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Photo # NH 103197:  USS Suwanee in port, 1919

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

WORLD WAR I ERA TRANSPORTS --
Converted Freighters of Miscellaneous Types

Sixteen U.S. Navy's WWI era converted freighters transports were of notably different design than those listed on other pages, or cannot be typed on the basis of dimensions and photographs. Similar characteristics link one sub-grouping of three ships and another three subgroups containing one pair each. The remaining eight, among them five ex-German vessels, were apparently all "singletons".

Ten of the sixteen had initial Navy service as cargo ships before being converted to transports between late 1918 and the spring of 1919. The other seven were acquired following the end of fighting and only served in the transport role.

This page features a table (with links to individual ships) of World War I era U.S. Navy transports converted from freighters of miscellaneous types, plus a 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:

SIXTEEN SHIPS, of varying appearance and characteristics. mast, kingposts and smokestack arrangement, as well as deck line configuration and other details, are useful for identifying individual ships and sub-groupings. These vessels are listed below in order of length:


One ship, built by the Maryland Steel Company at Sparrows Point, Maryland, in 1903.
Built as S.S. Maine. Later acquired by the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company and renamed. Midships superstructure extends to the hull sides. Served as cargo ship and then as transport.
Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-M-F-M-M:

  • Virginian, USN 1919-1919 (ex-American S.S. Virginian, 1903).
  • 7914 Gross Tons, Length 492.0', Beam 58.3', Comm. 1 Feb 19, Decom. 19 Aug 19, ID # 3920

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     USS Virginian, 1919:

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    One ship, built by Bremer-Vulcan shipyard, Vegesack, Germany in 1913.
    Coding for this ship's arrangement is unusually complex, as her topsides are cluttered with a "forest" of tall kingposts, all also used as ventilators. USS Rappahannock (AF-6) was a near sister.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): K-M-K-KF-K-K-M-KS:

  • Suwanee, USN 1919-1919 (ex-German S.S. Mark, 1913).
  • 6579 Gross Tons, Length 471.1', Beam 59.2', Comm. 11 Apr 19, Decom. 4 Oct 19, ID # 1320

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     USS Suwanee, 1919:

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    One ship, built by the Neptun shipyard at Rostock, Germany in 1912.
    Split superstructure. Forward pair of kingposts are incorporated in the superstructure face.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-K-KF-M-K

  • Montpelier, USN 1919-1919 (ex-German S.S. Bochum, 1912).
  • 6161 Gross Tons, Length 460.0', Beam 58.0', Comm. 12 Mar 19, Decom. 8 Oct 19, ID # 1954

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     USS Montpelier, 1919:

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    Two ships, built by the Sun Shipbuilding Company at Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1918.
    These ships had flush-deck hulls, and a split midships superstructure. While in USN service, their port midships kingposts were extended to form a signal mast with the topmasts being shortened or omitted). Both served as cargo ships and then as transports.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-KF-M:

  • Radnor, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Radnor, 1918).
  • 7699 Gross Tons, Length 450', Beam 57.5', Comm. 13 May 18, Decom. 24 Oct 19, ID # 3023
  • Lancaster, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Lancaster, 1918).
  • 7699 Gross Tons, Length 450', Beam 57.5', Comm. 19 Jun 18, Decom. 4 Oct 19, ID # 2953

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     USS Lancaster, 1919:

     USS Radnor, 1919:

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    One ship, built by Blohm and Voss at Hamburg, Germany in 1907.
    This ship had a very long combined poop and midships island, separated by a short well from her raised forecastle.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-K-F-M:

  • Santa Elena, USN 1919-1919 (ex-German S.S. Santa Elena, 1907).
  • 7415 Gross Tons, Length 430.9', Beam 54.8', Comm. 26 Apr 19, Decom. 22 Aug 19, ID # 4052

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     USS Santa Elena, 1919:

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    One ship, built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Newport News, Virginia, in 1916.
    This ship had a flush main deck, with low bulwarks at the bow and amidships, plus four tall masts. She served as a cargo ship and then as a transport.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-M-F-M-M:

  • Edgar F. Luckenbach, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Edgar F. Luckenbach, 1916).
  • 7923 Gross Tons, Length 425.0', Beam 57.3', Comm. 11 Jul 18, Decom. 30 Oct 19, ID # 4597

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     USS Edgar F. Luckenbach, 1919:

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    Three ships, built by the Union Iron Works/Bethlehem Steel Company at San Francisco, California, in 1917-1918.
    These ships had a split superstructure amidships. All three served as cargo ships and then as transports. Notes:
    (1) As completed Liberator's masts were of kingpost height, but were raised by 1919, when she served as a transport. A light signal mast was fitted aft of her smokestack, which was shorter and thinner than in Tiger and Peerless.
    (2) In USN service (but not when completed), Tiger had a light mast atop her pilothouse.
    (3) Both Tiger and Peerless had a large letter "S" on each side of her smokestack.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-KF-M (see Notes (1) and (2) above):

  • Liberator, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Liberator, 1918).
  • 7951 Gross Tons, Length 410.0', Beam 56.0', Comm. 2 Jul 18, Decom. 4 Oct 19, ID # 3134
  • Peerless, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Eagle, 1917).
  • 6273 Gross Tons, Length 410.0', Beam 56.0', Comm. 8 Dec 18, Decom. 22 Sep 19, ID # 1639
  • Tiger, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Tiger, 1917).
  • 6273 Gross Tons, Length 410.0', Beam 56.0', Comm. 23 Dec 18, Decom. 23 Aug 19, ID # 1640

     USS Liberator, 1919:



     S.S. Eagle, later USS Peerless:

     USS Tiger, 1919:




    Two ships, built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Newport News, Virginia.
    As completed El Oriente appears to have also had a pair of kingposts just forward of the superstructure face. Both served as cargo ships and then as transports.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-F-M:

  • El Oriente, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. El Oriente, 1910).
  • 6008 Gross Tons, Length 405.6', Beam 53.1', Comm. 29 Jul 18, Decom. 15 Sep 19, ID # 4504
  • El Sol, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. El Sol, 1910).
  • 6008 Gross Tons, Length 405.6', Beam 53.1', Comm. 3 Aug 18, Decom. 18 Sep 19, ID # 4505
    Note: USS El Occidente had identical tonnage and dimensions to El Oriente and El Sol. Also built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in 1910, she served as a Navy cargo ship in 1918-1919, but was not employed as a transport.

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     USS El Oriente, 1919:

     USS El Sol, 1919:

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    Two ships, built by the Cramp Shipyard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1913 for operation by the W.R. Grace Steamship Company.
    The dimensions of Santa Clara and Santa Cecilia were identical to those of five other W.R. Grace ships presented in another page of this presentation, but had flush deck hulls with low bulwarks at the bow and amidships, and no kingposts. Santa Clara served as a cargo ship and then as a transport. A third sister, Santa Catalina, became the destroyer tender USS Black Hawk (AD-9).
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-F-M:

  • Santa Cecilia, USN 1919-1919 (ex-American S.S. Santa Cecilia, 1913).
  • 6462 Gross Tons, Length 404.6', Beam 53.9', Comm. 10 Mar 19, Decom. 6 Oct 19, ID # 4008
  • Santa Clara, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Santa Clara, 1913).
  • 6300 Gross Tons, Length 404.6', Beam 53.9', Comm. 12 Oct 18, Decom. 19 Aug 19, ID # 4523

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     S.S. Santa Cecilia:

     USS Santa Clara, 1919:

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    One ship, built by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, 1916.
    This ship had a very long midships island, with her masts located near its ends. Relatively short wells separated her island from the forecastle and poop. Served as a cargo ship and then as a transport.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-K-F-M:

  • Eurana, USN 1918-1919 (ex-American S.S. Eurana, 1916).
  • 5915 Gross Tons, Length 399.7', Beam 56.2', Comm. 13 Sep 18, Decom. 9 Oct 19, ID # 1594

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     USS Eurana, circa 1918-1919:

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    One ship, built by Bremer-Vulcan shipyard, Vegesack, Germany in 1912.
    Arrangement of kingposts, masts and smokestacks (funnels): M-F-M

  • Shoshone, USN 1919-1919 (ex-German S.S. Wasgenwald, 1912).
  • 4707 Gross Tons, Length 353.1', Beam 48.7', Comm. 18 Feb 19, Decom. 5 Aug 19, ID # 1760

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     S.S. Shoshone, circa 1919:

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