Torrance AKA-76



(AKA-76: dp. 14,160; 1. 459'2"; b. 63', dr. 26'4", s. 16.5 k. cpl. 395; a. 1 5", 8 40mm., 16 20mm.; cl.Tolland)

Torrance (AKA-76) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1382) on 1 April 1944 at Wilmington, N.C., by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 6 June 1944, sponsored by lliss Marlene DeKay, acquired by the Navy on 20 June and towed to the Bethlehem Steel Company plant at Hoboken, N.J., for conversion to an attack cargo ship; and commissioned on 18 November 1944, Lt. Comdr. George A. Euerle, USNR, in command.

Following commissioning, Torrance underwent 10 days of trials in Long Island Sound before setting course for Hampton Roads on 28 November. Soon after arriving in Norfolk the next day, the cargo ship conducted shakedown training in Hampton Roads. Leaving Norfolk after shaking down, Torrance headed for the west coast.

Upon arrival in Caribbean waters on 17 December she received orders to proceed to San Francisco, Calif. She entered the Pacific from the Panama Canal on Christmas Eve and arrived in San Francisco on 2 January 1946.

There she took on board supplies earmarked for South Pacific bases and set out for South Sea isles on the 13th.

She made port at Milne Bay, New Guinea on 31 January, then proceeded to Manus, in the Admiralties, where she arrived on 3 February. Torrance next returned to the New Guinea coast, this time to Hollandia, where she arrived on Saint Valentine's Day. Receiving orders directing her to the Philippines, the ship joined Transport Division 49, Transport Squadron 17, bound for Leyte.

Torrance and other ships in her division engaged in intensive exercises off Cabnagan Island, near Leyte, in mid-March. On 21 March, the attack cargo ship embarked the men and materiel of the Army Engineers 305th Regimental Combat Team and joined a convoy bound for the Ryukyus.

Torrance arrived in waters off Okinawa early in the campaign but remained in reserve off the Hagushi beaches until her division launched a feint attack and landing on the southeast coast of Okinawa on 19 April 1945.

She completed the diversionary operation and returned briefly to Hagushi before delivering combat supplies to Ie Shima. Then, back at Hagushi, she unloaded the remainder of the cargo carried in her capacious holds. During these operations, both nature and the Japanese joined forces to attempt to thwart the American onslaught, but to no avail. Fragile landing craft carried their loads to the beaches, braving heavy seas and stiff breezes while death-dealing kamikazes swept down from the Japanese home islands. Torrance's antiaircraft gunners stood to their weapons and fired out streams of tracer which clawed at the attacking planes and sent two of them spinning into the sea.

The Nipponese assault came not only from the skies —in the form of kamikazes—and from the sea—in the small, fast suicide motor boats which endangered both warship and auxiliary alike—but from strategically emplaced and cleverly concealed shore batteries as well. These guns made their presence felt with salvoes which landed uncomfortably close among the coveys of transports and their escorts. Like frightened quail, the transports—including Torrance—shifted anchorage to safer waters, as destroyers and cruiser gunfire and carrier-based planes dealt with the troublesome shore guns.

Despite the difficulties engendered by wind and wave, suicide plane or shore battery, the conquest of Okinawa moved steadily forward. Torrance cleared the battle area and dropped anchor at Saipan on 5 May to await further orders. On 22 May, she departed the Marshall Islands, bound for the west coast of the United States.

The attack cargo ship reached San Francisco on 6 June and commenced voyage repairs which lasted until the 24th, when she set out for Seattle, Wash. Torrance remained in the northwest coastal waters until she once more headed westward into the Pacific.

Arriving at Eniwetok on 17 July for an 11-day layover, she unloaded her cargo from the United States. For the remainder of the war, the attack cargo ship operated in support of the Fleet and its bases in waters of the Philippines and off Korea and provided supplies for the American occupation forces in the Japanese home islands. She first reached Japan when she made port at Sasebo on 23 November 1945.

From there, she steamed back to Seattle, where she arrived on 10 December and remained into the New Year. Late in January, she shifted south and moored at San Francisco on 27 January 1946. She made one more cargo-carrying voyage to Pearl Harbor before returning to the west coast en route to the Canal Zone.

Transiting the Panama Canal on 29 April, Torrance pointed her bow towards Jacksonville, Fla., where she received orders to report to the Commandant of the 5th Naval District, Norfolk, Va., for disposition. Arriving in Hampton Roads on 9 May 1946, she was decommissioned at Norfolk on 20 June 1946. Delivered to the War Shipping Administration two days later, Torrance was struck from the Navy list on 3 July 1946 and laid up with many of her sisters in the James River.

Purchased by the Alcoa Steamship Company of New York in 1948, the erstwhile attack cargo ship was renamed SS Alcoa Roamer and engaged in the freightcarrying trade through 1968. Given the name SS Eldorado when taken over by the Clairship Navigation Corp. of New York, she continued in cargo activities through 1971.

Torrance received one battle star for her World War II service.