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USS Orizaba (AP-24) on 17 November 1942
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Class: ORIZABA (AP-24)
Design: Pass. & Cargo, 1918
Displacement (tons): 7,078 light, 11,250 full
Dimensions (feet): 443.0' oa, 424.5' pp x 60.0' m x 23.9' mn
Original Armament: 2-5"/51 2-3"/23
Later armaments: 2-5"/51 4-3"/23 (1941);
2-5"/51 4-3"/50 8<12-20mm (1942)
Complement: 304 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 16.5
Propulsion (HP): 9,000
Machinery: Parsons geared turbines, 2 screws
||4 Jun 41
||William Cramp & Sons
||26 Feb 18
||15 Jun 41
||23 Apr 45
||20 Jul 53
||16 Jul 45
No FY assigned. The passenger and cargo ship ORIZABA and her sister ORIENTE (launched on 15 Aug 17 and renamed SIBONEY on 28 Feb 18) were under construction for the Ward Line by Cramp's, Philadelphia, when they were requisitioned by the U.S. Shipping Board in August 1917 along with all other ships then being built in U.S. shipyards. ORIZABA (ID-1536) and SIBONEY (ID-2999) were both operated as transatlantic transports by the Navy during World War I and were delivered to the Ward Line in 1920. After brief transatlantic service to Spain, both ships operated in New York-Cuba-Mexico service until 1939 (ORIZABA) and 1940 (SIBONEY). Briefly under charter to the United States Lines, ORIZABA was then purchased by the Army on 27 Feb 41 and, after one voyage, was converted to a troopship in April-May 1941 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Brooklyn, N.Y. The Army chartered SIBONEY on 28 May 41 and she remained in Army service throughout the war, becoming the hospital ship CHARLES A. STAFFORD in 1944.
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 manned, took over and commissioned AP 20-29 and 31-33 before the end of July, but was unable to man most of the others because of personnel shortages.
In March 1945 ORIZABA arrived at Tampa, Florida, from the Pacific. There she was decommissioned in April, reconditioned by the Tampa Shipbuilding Co., and transferred in mid-July to the Brazilian Navy. She ran trials off Tampa in early July 1945 and was transferred to Brazil later that month under the name Duque de Caxias
. After initial use as a transport she suffered a fire at sea in 1947, was then converted to a training ship, and made several seagoing training cruises between 1951 and 1956.
||Ex merc. ORIZABA (ID-1536, completed Jun 18). From Army. Converted by the Norfolk Navy Yard (completed 17 Jun 41). Lend-Lease (loan) to Brazilian Navy, incorporated 16 Jul 45 as DUQUE DE CAXIAS. Returned by and given to Brazil under grant aid (MDAP) 30 Jun 53. Stricken by Brazil 13 Apr 59, scrapped 1963.
Compiled: 27 Feb 2009
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009