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USS Catlin (AP-19) at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in March 1941
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Class: CATLIN (AP-19)
Design: Pass. & Cargo, 1908
Displacement (tons): 10,210 light, 37,000 full
Dimensions (feet): 722.5' oa, 700' wl x 78.2' x 33'
Original Armament: 1-6"/45 Mk. VII, 1-12pdr (British, 1942)
Later armaments: --
Speed (kts.): 11
Propulsion (HP): 21,000
Machinery: Quadruple expansion, 2 screws
||28 Jan 41
||7 Nov 08
||13 Mar 41
||26 Sep 41
||29 Sep 41
||29 Sep 41
||9 Feb 51
FY 1941. This ship began life in 1908 as the German transatlantic passenger liner GEORGE WASHINGTON. When new she was the third largest in the world and the largest built so far in Germany. Her designed speed was 18 knots, her owners preferring to emphasize comfort and capacity over speed. She took refuge at New York upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and was seized by the U.S. in 1917 and returned to service as the Navy troopship GEORGE WASHINGTON. She carried President Wilson on two round trips to Europe between December 1918 and July 1919 to participate in World War I peace negotiations. Briefly in Army custody in late 1919, she was then reconditioned by the Shipping Board and sailed as part of the American merchant marine from 1921 until 1931 when she was laid up in reserve at Solomons, Md. with three other ex-German ships, including the somewhat similar AMERICA (see APL-1).
Probably in December 1940 the Maritime Commission offered to transfer the ship to the Navy at no cost, probably as part of a MC effort to close the Solomons reserve fleet. The ship was towed out of Solomons on 1 Jan 41. On 17 Jan 41 SecNav formally asked the MC to transfer the ship and also directed BuShips to make the necessary arrangements. The vessel was transferred to the Navy at Newport News on 28 Jan 41. She was renamed CATLIN, honoring a Marine Corps general, on 27 Feb 41. On 6 Mar 41 she was moved to the Norfolk Navy Yard and placed in reduced commission there. She departed Norfolk on 12 Mar 41 under tow by USS KEWAYDIN (AT-24) and ALLEGHENY (AT-19), and on 13 Mar 41 she arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for conversion and was placed in commission in ordinary there. As a coal burner capable of only eleven knots she proved unsatisfactory for naval service and the conversion, apparently planned for the period 15 Mar-15 Jul 41, was indefinitely postponed.
In April 1941 the Navy received a British Lend Lease requisition for the GEORGE WASHINGTON and on 23 May 41 the ship was transferred to British ownership. The Maritime Commission then received a requisition for her conversion to a troopship, which was accomplished at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where the ship remained in commission with U.S. personnel on board until 26 Sep 41. Alterations included the fitting of a British armament of one 6" B.L. gun Mk. VII and one 12 pdr. Q.F. HA/LA gun Mk. V A, along with a few machine guns and British type paravanes. On 29 Sep 41 she was returned to the MC and simultaneously transferred to the British. Employment of the ship as a troop transport proved unsatisfactory and the British returned her to WSA (MC) ownership on 17 Apr 42 at New York. She made a civilian voyage to Panama in May 1942 and was then assigned to the Army. Under a June 1942 WSA contract she was converted to oil fuel and otherwise upgraded at New York between 6 Sep 42 and 17 Apr 43, on which date she was transferred to the Army. USAT GEORGE WASHINGTON was then actively employed until being placed in the MC reserve fleet at Hawkins Point, Baltimore on 21 Apr 47. She was gutted by fire there on 16 Jan 51 and was sold for scrap a few weeks later.
||Ex merc. and USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (ID-3018), ex German GEORGE WASHINGTON 1917 (completed 2 Jun 09). Lend Lease to UK 29 Sep 41, to MC 17 Apr 42, and to Army 17 Apr 43. Merc. GEORGE WASHINGTON 1947 (MC). To buyer 13 Feb 51, scrapped by 25 Jun 52
Compiled: 27 Feb 2009
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009