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USS Kitty Hawk in late 1941 or early 1942
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Class: KITTY HAWK (APV-1)
Design: Rail car carrier, 1932
Displacement (tons): 6,861 light, 14,000 max load
Dimensions (feet): 478.0' oa, 460.5' wl/pp x 63.5' e x 22.8' max
Original Armament: 1-5"/51 4-3"/50
Later armaments: 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 8-20mm (1943); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 8-20mm (1944);
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 8-20mm (1945)
Complement: 218 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 16
Propulsion (HP): 8,000
Machinery: De Laval turbine, 1 screw
||25 Jun 41
||Sun SB & DD
||21 Feb 32
||14 Sep 32
||26 Nov 41
||2 Jul 41
||Sun SB & DD
||24 Feb 32
||26 Sep 32
||11 Dec 41
||24 Jan 46
||7 Feb 46
||24 Jan 46
||7 Mar 46
||12 Apr 46
||7 Mar 46
FY 1941. In 1932 two specially designed ships were built for the Seatrain Lines, a firm established three years earlier by Graham Brush with a single converted ship operating between New Orleans and Havana. Brush's concept, which quickly dominated its market, was to carry fully loaded railcars on a ship instead of tediously transferring cargoes between the ship and railcars at each end of the voyage. SEATRAIN NEW YORK and SEATRAIN HAVANA brought Seatrain's service to the New York-Havana route. The ships had four sets of track on the main and each of three lower decks and could carry 100 loaded freight cars at the rapid speed of 16.5 knots. The railcars were lifted aboard on cradles by a large shore-based gantry crane, lowered to one of the four cargo decks, and then winched into their stowage positions. The success on the two Havana routes caused Seatrain to build two somewhat larger ships in 1940, SEATRAIN NEW JERSEY and SEATRAIN TEXAS, for a new route between New York and Texas City, Texas.
In its prewar mobilization planning the Navy determined that these large ships would be of particular value in wartime for transporting fully assembled aircraft, and on 15 January 1941 the CNO directed and the Secretary of the Navy approved the acquisition of 17 auxiliaries, including 4 Aircraft Transports (APV). Two of these were to be of the SEATRAIN NEW JERSEY type and two were to be the large passenger steamers of the MANHATTAN class. (The idea of using large passenger liners as aircraft transports was abandoned later in 1941 after much discussion.) The two ships acquired under this directive were in fact the two units of the earlier SEATRAIN NEW YORK class.
APV 1-2 were acquired in mid-1941 and commissioned towards the end of the year after conversion. Alterations included the removal of structural stanchions throughout the length of the two upper hold levels to accommodate aircraft instead of railcars and their replacement by extra heavy deck beams, plus the addition of two aircraft handling cranes. They were first fitted with 4-3"/23 guns but had exchanged them for 4-3"/50's by mid-December 1941. The initial intention was that they would carry both aircraft and passengers and they were classified as Aircraft Transports (APV). Their messing facilities, however, limited the number of passengers that could be carried, and as the war progressed the tendency was to carry more general cargo with the aircraft. As a result both ships were reclassified as Cargo Ship and Aircraft Ferries (AKV) on 15 September 1943. These specialized ships were returned to Seatrain Lines after the war. They were retired when that firm shifted from railroad equipment transport to containerized transport in the late 1960s and were scrapped in 1973.
||Ex merc. SEATRAIN NEW YORK (completed Sep 32). Converted by Tietjen & Lang Dry Dock Co., Hoboken, New Jersey. To AKV-1 15 Sep 43. Merc. SEATRAIN NEW YORK 1946, scrapped 1973.
||Ex merc. SEATRAIN HAVANA (completed Oct 32). Converted by Tietjen & Lang Dry Dock Co., Hoboken, New Jersey. To AKV-1 15 Sep 43. Merc. SEATRAIN HAVANA 1946, SEATRAIN SAVANNAH 1951, scrapped 1973.
Compiled: 24 Aug 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008