She returned to the States in December 1945, then continued to support forces in the Far East until 1960 carrying men and cargo for the Naval Transportation Service, and after 1 October 1949, for the Military Sea Transportation Service.

With the outbreak of the Korean war, Chara was transferred to Service Force, Pacific Fleet, for duty as an ammunition ship, transporting and transferring all types of ammunition at sea to fleet units. She cleared San Francisco 16 September 1950 to replenish TF 77 and support the evacuations of Hungnam and Wonsan before returning to San Francisco for overhaul 26 March 1951. In her second Korean tour, 19 July 1951 to 18 May 1952, she joined the Mobile Logistics Support Force in operations in the Wonsan-Songjin bombline triangle, and in emergency lifts of Korean POWs from Koje-do to Ulsan. Another tour of providing at-sea replenishment of ammunition preceded the end of hostilities.

Chara alternated duty in the western Pacific with training and upkeep on the west coast. In December 1954 and January 1955, she took part in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands. Active through 1958, Chara was placed out of commission in reserve at Astoria, Oreg., 21 April 1959.

Chara received four battle stars for service during World War II, and seven for service during the Korean war.

 

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