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USAT John R. R. Hannay on 23 August 1941
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Class:        JOHN R. R. HANNAY (AK-32)
Design:        EFC 1037
Displacement (tons):        13,130 full, 6,861 gross
Dimensions (feet):        411.5' oa, 395.5' pp x 55.0' mld. x 27' load
Original Armament:        2-5"/51 (1941: actual, both)
Later armaments:        --
Complement:        61
Speed (kts.):        11
Propulsion (HP):        2,500
Machinery:        Turbine, 1 screw

AK Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
32 JOHN R. R. HANNAY -- Federal SB & DD, Kearny 10 Sep 18 31 Mar 19 --
35 LIBERTY -- Federal SB & DD, Kearny 15 Nov 17 19 Jun 18 --

AK Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
32 JOHN R. R. HANNAY -- -- 30 Mar 42 Canc. 27 Mar 47
35 LIBERTY -- -- 30 Mar 42 Canc. --

Class Notes:
No FY assigned. These ships were among thirty freighters built by the Federal Shipbuilding Co, Kearny, N.J. to its own design (designated EFC Design 1037) as part of the World War I emergency shipbuilding program. Two other shipyards built 16 more ships to this design. LIBERTY was in transatlantic service until the Maritime Commission loaned her to the Army on 7 Dec 39; her sister was acquired by the Army from the MC on 5 Feb 41. The name CHAUNCEY B. BAKER was authorized for LIBERTY in 1940 but was never assigned to the vessel, probably because she haad been transferred on a loan basis.

Back in 1935 the Army and Navy had agreed that the Army would operate its own ships except where naval opposition was expected, in which case the ships would be Navy manned. However, experience in the first part of World War II indicated that naval opposition by the enemy, in the form of submarines, could be encountered anywhere. In April 1941 the CNO proposed to the Chief of Staff of the Army that a board review the issue. The Board recommended on 28 Apr 41 that the Army "surrender operation of its transport service for the term of the present emergency" following procedures that it enumerated, the first of which was that the Navy would commission the Army transports with Navy crews as soon as possible. (The Army used the term "transports" for all ships in the Army Transport Service, including cargo ships and other types.) On 14 May 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended the implementation of this plan, which then covered 26 Army ships, and on 22 May 41 the Secretary of War approved the transfer of the ships, noting that jurisdiction over each ship was to pass at the time it was manned by the Navy. On 5 Jun 41 the Secretary of the Navy approved names for the 26 ships, all but three of which (AP 21-22 and AK-39) retained their Army names. The hull numbers AP 20-36 (less 23), AK 32-40, and APL-1 (for the barracks ship in Newfoundland) were soon assigned to them.

The Navy soon decided that the nine Army cargo ships on this list were unsuitable for operations in hostile waters because of their age (all dated from World War I) and lost interest in manning them. On 11 Jun 41 the CNO informed major Navy commands that the commitment to man the nine cargo ships in August could not be met and that would be held in abeyance until the Bureau of Navigation could furnish Navy crews. The Navy manned, took over and commissioned AP 20-29 and 31-33 before the end of July but personnel shortages then greatly slowed down the process. In December 1941 the President suspended the obligation for the Navy to man Army ships. The Navy directive for manning AK 32-40 as well as two other low-interest vessels, AP-36 and APL-1, was definitively cancelled on 30 Mar 42 and their hull numbers were officially listed as "not used." AK-32 received 2-5"/51 on 16 Oct 41 at the New York Navy Yard and AK-35 is believed to have carried the same armament.

Ship Notes:
AK Name EFC Notes
32 JOHN R. R. HANNAY 1424 USAT JOHN R. R. HANNAY, ex merc. WAUKEGAN 5 Feb 41 (ID-4399, completed 14 May 19). From Army to WSA (NDRF) as WAUKEGAN 10 Aug 46. To buyer 21 Apr 47, scrapped by 19 Sep 47.
35 LIBERTY 955 USAT LIBERTY, ex merc. LIBERTY 7 Dec 39 (ID-3461, completed 5 Oct 18). Served in USN (NOTS) 1918-1919. Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 11 Jan 42 in the Lombok Strait, two holds were flooded but she remained afloat and two destroyers helped beach her at Tulamben, Bali. The wreck, pushed back into the sea by a volcanic eruption in 1963, is now a popular dive site.

Page Notes:
AK        1941
Compiled:        10 Jan 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010