SHIP NOTES: (Sources: 2, 8)
Name: AEOLUS (ARC-3)/
Type: cable repair ship/attack cargo ship
Date Sunk: July 1988 Cause: Sunk as an artificial reef
Date Launched: 6/18/1945 (as Turandot AKA-47) recommissioned as Aeolus in May 1955 Armament: (1) 5"/38 DP gun mount, (8) 40mm, (10) 20mm
Size (ft.): 426 x 58 x 17 Tonnage: 4,087 (lt)/7,080 (fl); troop capacity of 264 as AKA-47
Propulsion: two turbo-electric engines, twin shafts, 6,000shp; speed 16.9 knots Location N34°16.685’/ W76°38.659’

SHIP HISTORY: (Sources: 2, 8)
Aeolus on patrol (6)
Turandot (AKA-47) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1908) on 29 March 1945 by the Walsh-Kaiser Co., Inc., Providence, R.I.; launched on 20 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Charles H. MacLeod; and commissioned on 18 June 1945, Lt. Comdr. Francklyn W. C. Swicker, USNR, in command.

Following fitting out and conversion at the Boston Navy Yard, Turandot. made her shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay in July 1945. After undergoing availability at Norfolk, the new attack cargo ship took on passengers and cargo; then departed Hampton Roads on 24 July, bound for the Canal Zone. She transited the Panama Canal on 30 July and, early the next day, rendezvoused with Barbero (SS-317) for exercises en route to the Hawaiian Islands. On 10 August, she parted company with the submarine and made her way independently to Oahu, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 14 August 1945.

After discharging her cargo, she embarked 172 Army troops and departed the Hawaiian Islands on 7 September, setting her course for the New Hebrides. She arrived at Espiritu Santo on the 17th, discharged her passengers, loaded cargo, and embarked elements of the 85th Construction Battalion.
Aeolus/Turandot patches and ribbons (19,8)
Aeolus bow cable machinary (19)
On 22 September, she got underway for the Marshalls. After fueling at Eniwetok, she continued on and arrived at Wake Island on 6 October. The following day, she discharged her cargo and passengers and returned to Eniwetok to begin "Magic-Carpet" duties, carrying troops back to the United States. She embarked more than 600 veterans, then got underway on 13 October and steamed via a great circle route to California. On Friday, 26 October, she entered San Pedro Harbor and disembarked her happy passengers. After voyage repairs at Terminal Island, she again got underway on 3 November, steaming for the Marianas. On the 19th, Turandot arrived at Saipan where she took on board more than a thousand returning troops. The attack transport departed Saipan on the 27th and completed the crossing at San Pedro on 12 December.

Repairs occupied most of the remainder of the month, Turandot opened the new year with a voyage to San Diego; then, on the 24th, continued southward to the Panama Canal and into the Atlantic. On 5 February, she arrived at Hampton Roads where she was decommissioned on 21 March 1946. Turandot was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal on 25 June 1946, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 17 April 1947.

On 4 November 1954, Turandot, was reacquired by the Navy for conversion to a cable repair ship. Modified for her new sion at Baltimore, Md., by the Bethlehem Steel Co., she was renamed Aeolus and redesignated ARC-3 on 17 March 1955. Aeolus was placed in commission at Baltimore on 14 May 1955, Comdr. Merrill M. Sanford in command

The ship spent almost a year operating along the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies, first completing her shakedown cruise and, later, engaging in cable and survey duty. On 27 February 1956, she stood out of Norfolk on her way to an extended tour of duty in the Pacific Ocean. Aeolus transited the Panama Canal on 3 March and commenced three years of operations based at San Francisco, Calif. She concluded that assignment on 2 March 1959 when she got underway from San Francisco to return to the Atlantic. Steaming by way of the Panama Canal and Norfolk, Aeolus arrived in Portsmouth, N.H., her new home port, late in March 1959.

Over the next three years, the cable repair ship operated from Portsmouth performing work along the east coast and in the West Indies. In June 1962, she voyaged to the Pacific once more for what was to have been a three-month temporary assignment out of San Francisco. Unforeseen events, however, extended her stay until December. In September when she first set out on the voyage home, Aeolus suffered damage in a collision with a merchant oil tanker. By late October, she completed repairs to that damage and headed for the Panama Canal again only to be recalled to perform some emergency cable work. Finally, after a six-hour stop at San Francisco for provisions, the ship embarked upon the voyage back to Portsmouth on 11 December. After celebrating Christmas 1962 at sea in the Atlantic, she moored to pierside at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard on 28 December.
Aeolus (8)
Aeolus (8)
Following six weeks of leave and upkeep, Aeolus moved to the Boston Naval Shipyard in mid-February for regular overhaul. Completing repairs and post-overhaul shakedown training by the end of the first week in June, she resumed operations from Portsmouth that occupied her time until the summer of 1965. At that time, she returned to the Pacific Ocean for a temporary assignment in the Aleutian Islands of several months duration. The cable repair ship arrived back in Portsmouth, N.H., in November of 1965 and resumed operations in the Atlantic Ocean. That employment lasted almost a year and included port visits to Rota, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal, in August of 1966. Between October and December of 1966, Aeolus carried out another temporary assignment in the Pacific while 1967 brought duty limited to the northern Atlantic. In May of 1968, the ship passed through the Panama Canal again for special operations in the Pacific Ocean. That duty took up the remainder of 1968. Aeolus arrived back in Portsmouth, N.H., on 12 January 1969.

The cable repair ship's commissioned service continued for almost five more years and included another visit to European waters during the summer of 1973. She returned to Portsmouth, N.H., from that voyage on 21 September 1973 and began preparations for her transfer to the Military Sealift Command (MSC). On 1 October 1973, Aeolus was decommissioned and turned over to MSC to be operated by a civil service crew. She continued to serve actively as USNS Aeolus until May of 1985 at which time she was laid up with the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet at its James River (Va.) facility.

Diving Depths: 90-110 ft.
Current: slight to moderate
Visibility: Generally 40-70 feet
Summer Temperature: mid to high 70s
Points of Interest: large pieces of ship torn apart; intact stern; intact bow; a couple of swim thru sections
Fish/Animal Life: The Aeolus has many of the same fish that inhabit the U-352 and wrecks in the vicinity. Its vertical structure provides good habitat for schooling open ocean fish like barracuda and amberhacks.
Description: (Updated 07/31/2023) When first sunk in 1988, the Aeolus laid intact on its starboard side, much like the Yancey (on its port). The bottom of the wreck was at 105 to 110 feet. On a day of reasonable viz, the bright white sides of the Aeolus came up to 50-60 ft and could be easily seen by dive boats as they approached the site. Eventually over time, the wreck settled in the bottom to where the sides were at 70-75 feet. Being intact, the wreck was easy to navigate, but its large size made circumnavigation a "concentrated" effort. The ship "darkened" over the years as marine growth covered the wreck, but the numerous doors and passageways still offered enticing exploration and interest to many divers. It's intact nature made it popular to many divers because "it looked like a ship".
This all changed in 1996 with the arrival of Hurricane Fran. In an amazing testimony of the power of wind and ocean, the storm took the 446 ft ship which had been sitting in intact, in over 100 feet of water , buried 20+ feet into the sand and started rocking it in the swell. The rocking continued until the entire ship had been torn into 3 major pieces and turned right side up and 90 degrees to where it previously lay. What was once an intact ship had been blasted apart.
Today, the Aeolus looks more typically like a NC wreck. It covers a large area and the parts are scattered, making seemingly no "functional" sense as they sit on the ocean bottom. Somewhat easy to get lost in reduced viz. However, if you do get a chance to see this wreck in good viz, you realize that there are three very large pieces that lay mostly in a line - the stern, sitting on its keep and mostly intact, a large mid section hull piece - laying over on its side, the bow - intact and laying on its starboard side. This pieces are connected by smaller, flatter debris fields and when the viz is good, their shadows can be seen from one to another. The "jump" from the stern to the mid-section seems to be the largest gap. Once this is recognized, it is very possible to swim the entire length of the wreck without too much difficulty.
There are a number of interesting rooms, hallways, nooks and crannies to explore on the Aeolus - BUT the given the deteriorating state of the wreck and hanging wires and pieces - all the very usual and important precautions and requirements apply. BE TRAINED, PREPARED & CAREFUL! The stern has several layers of decking and the bow has several large openings to tempt to shine a light into even without doing a full-blown penetration.
The stern section is where the "shark room" is located. The shark room is located beneath the main stern deck at the "broken off end" of the stern. In the past, this location was noted for the numbers of sandtiger sharks (plus other fish) that gathered inside to ride the currents running thru the holes in the hull and cable storage areas. The gathering of sharks in the shark room seems to have diminished to almost nothing in the past year (2022-23). There is no obvious reason, but I hope they do return as it made great photography and a fun place to observe the marine life.
The ledge of the shark room also provides a great viewpoint to gaze out over the remainder of the wreckage scattered below and into the distance. Its a pretty much a straight line swim from the shark room to the large section of the middle hull which dominates the far view. On a good viz day, you can often make out its shadow from the shark room. The Aeolus has always struck me as a "dark" wreck - probably mostly due to the shadows cast by the large hull pieces.
The Aeolus sits very close to the artificial reef wreck of the USCG Spar

2019 Aeolus Video Tour
2023 Aeolus Stern Video Tour
2014 Aeolus Bow & Midship Video Tour
Stern fantail still intact
One of the several "holes" and galley ways on the Aeolus
Down in the bowels of the stern
Room and galley ways on the stern section
The stern section of the Aeolus - from the starboard side
Divers moving across the top deck of the stern section
Down in the bowels of the stern
Looking at the broken off face of the stern
Stern now lies on its keel
Mechanical device?
Steering "quadrant" mechanism
Walkway near the stern
Deck of the stern
Ventilation unit?

Unless specifically noted, all photos, text and content Copyright © Paul M. Hudy

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