Phaon (ARB-3) moored to a buoy in the harbor at Saipan, c. late 1944 to early August 1945
|Builder:||Tampa Shipbuilding Company, Tampa, Florida|
|Laid down:||17 September 1942|
|Launched:||30 January 1943|
|Commissioned:||5 August 1943|
|Decommissioned:||15 January 1947|
|Struck:||1 July 1961|
|3 battle stars (World War II)|
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping, 8 July 1962|
|Class and type:||Aristaeus-class battle damage repair ship|
|Length:||328 ft (100 m)|
|Beam:||50 ft (15 m)|
|Draft:||11 ft 2 in (3.40 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 × General Motors 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts, twin rudders|
|Speed:||12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
|Complement:||260 officers and enlisted men|
USS Phaon (ARB-3) was one of twelve Aristaeus-class battle damage repair ships built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named for Phaon (in Greek mythology, a boatman of Mitylene in Lesbos), she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.
Originally laid down as LST-15 by the Tampa (Florida) Shipbuilding Company on 17 September 1942; reclassified as a battle damage repair ship 25 January 1943; launched 30 January 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Marion D. Calabreeze; and commissioned 5 August 1943 with Lieutenant George Fay Watson, USNR, in command.
As an ex-LST, ARB–3 had heavier armament, greater deck facilities for cargo handling, and a much longer superstructure deck, though in this case the tank deck was covered with lathes, grinders, drills, metal cutters, welding machines and other shop equipment not found on an LST. After shakedown to New Orleans and final fitting out there, she sailed 3 September via Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal for Samoa, anchoring in Pago Pago Harbor on 13 October. From Samoa, Phaon moved to Funafuti in the Ellice Islands, arriving there shortly after the occupation of that island on 18 October. There, she repaired LCTs, pontoon barges, and PT boats. She restored many craft used in the invasion of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands.
From Funafuti, Phaon advanced westward to Majuro in the Marshall Islands, arriving 6 February 1944, shortly after the invasion. Here, in the same harbor with one of the mightiest fleets ever assembled, Phaon worked on minelayers, tankers, minesweepers, destroyers, and small boats (LCVPs and LCMs). On 18 March 1944, Phaon weighed anchor again, proceeded via Kwajalein to Eniwetok in the Marshalls, arriving 23 March for repair work on small boats, LCTs, and yard minesweepers. On 9 June 1944, Phaon left Eniwetok, arriving on 15 June at Saipan for the invasion. There, on D-Day plus three, the destroyer Phelps (DD-360) came alongside for repairs and many other ships thereafter. As metalsmiths, mechanics, and carpenters from Phaon swarmed over Phelps repairing the damaged boiler, blower, deck and bulkheads, the sturdy warship was still very much in the fight, blasting away at enemy troops and pillboxes.
On 24 June, during an air raid by Japanese G4M "Betties", Phaon suffered a near-miss on the starboard side. The damage to the ship was not very serious but the shrapnel fragments killed two of her men and injured eleven others. That day, she worked on a PCS and two LCIs, also repairing other small craft in preparation for the invasion of Tinian. On 24 July, the morning of the Tinian invasion, the destroyer Norman Scott (DD-690) came alongside with numerous dead and wounded officers and men. She had suffered several direct hits from a Japanese six-inch shore battery and her bridge was practically torn away. While Phaon's medical department cared for the wounded, her repair department patched up the ship, enabling Norman Scott to pull away two days later. The securing of Saipan by no means ended Phaon's work there. Saipan was her last invasion, but she prepared and repaired ships for Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Philippines. During the month between the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Phaon worked on 96 different ships. After V-J Day, her work was still far from finished and she continued repairing and overhauling the ships that needed it.
On 28 December 1945 Phaon was ordered back to the United States. In 29 months away, she had completed approximately 2,000 repair jobs, on almost everything from small boats to battleships.
She was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 15 January 1947, berthed at San Diego, struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1961, and sold for scrapping on 8 July 1962 to Zidell Explorations, Inc. of Portland, Oregon.
Phaon received three battle stars for World War II service.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- "LST-15 / ARB-3 Phaon". Service Ship Photo Archive. Retrieved 9 April 2007.