The USS Craighead was an Alamosa-class cargo ship that served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War. The ship was named for Craighead County and was part of the same class as the USS Chicot, USS Poinsett, and USS Sebastian, all named for Arkansas counties.
Construction on the ship began in 1944, and it was launched on February 28, 1945. Constructed by Froemming Brothers, Incorporated, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Craighead was acquired by the navy on July 31, 1945. It was commissioned on September 5, 1945, under the command of Lieutenant Commander George Walker, who commanded the ship for its entire service in the navy. The ship was crewed by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Alamosa class consisted of cargo ships designed to deliver troops, equipment, and goods to combat zones. The Craighead was more than 388 feet long and fifty feet wide. With a shallow draft and a top speed of 11.5 knots, these ships were designed to be used close to shore in the Pacific Campaign. The Craighead was not heavily armed, brandishing one three-inch dual-mounted gun and six twenty-millimeter guns for antiaircraft protection. The vessel’s complement included fifteen officers and seventy enlisted men.
The Craighead departed Galveston, Texas, on September 25, 1945, and arrived in Davisville, Rhode Island, on October 4. Taking on a load of cargo for construction units based on the West Coast, the Craighead departed on October 25. The ship arrived in San Pedro, California, on November 15. The ship served on the West Coast for the next month, moving between San Pedro, San Francisco, and Port Hueneme. On December 14, the Craighead departed the West Coast and arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, on January 5, 1946.
The ship was decommissioned on January 18, 1946, and given to the Maritime Commission. The Craighead was struck from the Naval Registry on February 7, 1946. In 1947, the nation of Turkey bought the ship, and the Deniz Nakliyati TAO operated it as the Kastamonu for several years. The ship was scrapped in Turkey in 1984.
For additional information:
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 2. Washington DC: Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, 1963.
Henderson State University