USS Lassen (AE-3)

USS Lassen (AE-3)

USS "Lassen" (AE-3) ex-"Shooting Star", was launched by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Tampa, Florida, under a Maritime Commission contract 10 January 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Fred C. Cone; acquired by the Navy 15 November 1940; commissioned 4 days later for transfer to Mobile, Alabama, for conversion, Lt Comdr. A. B. Kerr in command; and commissioned in full 27 March 1941, Comdr. Russell S. Berkey in command. She was named after Lassen Peak, a volcano in the Cascade Range in northern California, USA, located within Lassen Volcanic National Park.

In the months prior to the war, this ammunition ship had made deliveries along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in July sailed to Pearl Harbor. On 22 November she departed Norfolk for San Francisco, her homeport.

After round-trip voyages to the Samoan Islands, Fiji Islands, and Pearl Harbor, "Lassen" began duty as an advanced base supply ship. Departing San Francisco 26 August 1942, "Lassen" replenished ships out of Dumbea Bay, New Caledonia, from 19 September to 17 January 1943. She returned to San Francisco 23 January for repairs, the installation of radar and a change in armament.

By 18 May she had reached Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, to resume dispensing the sinews of war to the fleet in the South Pacific. She also serviced ships from Efate, New Hebrides, and Noumea, New Caledonia, before returning home 24 November. Again a period in drydock was but a prelude to a more extensive stay in the war zone supporting the combat ships which were driving Japan toward surrender.

As part of Vice Adm. W. L. Calhoun’s 7th Force, Pacific Fleet, "Lassen" arrived Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands 2 February 1944. She replenished ships in the Marshall Islands, and at Manus Island, Admiralty Islands. As part of “the train” at Kossol Passage, Palau Islands, 25 September to 2 October and at Ulithi Atoll from 4 October to 18 November, she earned her first battle star. During the latter period "Lassen" rode out a severe typhoon and also fought off her first enemy air attack.

Upon returning to the western Carolines 23 February 1945, "Lassen", along with her sister AEs, worked out techniques for transferring large quantities of ammunition while underway. She exhibited her new skill and mobility by accompanying TG 50.8 in raids during 13 March to 14 June supporting the Okinawa campaign. Her third battle star was earned while accompanying TG 30.8 during 8 July to 6 August off the coast of Japan.

V-J Day found "Lassen" operating out of San Pedro Bay, Leyte. On 25 October she departed for the United States via Eniwetok, where she embarked 112 passengers.

There was little need during the period of hasty demobilization which followed World War II for this ship which had plied its hazardous duties so efficiently. Berthed first at Port Discovery, Washington, from 20 November to 2 March 1946, she proceeded down the coast by stages and arrived San Diego 27 March. "Lassen" decommissioned 15 January 1947 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet, remaining a unit of that fleet until struck from the Navy list 1 July 1961.

"Lassen" received three battle stars for World War II service.



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