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NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive

Contributed by Al Grazevich

USS Achernar (AKA-53)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Hotel - Foxtrot - November
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive - June 1944, 2 April 1945) - China Service Medal (extended)
Second Row - American Campaign Medal - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal (2) - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
Third Row - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp) - National Defense Service Medal
Third Row - Korea Service Medal (3) - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Korea War Memorial Medal

Personnel Awards

Purple Hearts (5 KIA, 41WIA, 2 April 1945)

USS Achernar (AKA-53) was transferred to Spain and renamed Castilla (TA-21)

Andromeda Class Attack Cargo Ship:
  • Laid down, 6 September 1943, as a Maritime Commission type (C2-S-B1), under Maritime Commission contract, (MC hull 208), at Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co, Kearney, N.J.
  • Launched, 3 December 1943
  • Commissioned USS Achernar (AKA-53), 31 January 1944, CDR. H. R. Stevens in command
  • During World War II USS Achernar was first assigned to the Europe-Africa-Middle Theater, and later to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater:
    TransRon Seventeen, COMO. T.B. Brittan USN (20);
    TransDiv Fifty, CAPT. R.W. Abbot USN (20) and participated in the following campaigns:

    Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
    Invasion of Normandy, 6 to 25 June 1944 Okinawa Gunto operation
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 1 to 19 April 1945
    Invasion of southern France, 15 to 25 September 1944  

  • Following World War II USS Achernar was assigned to Occupation and China service in the Far East for the following periods:

    Navy Occupation Service Medal

    China Service Medal (extended)
    30 October to 16 November 194525 February to 19 March 1946
    9 to 22 February 194613 to 22 June 1946

  • Assigned to the Naval Transportation Service (NTS) in 1946
  • Transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), 1 October 1949
  • During the Korean War USS Achernar (AKA-53) participated in the following campaigns:

    Korean War Campaigns
    Campaigns and Dates Campaigns and Dates
    North Korean Aggression, 18 September to 30 October 1950 Inchon Landing, 13 to 17 September 1950
    Communist China Aggression, 14 to 18 November 1950  

  • Decommissioned, 18 May 1956
  • Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Texas Group, Orange, TX.
  • Recommissioned, 1 September 1961, at New Orleans, LA.
  • Decommissioned, 1 July 1964
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission, for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet
  • Reacquired by the Navy, 29 January 1964
  • Struck from the US Naval Register, and transferred (sold) under terms of the Mutual Assistance Program, to Spain, 2 February 1965
  • USS Achernar earned three battle stars for World War II service and three battle stars for Korean War service
  • Placed in service in the Spanish Navy as TA-21 in 1964
  • Names Castilla (TA-21) in December 1965
  • Decommissioned by the Spanish Navy to reserve in 1980
  • Name assigned to ex USS Paul Revere (LPA-248)
  • Struck from the Spanish Navy List, 1 January 1982
  • Final Disposition, scrapped in 1987
    Displacement 6,556 t.(lt) 13,900 t.(fl)
    Length 459' 2"
    Beam 63'
    Draft 26' 4"
    Speed 16.5 kts.
    Officers 60
    Enlisted 363
    Largest Boom Capacity 30 t.
    Cargo Capacity 4,900 DWT
    non-refrigerated 444,000 Cu ft.
    one single 5"/38 cal dual purpose gun mount
    four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    eighteen single 20mm AA gun mounts
    eight LCMs
    one LCP(L)
    fifteen LCVPs
    Fuel Capacity
    NSFO 10,900 Bbls
    one General Electric steam turbine
    two Foster Wheeler "D"-type boilers, 450psi, 750°
    double General Electric Main Reduction Gears
    three turbo-drive 300Kw 120V/240V D.C. Ship's Service Generators
    single propeller, 6,000shp

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    Contributed By
    USS Achernar (AKA-53)
    Achernar 48k USS Achernar (AKA-53) underway, date and location unknown. Russ Padden
    Achernar 135k USS Achernar (AKA-53) moored pierside, date and location unknown. Hyperwar US Navy in World War II web site
    Achernar 104k USS Achernar (AKA-53) underway in the Mediterranean Sea, 1952. George Panos, QMS/2C USS Baltimore (CA-68)
    Castilla (TA-21)
    Achernar 81k Ex-USS Achernar (AKA-53), in Spanish service as Castilla (TA-21). Along with Aragón (TA-11), ex-Noble (APA 218), she was the mainstay of the Spanish Navy Amphibious Force until one LSD and three LSTs joined the Fleet in the early 70s © Camil Busquets
    Achernar 40k Castilla (TA-21) moored pierside, circa 1966, location unknown. Official Spanish Navy photo. Robert Hurst
    Achernar 63k Castilla (TA-21) berthed at Cadiz, Spain, September 1968. Photo by Gerhard Mueller-Debus
    Achernar 218k Castilla (TA-21) at anchor, date and location unknown. Jaume Cifré Sánchez.
    Noble/Achernar 21k Castilla (TA-21) (ex-Achernar (AKA-53) and TA-11 (ex-Noble (APA-218) at the end of their Spanish service moored at Arsenal De La Carraca, Cadiz, Spain, awaiting disposal, September 1981. Photo by Ignacio Lopez
    ex member Armada Espanola

    USS Achernar (AKA-53
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CDR. Stevens, Harold Runyan, USN (USNA 1922) :RADM31 January 1944 - 15 November 1944
    02LCDR. Lange, John R.15 November 1944 - 31 January 1946
    03CDR. Duke, Claren Emmett, USN (USNA 1927) :RADM31 January 1946 - 30 June 1946
    04CAPT. Hansen, Henry Otto30 June 1946 - 31 January 1948
    05CAPT. Hamley, Joseph Ronald, USN (USNA 1927)31 January 1948 - 31 January 1949
    06CAPT. Cameron, Thomas Stevenson31 January 1949 - 31 August 1949
    07CAPT. Todd Jr., David Wooster31 August 1949 - July 1950
    08CAPT. Adair, Crutchfield, USN (USNA 1924)31 January 1951 - 31 January 1952
    09CAPT. Walpole, Kinloch Chafee, USN (USNA 1931)31 January 1952 - 1 January 1953
    10CAPT. Malpass, Ray Edward, USN (USNA 1930) :RADM1 January 1953 - 3 January 1954
    11CAPT. Werts, Charles Luther3 January 1954 - 1 January 1955
    12CAPT. Ensey, Lot, USN (USNA 1930) :VADM 1 January 1955 - 1 January 1956
    13CAPT. Volk, Louis Frank, USN (USNA 1931)1 January 1956 - 18 February 1956
     Decommissioned18 February 1956 - 1 September 1961
    14CAPT. Quigley, Donald Francis, USN (USNA 1941)1 September 1961 - ?
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

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

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    MARAD Vessel History Database
    Postal Covers related to the ship
    Back To The Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The Amphibious Ship Type Index Back To The Amphibious Cargo Ship (AKA) Photo Index
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 7 September 2018