Stuff You Should Know
USS Venus was a cargo ship operated by the US Navy during World War II. It belonged to the Crater class. Originally laid down as the Liberty Ship SS William Williams by Permanente Metals Corporation under a Maritime Commission contract, it was transferred to the US Navy after being torpedoed and heavily damaged by a Japanese submarine near the Fiji Islands in May 1943. The captain of the ship, Captain William Freeman, immediately ordered to evacuate the ship and sent out a radio signal that the ship was rapidly sinking, hoping that the enemy submarine would intercept it and decide that a second blow was not needed. The maneuver worked and the Japanese submarine, believing that the ship’s cargo of munitions that the ship was normally carrying would soon detonate and seeing the crew rapidly abandoning the ship, cleared the area. The ship did not carry munitions on this mission, but lumber. The ship’s captain, together with several other crewmen remained on the ship and after succeeding in putting out the fire, the rest of the crew returned on the ship and steamed the vessel to a port in Fiji. Captain William Freeman received a Commendation Medal for his actions that saved the ship.
Once acquired by the US Navy, the ship suffered extensive repairs, it was recommissioned and put back to use in September 1944. Under the Navy’s control, the ship was responsible for the transportation of various types of general cargo in the Admiralty Islands, Hollandia, Philippines, and New Hebrides, encountering various challenges along the way. Once the war was over, USS Venus sailed for Pearl Harbor where it was decommissioned. No longer needed by the US Navy, the ship was struck from the Navy list in February 1948 and transferred to Maritime Commission where it was placed in the National Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, California. It was later sold for scrap to Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation.
As William Williams, the ship received one battle star for the service brought to the country.