USS Poinsett (AK-205)

The USS Poinsett 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 Poinsett County and was part of the same class as the USS Chicot, USS Craighead, and USS Sebastian, all named for Arkansas counties.

Construction on the ship began on November 6, 1943, and it was launched on May 22, 1944. Constructed by Leatham D. Smith Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the Poinsett was acquired by the U.S. Navy on January 22, 1945. It was commissioned on February 7, 1945, in Houston, Texas, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Robert Baughman.

The Alamosa class consisted of cargo ships designed to deliver troops, equipment, and goods to combat zones. The Poinsett 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 Poinsett 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 ship took on a load of ammunition at Theodore, Alabama, and steamed to the Panama Canal on March 21, 1945. Crossing into the Pacific Ocean, the Poinsett arrived at Zamboanga, Philippines, on May 11. Unloading the ammunition, the ship steamed to Tawi-Tawi, where it joined an invasion fleet preparing to attack Balikpapan. The Australian-led invasion was launched on July 1, and the Poinsett remained nearby until July 10.

The Poinsett moved first to the eastern Indonesian islands before traveling to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The ship was taking on cargo when the war ended. The Poinsett went to Manila and Samar before departing the western Pacific on November 19. Arriving at Norfolk, Virginia, the Poinsett was decommissioned on January 25, 1946, and the name was struck from the Naval Register on March 12.

On February 24, 1947, the ship was sold to the Bergen Line, a Norwegian company. Renamed the Carina, the ship was eventually sold to the government of South Korea and renamed the Masan. The ship was scrapped in South Korea in 1979.

The USS Poinsett received one battle star for service during World War II.

For additional information:
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 5. Washington DC: Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, 1970.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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