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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Patch at left submitted by Elmer Brown and patch at right Mike Smolinski

USS Betelgeuse (AK-260)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Xray - India - Alpha
SS Columbia Victory Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (2) - World War II Victory Medal
USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

National Defense Service Medal (2)

Greenville Victory Class Cargo Ship:
  • Laid down, 11 February 1944, as SS Columbia Victory, a Maritime Commission type (VC2-S-AP3) hull, under Maritime Commission contract (MCV 10), at California Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, CA.
  • Launched, 10 April 1944
  • Delivered to the Maritime Commission, 31 May 1944
  • Operated by Grace Lines, the Waterman Steamship Corporation and the Isthmian Steamship Company
  • During World War II SS Columbia Victory participated in the following campaigns while operating in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Iwo Jima operation
    Assault and occupation of Iwo Jima, 25 February to 6 March 1945
    Okinawa Gunto operation
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 27 May to 4 June 1945

  • Returned to the Maritime Commission for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in 1948
  • Acquired by the US Navy, 3 August 1951
  • Commissioned USS Betelgeuse (AK-260), 15 April 1952, at Savannah, GA., CDR. Lannis A. Parker, USN, Ret, in command
  • Decommissioned, 15 January 1971, at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 1 February 1974
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 2 December 1975, (PDX-1001) to Luria Brothers, ran aground, 17 January 1976, off Cape Hatteras, 25 miles north of Rodanthe, N.C. while being towed to Brownsville, TX.
    Displacement 15,580 t.(fl)
    Length 455'
    Beam 62'
    Draft 29' 2"
    Speed 15.5 kts
    Complement 145
    Armament eight 40MM AA guns
    Largest Boom Capacity 50 t.
    Cargo Capacity, 7,800 DWT
    non-refrigerated 453,210 Cu ft.
    Fuel Capacity NSFO 18,575 Bbls
    one Westinghouse steam turbine
    two Foster Wheeler header-type boilers, 525psi 750°
    double Westinghouse Main Reduction Gears
    two turbo-drive 300Kw 120V/240V Ship's Service Generators
    single propeller, 6,000shp

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star of spectral type M1-2 and one of the largest visible to the naked eye. It is usually the tenth-brightest star in the night sky and, after Rigel, the second-brightest in the constellation of Orion.
    Photo - taken by Rogelio Bernal Andreo in October 2010 of the Orion constellation showing the surrounding nebulas of the Orion Molecular Cloud complex. Also captured is the red supergiant Betelgeuse (top left) and the famous belt of Orion composed of the OB stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. To the bottom right can be found the star Rigel. The red crescent shape is Barnard's Loop. The photograph appeared as the Wikipedia Astronomy Picture of the Day on 23 October 2010. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, via Wikimedia Commons
    Map - Orion Constellation. Copyright © 2003 Torsten Bronger, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
    Tommy Trampp
    Betelgeuse 55k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) entering Hampton Roads, VA., date unknown. Courtesy Elmer Brown
    USS Betelgeuse AK (FBM) 260 Reunion Association
    Betelgeuse 96k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) entering a Mediterranean port, date unknown.
    US Navy photo
    Richard Miller BMCS USNR Ret.
    Betelgeuse 56k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) and USS Forrestal (CV-59) during and underway replenishment, 21 June 1957, in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain. Courtesy Elmer Brown
    USS Betelgeuse AK (FBM) 260 Reunion Association (John Ackerman)
    Proteus 73k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260), moored alongside USS Proteus (AS-19) at Holy Loch, Scotland while Proteus tends two of her brood. Betelgeuse shuttled between Charleston and Holy Loch bringing everything needed to operate the tender, maintain the subs and provide for the well being of crew and dependents.
    US Navy photo from "All Hands" magazine October 1962
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret.
    Betelgeuse 38k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) underway, date and location unknown. Photo source, "Jane's Fighting Ships 1968-69." Robert Hurst
    Betelgeuse 406k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) crew manning the rail while underway, date and location unknown. Ron Reeves
    Betelgeuse 134k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) and USS Eaton (DD-510) moored pierside at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, VA., date unknown.
    Photo taken from USS Randolph (CV-15)
    Tommy Trampp
    Betelgeuse 271k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260), the subject of an article in Naval Reservist Newsletter and Navy Times describing an experimental method for preservation of ships in reserve. Ron Reeves
    620k USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, PA. using a newly developed preservation method, circa 1971. The ship’s deck, topside equipment and superstructure were completely covered from bow to stem by a single, custom engineered, air-supported, plastic structure within which dehumidified air was circulated. The advantage of this method was that significant time was saved in reactivating a ship to full operating status. The new process required minimum dismantling of a ship’s topside equipment for stowage below deck. Winches, controllers, directors and other topside gear remained in place.
    U.S. Navy photos from "All Hands" magazine September 1972 P.20
    Robert Hurst
    Betelgeuse 96k Ex-USS Betelgeuse (AK-260) aground at Cape Hatteras, N.C. Betelgeuse broke free from her tow on 17 January 1976 while enroute to Luria Brothers at Brownsville, TX. for scrapping. "When the experimental covering over [Betelgeuse] was torn open during a storm, after [the Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility Philadelphia] lost power to the nest and the backup diesel failed to start it was decided to sell the ship for scrapping. After stripping the ship of materials that NavSea deemed necessary, I instructed the crew in the Disposal Division to paint over the hull numbers prior to the ship being towed out of the back basin by the new owners. They neglected to accomplish the task until the day it was supposed to be towed, So they grabbed what paint they had, which wasn’t enough so they diluted it with something to make it last." (Bill Toohey) That explains the dark color bleeding through where the hull number used to be. Bill Toohey

    USS Betelgeuse (AK-260)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Parker, Lannis A., USN Ret.15 April 1952 - 1953
    02CAPT. Dabney, Thomas Bullard, USN (USNA 1936)1953 - June 1954
    03CAPT. Smith, Russell Henry, USN (USNA 1938)1954 - February 1955
    05CDR.Thatcher, William Gordon, USNMay 1956 - 1 November 1957
    06CDR. Bitting, Frederick Edmund, USN1 November 1957 - 1958
    07CDR. Collins, Wilbur Plumer, USN1959 - July 1959
    07LCDR. Bagg Jr., Richard Thomas, USN (temporary)July 1959 - 6 August 1959
    07CDR. Collins, Wilbur Plumer, USN6 August 1959 - 1960
    08CDR. Hall, Perry, USN (USNA 1943)1960 - 1961
    09CDR. Godek, Mieczyslaw, USN1961 - 3 January 1963
    10CDR. Miller, Orville Hillard, USN3 January 1963 - 1964
    11CAPT. Martin, William Carlton, USN1964 - 1965
    12CAPT. Barnes, Alan Franklin, USN (USNA 1947)1965 - 1967
    13CDR. Prezioso, Ronald, USN1967 - 22 August 1969
    14CDR. Mazzolini, John Andrew, USN22 August 1969 - 1 October 1970
    15LCDR. Jerns, Robert Lee, USN1 October 1970 - 15 January 1971
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information Web Sites
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    MARAD Vessel History Database
    USS Betelgeuse AK-260 Reunion Association

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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 1 March 2024