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USS Bridge (AF-1) circa the 1930s
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Class: BRIDGE (AF-1)
Design Navy AF-1
Displacement (tons): 5,207 light, 8,500 normal
Dimensions (feet): 422.9' oa, 400.0' pp x 55.2' wl x 21.5' mx, 20.7' mn
Original Armament: 4-5"/50 1-3"/50
Later armaments: 4-5"/51 1-3"/50 (1924); 4-5"/51 2-3"/50 (1941);
2-5"/51 4-3"/50 1-1.1"Q 8-20mm (1942);
1-5"/38 4-3"/50 1-40mmT 8-20mm (1945)
Complement 207 (1929)
Speed (kts.): 14
Propulsion (HP): 4,000
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 2 screws
||19 Feb 14
||12 Jun 15
||18 May 16
||2 Jun 17
||27 Jun 46
||19 Jul 46
||22 Dec 47
FY 1914 (Act of 4 Mar 13). This ship was authorized as "Supply Ship No. 1" and her name was assigned on 2 May 16. On 7 Dec 08 the General Board forwarded a recommendation of the proportional number of non-military auxiliaries deemed necessary as compared to battleships and other military units of the fleet. These non-military auxiliaries were Fleet Colliers, Repair Ships, Ammunition Supply Ships, Supply Ships for Provisions and Clothing, Hospital Ships, Transports, and Distilling Ships. The cruise of the Great White Fleet showed that four fleet colliers were needed to support a fleet of 16 battleships. These battleships would be accompanied by eight armored cruisers, 16 scouts, and 64 destroyers, for which another six colliers would be needed. This force would also need two repair ships, two ammunition supply ships, two supply ships for food and clothing, two hospital ships, one distilling ship to support the fleet's destroyers, and two transports to carry landing battalions of Marines with advanced base outfits on annual fleet cruises.
The General Board forwarded characteristics for supply ships on 23 Dec 08, 22 Jun 10, and 15 Jan 13. The 1908 document focused on the main shortcomings of the three converted supply ships then in the fleet (CELTIC, CULGOA, and GLACIER), which had been designed as merchant ships to carry frozen meat from one port to another without opening their cold rooms during the voyage. In addition to their main refrigerated spaces, the new ship was to have smaller refrigerated spaces with stowage for frozen meat to be issued to the fleet in the near future. It was also to have cooled and ventilated compartments for fresh vegetables, eggs and similar provisions, plus accessible holds for provisions in boxes or packages. In 1910 the Board also specified that the ship was to carry clothing, ships stores, naval supply (GSK) stores, canteen stores, lubricating oil, fuel oil, inflammables like paint, ammunition, spare parts, and passengers. The 1913 characteristics, which were for a FY 1914 fleet supply ship to accompany 8 battleships, called for a 14 knot sustained speed and radius of 8,000 miles as in other new auxiliaries. The ship's armament was to be 4-5 guns similar to those installed in contemporary battleships, and she was to have twin screws housed to reduce danger from going alongside. Her cargo was to consist of provisions and stores for 8,000 men for 60 days including dry and wet provisions, fresh meat, and clothing and small stores. The ship was also to carry Naval Supply Fund (GSK) stores equivalent to 1.5 times the allowance of 1 battleship for 1 year, and a part of her cargo space, not additional, was to be fitted for the safe carriage of 500 tons of ammunition if necessary. Her refrigerating plant was to consist of two units, each of which was capable of maintaining the temperature of frozen meat compartments at 15 degrees F while in tropical waters. She was also to have chilled and ventilated spaces that would carry frozen meat for convenience in loading and unloading plus supplies of fresh vegetables and ice for issue to the fleet. In addition she was to have accommodations for officers and crew 25 percent in excess of her own complement.
During 1913 the Bureau of Construction and Repair produced a design for the ship based on the General Board characteristics of 15 Jan 13. On 14 Aug 13 the Bureau submitted to the Navy Department preliminary contract plans for the design, and on 27 Aug 13 the General Board noted that the plans contained all the characteristics recommended and approved but returned them to have the magazines relocated below the waterline. The General Board approved the revised plans on 16 Sep 13. Plans and specifications for this ship and Transport No. 1 were completed and circulars were signed on 4 Oct 13 for issue to bidders on request after 15 Oct 13. Bids for the two ships were opened on 20 Dec 13 with the low bidder for the supply ship being the Newport News S.B. & D.D. Co. for $1,315,000. The Boston Navy Yard, however, estimated that it could build the ship for $1,171,713, and it received the order in February 1914. The addition of 1-3"/50 AA gun on the centerline forward was authorized on 9 Apr 17.
Upon completion BRIDGE was assigned to duty supporting the fleet, and when U.S. battleships deployed to Scapa Flow she carried supplies including frozen meat to them from the United States. On 9 Jan 18 she was attached to the newly-created Naval Overseas Transportation Service, and she then made one more voyage in support of the fleet in British waters and one to France. On 1 Jul 18 she traded assignments with CELTIC and replaced that ship in Train, Atlantic Fleet, supporting fleet units along the east coast. By 1925 she was one of only two store ships active in the Fleet Train, where she operated in support of the Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic Fleet while ARCTIC (AF-7) supported the Battle Fleet in the Pacific. They were finally joined by a third AF when YUKON (AF-9) recommissioned in January 1940.
BRIDGE served in the Pacific throughout World War II. In February 1941 her 3/50 AA gun was moved from its unsatisfactory centerline position forward laterally to the starboard side and at the corresponding position on the port side a foundation was installed for a second 3 gun. This gun was installed in December 1941. The ship then underwent two more significant armament changes, one in July-August 1942 when the forward pair of 5/51 guns was removed and 2-3/50 and 1-1.1 quad mount were added, and one between December 1944 and February 1945 when the remaining two 5/51 guns aft were replaced by a 5/38 DP gun and the 1.1 quad was replaced by a twin 40mm mount. BRIDGE was ordered home for disposal on 2 Oct 45, but on 1 Nov 45 she struck a mine in the Tsushima Strait and was holed in the engine room. The ship was docked at Sasebo for repairs on 28 Nov 45, USS COASTERS HARBOR (AG-74) assisted ship's company in putting a temporary cofferdam patch over the hole, and BRIDGE undocked 21 Jan 46 with her engines restored to operational status. On 10 Feb 46, however, inspectors declared her unseaworthy because of the temporary nature of the hull patch and recommended that she be used as a station reefer while needed and then be decommissioned and disposed of as a ship at Sasebo. She was decommissioned and turned over to ComNavJap at Sasebo on 27 Jun 46 for disposal by the Office of the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner (OFLC). ComNavFe reported on 13 Nov 47 that there was no prospective sale and recommended that the ship return to the U.S. for disposal with a Japanese crew if OFLC sales efforts were not successful by 1 Jan 48. OFLC, however, sold the vessel on 22 Dec 47 to Madrigal & Co. of Manila and reported that the sale had been approved by Washington and that the customer was expected to take possession and move the vessel to Hong Kong. The ship reportedly departed, probably from Sasebo under tow, before the end of 1947.
||Damaged by mine in the Tsushima Strait 1 Nov 45. Sold by OFLC 22 Dec 47 to Madrigal & Co. of Manila, probably scrapped at Hong Kong.
Compiled: 28 Jul 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012