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Sunday, 25 April 2010



Ship No 262

She was a twin screw motor cargo vessel, of 932 tons ordered by Bahama Line U.S.A.

With a length overall of 250 feet and a beam of 38 feet.

She was launched from the Leith shipyard of Henry Robb on 28th June 1938 and was to go on to have a very interesting history which included her time as a U.S. Navy ship of the Kaula Class and the new name of U.S.S. Kaula.

Operation Pacific Operation Pacific
Hollywood's version of the Naval War in the Pacific has led many people to believe that it was an all-American affair and that the Royal Navy took no part in it. But, as Edwin Gray shows in Operation Pacific, Such a scenario is a travesty of the truth. In fact, the Royal Navy and its Commonwealth partners played a very significant role in the Pacific War and waged a vigorous non-stop battle with the enemy, from the earliest days of defeat and disaster though to the ultimate triumph of Victory. And, indeed, it is not generally realised that Japanese troops actually landed in Malaya and opened hostilities in Britain a full ninety minutes before Nagumo's dive-bombers swept down on the unsuspecting American pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour to bring the United States into the war. Operation Pacific is the first book to provide a full and detailed account of Britain's Naval contribution tot he ultimate defeat of Japan - a saga that ranges from the darkest days pf December 1941, to the vast carrier operations and kamikaze attacks of the final battles in 1945. And, while in no way disparaging the heroic achievements and fighting courage of the US forces in the Pacific, Edwyn Gray reveals that the Royal Navy's cooperation was not always welcomed by her over-mighty Ally and that America's top brass, notably admiral Ernest King and General Douglas MacAuthur , were implacably opposed to British involvement in the Pacific for both practical and political reasons. Offering a clear, concise, and comprehensive picture of the part played by the Royal Navy and Commonwealth forces in the Far East War, Operation pacific is an absorbing story handled with all the skill which readers have come to expect from one of the leading popular naval historians of our day.

From the book Leith Built Ships on War Service, printed sometime in 1946 by the Shipbuilders Henry Robb Ltd of Leith, Scotland. (See Picture above)

M.V. “Cubahama” The building and delivering of this fine 15-knot ship to her United States owners in 1938 caused a mild furore in british Shipbuilding circles. Built specially for the West Indies banana trade, this ship was requisitioned by the air branch of the U.S. Navy and eventually purchased outright and re-named U.S. “Kaula.” Whilst attached to the Naval Air Arm, the ship rendered very useful service in the Pacific campaigns and took part in some epoch-making battles.

'USS Kaula (AG-33) was built in 1938 by Henry Robb Ltd, in Leith, Scotland. She was acquired by the U.S. Navy as Cubahama 3 January 1941 from her owner, Balboa Shipping Company of New York and renamed Kaula 15 January then commissioned at Baltimore, Maryland 22 January with Lieutenant Commander W. L. Ware in command.

(Courtesy of Navsource Project General Manager, Manager, Auxiliaries, Amphibious and Yard and District Craft Archives)

Kaula Class Miscellaneous Auxiliary:

• Built in 1938 by Henry Robb, Ltd., Leith, Scotland

• Acquired as MV Cubahama, 3 January 1941, from her owner, Balboa Shipping Co., N.Y.

• Commissioned USS Kaula (AG-33), 22 January 1941 at Baltimore. MD., LCDR. W. L. Ware in command

• During World War II USS Kaula was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater

• Decommissioned, 14 January 1946

• Struck from the Naval Register, 12 March 1946

• Transferred to the Maritime Commission, 15 July 1946 for sale to her former owners

• Final Disposition, (See more below)


Displacement 2,100 t.(lt) 2,250 t.(fl)

Length 269' 9"

Beam 38' 3"

Draft 13' 5" (lim)

Speed 15.1 kts (trial)


Officers 7

Enlisted 63

Largest Boom Capacity 3 t.


one single 4"/50 cal gun mount

two single 3"/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts

four .50 cal. machine guns

Fuel Capacity Diesel 1,120 Bbls


two Atlas Diesel engines

Ship's Service Generators

two Diesel-drive 60Kw 240V D.C.

two Diesel-drive 40Kw 240V D.C.

two propellers, 2,240shp

Class Notes:

FY: None (acquired with funds appropriated for "Maintenance Bureau of Ships"). On 23 November 1940 CNO directed the acquisition of this ship for use as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG). She was needed to carry cargo to outlying bases in the 14th (Hawaiian) Naval District, particularly Johnston and Palmyra Islands, and was accordingly named after an island in the Hawaiian group. (Early Navy correspondence misrepresented her Navy name as Kaulahe, and this erroneous name was actually welded on her stern in raised letters.) She was taken over from the Balboa Shipping Co., a subsidiary of the United Fruit Co., and given a limited conversion by Bethlehem SB Co., Key Highway Plant, Baltimore, Md. No guns were mounted during this conversion--they were added in 1942 at Pearl Harbor. Much of the cargo carried was ammunition and other explosives, and sprinklers were added to some of her holds in 1942 to give her some protection against fire. She served as an inter-island supply ship in the Hawaii area until May 1945 and was then reassigned to Alaska. In 1946 she was resold to her former owner through the MC (WSA).                                         (Taken from U.S. Naval Sources.)

Broadside view of USS Kaula (AG-33) underway in Puget Sound, 26 July 1945. Naval Air Station, Seattle photo # 19-N-89167, a Bureau of Ships photo now in the collections of the US National Archives RG-19-LCM.

(Below is from the U.S. Coastguard Files, courtesy of -Archivist

Naval History & Heritage Command

Kaula, 1941



A small, rocky, 550-foot high islet in the Hawaiian Islands, nearly 20 miles westsouthwest

of Niihau Island.

Builder: Henry Robb, Ltd., Leith, Scotland

Commissioned: 1938 (private); 3 January 1941

Decommissioned: 14 January 1946

Length: 267'

Beam: 38' 3"


Displacement: 2,100 tons



Max: 12 knots


Deck Gear:

Complement: 70

Armament: 1 x 4"; 2 x 3"; 4 x .50 cal MG



Kaula (AG-33) was built in 1938 by Henry Robb, Ltd., Leith, Scotland; acquired as

Cubahama 3 January 1941 from her owner, Balboa Shipping Co., New York. She

was renamed Kaula on 15 January and commissioned at Baltimore 22 January,

Lt. Comdr. W. L. Ware in command.

Sailing to Hampton Roads, Virginia, 25 January, Kaula departed 4 February for

Hawaii, via the Panama Canal and the West Coast, reaching Pearl Harbor 17

March. Prior to the outbreak of war in the Pacific, she carried cargo from Pearl

Harbor and Honolulu to various islands in the Hawaiian chain and to Johnston

and Palmyra Islands. During the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor 7 December, she

was en route to Palmyra Island.

Throughout the struggle with the Japanese Empire, Kaula operated out of Pearl

Harbor and Honolulu to principal Hawaiian Islands and to outlying islands west to

Midway and south to Palmyra. Usually sailing in convoy, she ranged the Hawaiian

Sea frontier carrying military equipment, ammunition, and contingents of Seabees

until she sailed for the United States 18 May 1945, arriving Seattle 26 May.

Following 2 months of overhaul Kaula departed Seattle 31 July on the first of

several voyages to Alaska where she transported materials for the construction of

Coast Guard LORAN stations in the Alaska area. Assigned to the 13th Naval

District, she steamed for the U.S. Coast Guard to Ketchikan, Juneau, Seward,

Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor before returning to Seattle 18 September. She

operated in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca before steaming to Blake

Island Anchorage, Wash., 6 December and decommissioning 14 January 1946.

Struck from the Naval Register 12 March, Kaula was transferred to the Maritime

Commission 15 July for sale to her former owner.


Cutter History File. USCG Historian's Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington, DC: USGPO.

She was still called CUBAHAMA 1947, and then renamed WANDAJEAN 1976. Deleted 1993. So this fine vessel seems to have disappeared from records around 1993. This would complete a near 55 year service history and tribute to the Shipbuilders of Henry Robb

1 comment:

Bushitsuki said...

I remember seeing this ship around 1968-70, at the banana docks in Tampa, Fl. Don't know why I remembered this particular ship.