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USS Otus (ARG-20)

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USS Otus (ARG-20)

USS Otus (ARG-20)
Name: USS Otus
Builder: Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearny, New Jersey
Laid down: 3 June 1940
Launched: 2 November 1940
Commissioned: 19 March 1941, as USS Otus (AS–20)
Decommissioned: 20 August 1946
Reclassified: ARG–20 (Repair Ship, Internal Combustion Engines), 25 June 1945
Struck: 25 September 1946
Honours and
1 battle star (WWII)
General characteristics
Type: Internal combustion engine repair ship
Displacement: 5,775 long tons (5,868 t) light
Length: 417 ft 9 in (127.33 m)
Beam: 60 ft (18 m)
Draft: 20 ft 2 in (6.15 m)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 644 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × twin 4 in (100 mm) gun mounts

USS Otus (ARG-20) was an internal combustion engine repair ship that saw service in the United States Navy during World War II. The lone ship in her class, she was named for Otus, a mythological son of Iphimedia (wife of Aloeus) and Poseidon.

The ship was laid down under Maritime Commission Contract 3 June 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Kearny, New Jersey and launched as SS Fred Morris on 2 November 1940, sponsored by Mrs. Fred Allain Morris. The launch can be seen in stock footage used in the opening scenes of the 1964 film The Incredible Mr. Limpet. The SS Fred Morris was acquired by the Navy on 1 March 1941 and commissioned as the USS Otus (AS–20) on 19 March 1941 with Commander Joel Newsom in command.

Service history

Assigned to the Asiatic Fleet as a submarine tender, she was anchored in Mariveles Harbor, Philippine Islands, on 7 December 1941. On 10 December 1941 she was slightly damaged during the Japanese air raid on the Cavite Navy Yard, when several bombs landed near her starboard side. Not wanting to risk one of the few tenders in his command, Admiral Hart, Commander Asiatic Fleet ordered Otus to leave the Philippines.

Departing 10 December she arrived at Port Darwin, Australia on 28 December. Remaining at Port Darwin through January 1942 Otus steamed to Java and Trincomalee, Ceylon, during February and the first part of March. She returned to Australia on 10 March, where she tended submarines at Fremantle until departing for the United States on 25 July. Arriving Mare Island Naval Shipyard 24 August, Otus underwent an extensive overhaul until 23 January 1943. After a brief stop at Pearl Harbor she returned to Australia 22 February where she remained, steaming from port to port as the demand for her services dictated, until 1 September. From September 1943 until December 1944 Otus served at four different sites in New Guinea furnishing tender services for escort vessels, minecraft, and amphibious craft as well as submarines.

Departing Hollandia Bay 25 December, Otus arrived at San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, Philippines on 6 January 1945 and commenced providing routine upkeep and emergency repairs to the ships of the Southwest Pacific Area. On 25 June 1945 her classification was changed to ARG–20 (Repair Ship, Internal Combustion Engines). On 1 December 1945 Otus left San Pedro Bay en route to Portland, Oregon. Arriving 2 January 1946, she was assigned the duty of deactivating vessels. She carried out this work at both Portland and Astoria until 29 June 1946, when she steamed to Seattle to commence inactivation overhaul. Otus decommissioned 20 August 1946 and was sold the following day. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 25 September 1946. In 1970 she was at Olympia, Washington with the National Defense Reserve Fleet. The ship was finally sold for scrap, 2 November 1970, to Zidell Explorations Inc. of Portland, OR.

Otus received one battle star for service in World War II.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links

  • (ARG-20)

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