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USAT Eli D. Hoyle, ex Redwood, during World War II
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Class:        MENDOCINO (AK-39)
Design:        Cargo, Wood, 1917
Displacement (tons):        1,793 gross, 1,500 dwt.
Dimensions (feet):        235.0' oa x 41.7' x 19.6' load
Original Armament:        4-3"/50 (1941: planned)
Later armaments:        --
Complement:        60
Speed (kts.):        9
Propulsion (HP):        1,000
Machinery:        Reciprocating, 2 screws.

AK Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
39 MENDOCINO -- Pacific American Fisheries 20 Jun 16 22 Jan 17 --

AK Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
39 MENDOCINO -- -- 30 Mar 42 Canc. 28 Jun 45

Class Notes:
No FY assigned. REDWOOD was the first of five similar wooden-hulled cargo and passenger ships built by Pacific-American Fisheries in 1916-1918, the others being FIRWOOD, ROSEWOOD, HOLLYWOOD, and OAKWOOD. After building the somewhat larger CATHERINE D (which became the Navy's TATOOSH (YAG-1) in World War II), this yard builder built seven wooden freighters to a design, EFC design 1065, that it developed for the World War I emergency shipbuilding effort. REDWOOD could carry 120 passengers in comfortable quarters (with probably additional steerage passengers) as well as 66,000 cases of canned salmon. She was used by her builder for fisheries work until sold to a trading company in 1935-37. The Army purchased her on 17 Feb 41 to replace S.S. KVICHACK, which had been lost on Sisters Rock, British Columbia.

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, these hull numbers were officially listed as "not used," and the ships remained under Army control.

The Navy name MENDOCINO was assigned on 5 Jun 41 in the same letter as the Navy names for AP 22-23 because there was another ship named REDWOOD under Navy control (in the Coast Guard). In August or September the Army replaced the civilian name of REDWOOD with an Army name, ELI D. HOYLE. On 29 Sep 41 CNO recommended cancelling the Navy name MENDOCINO because the new Army name made the change unnecessary, an action that was taken on 15 Oct 41. If acquired after this date, the ship would have become USS ELI D. HOYLE. The Army used her to carry military cargo from Seattle to various installations in southeast Alaska, the northernmost being Skagway.

Ship Notes:
AK Name Notes
39 MENDOCINO USAT REDWOOD, ex merc. REDWOOD 17 Feb 41 (completed April 1917). USAT ELI D. HOYLE (mid-1941). From Army to MC and simultaneously to Newtex SS Co. as ELI D. HOYLE 28 Jun 45, renamed REDWOOD, sold to Peruvian firm 7 Dec 45. Burned at Callao, Peru, 8 Sep 46.

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