The USS Alstede was a store ship which was a part of the Navy during the end of World War II. The ships’ task was to refrigerate equipment and items, carry stores to ships within the fleet, to staging areas and remote stations.
The vessel was originally called the Ocean Chief and was put down September 30, 1944 by Moore Dry Dock Company at Oakland, California. On November 28, 1944 it was launched, sponsored by Mrs. Anton Willie. On May 4, 1945, the ship was delivered to the War Shipping Administration. Ocean Chief was under a contract for almost a year with the War shipping Administration and was run by the United Fruit Company.
On May 10, 1946, the ship was acquired by the U.S. Navy and renamed Alstede. The ship was designated as a store ship, Af-48, and on May 17, 1946 it was placed under the leadership of Commander Alexander Kusebach, United States Navy Reserve. The commissioning of this ship was as the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.
Alstede moored and finished trials in Oakland, California at the Naval Supply Depot. It was intended to handle supplies that were designated for American servicemen occupying Central Pacific islands during postwar operations. In the duration of four years, this store ship made a voyage that took it from the area of the west coast through the Marshall Islands, then to the Mariana Islands, returning once again to the U.S.
During these journeys, Alstede often visited Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Saipan and Guam. On the return voyages, the store ship also often made calls in the Pearl Harbor, Hawaii region, sometimes stopping at Wake Island. Points of return and departure in the U.S. included Seattle, Bremerton, San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach, and San Diego.
Service in Korea
The hostilities which took place in Korea in June 1950 did not break the routine of Alstede. Although many American forces came to the aid of South Korea, the store ship played a neutral role in the conflict until the year’s end. The participation of Alstede only consisted of one round trip journey to Sasebo, Japan, in which that base received a delivery of stores. The Alstede then returned to the United States west coast.
During the end of December 1950 and the beginning portion of 1951, another circuit took the vessel through the Marianas and the Marshalls. Later, the store ship concentrated on supporting the United Nations’ struggle with the North Korean aggression. The Alstede also attempted to counter the intervention of the Chinese in the conflict.
After the War
The Alstede next returned to the west coast for overhaul, later seeing reassignment with the Atlantic Fleet. The remainder of the Alstede’s career saw her taking tours to the Mediterranean, for resupply duties, with routine overhaul work occasionally interrupting this service. The vessel was decommissioned in 1969, later getting sold to N.W. Kennedy, Ltd., of Vancouver, Canada for scrapping. The Alstede earned four battle stars for her Korean War service.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, auxiliary ships also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.