Help keep the site going

Friday, 7 May 2010

M.V. KOPARA

Ship No 268

Was the second ship ordered by the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand.
She was to run the coastal trade from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand and she was also to be one of the ships bought by the U.S.Navy, and re-named U.S.S.Kopara, where she served with distinction during World War II.

She was not big as coasters go at 679 tons, and with a length overall of 190 feet and a beam of 35 feet and 8 inches, with a draught of 18 feet and 8 inches.

She was launched from the yard on 30th July 1938.

The following is some of her story during World War II
M.V. Kopara re-named U.S.S. Kopara (AG-50)
“Kopara” had been identified early in the hostilities in the South Pacific as a suitable vessel for the servicing operations in forward area’s of the U.S. Forces. Initially under charter with a mostly New Zealand crew she was then purchased by the U.S. Government and manned by a U.S. Navy crew.

Some service history as follows.

1941

Reports of drifting mines sighted by ships long distances from the areas in which they had been laid came in from time to time, and doubtless there were others that escaped observation. On 30 August the coastal vessel Kopara sighted a mine 16 miles northeast from White Island, in the Bay of Plenty. She and the Port Tauranga, which came up about twenty minutes later, shot off all their rifle ammunition without success, but on her return passage from Auckland the Kopara, in company with the Margaret W, found the mine and sank it in a shooting match in which about one hundred rounds were fired. Two other mines sighted far out in the Bay of Plenty were sunk by rifle fire from ships.

After a week at Auckland, the flotilla carried out searching sweeps from Cuvier Island northward to Needles Point, the northern tip of Great Barrier Island, until 16 September 1941, when that stretch of sea was declared free of mines. The Gale and Muritai were then sent to begin cross searches in the Cradock Channel, while the Matai went to Mercury Bay, where a drifting mine had been found by fishermen. She found that they had moored the mine about three miles off Castle Rock in a highly dangerous state, with its mooring spindle half withdrawn. The Matai towed the mine out and sank it some five miles east from Ohena light. During the check search in the Cradock Channel three mines were swept and sunk by rifle fire, well clear of the line which the senior officer thought he had established previously. Because of his uncertainty about the direction in which the mines had been laid in the Moko Hinau sector, he could not guarantee that the area was clear. An intended check sweep north of the Moko Hinau-Maro Tiri line was cancelled because of the difficulty of getting accurate fixes in the prevailing poor visibility, and the flotilla returned to Auckland on 20 September.

1942

She sailed from Auckland to Noumea, Espirito Santos, Guadal Canal and return to Auckland round about July/September 1942 for the U S Army(Marine Core).
30 August 1942: Richardson & Co coaster Kopara, under charter to the United States Navy, survives a Japanese air raid off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands; later commissioned as USS Kopara, the ship serves with American Pacific forces until 1945.

M.V. “Kopara”
The motor ship “Kopara” owned by the Richardson Company of New -Zealand, played a useful and colourful part in the war in the Pacific.


For four years the “Kopara” had a lively career serving the American Forces in the Pacific. She made her first journey to Guadalcanal during the operations which opened the Allied offensive in the Pacific, and while there came under heavy bombing, fortunately without injury. For this journey she was manned by a Richardson crew, under Captain Wallace, a deep sea mariner who brought the vessel out from Scotland.


After her first journey to Guadalcanal, the “Kopara” was taken over by the American authorities and manned by an American Crew, plying regularly between Australian and New Zealand ports and the forward bases of the Allied Forces in the South Pacific. At one period the “Kopara” was reported lost, as the result of a convoy action in which her companion ships were scattered to the four corners of the compass by the threat of Japanese submarines. The American authorities actually reported her loss, but she turned up unharmed.


The “Kopara’s” carrying capacity and other special features of her construction made her an ideal vessel for service in forward areas. She was regarded so highly in fact by the American authorities that her design has been copied and larger editions of the “Kopara” are now in commission. Owing to her special lifting capacity with her big hatches, electric winches, and big slings she was able to discharge her cargo with the minimum of delay. She was reported as being the only vessel that was able to discharge 1,000 tons of cargo overnight at one period of the hostilities against Japan.


Specially built for the coastal trade in New Zealand, the “Kopara” was launched in 1938, and later loaded at Antwerp for her voyage out to the Dominian. She lay in Antwerp at the time of the Munich crisis in 1938, and the crisis had a marked effect upon the movement of ships from the port, numerous German vessels making hurried departures for their home ports as the threat of war became more obvious.


The “Kopara’s” cargo-carrying capacity was a feature which attracted much attention when she was introduced to the New Zealand coastal trade, and her relitivly high speed was another feature, which must have appealed to the American authorities when they took her over for Pacific duties. She has two holds of approximately 67,000 cubic feet of space, and her hatches were designed for easy and speedy handling of cargo.


Captain F.S. Bates, who formerly commanded the “Kopara” in her coastal trading, is again in charge of the ship, which recently under-went an extensive overhaul and refitting preliminary to her return to “civvies”

Taken from the book published in 1946 by the shipbuilder Henry Robb Ltd, Leith Scotland.
KOPARA was formely owned by Richardson & Co and sold to Karlander Line of New Guinea during 1966 was renamed SARANG. The vessel has a monthly sailing from Sydney calling at Brisbane, Honiara, Kieta and Rabaul. General cargo. First voyage 29 June 1966


She was broken up in 1987, after a working life of almost 50 years, being another fine tribute to the workmanship of her builders at the Henry Robb shipyard at Leith, Scotland.



From Wikipedia.

USS Kopara (AK-62/AG-50) was a cargo ship purchased by the U.S. Navy during World War II. She was responsible for delivering goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

Kopara (AK-62) was built in 1938 by Henry Robb Limited of Leith, Scotland. She was purchased in early August 1942 from her owner, Richardson & Co., Napier, New Zealand, through the New Zealand Government; and commissioned 21 September 1942 at Auckland, Lt. (j.g.) H. R. Greeley in command.

Reclassified as AG-50 on 23 September, Kopara departed Auckland 5 October for supply runs from Noumea, New Caledonia, and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, to Guadalcanal and Tulagi, Solomons. Arriving Noumea 9 October, she steamed on the 14th for Espiritu Santo to take on board supplies for the embattled American force on Guadalcanal. Loaded with torpedoes and general cargo and escorted by Nicholas (DD-449), she departed 19 October. Kopara arrived Lunga Roads during midwatch 22 October and began unloading operations which were completed that evening despite harassing gunfire from enemy shore batteries and a noon attack by Japanese dive bombers. Protected by Nicholas, Kopara departed Guadalcanal undamaged and returned to Noumea 27 October.

During the next few months, Kopara continued supply runs to the Solomons; and, while she unloaded at Guadalcanal and Tulagi 13 through 15 November, American battleships, cruisers, and destroyers fought the enemy in two fierce night naval battles off Savo Island. From 20 February to 26 June 1943, she carried cargo along the sea lanes between Auckland, Noumea, Efate, and Espiritu Santo. And from 11 July to 17 September she shuttled supplies between New Zealand and Norfolk Island.

After a voyage to the New Hebrides, Kopara departed Noumea 10 November to resume supply duty in the Solomons. She reached New Georgia 16 November; and, for almost 8 months, ranged the waters of Melanesia from Bougainville to New Caledonia bringing supplies to forces which loosened the enemy's hold on the Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea. Returning to New Caledonia 7 August 1944, she began supply runs eastward out of Noumea. Between 10 August and 21 December she made four voyages to Fiji, American Samoa, and the Ellice Islands. She departed Noumea 24 December and steamed via Norfolk Island to Auckland 3 January 1945.

Kopara decommissioned 12 January and was turned over to the New Zealand Joint Purchasing Board for return to her previous owner, Richardson & Company, Napier. Kopara operated under several names after World War II including SS Sarang in 1966, SS Cherry Chepat in 1970, and SS See Hai Hong in January of 1987. Final Disposition: broken up in 1987.

Kopara received one battle star for World War II service. Her crew was eligible for the following medals:

• American Campaign Medal

• Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1 star)

• World War II Victory Medal

Career (US)


Laid down: date unknown

Launched: in 1938 as SS Kopara


Acquired: 21 September 1942

Commissioned: 23 September 1942

Decommissioned: 12 January 1945

Struck: 19/01/1945

Fate: broken up in 1987

General characteristics

Displacement: 679 tons

Length: 193 ft (59 m)

Beam: 35 ft 8 in (10.87 m)

Draught: 18 ft 8 in (5.69 m)

Propulsion: two sets of four-cylinder diesel engines, twin screws


Speed: 12 knots

Armament: four 40mm guns
Some more service history with thanks to the staff at Navsource and at http://www.history.navy.mil/



Reclassified as AG-50 on 23 September, Kopara departed Auckland 5 October for supply runs from Noumea, New Caledonia, and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, to Guadalcanal and Tulagi, Solomons. Arriving Noumea 9 October, she steamed on the 14th for Espiritu Santo to take on board supplies for the embattled American force on Guadalcanal. Loaded with torpedoes and general cargo and escorted by Nicholas (DD-449), she departed 19 October. Kopara arrived Lunga Roads during mid, watch 22 October and began unloading operations which were completed that evening despite harassing gunfire from enemy shore batteries and a noon attack by Japanese dive bombers. Protected by Nicholas, Kopara departed Guadalcanal undamaged and returned to Noumea 27 October.
During the next few months, Kopara continued supply runs to the Solomons; and, while she unloaded at Guadalcanal and Tulagi 13 through 15 November, American battleships, cruisers, and destroyers fought the enemy in two fierce night naval battles off Savo Island. From 20 February to 26 June 1943, she carried cargo along the sea lanes between Auckland, Noumea, Efate, and Espiritu Santo. And from 11 July to 17 September she shuttled supplies between New Zealand and Norfolk Island.
After a voyage to the New Hebrides, Kopara departed Noumea 10 November to resume supply duty in the Solomons. She reached New Georgia 16 November; and, for almost 8 months, ranged the waters of Melanesia from Bougainville to New Caledonia bringing supplies to forces which loosened the enemy's hold on the Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea. Returning to New Caledonia 7 August 1944, she began supply runs eastward out of Noumea. Between 10 August and 21 December she made four voyages to Fiji, American Samoa, and the Ellice Islands. She departed Noumea 24 December and steamed via Norfolk Island to Auckland 3 January 1945. Kopara decommissioned 12 January and was turned over to the New Zealand Joint Purchasing Board for return to her previous owner.
Kopara received one battle star for World War II service.

No comments: