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USS Parris Island (AG-72) on 25 October 1944.
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Class: PARRIS ISLAND (AG-72)
Design: Navy PCE
Displacement (tons): 550 light, 850 trial
Dimensions (feet): 184.5' oa, 180.0' wl x 33.0' e x
Original Armament: 2-20mm
Later armaments: --
Complement: 98 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 15.7
Propulsion (HP): 1,800
Machinery: G.M. diesels, 2 screws
||28 Apr 44
||Willamette Iron & Steel
||29 Jan 43
||8 Jul 43
||30 Oct 44
||19 Jun 47
||1 Aug 47
||20 Jan 48
||19 Jan 48
FY 1942 (as PCE). This ship was one of many 180-foot PC's (later PCE's) whose construction was directed on 17 Jan 42. At this time the Navy was looking everywhere for vessels that could be pressed into escort service, and in March 1942 the commander of the U.S. Destroyer Base at San Diego proposed restoring the old four-piper destroyer TURNER (DD-259), which had been demilitarized in 1936 but retained as a non-self-propelled water barge, YW-36. In forwarding this proposal the Commandant, 11th Naval District, noted that there was an extreme need for a water, cargo, and passenger ferry vessel to support the Fleet Training Base on San Clemente Island and proposed that this mission be assigned to the former destroyer. This ship was reclassified IX-98 and named MOOSEHEAD in February 1943 and entered service in April 1943 as a sonar training ship with the collateral mission of supporting San Clemente.
During the summer of 1943 MOOSEHEAD made three round trips a week to San Clemente and two service craft, YF-270 and YO-45, each made two, but the Navy wanted to use the former destroyer exclusively on training service and on 18 Aug 43 VCNO asked BuShips to study the feasibility of converting a PCE to a logistic support ship for San Clemente Island. She was to be capable of carrying 200 passengers, 58 tons of provisions and other cargo, and 27 tons of refrigerated cargo to the island three times a week, along with occasional cargoes of heavy equipment. The Bureau responded on 1 Oct 43 with three conversion designs, and CominCh approved one of these on 14 Oct 43. Com11 found this design inadequate, but on 20 Dec 43 CNO directed the Bureau to proceed with the PCE conversion. The Superintendent of Shipbuilding at Portland, Ore., was asked on 31 Dec to recommend a hull at Albina to be converted during construction. On 4 Jan 44 he recommended PCE-901, and the Bureau approved the selection on 10 Jan 44. PCE-901 was reclassified AG-72 and named PARRIS ISLAND on 28 Apr 44.
The conversion consisted of moving the superstructure aft, installing cargo handling booms forward and aft, installing refrigerated machinery, and providing holds for 27 tons of refrigerated cargo (between frames 23 and 32, with vegetable storage to port and meat to starboard) and 58 tons of dry cargo. All armament except 2-20mm guns was removed, echo ranging gear was deleted, radio and fathometer were retained, but no radar or IFF was authorized.
PCE-901 had been laid down in January 1943 at Portland, Oregon, and launched that July. Her completion following conversion was initially estimated as mid-September 1944, but a San Clemente support ship was needed long before then and on 30 Jan 44 the new but unconverted PCE-873 was temporarily assigned to this duty. This vessel operated as a sonar training ship and occasional San Clemente resupply vessel until 30 Oct 44, when she began conversion to PCEC-873. On 6 Oct 44 CNO specified that AG-72 was to be placed in service, not in commission. The ship was completed, accepted, and placed in service on 30 Oct 44 and reported to the 11th Naval District on 26 Nov 44 after shakedown.
PARRIS ISLAND was earmarked for disposal on 21 Sep 45 but was given a reprieve and reassigned back to the 11th Naval District on 4 Mar 46. She was definitively designated for disposal on 21 May 47 and was decommissioned and delivered to the Maritime Commission at San Diego. The ship was sold into merchant service in January 1948 to a Honduran fruit transportation firm and finally met her end in the early 1990s in a backwater near Norfolk, Va.
||Ex PCE-901 28 Apr 44. Sold (delivered) by MC to Suwannee Fruit and Steamship Co., Jacksonville, Fla. Merc. PARRIS ISLAND 1948 (converted to cargo ship, 550 grt, probably Honduran registry). Hulk sank in the Elizabeth River, Virginia, 8 Aug 89, scrapped in situ late 1996.
Compiled: 07 Sep 2009
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009