From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Hooper Island


Hooper Island (ARG-17), ex-liberty ship Bert McDowell, was launched 30 October 1944 by Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc., Fairfield, Md., under a Maritime Commission contract, sponsored by Mrs. Hattie Singer, and commissioned 13 July 1945, Commander F. B. Guernsey in command.

After shakedown off the Virginia coast, Hooper Island departed 1 September 1945 for the western Pacific and reached Sasebo, Japan, 9 November to provide repair services to the Pacific Fleet. She remained there on repair duty until 31 October 1946, when she sailed for Tsingtao, China, to perform similar services in support of U.S. operations to stabilize China. Hooper Island completed her deployment 14 August 1947, when she sailed for San Francisco, arriving there 5 September. She remained there until she decommissioned at Alameda, Calif., 24 January 1948 and joined the Reserve Fleet.

With the outbreak of the Korean conflict, and the need for additional vessels to halt Communist aggression, Hooper Island was recommissioned 12 April 1952, Comdr. Frank H. Rile in command.

After shakedown and repair duty on the west coast Hooper Island sailed from Long Beach 3 December 1952 bound for the trouble-filled waters of the Far East. From December 1952 until December 1955 she made three deployments to the Western Pacific in support of the 7th Fleet, thereby playing a major role in America's determination to stop the spread of communism. From August 1954 to July 1955 she supported units of the fleet when they evacuated almost 300,000 citizens of North Vietnam (scheduled to be handed over to Communist authority) to the South. Vietnamese President Diem responded to this humanitarian operation known as "Passage to Freedom" by saying: "In the name of all that you have helped, in the name of those who far away are hoping, in the name of all my compatriots whom you have brought south of the 17th parallel . . . with all my heart I thank you."

Hooper Island resumed her repair services at Long Beach, Calif., 5 December 1955 then shifted to San Diego 30 April 1956. After repair services at San Diego she arrived Seattle to undergo an overhaul. While in Seattle she performed repair services for two icebreakers engaged in Operation Deep-Freeze in the Antarctic, another of America's unending probes of the sea. She resumed her duties at San Diego 28 October and remained there until early 1958. On 15 March, Hooper Island sailed for repair operations in the Marshall Islands, returning to San Diego 19 July where she decommissioned and once again joined the Reserve Fleet 15 July 1959, where she remained until struck from the Navy List 1 July 1960.

For her participation in the Korean War Hooper Island was awarded one battle star.