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Photo # NH 103112:  USS Housatonic in port, 1919

U.S. NAVY TEMPORARY AUXILIARY SHIPS, 1917-1919

WORLD WAR I ERA TRANSPORTS --
Converted Minelayers (Former Southern Pacific Steamship Company Vessels)

In early 1919 four of the ten minelayers employed by the U.S. Navy during the laying of the North Sea Mine Barrage were converted for transport service. All had been built in 1899-1901 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for the Southern Pacific Steamship Company. Their designs were essentially identical, and similar to those of older ships that had entered the Navy in 1898. Some of the latter were still in service, as tenders, during the First World War, so caution should be used when attempting to identify views of individual ships.

This page features a table (with links to individual ships) of World War I era U.S. Navy transports converted from minelayers that had originally been built for the Southern Pacific Steamship Company, plus one photograph of each ship in this group.


Click the small photographs to prompt a larger view of the same image with a descriptive header.


Ships in this group:

FOUR SHIPS, all with flush main decks, long and low superstructures, two masts and single smokestack:

  • Canonicus, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. El Cid, 1899).
  • 4665 Gross Tons, Length 391.3', Beam 48.3', Comm. 2 Mar 18, Decom. 7 Aug 19, ID # 1696
  • Canandaigua, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. El Siglo, 1901).
  • 4616 Gross Tons, Length 391.7', Beam 48.3', Comm. 2 Mar 18, Decom. 22 Sep 19, ID # 1694
  • Housatonic, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. El Rio, 1899).
  • 4664 Gross Tons, Length 391.9', Beam 48.3', Comm. 25 Jan 18, Decom. 31 Jul 19, ID # 1697
  • Roanoke, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. El Dia, 1901).
  • 4616 Gross Tons, Length 391.7', Beam 48.3', Comm. 25 Jan 18, Decom. 30 Aug 19, ID # 1695

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     USS Canonicus, 1919:

     USS Canandaigua as a minelayer, 1918:

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     USS Housatonic, 1919:

     USS Roanoke, 1919:

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    The Navy's other six World War I minelayers, which differed significantly in appearance from the four covered on this page, were not employed as transports. However, as a matter of possible interest they are listed below:

    Two Ships, completed as cruisers in 1890 and converted to minelayers some years before World War I:

  • Baltimore (1890-1942, later CM-1)
  • San Francisco (1890-1939, later CM-2)

  • Two Ships, built as coastal passenger steamers in 1907 and converted to minelayers in 1917-1918:

  • Aroostook (1917-1943, later CM-3). Formerly S.S. Bunker Hill, 1907
  • Shawmut (1917-1965, later CM-4). Formerly S.S. Massachusetts, 1907

  • Two Ships, built as coastal passenger steamers in 1899 and converted to minelayers in 1917-1918:

  • Quinnebaug (1918-1919). Formerly S.S. Jefferson, 1899
  • Saranac (1918-1919). Formerly S.S. Hamilton, 1899


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