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USS Markab (AD-21) circa 1943
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Class: MARKAB (AD-21)
MC C3-Cargo (Ingalls)
7,919 light, 14,800 lim.
492.4' oa, 465.0' pp x 69.75' e x 24.9' lim.
1-5"/51 4-3"/50 8-20mm (1942)
Later armaments: 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 8-20mmT (1952-55); 1-5"/38 4-3"/50 (1955-56);
Machinery: G.E. turbine, 1 screw
||2 Jun 41
||Ingalls SB, Pascagoula
||26 Dec 39
||21 Dec 40
||15 Jun 41
||19 Dec 69
||1 Sep 76
||3 Dec 76
||12 Apr 77
FY 1941. Called C3-Cargo by MC. In March 1939 the MC ordered from Ingalls four C3-type freighters designed by George G. Sharp of New York that inaugurated construction at the firm's new deep water shipyard at Pascagoula, Miss. The first of these vessels, which was also the first all-welded rivetless dry-cargo ship built in the U.S., became AV-9, while two others became MARKAB (AD-21) and LYON (AP-71) and one became a WSA transport. These ships were probably similar to the C3-S-A2 type ships later built in quantity by both Ingalls and Western Pipe (see the APA-33 class).
On 15 Jan 41 the Secretary of the Navy approved the acquisition of two destroyer tenders of the Maritime Commission C3 type but the Maritime Commission resisted supplying these and a list of other ships requested by the Navy. On 26 May the President intervened in the dispute and directed the Maritime Commission to turn over to the Navy 19 ships including 12 cargo ships of 15 knot speed. The President's directive added two ships to the ten AKs requested by the Navy, possibly to provide hulls for the two ADs. Nine of the units, AK 23-31 were to be turned over immediately, the other three eventually followed as AK 41-43.
MARKAB (ex MORMACPENN) was delivered by her builder directly to the Charleston Navy Yard on 2 Jun 41 for conversion to a Navy cargo ship. Her conversion to AK-31, completed on 8 Jul 41, was extremely austere, consisting primarily of providing additional water, accommodations, and boats or rafts for a larger Navy crew, signaling equipment, and foundations for around 8-.30cal. machine guns. Her armament as an AK consisted of machine guns only. She and HAMUL (AK-30) were assigned duty as AKs attached to combat loaded transport divisions. As such in July 1941 MARKAB received additional boats and facilities to hoist them--by September she carried 13 36' Higgins landing boats (9 with Hall Scott gasoline engines and 5 diesel) and 2 45' Higgins tank lighters. Other improvements were deferred, however, because on 14 Jul 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board, noting that the MC still had not supplied the requested ADs, earmarked AK 30-31, both C3s, for eventual conversion to ADs. The Board's plan in July was for AK 30-31 to remain AKs until relieved by BELLATRIX and ELECTRA (AK 20-21), but on 5 Nov 41 it noted that the latter ships had been delayed and that the first of the two conversions would have to begin without waiting for them if both ADs were to be completed, as initially desired, by 1 Jul 42.
MARKAB arrived at the Alabama DD & SB Co. yard on 8 Jan 42 for conversion to AD-21 under a Navy repair and alteration contract, was placed in commission in ordinary on 24 Jan 42. The design agent for the conversion was George G. Sharp of New York. Structural changes included a new upper deck, new boat deck, new first and third platforms, new watertight bulkheads, and removal of some kingposts. MARKAB was again placed in full commission on 27 Sep 42 and left the yard on 7 Oct 42 for a few days of additional work at New Orleans followed by a transit to the Pacific. Although the conversion--initially scheduled for completion on 1 Jul 42--was nominally completed on 6 Oct 42, much work remained incomplete or unsatisfactory when the ship sailed and had to be completed by ship's company. The problems were ascribed by the Naval Inspector General to, among other things, the fact that Alabama had never undertaken a conversion job of this magnitude and was ill equipped and organized to undertake it. Both the yard and the Navy evidently learned from the experience, as Alabama went on to become one of the Navy's more important conversion yards for the rest of the war.
||Ex merc. MORMACPENN, ex SEA SWALLOW. Converted to AK-31 at NYd Charleston (S.C.). To AD-21 14 Mar 42 and converted by Alabama DD & SB, Mobile, Ala. In USN reserve 1946-51 (in service in reserve at Orange, Tex.) and 1956-60. To AR-23 15 Apr 60. In service in reserve 19 Dec 69, replaced PELIAS (AS-13) as accomodation ship at Mare Island 12 Jun 70. To NDRF 3 Dec 76, to buyer 3 May 77.
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2001