Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Naval History Division • Washington

USS Bellatrix (AKA-20/AKA-3)

Bellatrix is a star in the constellation Orion.

(AK-20: dp. 8045; l. 459'1"; b. 63'; dr. 26'5"; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 369; a. 1 5", 4 3"; cl. Bellatrix)

Bellatrix was laid down by Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Tampa, Fla., for the Maritime Commission as Raven; transferred to the Navy 16 April 1941; launched as Bellatrix 15 August 1941; sponsored by Miss Sally Taliaferro; and commissioned 17 February 1942, Commander W. F. Dietrich in command. Bellatrix was reclassified AKA-3, 1 February 1943.

Joining the Pacific Fleet, Bellatrix steamed to the South Pacific to take part in the Guadalcanal invasion (7-10 August 1942) and made three supply and reinforcement runs to Guadalcanal (13 September 1942-15 January 1943). She then returned to the United States, arriving at Charleston, S. C., 9 March to load troops and supplies for the Sicilian invasion (10-11 July).

Departing the Mediterranean 22 July she reached Norfolk 3 August and San Francisco, Calif., 10 September. After loading cargo at Wellington, New Zealand, 23 October-1 November, she carried it to Tarawa (20 25 November) but did not unload as failure of her port engine (22 November) forced Bellatrix to return to San Francisco for repairs. She left San Francisco 17 March 1944, arrived Pearl Harbor 23 March, and departed 29 May for the invasion of Saipan. She arrived off the objective 16 June and after taking part in a feint, unloaded her cargo during 16-21 June. Returning via Kwajalein and Pearl Harbor she arrived at San Diego 21 July 1944. Bellatrix joined Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet 1 August 1944 and operated on training duty off California until 9 September 1945. She then carried cargo between California ports until decommissioned 1 April 1946. She was returned to the Maritime Commission 1 July 1946.

Reacquired from the Maritime Commission 27 August 1951 and recommissioned 16 May 1952, Bellatrix operated as a cargo vessel between the west coast, Japan, and Alaska until 28 June 1953. During June 1953-January 1955 she operated off California on training duty and following five months of inactivity was placed out of commission in reserve at San Francisco 3 June 1965.

Bellatrix received five battle stars in World War II and one during the Korean conflict.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation