USS Gold Star (AK-12)

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USS Gold Star (AG-12).jpg
USS Gold Star (AG-12)
United States
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Wilmington, Delaware[1]
Launched: 5 June 1920
Completed: July 1920
Acquired: 8 November 1921
  • USS Arcturus (AK-12),
  • 1 February 1922
Decommissioned: 17 April 1946
Struck: 30 June 1946
Fate: sold for scrapping, 1 December 1947
General characteristics
Displacement: 4,860 tons
Length: 391 ft 9 in (119.41 m)
Beam: 52 ft 2 in (15.90 m)
Draught: 11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Draft: 24 feet[1]
Installed power: 2000 HP[1]
Propulsion: 3 coal fired boilers, reciprocating engine, single shaft[1]
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
Complement: 52
Armament: originally 2x4-inch(10-cm), 1941 2x0.5 in (12.7 mm) (12.7-mm) machine guns, 1942 1x12 pdr. high-angle, 1943 2x5-inch (127-mm) and 4x3-inch (76-mm)[2]

USS Gold Star (AK-12) was a U.S. Navy cargo ship that saw service before and during World War II. She was responsible for delivering necessary goods and equipment to ships and stations in the war zone.

Renamed Gold Star[edit]

Gold Star (AK-12) was built in 1920 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Delaware: taken over by the Navy as Arcturus from the USSB 8 November [1921]; commissioned as Arcturus (AK-12) 1 February 1922 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lt. Comdr. J. Katterfield, USNRF, in command and 5 days later renamed Gold Star (AK-12) on 6 February. The ship was reclassified AG-12, 12 May 1922.

Post-World War I operations[edit]

Renamed Gold Star sailed from Philadelphia 18 March 1922, arriving Seattle, Washington, 1 July via the Panama Canal Zone and California ports. During the next 2 years she served as a cargo ship on the U.S. West Coast, making three voyages with supplies for Alaskan radio stations. The ship steamed out of San Francisco, California, 9 October 1924 to assume her duties as station ship at Guam, arriving 3 November.

An Asia specialist[edit]

During the 1920s and 1930s Gold Star became a familiar sight in the far-flung ports of Asia. Though assigned as flagship of the US Navy at Guam she made frequent voyages to Japan, China, and the Philippines with cargo and passengers. Prior to World War II, much of her crew was made up of Chamorro, natives of Guam with American non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers.[3]

The Gold Star became a bit of a veteran Q-Ship dealing with communications intelligence as she moved from port to port and while in port in the Orient. As a station ship she was assigned to monitor 1) Internal Japanese Fleet frequencies 2) Frequencies measurements and DF or direction finder azimuths. She had three intercept operators and one chief radioman supervised by an officer. This all started in 1933 during the reconstruction of the Japanese fleet by Tokyo and continued into the summer of 1941. The Gold Star along with ground stations in Guam, Olongapo and Beijing provided significant intelligence before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.[4]

In the Philippines when World War II started[edit]

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, Gold Star was coaling at Malangas, Philippine Islands.[5] She sailed for Manila 8 December, but was ordered by Commander, Asiatic Fleet, to proceed to Balikpapan, Borneo.[6] She arrived 14 December as the Japanese advanced quickly southward; and after issuing urgently needed provisions to units of the Asiatic Fleet there, steamed by way of Macassar, Celebes, to Darwin, Australia.[7] Following her arrival at Darwin 28 December, Gold Star served as a coastal cargo carrier, steaming between such Australian ports as Brisbane, Sydney, and Fremantle. She thus contributed importantly to strengthening Australia and to checking the Japanese advance in New Guinea. After 15 August 1943 the veteran ship continued her coastal operations in Australia, but also began a series of cargo voyages to New Guinea and the Admiralty Islands. Gold Star brought many loads of vital supplies to Milne Bay as the Allies began the push toward the Philippines.

Supporting American invasion forces[edit]

The ship arrived Manus Island 6 January 1945 for repairs and conversion to squadron flagship for Service Squadron 9. Operating in this capacity the old ship supported the mounting American advance toward Japan, sailing to Leyte and Morotai. While conducting cargo operations at Morotai 28 June Gold Star was attacked by enemy aircraft but sustained no damage. She arrived Manila 26 July via Tawitawi and remained there issuing supplies until the surrender of Japan 15 August 1945.

End-of-war activity[edit]

After supporting occupation forces in Japan, Gold Star sailed to Seattle, Washington, in February 1946 and decommissioned there 17 April 1946. She had served over 21 years in the Western Pacific Ocean without once returning to the United States, and had carried countless tons of supplies, items large and small, for the warships of the fleet. The old ship was delivered to the Maritime Commission 30 June 1946, and was sold for scrap 1 December 1947 to Dulien Steel Products, Inc.

Military awards and honors[edit]

Gold Star received one battle star for World War II service. Her crew members were entitled to the following medals:

  • Combat Action Ribbon (28JUN45)
  • American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet Clasp)
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1)
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia Clasp)


  1. ^ a b c d Lademan (January 1973) p.68
  2. ^ Lademan (January 1973) p.68-79
  3. ^ Lademan, J. U. Jr. (1973). USS Gold Star - Flagship of the Guam Navy. December 1973. United States Naval Institute Proceedings. Retrieved May 24, 2012.  Page 68-69.
  4. ^ National Security Agency - Naval Security Agency Report (1986). "The Origination and Evolution of Radio Traffic Analysis - The Period between the Wars" (PDF). NSA. National Security Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 18, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2014.  DOCID: 3362395 - Approved for Release by NSA. on 06-16-2008, FOIA Case #51505 - UNCLASSIFIED See pages 31 & 32.
  5. ^ Lademan (January 1973) pp.71-72
  6. ^ Lademan (January 1973) p.73-74
  7. ^ Lademan (January 1973) p.76


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

  • Lademan, J.U., Jr., CAPT USN (December 1973). "USS Gold Star - Flagship of the Guam Navy". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 

External links[edit]