USS Orion (AS-18) - Boneyard
USS Orion (AS-18) - Boneyard

Orion was laid down 31 July 1941 at the Moore Dry Dock Company, Oakland, California; launched 24 June 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Robert A. White; and commissioned 30 September 1943, Capt. C. S. Isgrig in command.

Following shakedown off southern California, Orion got underway for Pearl Harbor 23 November 1943. Arriving there on the 28th, she received her first submarine, USS Gar (SS-206) alongside for repairs two days later. On 10 December she steamed for Australia, arriving at Fremantle 5 January 1944 to begin her mission of maintaining the material readiness of, and an adequate stock of supplies for, submarines operating in the southwest Pacific. She remained in Western Australia until 6 August 1944 when she proceeded to Mios Woendi, Indonesia to establish Advanced Submarine Base Able. Arriving 26 August 1944, she serviced 24 submarines, and 466 surface vessels, before being relieved, 9 December 1944, by USS Griffin (AS-13).

The next day Orion headed back to Hawaii for overhaul. On 8 April 1945 she sailed west again. At Saipan between 23 April 1945 and 1 September 1945, she served as CTG 17.7 and as SOPA (Admin) for Tanapag Harbor in addition to her tender and repair activities which were performed for over 300 ships.

As the formal surrender documents were being signed in Tokyo Bay, Orion was en route to the United States. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she operated off the east coast for four months, then sailed south to Balboa, C. Z. Taking up duties with SubRon 6, 24 January 1946, she remained in the Panama Canal Zone, with one interruption for overhaul, until 11 May 1949. Then, with SubRon 6, she steamed to Norfolk, her new homeport.

After that change of homeport, Orion continued to service SubRon 6 at Norfolk and, during fleet exercises, in the Caribbean Sea. A FRAM II overhaul and conversion to nuclear support, 6 September 1960 – 25 February 1961, was followed by refresher training off Cuba. In June; her first nuclear submarine job came alongside in the form of USS Shark (SSN-591). Three years later she added foreign nuclear submarines to her long list of services performed after completing work on HMS Dreadnought (S101). Support of SubRon 6, however, has continued to be Orion’s primary mission. Into 1970 she services the conventional and nuclear powered ships of that squadron from the Destroyer/Submarine Piers at Norfolk.

Orion again changed homeport to La Maddalena, Italy, servicing ships of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea until 1993, when she was relieved by the USS Simon Lake (AS-33). Orion returned to the United States and was decommissioned September 3, 1993. Ex-Orion was transferred to the Maritime Administration for storage 1 May 1999 and sold to North American Ship Recycling, Baltimore, Maryland to be dismantled on 27 July 2006. At the time of her decommissioning in 1993, Orion was the oldest active ship in the US Navy's fleet. Accordingly, she flew the 'Don't Tread On Me' flag toward the end of her service.

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