Crater- AK-70 - History

Crater- AK-70 - History

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A constellation of the Southern Hemisphere.

(AK-70: dp. 4,023; 1. 441'6", b. 56'11", dr. 28'4", s. 12
k.; cpt. 198; a. 1 5", 1 3"; cl. Crater)

Crater (AK-70) was launched as John James Audubon 8 October 1942 by Permanente Metals Corp., Richmond, Calif., under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. M. E. C. Wetzel; transferred to the Navy 22 October 1942, and commissioned 31 October 1942, Lieutenant Commander R. Dodd, USNR, in command.

Clearing San Francisco 10 November 1942, Crater delivered cargo to Efate and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, and Noumea, New Caledonia before arriving at Wellington, New Zealand, 28 June 1943 to repair and reload. Crater continued to carry cargo from New Zealand and other supply bases to Guadalcanal and throughout the Solomons until 21 June 1944, when she sailed to operate in the Marshalls and Marianas through the summer. She returned to Guadalcanal, resuming operations in the southwest Pacific until 1 March 1945, when she cleared for overhaul at San Francisco. She delivered cargo from the west coast at Samar, P.I., and departed 26 July for Auckland. Crater carried cargo from Auckland and Brisbane, Australia, to Saipan, the Philippines Manus, Noumea, and Eniwetok until 5 February 1946, when she sailed for Pearl Harbor, arriving 24 February. After a voyage to San Pedro, Calif., Crater was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor 25 June 1946, and was transferred to the Maritime Commission the next day.

Crater- AK-70 - History

USS Crater (AK-70) on 2 November 1942.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class: CRATER (AK-70)
Design MC EC2-S-C1 (“Liberty Ship”)
Displacement (tons): 4,023 light, 14,550 lim.
Dimensions (feet): 441.5' oa, 416.0' wl x 56.9' e x 28.3' lim
Original Armament: 1-5"/38 1-3"/50 8-20mm (1942-44: standard)
Later armaments: 1-5”/38, 4-40mmS , 12-20mm (1944, troopers and Seventh Fleet cargo ships)
1-5"/38 1-3"/50 2-40mmS 6-20mmS (1945: standard)
For numerous non-standard variations see the class notes.
Complement: 133 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 12.5
Propulsion (HP): 2,500
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw


AK Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
70 CRATER 22 Oct 42 Permanente Metals #2 28 Aug 42 8 Oct 42 31 Oct 42
71 ADHARA 6 Nov 42 Permanente Metals #2 16 Sep 42 27 Oct 42 16 Nov 42
72 ALUDRA 14 Dec 42 Permanente Metals #2 28 Oct 42 7 Dec 42 26 Dec 42
73 ARIDED 12 Nov 42 Permanente Metals #1 20 Sep 42 28 Oct 42 23 Nov 42
74 CARINA 20 Nov 42 Permanente Metals #1 30 Sep 42 6 Nov 42 1 Dec 42
75 CASSIOPEIA 27 Nov 42 Permanente Metals #1 13 Oct 42 15 Nov 42 8 Dec 42
76 CELENO 19 Dec 42 Permanente Metals #2 3 Nov 42 12 Dec 42 2 Jan 43
77 CETUS 4 Jan 43 Permanente Metals #2 21 Nov 42 26 Dec 42 17 Jan 43
78 DEIMOS 13 Jan 43 Permanente Metals #1 27 Nov 42 28 Dec 42 23 Jan 43
79 DRACO 31 Jan 43 Permanente Metals #2 15 Dec 42 19 Jan 43 16 Feb 43
90 ALBIREO 9 Mar 43 Permanente Metals #1 17 Jan 43 25 Feb 43 29 Mar 43
91 COR CAROLI 31 Mar 43 Permanente Metals #2 20 Feb 43 19 Mar 43 16 Apr 43
92 ERIDANUS 22 Apr 43 Permanente Metals #2 12 Mar 43 9 Apr 43 8 May 43
93 ETAMIN 8 May 43 Permanente Metals #2 28 Mar 43 25 Apr 43 25 May 43
94 MINTAKA 26 Mar 43 California SB 9 Feb 43 10 Mar 43 10 May 43
95 MURZIM 8 Apr 43 California SB 10 Jul 42 17 Aug 42 14 May 43
96 STEROPE 27 Mar 43 Oregon SB 9 Dec 41 22 Feb 42 14 May 43
97 SERPENS 19 Apr 43 California SB 10 Mar 43 5 Apr 43 28 May 43
99 BOOTES 29 May 43 California SB 24 Apr 43 16 May 43 15 Jul 43
100 LYNX 30 May 43 California SB 26 Apr 43 18 May 43 26 Jul 43
101 LYRA 10 Jun 43 Permanente Metals #1 25 Apr 43 24 May 43 22 Jul 43
102 TRIANGULUM 19 Jun 43 California SB 14 May 43 6 Jun 43 30 Jul 43
103 SCULPTOR 22 Jun 43 California SB 18 May 43 10 Jun 43 10 Aug 43
104 GANYMEDE 23 Jun 43 Permanente Metals #2 16 May 43 8 Jun 43 31 Jul 43
105 NAOS 15 Jul 43 California SB 8 Jun 43 30 Jun 43 17 Aug 43
106 CAELUM 10 Aug 43 California SB 30 Jun 43 25 Jul 43 22 Oct 43
107 HYPERION 10 Jul 43 Permanente Metals #1 28 May 43 24 Jun 43 25 Aug 43
108 ROTANIN 6 Sep 43 California SB 25 Jul 43 18 Aug 43 23 Nov 43
109 ALLIOTH 3 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #2 30 Jul 43 20 Aug 43 25 Oct 43
110 ALKES 5 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #2 10 Jun 43 29 Jun 43 29 Oct 43
111 GIANSAR 5 Oct 43 Oregon SB 27 Dec 42 19 Jan 43 29 Oct 43
112 GRUMIUM 5 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #2 12 Nov 42 20 Dec 42 20 Oct 43
113 RUTILICUS 9 Oct 43 California SB 2 Apr 43 26 Apr 43 30 Oct 43
114 ALKAID 19 Nov 43 St. John's River SB 13 Sep 43 8 Nov 43 27 Mar 44
115 CRUX 27 Nov 43 St. John's River SB 27 Sep 43 16 Nov 43 17 Mar 44
116 ALDERAMIN 25 Nov 43 Todd Houston SB 5 Oct 43 13 Nov 43 3 Apr 44
117 ZAURAK 27 Nov 43 Todd Houston SB 7 Oct 43 18 Nov 43 17 Mar 44
118 SHAULA 4 Dec 43 St. John's River SB 4 Oct 43 23 Nov 43 5 May 44
119 MATAR 10 Dec 43 St. John's River SB 16 Oct 43 30 Nov 43 17 May 44
121 SABIK 29 Dec 43 Todd Houston SB 8 Nov 43 17 Dec 43 19 Apr 44
123 MENKAR 17 Jan 44 St. John's River SB 17 Nov 43 31 Dec 43 2 Jun 44
124 AZIMECH 7 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #2 21 Jul 43 11 Aug 43 29 Oct 43
125 LESUTH 9 Oct 43 California SB 24 Mar 43 17 Apr 43 1 Nov 43
126 MEGREZ 7 Oct 43 California SB 31 Mar 43 23 Apr 43 26 Oct 43
127 ALNITAH 8 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #2 10 Dec 42 14 Jan 43 27 Nov 43
128 LEONIS 10 Oct 43 Permanente Metals #1 21 Nov 42 22 Dec 42 25 Oct 43
129 PHOBOS 12 Jun 44 Todd Houston SB 25 Sep 43 6 Nov 43 12 Jun 44
130 ARKAB 21 Feb 44 Delta SB 4 Dec 43 22 Jan 44 15 May 44
131 MELUCTA 31 Mar 44 St. John's River SB 21 Jan 44 20 Mar 44 22 Jul 44
132 PROPUS 10 Apr 44 St. John's River SB 31 Jan 44 29 Mar 44 22 Jun 44
133 SEGINUS 12 Apr 44 Delta SB 10 Jan 44 4 Mar 44 14 Jun 44
134 SYRMA 20 Mar 44 Delta SB 10 Jan 44 19 Feb 44 3 Aug 44
135 VENUS 6 Nov 43 Permanente Metals #2 5 Jul 42 21 Aug 42 26 Sep 44
136 ARA 3 Dec 43 California SB 17 Jul 41 14 Jan 42 4 Jan 44
137 ASCELLA 30 Nov 43 California SB 7 Jan 43 4 Feb 43 7 Jan 44
138 CHELEB 3 Dec 43 Permanente Metals #1 29 Dec 42 29 Jan 43 1 Jan 44
139 PAVO 29 Nov 43 Todd Houston SB 8 Mar 43 23 Apr 43 14 Jan 44
140 SITULA 2 Dec 43 Oregon SB 9 Jan 43 7 Feb 43 14 Jan 44
141 AK 141-155 -- -- -- -- --
225 ALLEGAN 7 Aug 44 Bethlehem-Fairfield SYs 21 Dec 43 21 Jan 44 24 Sep 44
226 APPANOOSE 10 Aug 44 Bethlehem-Fairfield SYs 20 Jun 44 27 Jul 44 26 Sep 44

AK Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
70 CRATER 24 Jun 46 23 Jun 47 26 Jun 47 MC/R 26 Aug 74
71 ADHARA 7 Dec 45 3 Jan 46 11 Dec 45 MC/R 26 Oct 71
72 ALUDRA -- 9 Jun 44 23 Jun 43 Lost --
73 ARIDED 12 Jan 46 29 Sep 47 2 Oct 47 MC/R 7 Aug 62
74 CARINA 17 Oct 45 1 Nov 45 17 Oct 45 MC/D 11 Feb 52
75 CASSIOPEIA 21 Nov 45 5 Dec 45 21 Nov 45 MC/R --
76 CELENO 1 Mar 46 20 Mar 46 1 Mar 46 MC/R 14 Mar 61
77 CETUS 20 Nov 45 5 Dec 45 21 Nov 45 MC/R 26 Oct 71
78 DEIMOS -- 9 Jun 44 23 Jun 43 Lost --
79 DRACO 28 Nov 45 19 Dec 45 28 Nov 45 MC/D 7 Aug 47
90 ALBIREO 5 Jul 46 31 Jul 46 17 Jul 46 MC/D 18 Aug 47
91 COR CAROLI 30 Nov 45 19 Dec 45 2 Dec 45 MC/R 26 May 78
92 ERIDANUS 8 May 46 21 May 46 15 May 46 MC/D 14 Feb 47
93 ETAMIN 9 Jul 46 31 Jul 46 9 Jul 46 MC/D 2 Feb 48
94 MINTAKA 12 Feb 46 26 Feb 46 12 Feb 46 MC/R 6 Mar 68
95 MURZIM 7 Jun 46 23 Jun 47 5 Aug 47 MC/R 19 Mar 73
96 STEROPE 16 May 46 5 Dec 47 19 Nov 47 MC/R 11 Sep 63
97 SERPENS -- 10 Mar 45 29 Jan 45 Lost --
99 BOOTES 22 Apr 46 1 Aug 47 11 Sep 47 MC/R 19 Mar 73
100 LYNX 1 Nov 45 16 Nov 45 1 Nov 45 MC/R 3 Oct 72
101 LYRA 3 May 46 21 May 46 8 May 46 MC/D 14 Feb 47
102 TRIANGULUM 16 Apr 46 17 Jul 47 2 Jul 47 MC/R 19 Mar 73
103 SCULPTOR 26 Feb 46 12 Mar 46 8 Mar 46 MC/D 18 Feb 47
104 GANYMEDE 15 Apr 46 1 Aug 47 1 Oct 47 MC/R 19 Mar 73
105 NAOS 6 Dec 45 3 Jan 46 6 Dec 45 MC/R 30 Jun 69
106 CAELUM 30 Jul 46 15 Aug 46 31 Jul 46 MC/R 19 Oct 61
107 HYPERION 16 Nov 45 28 Nov 45 17 Nov 45 MC/R 31 Jul 61
108 ROTANIN 5 Apr 46 17 Apr 46 5 Apr 46 MC/R 29 Apr 66
109 ALLIOTH 17 May 46 22 May 47 13 May 47 MC/R 27 Aug 64
110 ALKES 20 Feb 46 12 Mar 46 27 Feb 46 MC/R 26 Oct 71
111 GIANSAR 28 Nov 45 19 Dec 45 28 Nov 45 MC/R 31 Jul 61
112 GRUMIUM 20 Dec 45 8 Jan 46 27 Dec 45 MC/R 17 Apr 70
113 RUTILICUS 17 Dec 45 8 Jan 46 18 Dec 45 MC/R 26 Oct 71
114 ALKAID 11 Mar 46 28 Mar 46 11 Mar 46 MC/R 31 Mar 64
115 CRUX 31 Jan 46 25 Feb 46 31 Jan 46 MC/R 30 Nov 61
116 ALDERAMIN 10 Apr 46 1 May 46 10 Apr 46 MC/R --
117 ZAURAK 12 Mar 46 28 Mar 46 12 Mar 46 MC/R 14 May 63
118 SHAULA 24 Jun 46 19 Jul 46 25 Jun 46 MC/D 24 Jul 47
119 MATAR 15 Mar 46 31 Oct 47 8 Oct 47 MC/R 13 Apr 71
121 SABIK 19 Mar 46 17 Apr 46 19 Mar 46 MC/R 19 Oct 61
123 MENKAR 15 Apr 46 1 May 46 15 Apr 46 MC/R 8 May 62
124 AZIMECH 11 Dec 45 3 Jan 46 14 Dec 45 MC/R 12 Sep 72
125 LESUTH 16 Aug 46 17 Jul 47 29 May 47 MC/R 31 Jul 64
126 MEGREZ 29 May 46 1 Aug 47 18 Sep 47 MC/R 13 Jun 74
127 ALNITAH 11 Mar 46 28 Mar 46 11 Mar 46 MC/R 3 Mar 61
128 LEONIS 5 Dec 45 19 Dec 45 9 Dec 45 MC/R 2 Nov 67
129 PHOBOS 22 Mar 46 17 Apr 46 17 Jan 47 MC/R 10 Feb 70
130 ARKAB 2 Jan 46 21 Jan 46 2 Jan 46 MC/R 21 Sep 71
131 MELUCTA 13 Dec 45 3 Jan 46 18 Dec 45 MC/R 24 Mar 70
132 PROPUS 20 Nov 45 5 Dec 45 21 Nov 45 MC/D 17 Mar 47
133 SEGINUS 13 Nov 45 28 Nov 45 13 Nov 45 MC/D 28 Feb 47
134 SYRMA 8 Jan 46 21 Jan 46 11 Jan 46 MC/D 7 Jan 48
135 VENUS 18 Apr 46 19 Feb 48 27 Feb 48 MC/R 18 Apr 61
136 ARA 26 Nov 45 5 Dec 45 26 Nov 45 MC/R 26 Oct 71
137 ASCELLA 13 Aug 46 22 May 47 28 May 47 MC/R 7 Jul 64
138 CHELEB 25 Jul 46 22 May 47 23 May 47 MC/R 27 Mar 78
139 PAVO 30 Nov 45 19 Dec 45 1 Dec 45 MC/R 26 Oct 71
140 SITULA 23 Apr 46 22 Jan 48 30 Dec 47 MC/R 14 Mar 61
141 AK 141-155 -- -- 29 Feb 44 Canc. --
225 ALLEGAN 15 Nov 45 28 Nov 45 18 Nov 45 MC/D 14 Nov 47
226 APPANOOSE 26 Nov 45 5 Dec 45 27 Nov 45 MC/D 14 Nov 47

Class Notes:
FY 1943 (AK 70-79, 90-97, 99-108), 1944 (others). Limiting displacement and draft were listed in 1945 as 12,350 tons at 24.5' for the ships then on the list fitted to carry troops: AK-76, 94, 105, 108, 114-119, 121, 123, 127, 129, along with the four converted to troopers by WSA and initially classified as AP 162-65 (q.v., later AK 221-224). AK-77 was listed as 14,250 tons at 27.75' while the others were listed as shown in the table. Crew size in 1944 ranged from 133 to 207, with 255 for AK 136-40. For one other Liberty ship that was briefly assigned an AK hull number see THOMAS JEFFERSON (AK-57). This class was selected in ten groups plus one group cancelled before ship selection.

AK 70-79: On 3 Oct 42 Cominch directed the Auxiliary Vessels Board to consider a dispatch of 2 Oct 42 from Commander, South Pacific Force urgently requesting that 10 Liberty (EC2) type ships be acquired, given a minimum conversion, and manned by Navy crews for use in the logistic support of forces in his area. The ships of the Cargo Command then providing this service were to be reassigned to offensive operations elsewhere and replacements were needed. On 10 Oct 42 the Board recommended that ten EC2 type hulls then building in the San Francisco area be acquired at the average rate of one every ten days to fulfill this requirement. In late November two LCM(3) tank lighters and four LCV landing boats were added to the standard fit of these and later ships of this type. These ships were to be assigned to ComSoPacFor. Two more LCM(3) were later added to the boat allowance in some ships.

AK 90-97: On 9 Jan 43 the Commandant, 12th Naval District (San Francisco area) urged that eight more ships of this type be acquired to meet the expanding need for additional cargo vessels. SecNav asked the Maritime Commission for the eight ships on 27 Feb 43. On 1 Mar 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended the acquisition of the ships beginning on 15 Mar 43 at a rate of one every ten days. The ships were to receive the same minimal conversion to accommodate Navy crews given the first ten ships but were to be given an additional 30-ton cargo boom and towing engines when available. The towing engines were for use in towing the large sectional drydock ABSD-1 due to lack of tugs and their unsuitability for heavy weather towing. Each AK was to tow one of the eight dock sections in May and June 1943. These ships were to be assigned to the Naval Transportation Service, primarily for the transportation of military cargo from the West Coast.

AK 99-108: On 19 Feb 43 ComSoPacFor urged that another ten EC2 type ships be acquired to provide for expected increases in transshipping requirements to advance bases as more advanced positions were seized. SecNav asked the Maritime Commission for the ten ships on 9 Mar 43. On 10 Mar 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended acquisition of the ships beginning around 1 Jun 43 at a rate of one every ten days and that they be converted along the lines of the first ten ships but with a 30-ton cargo boom. These ships were also to be assigned to the Naval Transportation Service

AK 114-123: On 7 Sep 43 Com-12 pointed out that additional specially equipped cargo carriers were necessary to support activities in the Pacific area and recommended the acquisition of ten more EC2 type ships for this purpose. On 20 Sep 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board agreed that the acquisition of additional ships of this type was essential to meet the demands for additional cargo vessels and for towing facilities in the Pacific area. It recommended that the ships be acquired beginning on 15 Oct 43 at a rate of two per month and that they be given a basic conversion similar to that of their predecessors plus extra heavy lift booms and a towing engine. On the same day CNO asked WSA for the ships, stating that the first 28 ships were proving to be invaluable cargo carriers for the Navy as their landing boats and special stevedoring gangs enabled them to discharge at advance bases in combat areas without transshipment. In addition about half of them were fitted with towing engines, alleviating to some extent the current critical shortage of seagoing tugs. He concluded that it was essential that the EC2 conversion program be made a continuous one. On 14 Mar 44 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that two of these ships, AK-120 and AK-122, be converted instead to combined barracks-stores-distilling ships (AG) and they are listed here as part of the BASILAN (AG-68) class.

AK 109-113: On 16 Sep 43 CinCPac requested that 10 EC2 type freighters be converted and fitted with an additional heavy boom aft, cargo delivery boats, and accommodations for 56 Construction Battalion (SEABEE) personnel, to be ready at San Francisco by 1 Nov 43. He expressed a preference that the ships be Navy manned, although civilian manning of five of the ships would be acceptable. On 30 Sep 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that five ships that were immediately available (i.e. in civilian service) be acquired from WSA and be manned by Navy crews, including boatmen and stevedore gangs. Towing engines were not to be fitted. It also recommended that the remaining five be taken under allocation with their civilian crews from a group of EC2 freighters that had been converted to carry 12 officers and 200 troop passengers. The WSA representative at this meeting stated that the ships would be allocated to the Navy, provided with heavy lift booms aft, fresh water storage, and stowage for two LCM(3)'s and four LCV's. In addition to the 10 cargo ships, CinCPac's request also included five Liberty ships to transport about 1,000 men each it was decided that WSA would allocate and man five ships that it had already converted for this purpose.

AK 124-28: On 22 Sep 43 CinCPac recommended that all ten of the cargo vessels that he had requested on 16 Sep 43 [AVB-76] be Navy manned, and on 4 Oct 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that the five ships it had previously recommended be civilian manned (all of which by this time had been selected by name) be manned by Navy crews including boatmen and stevedore gangs. They were to receive the same conversion as AK 109-113.

AK 129-34: During October 1943 CinCPac requested that 11 EC2s be acquired as early as practicable for use by Commander, Third Fleet as Navy-manned AK's with facilities for transporting about 1,000 troops on short hauls in order to relieve regular transports then being retained in the area for that purpose. On 30 Oct 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended, in view of the large number of conversions recently requested, that in addition to the ten EC2 hulls it had recommended on 20 Sep 43 [AVB-75] only six more be acquired. Of these sixteen vessels, which would be taken at a rate of about four per month beginning 10 Nov 43, the first eleven (AK 114-123 and 129) were to be converted to AK's without towing engines but with facilities for transporting about 1,000 troops on short hauls, while the remaining five (AK 130-134) were to be converted to standard Navy cargo ships with towing engines. The ship selected for conversion to AK-129 differed from the others in that she was already being converted to a WSA troopship CNO noted that the WSA conversion differed materially from the Navy conversion and decided that WSA should continue the work under its present contract, modifying her only as practicable to agree with the Navy conversion then being given AK-117 and AK-121 at the same yard.

AK 135: On 11 Oct 43 Commander Seventh Fleet requested authority to acquire the damaged Liberty ship WILLIAM WILLIAMS and effect repairs in the Australian area. Subsequent investigation disclosed that only structural damage in the two after holds had been suffered, with no basic machinery derangement. The War Shipping Administration agreed on 20 Oct 43 and on 22 Oct 43 CNO authorized Com7thFleet to take over the ship. On 23 Nov 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended approving this arrangement.

AK 136-40: During November 1943 WSA agreed to supply five C-type cargo vessels for use as troop transports in place of five (AK 120-123 and 129) of the 11 Liberty ships to be provided to Com3rdFleet to carry troops. (These C2's became AP 166-170, q.v., but the Liberties were still fitted to carry troops.) On 15 Nov 43 CinCPac reaffirmed previous requests for ten cargo ships to be Navy-manned, with five being converted to AP's and five to AK's, while stipulating that their acquisition should not interfere with the current conversions of AK 114-123 and 129. WSA offered to supply five more C-type vessels for the AP's (see AP 171-175), and on 23 Nov 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that five more Liberty ships be acquired for conversion to cargo ships. They were to be converted similarly to AK 109-113 but with towing engines.

AK 141-55: On 15 Nov 43 the War Department asked the Navy to provide crews for 15 EC2 cargo ships for use in Service Force, Southwest Pacific in combat and forward areas. Conversion was to be kept to a minimum and landing craft would not be required. These were in addition to AK-93, 99, 102, and 104 which were temporarily assigned to this use and AK-135 which was to be permanently assigned to Com7thFleet upon completion of repairs. These 15 ships would release 15 WSA vessels allocated to the Army that were then retained in that area. On 23 Nov 43 the Board noted that this requirement could not be met for some time because of the conversion work then underway and planned but recommended that the 15 ships be acquired as conversion facilities became available. CNO asked WSA for the ships on 2 Dec 43, noting that conversion facilities could be made available at the Bethlehem Key Highway plant at Baltimore for six ships in January and February 1944 and recommending that ships under construction at the nearby Bethlehem Fairfield yard be allocated. On 24 Dec 43 he asked that two ships building at the J.A. Jones yard at Panama City, Florida, be allocated for conversion at the Key West Naval Station. BuShips began preparing for these conversions, but WSA objected to them and BuShips was advised on 9 Feb 44 that the entire program had been deferred pending an updated request from the theater commander and a ruling by JCS. On 20 Feb 44 the Supreme Commander in the Southwest Pacific radioed that his requirement for Navy manned vessels had been met for the present by the assignment of the five Navy-manned Liberty ships and the prospective assignment of 25 Navy-manned C1-M-AV1 type vessels of the new AK-156 class, and he therefore withdrew his request of 15 November for the 15 EC2's. CNO cancelled his request to WSA on 28 Feb 44 and advised BuShips on 29 Feb 44 that the conversions would be cancelled by the Auxiliary Vessels Board at its next meeting. The Board duly took this action on 14 Mar 44.

AK 225-26: On 12 Jul 44 CinCPOA informed CNO of an urgent need for two AK's with facilities for accommodating Construction Battalion personnel (2 officers and 35 enlisted men) to assemble the pontoon docks to be carried by these vessels. CinCPOA had no AK's that could be made available for this conversion, and all suitable Naval Transportation Service AK's not assigned to the operational control of the operating forces were equipped with towing engines and were needed for projected towing operations in the Pacific. On 19 Jul 44 the Board recommended that two EC2 type ships, preferably under construction, be acquired and converted to AK's with additional facilities to provide for pontoon assembly detachments. The ships would need to be ready by 1 Oct 43. WSA offered two ships already in service that had suffered damage the Navy accepted VAN LEAR BLACK but rejected ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL and obtained the assignment of a new hull instead. The conversion was to be similar to that of AK 130-134 except that the LCM(3) tank landing craft and the towing engine were to be omitted. AK-225 and AK-226 loaded their first cargoes of pontoons and pontoon gear at Davisville, Rhode Island, in October 1944 shortly after entering service. In November 1944 the Fleet Maintenance Office of Commander Service Force Pacific Fleet noted that the material necessary for the installation on outrigger platforms for pontoon assembly had been furnished to AK-225 and AK-226 and authorized both vessels to proceed with the fabrication and installation of the necessary parts. The ships were then to be operated as pontoon assembly ships, assembling the materials carried as cargo into pontoon strings on board the ship. These pontoon strings would then be launched and pinned together to form completed structures, including barges, drydocks, causeways, bridge strings, pier strings, and tugs (with propulsion units). The outrigger platforms would provide additional space for the final assembly of the pontoon strings, permitting the existing deck area to be used for sub-assembly work. The ships were instructed to consult reports from USS VEGA (AK-17) for further technical guidance and to report any innovations or improvements in production methods back to ComServPac so they could be shared with the other pontoon assembly ships, which were VEGA and CARINA, AK-74. In addition, BuShips authorized the conversion of CASSIOPEIA (AK-75) and CETUS (AK-77) to pontoon assembly ships on 11 Jun 45, but the war ended before the alterations to AK-75 and probably AK-77 was completed.

Troop transport modifications: In September 1943 AK-76, 94, 105, 106, and 108 were designated to be fitted to carry 1,000 troops for short distances, while retaining much of their cargo capacity and their AK classification. The first three were already serving as cargo ships and were to be modified at San Francisco while the other two were to be fitted during their initial Navy conversions. In October 1943 the newly-selected AK 114-123 and 129, were added to this list, all to be modified during conversion. On 13 Oct 43 CNO swapped the assignments of AK-106 and AK-127, with AK-127 getting the transport conversion and AK-106 completing conversion as a cargo ship. AK-120 and 122 were given the troop accommodations but were reclassified AG 70-71 (q.v.). The final list of short-haul troop transport freighters was AK-76, 94, 105, 108, 114-119, 121, 123, 127, and 129. The ships had enough refrigerated stowage for only 15 days while carrying troops, but AK-105 and probably others stretched this to 67 days by placing five Army field-type reefers on deck at number three hatch. By November 1943 it was realized that the EC2 was particularly vulnerable to attack due to its slow speed and low subdivision—BuShips estimated that except when very lightly loaded one torpedo hit was likely to result in immediate sinking with no time for abandoning ship. For this reason WSA filled later requirements for improvised transports by providing C-type cargo ships.

Fleet issue ship modifications: In March 1944 AK-111 received a part load of dry provisions and ship's store stock, which was experimentally loaded in a manner to permit rapid discharge to the fleet. The experiment was a success, and in early June 1944 the ship took on a full load of cargo in this configuration. In July 1944 ComServPac stated that he intended to continuously employ AK-111, 124, 137, and 138 as fleet dry provisions and ships store issue ships, and he was authorized to make the necessary alterations. AK-113 and the trooper AK-118 joined this group before September 1944 AK-106, 119 (a trooper), 125, and 128 were added in that month and AK-110 was modified at San Pedro in October. The trooper AK-129 was given the necessary modifications in late January 1945 and in addition was to use her existing cargo reefer spaces to capacity for fleet issue. AK-126 also operated for her entire career as a fleet issue ship, and AK-139 had become a fleet issue ship by the end of the war. In a variation on this theme, AK-112 was reassigned from ServPac to ComAirPac by CinCPOA as an Aviation Stores Issue Ship on 1 Jun 44 and was reclassified IX-174 by CNO effective 20 Jun 44. AK-109 followed, being assigned to duty under ComAirPac as an Aviation Stores Issue Ship by CinCPOA on 8 Dec 44 and reclassified IX-204 by CNO effective 31 Dec 44. When the AVS (q.v.) designation was established the two ships were reclassified AVS 3-4 effective 25 May 45.

Armaments: The cargo ships of the AK-70 class were assigned three standard authorized armaments. The first, 1-5"/38 or 1-5"/51 aft, 1-3"/50 forward, and 8-20mm, was assigned in late 1942. This armament with the preferred 5"/38 was fitted as the original armament in AK-72, 74-79, 90-97, 101, 102, 104-08, 127, 130-34, 136-40, and 225-26 while AK-73, 99, 100, 103, 110, 111, 124, and 126 received the variant with the older 5"/51. The 5"/51 option was dropped at the end of 1944. The following AK's, initially fitted with other armaments, were later upgraded to this standard armament with a 5"/38: AK-70, 71, 100, 103, 110, 111, 113, 124, and 128. In response to a 1 Nov 44 suggestion from AK-137, CNO on 24 Feb 45 changed this standard armament to substitute 2 single 40mm (Army model) guns for the two 20mm at the after corners of the bridge deck, giving an armament of 1-5"/38, 1-3"/50, 2-40mm singles, and 6-20mm singles. By this time all of the ships of the class were in service, and the enhanced armament was fitted as an upgrade to AK-70, 75, 77, 92, 100, 103, 106, 113, 130-32, 134, 136-38, and 140. AK-137 got the 2-40mm but retained all eight 20mm guns. The single 20mm guns in this class were replaced on paper by 6 twins in late 1945 but none of the ships appears to have been fitted with them.

In response to a 9 Dec 43 suggestion from AK-117, OpNav on 24.12.43 stated that the ships modified to carry 1,000 troops (AK 76, 94, 105, 108, 114-23, 127, 129) were to have an enhanced armament of 1-5”/38, 4-40mmS, 12-20mm, although 4-3”/50 were to be fitted temporarily if the 40mm were not available. The 3”/50 option was cancelled on 18 Jan 44 after only AK-94 received it. This armament was also authorized for the four ships serving in the Seventh Fleet (AK-93, 99, 102, and 104). It was actually fitted to AK 114-119, 121, 123, and 129 during conversion and to AK-102, 104, 108, 135, and possibly 99 as an upgrade, although AK-108 had only 8-20mm. Two of the 40mm replaced the single 3"/50 on the bow while the other two replaced 2-20mm at the after corners of the bridge deck.

In practice, the ships of this class had other armaments besides these three standard fits. These non-standard armaments were as follows:

-- 1-5"/50 1-3"/50 8-20mm (late 1942: AK-70). This ship later got two more 20mm, and in April 1945 replaced her ancient 5"/50 with a 5"/38, giving 1-5"/38 1-3"/50 10-20mm. CRATER (AK-70) appears to have been one of only three Navy ships to carry a 5"/50 gun during World War II, the others being THURSTON (AP-77) and CALAMARES (AF-18).

-- 1-5"/51 9-20mm (late 1942: AK-71). This ship was completed with a ninth 20mm on the bow instead of the usual 3"/50. She was upgraded to the standard 5”/38 armament in July-August 1943.

-- 1-4"/50 1-3"/50 9-20mm (late 1943: AK-113, 124, 125, 128). The 4”/50 on the first three was provided by the Navy, while AK-128 retained her merchant armament. AK-124 and AK-128 got the standard 5”/38 armament in March-April 1944. AK-113 and 125 later lost the ninth 20mm while AK-128 and possibly AK-124 never had it.

-- 2-3"/50 8-20mm (late 1943: AK-109, 112). As merchant ships AK-109 had this armament while AK-112 had 1-4”/50 and 9-20mm. These ships got the standard class armament when they converted to aviation stores ships (IX, later AVS) in 1944.

-- 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 12-20mm (early 1944: AK-94 refitted). 40mm guns were not available for AK-94 when she was modified to a trooper and she was the only ship to receive the alternative armament of 3" guns in the 40mm gun positions. This temporary armament was never upgraded.

-- 1-3"/50 8-20mm (1944: IX-173, ex AK-93). She lost her 5”/38 to AK-135, below.

-- 1-3"/50 4-40mmS, 12-20mm (1944: AK-135). This ship was acquired in damaged condition and was repaired and armed as an additional Seventh Fleet AK during the second half of 1944. In mid-1944 she replaced her 3"/50 with the 5"/38 from AK-93, giving her the standard 4-40mm armament

-- 1-4"/50 1-3"/50 2-40mmS 6-20mmS (1945: AK-125). This ship was upgraded to the final standard cargo ship armament above except that her 4" gun was not replaced by a 5"/38.

Crater of Diamonds State Park History

Of all the Arkansas state parks, the Crater of Diamonds has had arguably the most colorful history, with stories of treasure hunters and the diamonds found in Arkansas through the decades. People first began to suspect that diamonds might occur just outside of the quiet town of Murfreesboro, Arkansas when the precious stones were found in the peridotite soil of Kimberly, South Africa. State Geologist John Branner knew there was an area of peridotite soil just west of Murfreesboro, so he gave the place a thorough surface search in 1889. Unfortunately, he didn't find any Arkansas diamonds.

The history of diamonds in Arkansas began when the first diamonds were found in Pike County, Arkansas in August 1906 by John Wesley Huddleston. These stones were sent to Charles S. Stifft, a Little Rock jeweler who confirmed them to be genuine diamonds. Stifft described them as blue-white diamonds, one weighing 2-5/8 carats, and the other 1-3/8 carats. To verify his opinion, Stifft sent them to New York and states that " … after subjecting them to every test they were pronounced diamonds of fine grade."

Early in 1906, Huddleston, a farmer, purchased the 160-acre McBrayer farm to make a home for his family, a decision that would etch him into history. Huddleston recounted the first diamonds found in Arkansas to Tom Shiras of the Arkansas Gazette: "I was crawling on my hands and knees … when my eyes fell on another glittering pebble … I knew it was different from any I had ever seen before. It had a fiery eye that blazed up at me every way I turned it. I hurried to the house with the pebble, saddled my mule and started for Murfreesboro … riding through the lane, my eye caught another glitter, and I dismounted and picked it up out of the dust."

Huddleston sold his diamond-bearing land for $36,000. According to a book by Howard Millar, it was Finders Keepers at America's Only Diamond Mine, 1976, Huddleston became "… nationally famous, and had acquired the nickname 'Diamond John.'" Although he was also known as the "Diamond King," he later met with some misfortunes and died a pauper, but was said to have had no regrets. He is buried in Japany Cemetery, about three miles east of the diamond mine.

The approximate location of the first diamonds found in Arkansas by Huddleston is designated on the diamond field by a historical marker on the south-central mine boundary. Huddleston is a unique character in Arkansas history, and his story is perpetuated as a part of the history of diamonds here at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. For a complete timeline, view our full park history.

Crater of Diamonds State Park History

Geologist W.B. Powell first reports conspicuous intrusive igneous rock in southwest Arkansas on Judge Isaac White’s land, south of Murfreesboro.

Millard Mauney acquires 40 acres of land from his Uncle Isaac White, including several acres of igneous boulders later identified as diamond-bearing material.

Geologist John Branner visits Murfreesboro and recognizes the igneous rock as potentially diamond-bearing but doesn’t find any diamonds at that time.

Local farmer John Huddleston buys land adjacent to Millard Mauney, containing several acres of diamond-bearing material.

John Huddleston finds the first diamond at what is now Crater of Diamonds State Park. The exact date of his discovery is unknown. Some sources cite August 1 others August 8.

John Huddleston sells his farm for $36,000 to Sam Reyburn and a group of investors from Little Rock, AR.

First primitive wash plant for diamond mining built on Huddleston’s land.

Millard Mauney’s son Walter finds the first two diamonds on their land.

Prospectors flood the Murfreesboro area and comb the countryside for diamonds. Assorted claims include many false discoveries.

Geologist Philip F. Schneider hired to update Branner’s 1889 report on diamond-bearing material in Arkansas.

Mineralogist George Kunz and Mining Consultant Dr. Henry Washington present “On the Peridotite of Pike County, Arkansas, and the Occurrence of Diamonds Therein,” a program with specimens and lantern slides, to the New York Academy of Science.

Speculation booms in Murfreesboro, thanks to exploration and development of established diamond mines. Thousands of prospectors occupy a tent city along the road to the mines.

Cut Arkansas diamonds go on public display for the first time, including a 0.765 ct. brown, a 0.969 ct. canary, and a 0.203 ct. blue-white diamond. They are appraised at $103.33 per carat at that time.

Millard Mauney gives about 80 acres west of Prairie Creek for development as a new township called Kimberley, to provide homes and services for thousands of potential mine workers.

With no additional discoveries of diamond-bearing material, the tent city near the diamond mine disperses.

Kimberley officially opens with brass bands and barbecue. John Huddleston purchases the first two lots for $70 and $200 in gold.

Passenger service begins on the “Diamond Route” extension of the Memphis, Dallas, & Gulf Railroad to Murfreesboro. Regular excursion trains bring curious tourists into the area.

Lot sales stop many businesses close in Kimberley.

The largest diamond ever found in the U.S., the 40.23-carat pink Uncle Sam Diamond, is uncovered by Wesley Basham in a hydraulic mining operation on Huddleston's land. Basham’s nickname is “Uncle Sam,” and the diamond is named in his honor.

Aircraft magnate Glenn L. Martin opens a mining operation on Huddleston's land. It closes less than a year later.

The Diamond Preserve of the United States opens. Though it fails to make a profit, the operation serves as a pattern for future diamond mining attractions.

Millar’s Crater of Diamonds, a commercial enterprise, officially opens on the north side of the current search area.

Winifred Parker, of Dallas, TX, finds the beautiful 15.36-carat white Star of Arkansas at Millar's Crater of Diamonds. It is later cut into a marquise-shape gem weighing 8.27 carats.

Ruth McRae, of Irving, TX, discovers the 3.11-carat white Eisenhower Diamond at Millar's Crater of Diamonds. This unique gem resembles a caricature profile of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Art Slocum, an oil prospector from Texas, leases land from then-owner Ethel Pearl Wilkinson and opens the Wilark Mine. The mine operates until 1962.

Howard Millar appears on the television program “I’ve Got a Secret” and stumps the panel. His secret is that he owns the only diamond mine in the United States.

Howard Millar sells Millar’s Crater of Diamonds to General Earth Minerals, out of Dallas, TX, for $350,000.

The Arkansas State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission votes to buy the Crater of Diamonds property from General Earth Minerals to create a state park.

Initial land acquired for the park

The Arkansas Legislature passes Act 859 recognizing the purchase of several state parks, including Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Howard Millar passes away at age 91.

Joplin, MO resident Tom Dunn discovers a 6.75-carat brown diamond.

W. W. Johnson, of Amarillo, TX, finds a 16.37-carat white diamond on the surface of the field. It is later cut to 7.54 carats and named the Amarillo Starlight.

The state applies for the Diamond Park grant that will be matched by the state. Plans call for the construction of 50 – 100 “class A” campsites, a new entrance road to be built between Presley’s Rock shop and the Prairie Creek Bridge a new VIC and extension of water and sewer lines to Murfreesboro.

The earth at the Crater of Diamonds is being bull dozed and plowed. Jim Cannon states “I really don’t know what it will do this is the first time the soil has been turned to this extent. I have hopes it will improve the diamond hunting over a period of time”. Friday, a county bull dozer, operating on state funds, turns over the first few feet of top soil. After the field is “dozed”, plows will turn more of the soil.

George Stepp, of Carthage, AR, discovers a 4.25-carat yellow diamond. It is later bought and named the Kahn Canary by Stan Kahn, owner of Kahn Jewelers in Pine Bluff, AR and is eventually lent to Hilary Rodham Clinton to wear at her husband’s inaugurals, both as Governor of Arkansas and President of the U.S.

L.C. Hawkins, of Sulphur Springs, TX, finds a 5.76-carat white diamond.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park hires a new interpretive geologist, Harry Harnish, and begins guided tours of Arkansas's diamond site.

L.C. Hawkins, of Sulphur Springs, TX, finds a 5-carat silver cape diamond valued at $5,000 - $10,000.

Record breaking month – 97 diamonds found

History of Crater of Diamonds program begins – 1-hour program

4th of July has over 3,700 visitors. Don Mayes, of Springdale, AR, finds a 3.30-carat white diamond.

Betty Lamle, of Hitchcock, OK, finds the 8.61-carat brown Lamle Diamond.

Slidell, LA resident Jeannine Macy finds a yellow diamond weighing 5 carats.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is named outstanding park of Arkansas State Parks' Class III parks for 1978. Approximately 120,000 visitors enjoyed the park that year.

The Visitor Information Center at the Crater of Diamonds is formally dedicated Thursday afternoon. Chairman of the State Parks and Tourism Commission Orville Richolson, of Newport, makes the dedication speech before about 100 guests, state and local dignitaries, and visitors. Other improvements include 60 new campsites, a public laundry, additional parking facilities, a short order café, picnic areas, and new bathhouses and restrooms.

James Williamson, of Black Canyon City, AZ, is the first person to purchase a ticket at the newly-opened Visitor Information Center early Saturday. He is also the first to register a find in the facility – a 5.08-carat brown diamond.

Don Mayes, of Springdale, AR finds a 5-carat white diamond.

First “Gems from the Diamond Mine” biweekly article published by Harry Harnish.

Crater receives Outstanding Park of the Year for 1979.

After deep plow of three feet by heavy equipment, visitors find diamonds at a rate of two per day. Within a few days of the furrowing project, a 4.25-carat yellow diamond is found by Paul June, of Houston, TX.

James Archer, of Nashville, AR uncovers his 241 st gem at the Crater of Diamonds, a 3.27-carat silver cape diamond.

Joe Trombello is hired as a new ranger at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Sam Barkley, of North Little Rock, discovers a 5.15-carat white diamond on the surface after 30 minutes of searching.

Charles Newman, of Little Rock, AR, finds a 6.25-carat white diamond.

Martin Griffin, of Carmi, IL, finds a 5.90-carat brown diamond.

Anaconda Mining Company, of Denver, CO attempts to obtain lease rights for diamond mining operations at the Crater of Diamonds. Governor Frank White is interested in at least considering commercial mining on the park land.

The State Parks and Tourism Commission rejects a sizeable offer by Anaconda Mining Company to lease the Crater for a mining operation. The vote is 11 to 1 to turn down the offer of $500,000 annually until actual production began, at which time they would pay the state 15% net profit of all diamonds found.

Carroll Blankenship of Shreveport, LA finds the 8.82-carat white Star of Shreveport. He has visited the mine for five years and has found 71 diamonds at this point.

Marcel Hanzlik is hired as a new ranger.

Ray Schall, of Murfreesboro, finds a 6.7-carat flawless white diamond.

Tom Stolarz of Hammond, IN recently named Park Interpreter at the Crater of Diamonds.

Film crew from Ripley’s Believe it or Not films at the Crater. The program airs on February 20.

Grady Snearly, of El Dorado, AR, discovers a 5.63-carat white diamond.

Walter Stockton, of Topeka, KS, finds a white diamond weighing 6.20 carats.

Jake Palermo, of Gretna, LA, finds a brown, 5.58-carat diamond.

Keith and Kevin Connell, of Rockton, IL, find a 7.95-carat white diamond.

Murfreesboro, AR resident Steve Lee discovers a 6.30-carat white diamond.

The state-funded Evaluation Program begins. Phase I consists of surface mapping and core drilling to determine the size and shape of the Crater, and to determine the types of rock material beneath the surface.

Shirley Strawn, of Murfreesboro, finds the 3.03-carat white Strawn-Wagner Diamond. It was later cut into a 1.09-carat round brilliant shape and graded as a perfect diamond.

Joe Fedzora, of Murfreesboro, discovers a yellow diamond weighing 6.23 carats.

Nashville, AR resident James Archer finds a 5.25-carat yellow diamond.

Phase II of the Evaluation Program begins. Mining companies process 9,600 tons of ore to determine the quantity of diamonds in the Crater.

Richard Cooper, of Lockesburg, AR, discovers a 6-carat brown diamond.

Richard Cooper, of Lockesburg, AR, finds a 6.72-carat brown diamond.

Mary Dickinson and Carol Stevens, of Baton Rouge, LA, discover the 7.28-carat yellow Dickinson-Stevens Diamond.

Marshall Rieff, of Fayetteville, AR discovers a 5.50-carat white diamond.

Harold Lay, of Murfreesboro, finds a 5.57-carat white diamond.

James Archer, a longtime “regular” miner at Crater of Diamonds State Park, dies at age 77.

The new Arkansas State Quarter is officially released at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Diamond Springs Aquatic Playground opens.

Don Hing Lo and Cecilia Cheung, of Peekskill, NY, find a 2.68-carat white teardrop-shaped diamond.

Aneesah Rasheed, of Shreveport, Louisiana, is hired as park interpreter.

Crater of Diamonds State Park receives 2003-2004 Region IV Park of the Year Award.

Marshall Rieff, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, unearths a 19-point white diamond, the 25,000th found since the Crater of Diamonds became a state park in 1972.

Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the east side of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

99-year-old Alberta Rice, of Jetmore, KS, visits Crater of Diamonds State Park. She was born in the same year John Huddleston found the first diamonds in Pike County.

Crater of Diamonds State Park receives the 2004-2005 Park Maintenance Award.

Marvin Culver, an Oklahoma State Trooper, finds a 4.21-carat yellow diamond he names the Okie Dokie during his family's first visit to the park.

Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the west side of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

Donald and Brenda Roden, of Point, Texas, find the 6.35-carat brown Roden Diamond.

Bob Wehle, of Ripon, WI, finds the 5.47-carat yellow Sunshine Diamond.

Crater of Diamonds State Park receives the 2005-2006 Region IV Park of the Year Award.

Michael Burns, of Arab, AL, discovers the 5.75-carat white Arabian Knight.

Beth Gilbertson, of Salida, CO discovers an 8.66-carat white diamond while helping two other visitors learn how to wet sift.

Daniel J. Kinney III, of Sault Ste. Marie, MI finds the 6.67-carat yellow Teamwork Diamond while searching with a group of friends.

Twelve-year-old Michael Dettlaff, of Apex, NC, finds a honey brown, 5.16-carat diamond after less than 10 minutes of searching and names it God's Glory.

David Anderson, of Murfreesboro, AR, finds a 6.19-carat white diamond on the surface of the diamond search area.

Bobbie Oskarson, of Longmont, CO, finds a white, 8.52-carat diamond she names the Esperanza Diamond, for her niece's name and the Spanish word for "hope." She found it after about 30 minutes of searching.

Kalel Langford, of Centerton, AR, finds the 7.44-carat brown Superman's Diamond.

Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the south end of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

Maumelle, AR resident Kevin Kinard finds a 9.07-carat brown diamond he names the Kinard Friendship.


A crater is a bowl-shaped depression produced by the impact of a meteorite, volcanic activity, or an explosion.

Earth Science, Astronomy, Geography, Physical Geography

A crater is a bowl-shaped depression, or hollowed-out area, produced by the impact of a meteorite, volcanic activity, or an explosion.

Impact Craters

Craters produced by the collision of a meteorite with the Earth (or another planet or moon) are called impact craters. The high-speed impact of a large meteorite compresses, or forces downward, a wide area of rock. The pressure pulverizes the rock. Almost immediately after the strike, however, the pulverized rock rebounds. Enormous amounts of shattered material jet upward, while a wide, circular crater forms where the rock once lay. Most of the material falls around the rim of the newly formed crater.

The Earth&rsquos moon has many craters. Most were formed when meteors, bodies of solid matter from space, slammed into the lunar surface millions of years ago. Because the moon has almost no atmosphere, there is hardly any wind, erosion, or weathering. Craters and debris, called ejecta, from millions of years ago are still crystal-clear on the moon&rsquos surface. Many of these craters are landmarks. Craters on the moon are named after everyone from American astronaut Buzz Aldrin to ancient Greek philosopher Zeno.

Many impact craters are found on the Earth&rsquos surface, although they can be harder to detect. One of the best-known craters on Earth is Meteor Crater, near Winslow, Arizona. The crater was created instantly when a 50-meter (164-foot), 150,000-ton meteorite slammed into the desert about 50,000 years ago. Meteor Crater is 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) in diameter and 175 meters (575 feet) deep.

The Chicxulub Crater, on Mexico&rsquos Yucatan Peninsula, was most likely created by a comet or asteroid that hit Earth about 65 million years ago. The crater is 180 kilometers (112 miles) wide and 900 meters (3,000 feet) deep. The object that created the Chicxulub Crater was probably about 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide.

The impact was so powerful the crater is called the Chicxulub Extinction Event Crater. Scientists say half the species on Earth&mdashincluding the dinosaurs&mdashwent extinct as a result of the impact. The event was more than a billion times more explosive than all the atomic bombs ever detonated on Earth.

Impact craters are found on most of the solar system&rsquos rocky planets and moons. The so-called &ldquogas giants&rdquo of the solar system&mdashJupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune&mdashdon&rsquot have craters. These planets are made up almost entirely of gases, so there is no hard surface for a meteor to impact. Meteors entering the atmosphere of a gas giant simply break up.

Cratering is a rare occurrence in the solar system today. Planets, moons, comets, and other celestial bodies have fairly stable orbits that do not interact with each other. Meteors do collide with planets&mdashincluding Earth&mdashevery day. However, most of these meteors are the size of a speck of dust and do not cause any cratering. Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere as &ldquoshooting stars&rdquo before ever colliding with the surface of the Earth.

Volcanic Craters

Volcanic activity often creates craters. Some volcanic craters are deep and have steep sides. Others are wide and shallow.

A crater is not the same thing as a caldera. Craters are formed by the outward explosion of rocks and other materials from a volcano. Calderas are formed by the inward collapse of a volcano&rsquos magma chamber. Craters are usually much smaller features than calderas, and calderas are sometimes considered giant craters.

Craters at the top of volcanoes are called summit craters. Summit craters are where volcanic material is at or near the Earth&rsquos surface. Volcanoes may have one summit crater, such as Mount Fuji in Japan. Or they may have several. Mount Etna, in Italy, has four.

Some volcanoes are calm enough that scientists can get close to the lava in the summit crater. Mount Erebus, a volcano in Antarctica, has a lava lake in its summit crater. Lava lakes are where magma has bubbled up to the surface. Volcanologists can fly over Mount Erebus&rsquo summit crater to see how the lava lake is behaving and predict future behavior.

Volcanic material in some summit craters is near the surface, but not visible. Although Mount Fuji is an active volcano and magma and gases sit below the summit crater, the risk of an eruption is very low. Mount Fuji, Japan&rsquos highest mountain, is one of the most popular places in the country to hike.

Craters that form on the sides of volcanoes are called flank craters. Eruptions from flank craters can be much more dangerous than eruptions from summit craters. Flank craters can form at lower altitudes than summit craters, near hillside towns. Lava, gas, rocks, and other material ejected from a flank crater can rush down the side of a mountain in a phenomenon called a pyroclastic flow. Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in Europe, has had a number of dangerous eruptions. In 1928, the eruption of a flank crater completely destroyed the village of Mascali.

Over a long period of time, small and non-explosive eruptions may fill a volcanic crater with new material. At Mount St. Helens, in the U.S. state of Washington, for example, a large crater formed when a major eruption in 1980 tore off 400 meters (1,300 feet) of the mountaintop. Soon after, smaller eruptions began piling up lava and volcanic ash on the crater floor, slowly rebuilding the mountain.

Volcanoes can also create craters when the magma comes into contact with water. Magma flowing or bubbling beneath a volcano can sometimes interact with groundwater in the area. When this happens, a small explosion occurs and a crater forms around the explosion. This type of volcanic crater is called a maar.

Often, a maar will fill with water and become a shallow crater lake. The thin floors of these lakes are actually the roofs of volcanic vents, waiting to come into explosive contact with water once again. The Seward Peninsula, in the U.S. state of Alaska, is filled with maars that form as magma encounters not groundwater, but permafrost.

Explosion Craters

A third type of crater is formed by an explosion. When materials or chemicals explode, the explosion displaces all the material around it. The debris often lands in a circular pattern around the site of the explosion, creating a crater.

Explosions can be natural or artificial. The explosion that creates a maar, for example, occurs naturally when water interacts with superhot magma from a volcano. Maars are a type of explosion crater as well as a volcanic crater.

Artificial explosions that form craters usually happen underground. The explosion pulverizes or vaporizes material underground, and the earth above sinks. Craters formed by underground explosions are called subsidence craters. (Craters formed by explosions at or near the surface of the Earth are simply called explosion craters.)

Drilling underground for oil and natural gas can lead to explosions and subsidence craters. Machinery can sometimes encounter a pocket of natural gas that is under extremely high pressure. When drilling machinery punctures the pocket of natural gas, the overlying rock layers may not be able to contain it. Like an enormous balloon, the gas pocket pops. As the gas is released in the explosion, a crater forms in the empty space.

A specific type of subsidence crater is formed by an underground nuclear explosion. Most nuclear testing is conducted in underground facilities. As the explosion displaces massive amounts of material, the earth above it sinks. In fact, subsidence craters caused by underground nuclear explosions are sometimes called sinks. The Nevada Test Site, in the remote deserts of the U.S. state of Nevada, is pockmarked with nuclear subsidence craters.

The debris in and around nuclear subsidence craters often comes into contact with radioactive material. For this reason, access to these sites is restricted.

Finding Craters

Photograph by NASA/JPL/MSSS

Bacteria Will SurviveYou Wont
The impact of a meteorite that would result in the creation of a Chicxulub-sized crater is something astronomers call an extinction-level event (ELE) or biotic crisis. Meteorites are just one possible cause of an ELE. ELEs have happened more than a dozen times in Earths history.

Extinction-level events actually have little effect on Earths biodiversity. Most life on Earth is microbial. Microbes, such as bacteria and algae, are not significantly affected by ELEs. Its only the larger life formstrees, dinosaurs, peoplethat face biotic crises.

Rampart Craters
Some craters on Mars hint that liquid water was probably present at some point in the planet's past. Rampart craters are a type of impact crater found only on Mars. Unlike craters on the moon, where debris, called ejecta, from the impact is spread out in neat lines, rampart craters show ejecta curving out in smooth, flowing lineslike a mudflow. Rampart craters look more like splashes than explosions.

Park History

Crater Lake National Park is a place where you can experience diverse wilderness in a setting of breathtaking beauty. More than 7,000 years ago, a fierce eruption shook the 12,000-foot-tall Mount Mazama, triggering the mountain's collapse. The area's Klamath tribes witnessed the volcano's eruption, and their histories include many stories about how Crater Lake and its features were created.

In the hundreds of years after the eruption, rainfall and snowfall filled the crater and formed the lake. No streams run into or out of the lake – its levels depend entirely on precipitation, evaporation, and seepage. At nearly 2,000 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. That depth, combined with the water’s purity, gives the lake its remarkable deep blue color.

On May 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the legislation that created the sixth national park in the United States, Crater Lake National Park. When you visit today, you can explore the fascinating volcanic features that date back to the lake’s formation.

Early Explorers

John Wesley Hillman, Henry Klippel, and Isaac Skeeters, were in search of the legendary "Lost Cabin" gold mine when they came upon the lake by accident on June 12, 1853. Hillman reported that this was the bluest lake he had ever seen, and Skeeters called it Deep Blue Lake. In 1862, Chauncy Nye and his party of prospectors also came upon the lake. Nye wrote the first published article about the lake, stating "the waters were of a deeply blue color causing us to name it Blue Lake".

The lake was later rediscovered on August 1,1865 by two hunters working with road crews from Fort Klamath. Sergeant Orsen Sterns and several others came to see the now-legendary lake. Sterns was the first non-Native American to climb down into the caldera and reach the shore of Crater Lake. Captain F.B. Sprague soon joined him and suggested the name "Lake Majesty." In July of 1869, newspaper editor Jim Sutton and several others were the first to lower a canvas boat into the lake. Despite the many other names for this lake, Jim Sutton finally named it "Crater Lake" for the crater on top of Wizard Island in his article describing his exploration inside the lake.

William Gladstone Steel is credited with the founding of Crater Lake National Park. He was fascinated with the enchanted beauty of Crater Lake when he first learned of it from a newspaper that was wrapped around his lunch when he was a school boy. His first glimpse of this exquisite beauty in 1885 inspired him to devote his life and fortune to set aside this scenery for all of us to enjoy. After 17 years of dedication and hard work, his dream came true when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill on May 22, 1902, to establish Crater Lake as the nation's sixth national park.

12 Things You Didn’t Know About Crater Lake National Park

Established on May 22, 1902, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is a natural wonder born out of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. Crowning the Cascade Mountain Range, the park contains vibrant forests, bountiful wildlife and an awe-inspiring blue lake worthy of its nickname “lake majesty.” Its geologic history spans back thousands of years and inspires visitors today as they swim, snowshoe, ski, hike and cycle through the mountainous terrain. With countless other activities and thousands of acres to explore, adventure is endless at Crater Lake.

To celebrate the incredible natural landscape of our nation’s 6th national park, check out 12 things you might not know about Crater Lake.

1. The blue beauty of Crater Lake extends beyond its depth. At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. Famous for its beautiful blue color, the lake’s water comes directly from snow or rain -- there are no inlets from other water sources. This means no sediment or mineral deposits are carried into the lake, helping it maintain its rich color and making it one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the world. Visitors can swim at designated areas, but beware -- the water is usually very cold!

The water of Crater Lake is a deep, gorgeous blue. Photo by Vince Warren (

2. With an annual average of 43 feet of snow, Crater Lake is one of the snowiest places in United States. That’s equivalent to 1.4 inches of snow every day for a year! The park’s official winter season lasts from November to April, but visitors are advised that snow may linger into May and June. While parts of the park close for winter weather, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun in the snow -- from snowshoeing with a park ranger to cross-country skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. If you’d rather experience the winter season from the warm comfort of the indoors, check out the Steel Visitor Center or catch partial views of the lake from the observation room at Rim Village.

A heavy winter snow at Crater Lake National Park. Photo by David Grimes, National Park Service.

3. Crater Lake was formed by the fall of a volcano. Mount Mazama, a 12,000-foot-tall volcano, erupted and collapsed approximately 7,700 years ago, forming Crater Lake. Mount Mazama was an important symbol to the native Makalak people who lived in the surrounding areas. Makalak legend explains that the fall of the mountain was caused by a brutal battle between the spirit of the sky and the spirit of the mountain. The destructive eruption signaled the end of the battle, but many natives mourned the loss of the sacred volcano. As you explore Crater Lake, take time to remember its sacred history.

The landscape of Crater Lake reveals is volcanic past. Photo by Sherry Levasseur (

4. The drive around Rim Road features more than 30 scenic pullouts. At Pinnacles Overlook, visitors can see volcanic ash frozen into 100-foot-tall solid rock formations. Stopping at Videa Falls provides a view of a cascading waterfall and is one of the best places to observe some of the park’s plant life. For a unique spot bursting with color, stop at Pumice Castle Overlook. Over time, an orange layer of pumice eroded into the shape of a castle -- a magnificently royal occurrence. Or visitors can step back in time at Discovery Point and imagine themselves in the boots of John Hillman, the first pioneer to see Crater Lake. With so many wonders along the way, the 33-mile drive around Rim Road can be an all-day sightseeing trip!

A scenic overlook offers an amazing view of Wizard Island. Photo by National Park Service.

5. The unique tree life gives the park color. Crater Lake National Park is home to some amazing old growth forest ecosystems. The park has four forest zones to explore -- ponderosa pine forest, lodgepole pine forest, mountain hemlocks zone and whitebark pines zone -- each one named after its dominant tree species. Make sure to enjoy these natural beauties as you hike or snowshoe through the landscape.

Trees growing near Crater Lake. Photo by Hubbard Jones (

6. Enjoy some outstanding wildlife viewing. With many different mammals, amphibians, fish and birds, Crater Lake is home to plenty of wildlife. Deer, squirrels and birds are most common, but visitors exploring the forests and trails might encounter elk and bobcats. If you are lucky enough to see these amazing creatures, always remain a safe distance away and never feed wildlife.

Pika are small and cute. Photo by National Park Service.

7. While exploring the park, don’t forget to look up. Crater Lake’s elevation offers stunning views across the lake and up above. The warm glow of the sunrise fills Crater Lake in the early mornings with colors reflecting off the water and snow. Sunsets in the park are just as spectacular. At night, Crater Lake’s skies turn into some of the darkest in America. On clear, moonless nights, starscapes illuminate the park, and visitors can see satellites, planets and the arms of the Milky Way.

The Milky Way glows in the night sky above Crater Lake. Photo by Sriram Murali (

8. Crater Lake is a great place to test your cycling skills. The hilly landscape requires extreme endurance and plenty of training prior to participation. But don’t worry -- the breathtaking nature around you will still be there to admire at your leisure when the ride is over. Rim Road goes vehicle-free two days a year for the Ride the Rim event. Bicyclists from across the country take part in this ride to enjoy the scenic roadway.

Cycling around Crater Lake is fun! Photo by National Park Service.

9. Crater Lake is the only place in the world to find the Mazama newt. This subspecies of rough-skinned newt, also called the Crater Lake Newt, is native to the lake. Threatened by invasive species, scientists are trying to combat non-native crayfish and preserve the existence of these unique newts. Usually found hiding under rocks or logs, lucky visitors may spot one of these rare creatures around the edge of the lake.

A park ranger releases Mazama newts at Crater Lake. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Monroe, Freshwaters Illustrated.

10. Fire is essential to Crater Lake’s plant life. The summer fire season at Crater Lake can scorch thousands of acres of land. However, this natural occurrence has proven to have positive impacts on the ecosystem. Many plants have adapted to survive fires and thrive in their aftermath from restored nutrients in the soil. While essential to the ecosystem, wildfires can be dangerous for visitors. Always follow fire safety tips when venturing out during fire season!

Flames and firefighters in Crater Lake National Park. Photo by National Park Service.

11. Eerie islands rise out of the lake. Wizard Island is the largest in Crater Lake. The remains of a volcanic cinder cone, it rises more than 750 feet about the surface of the lake. Visitors in the summer can take a boat tour out to explore Wizard Island and hike to the its summit. Phantom Ship Island is anchored just off the lakeshore and is off the radar of most visitors. Though it resembles a small sailboat, the island is as tall as a 16-story building. It’s made of erosion-resistant lava, and at 400,000 years old, it’s the oldest exposed rock within the caldera. Visitors can get a great view of the island by driving to at Phantom Ship Overlook or by hiking to Sun Notch.

Phantom Ship Island in the calm waters of the lake. Photo by Bachir Badaoui (

12. Where the water goes, no one knows! Because Crater Lake has no outlets leading to other water sources, the changing water level of the lake presents an interesting scientific question. Precipitation rates are more than twice the evaporation rates, so there is a lot of water that seemingly goes unaccounted for. Scientists have discovered that steady seepage is what maintains the water balance. Water seeps out of the caldera’s walls at a rate of about 2 million gallons of water an hour! The mystery scientists are still studying is where all of that water goes -- no paths, springs or other water sources have been found to carry the same water as the lake. With complex dynamics, Crater Lake’s water level will remain a subject of wonder and study for years to come.

Another gorgeous moment at Crater Lake National Park. Photo by Greg Nyquist (


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Geology and History Summary for Mount Mazama and Crater Lake

Mount Mazama is one of the major volcanoes of the Cascades Arc. Crater Lake is located within the collapsed caldera of Mount Mazama on the crest of the Cascade Range in southern Oregon about 90 km (55 mi) north of the city of Klamath Falls and about 100 km (60 mi) northeast of Medford. This volcano formed at the intersection of the Cascade chain of volcanoes with the Klamath graben, a north-northwest low-lying basin that is surrounded by tectonic faults, and is bounded to the east by the Basin and Range province. The geology of the area was first described in detail by Diller and Patton (1902) and later by Williams (1942), whose vivid account led to international recognition of Crater Lake as the classic collapse caldera.

Mount Mazama began erupting relatively continuously 420,000 years ago as a complex of overlapping shields and stratovolcanoes, each of which probably was active for up to 70,000 years. The massive volcano erupted violently 7,700 years ago, accompanied by collapse of the entire upper half of the edifice. Prior to its climactic eruption Mount Mazama had a summit elevation of about 3,700 m (12,000 ft). The present high point is Mount Scott at 2,721 m (8929 ft), 3 km (about 2 mi) east of the caldera rim. Today, the caldera rim ranges in elevation from approximately 2,040 m (6,700 ft) to 2,484 m (8,150 ft), with maximum relief of about 600 m (2000 ft) above the surface of Crater Lake, virtually equal to maximum water depth. Surviving flanks of Mount Mazama consist of lava that slopes gently away from the caldera rim, incised by deep glacial valleys that are partially filled with pyroclastic-flow deposits of the climactic eruption. All but the steepest slopes are covered with deposits of the climactic eruption.

In the area surrounding Mount Mazama, regional volcanism has been active throughout at least the last 700,000 years, but continuity of regional activity prior to approximately 200 ka is uncertain. Several regional volcanoes, some of them large shields, were active during the interval from about 200 to 100 ka. There was comparatively little regional volcanism between about 100 to 40 ka. However, after 40,000 years, during the growth of the climactic magma chamber, large amounts of basalt to basaltic andesite lavas were erupted from several vents west of Mazama this suggests that abundant magma from deep within the earth was moving into the crust around Mount Mazama at this time.

Crater Lake is the remnant of Mount Mazama, which erupted catastrophically 7,700 years ago to form the caldera. Wizard Island in lake and Mount Scott is peak on right shore. View from south. (Credit: Doukas, Mike. Public domain.)

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