|US and UK|
|Builder:||Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co|
|Decommissioned:||29 November 1945|
|Struck:||19 December 1945|
|Class and type:||US Navy: Mizar-class stores ship|
|Type:||civilian: passenger & cargo liner|
|Displacement:||6,963 t.(lt) 11,880 t.(fl)|
|Length:||447 ft 10 in (136.50 m)|
|Beam:||60 ft (18 m)|
|Draft:||25 ft 2 in (7.67 m)|
|Installed power:||11,000 shp (8,200 kW)|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) (max)|
|Capacity:||2,615 long tons deadweight (DWT)|
|Armament:||one single 5 in (130 mm) dual purpose gun mount, four single 3 in (76 mm) dual purpose gun mounts|
USS Talamanca (AF-15) was a United Fruit Company cargo and passenger liner that served as a United States Navy Mizar-class stores ship in World War II. In peacetime before and after the war she carried fruit and passengers; in US Navy service she supplied troops and ships in the Pacific Ocean theatre of World War II.
Building and pre-war service
The Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia built the ship as SS Talamanca. She was one of six sister ships driven by turbo-electric transmission. United Fruit placed Talamanca on express liner services between Central America and New York.
The US Navy bareboat chartered her from the United Fruit Company through the Maritime Commission on 16 December 1941. The Maryland Drydock Co of Baltimore, Maryland converted her for Navy use and she was designated AF-15 on 27 December 1941. She was commissioned on 28 January 1942, commanded by Cmdr Nathan W. Bard.
Pacific Theater operations
Talamanca sailed for the first time as a naval vessel on 13 February. Six days later, laden with cargo, passengers and mail, she transited the Panama Canal. She proceeded via Talara, Peru, across the southern Pacific and reached Wellington Harbour, New Zealand on 16 March. She then made a round trip across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne, Australia and back to Wellington. On 1 April she sailed for the United States. She called at Manzanillo, Mexico on the 16th and reached San Francisco, California, on 21 April. Between 9 May and 1 June, she made a round trip from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor and back. Shes ship spent the whole of June in the Mare Island Navy Yard, undergoing further conversion and some repairs.
Talamanca left San Francisco on 8 July with a Hawaii-bound convoy. She reached Pearl Harbor on the 16th and stayed there for five days loading fuel and stores before heading southwest on the 21st. On 1 August she left the convoy, headed via the Fiji for New Zealand, reaching Auckland on the 7th.
For the next three years Auckland was Talamanca's home port. Between August 1942 and April 1945, she plied the southwestern Pacific supplying US bases. She visited such places as Fiji; Espiritu Santo; Efate; Manus; and Napier, New Zealand. The closest she ever came to the combat zone were stops at Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Florida Island, and the Russell Islands in the Solomon Islands. However, these voyages were in 1944 after the fighting had moved up the Solomons chain past Bougainville and into the Bismarck Archipelago. In all, Talamanca made 36 resupply voyages from Auckland to various bases in the South Pacific and back again, all of them relatively routine.
On 28 April 1945 Talamanca left Auckland for the last time. She headed to Noumea, New Caledonia, thence to Manus, and then to the Marianas. She reached Saipan on 10 May; discharged some of her cargo; and, on the 15th, went to Tinian where she discharged the rest of her cargo. From Tinian she sailed via Eniwetok Atoll for the West Coast of the United States. She entered San Pedro, California, on 2 June 1945 and loaded cargo. On the 9th she returned to the western Pacific. After fuel and water stops at Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok, Talamanca entered Apra Harbor, Guam, on 26 June. She unloaded her cargo and, four days later, sailed for Manus. She reached Manus on 3 July, embarked patients from the hospital for transport and left on 5 July for the United States. She called at Pearl Harbor on 13 July and entered San Francisco Bay on the 19th.
Her passengers disembarked, Talamanca moored at a pier at the Moore Dry Dock Co. for overhaul. Overhaul and repairs were completed on 31 August, and after degaussing, compass compensation, and trials she began loading cargo on 3 September. On the 9th, she left San Francisco Bay for Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on the 14th. Two days later she left for Eniwetok where she stopped on the 23rd for fuel and water. From there she went to Guam, and thence to Iwo Jima where she unloaded cargo. On 8 October Talamanca left Iwo Jima with passengers for Saipan, where she arrived that afternoon. Her passengers disembarked that day and her cargo was unloaded the next day. After calling at Guam to embark passengers she left for Hawaii and the United States. She called at Pearl Harbor from 27 to 29 October and then continued to Panama.
Talamanca reverted to her original employment as a fruit carrier on 10 November when she loaded bananas at Puerto Armuelles, Panama, for the War Shipping Administration. She transited the canal on the 13th and sailed for New Orleans, Louisiana, the next day.
Talamanca reached New Orleans on the 18th and was decommissioned there on 29 November 1945. She was returned to the War Shipping Administration for eventual return to her owners. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 19 December 1945 and she was returned to United Fruit Company in 1946.
Post-war civilian service
In 1958 United Fruit transferred Talamanca and her sisters Quirigua and Veragua to its British subsidiary Elders and Fyffes. Talamanca was renamed SS Sulaco after an earlier Fyffes ship of the same name.
As Sulaco the ship served in the Fyffes fleet until she was retired in 1964. On 28 July that year she arrived in Bruges, Belgium to be scrapped. She was broken up in 1965.
- Coombe, Ian. "Elders & Fyffes". Merchant Navy Nostalgia. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive – AF-15 Talamanca