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USS American Legion (APA-17) at San Francisco on 6 April 1944
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        HARRIS (APA-2)
Design:        EFC 1029
Displacement (tons):        13,529 light, 21,900 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        535.2' oa, 534.0' pp x 72.0' e x 31.25' lim.
Original Armament:        1-5"/51 4-3"/23 (1941-42: APA 2-3, 12-14)
Later armaments:        1-5"/51 4-3"/50 (1941-42: APA 2-3, 12, 14, 17); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 8<16-20mm (1942-44: all); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 19-20mm (1944: APA-17);
4-3"/50 2-40mmT 10<18-20mm (1943-44: APA 2-3, 12-13, 16, 1943-44);
4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 10<20-20mm (1944-45: APA-14, 17);
4-3"/50 1-40mmQ 1-40mmT 10-20mmT (1945: APA-3);
4-3"/50 12-20mm (AG-90, 1945);
3-3"/50 12-20mm (AG-90, 1946)
Complement:        676 (1944)
Speed (kts.):        17.5
Propulsion (HP):        12,000
Machinery:        Curtis turbines (Westinghouse in APA-15 and 17), 2 screws

Construction:
APA Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
2 HARRIS 17 Jul 40 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. SY 15 Feb 19 19 Mar 21 5 Nov 41
3 ZEILIN 17 Jul 40 Newport News SB & DD 15 Jan 20 11 Dec 20 3 Jan 42
12 LEONARD WOOD 3 Jun 41 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. SY 29 Jul 20 17 Sep 21 10 Jun 41
13 JOSEPH T. DICKMAN 27 May 41 New York SB 20 Jul 20 6 Jul 21 10 Jun 41
14 HUNTER LIGGETT 27 May 41 Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. SY 21 Feb 19 4 Jun 21 9 Jun 41
15 HENRY T. ALLEN 6 Dec 41 New York SB 15 Jun 18 24 May 19 22 Apr 42
16 J. FRANKLIN BELL 26 Dec 41 New York SB 13 May 19 15 May 20 2 Apr 42
17 AMERICAN LEGION 26 Aug 41 New York SB 21 Jan 19 11 Oct 19 26 Aug 41

Disposition:
APA Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
2 HARRIS 16 Apr 46 19 Jul 46 3 Jul 46 MC/D 2 Jan 48
3 ZEILIN 19 Apr 46 5 Jun 46 3 Jul 46 MC/D 2 Jan 48
12 LEONARD WOOD 22 Mar 46 12 Apr 46 22 Mar 46 Army 31 Dec 47
13 JOSEPH T. DICKMAN 7 Mar 46 28 Mar 46 7 Mar 46 Army 31 Dec 47
14 HUNTER LIGGETT 18 Mar 46 28 Mar 46 18 Mar 46 Army 31 Dec 47
15 HENRY T. ALLEN 5 Feb 46 25 Feb 46 5 Feb 46 Army 2 Jan 48
16 J. FRANKLIN BELL 20 Mar 46 12 Apr 46 20 Mar 46 Army 2 Jan 48
17 AMERICAN LEGION 20 Mar 46 28 Mar 46 20 Mar 46 Army 31 Dec 47

Class Notes:
FY 1941 (AP 8-9, later APA 2-3), no fiscal year (others). During World War I the U.S. Shipping Board's Emergency Fleet Corporation built 16 large troop transports to its Design 1029. These were commonly known as the "535 class," after their overall length. After World War I the Shipping Board allocated these ships to shipping lines for operation under loan as passenger liners, and in the mid-1920s it sold most of them to private firms. By the late 1930s they were becoming obsolete and their owners began selling them off. The Navy and Army (which received nine of them) ultimately received 12 of these ships in four groups. The first group consisted of four ships repossessed by the Maritime Commission and laid up upon the default of their owner, the Munson Line. The MC transferred these gratis in 1939 to the Navy (AP-7, q.v.) and Army (later APA-12, 14, and 17). The second group consisted of four sold in 1940-41 by the American Mail Line, a subsidiary of the American President Line, to the Navy (later APA 2-3) and Army (later APA 15-16). Third came a single ship sold to the Army in 1940 by the United States Lines (later APA-13). Last came three ships sold to the Army by the American President Line in 1941 (later AP 42-44, q.v.). All but one of the Army ships (AP-44) were transferred to the Navy in 1941-42. The MC served as an intermediary in all or most of these sales, buying them from the shipping lines and selling them to the services. Of the four 535's that did not come into U.S. military hands, two were lost in 1940 and two survived in the Spanish merchant marine until 1958.

On 7 Jun 40 the Maritime Commission consulted with the Navy about a proposed sale to foreign operators by the American Mail Line of four "535 class" vessels then laid up at Bremerton, Washington. The Navy replied that its requirements in a National Emergency made it mandatory that these ships remain under the American flag and stated that, upon passage of necessary legislation, the Navy would purchase two of them. Acquisition of AP 8-9 (later APA 2-3) was directed by CNO on 28 Jun 40 in a program that also included two other transports (AP 10-11, later APA 4-5), two tenders (AS-13 and AV-8), and a hospital ship (AH-5). The other two American Mail 535's (the future APA 15-16) were purchased by the Army. In connection with these developments the Bureau of Construction and Repair asked the Commandant of the Marine Corps to study the plans distributed by BuC&R on 5 Jan 38 (see the class notes for AP-7) for the conversion of "535 class" vessels to troop ships from the viewpoint of combat loading. The Commandant responded on 3 Jun 40 that it was undesirable for tactical reasons to place so many troops (3,478 men) aboard one ship as in the 1938 mobilization plans while the cargo space (109,613 cubic feet) was not sufficient for the combat unit loading method. He recommended that no troops be berthed on the 4th (lowest) deck and that no troops be berthed over hatches on the 2nd and 3rd decks (which prevented rapid access to cargo). With troop space thus limited the ship would accommodate 1,525 troops, enough for a combat team and auxiliary troops, while the additional space on the 4th deck would bring the cargo space to 230,258 cubic feet, enough to stow the equipment and supplies for these units. The twenty 30-foot landing boats in the 1938 plan needed to be increased by six boats to handle a combat team, and the additional boats could be stowed on the boat and bridge decks. The Marines also recommended a main battery of 5" double purpose guns instead of the 4-6" or 4-5"/51 and 2-3"/23 guns in the 1938 plans.

On 4 Jun 40 CNO requested the Commandant, 13th Naval District (where the American Mail 535's were laid up) to ascertain what measures should be taken to put 535-foot vessels into service as transports carrying approximately 1,800 Marines and equipment. BuC&R on 12 Jun 40 requested that Com-13 prepare conversion plans for the "535 class" using the 1938 plans modified as necessary to comply with the Marine Corps recommendations of 3 Jun 40. He noted that any increase in troop capacity above the 1,525 recommended by the Marines would have to be accomplished without reducing the cargo space for combat loading. He also advised Com-13 that pending revisions to the WPL-10 characteristics for converted transports called for an armament of 1-5" gun aft and 4-3"/50 anti-aircraft guns, which became the new standard for converted auxiliaries. On 15 Jul 40 CNO approved the characteristics for the conversion of AP 8-9 into combat loaded Marine transports. Com-13 reported on 28 Jun 40 that he lacked the resources to produce the plans unless additional personnel were assigned, particularly as he had also been directed to expedite the construction of airplane tenders (AVP 10-13), and the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which had produced many of the auxiliary conversion plans of the late 1930s, probably drafted some or all of the plans for AP 8-9.

On 15 May 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board directed the implementation of a plan promulgated on 28 Apr 41 by the Joint Planning Commission of the Joint Board to replace the civilian crews of the large ships of the Army Transport Service with Navy crews and place the ships under Navy jurisdiction. 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. The Navy manned, took over, and converted AP 25-27 (later APA 12-14) practically immediately, but shortages of personnel delayed Navy manning of many of the other Army vessels (some of which were never taken over). In early August 1941 the Army and Navy agreed that the Army would complete the conversion of two of these deferred ships, the future AP-30 (APA-15) and AP-34 (APA-16), embodying naval conversion features. On 17 Sep 41 the Joint Board approved a Navy request that the Army convert these two ships and eight others -- the future AP-35 (APA-16), 42-44, and 46-49 -- to combat unit loaded transports as soon as Army operating schedules permitted. The Navy manned and took over AP-34 after the Army conversion was complete but acquired AP-30 while the Army was still converting it and AP-35 before the Army conversion began.

By July 1941 the Navy had ordered 166 pairs of Welin davits, each pair capable of handling three landing craft, for AP 25-27 and other transports, but initially the ships used the davits inherited from the Army. AP-27 originally was to carry 24 30-foot boats, AP-26 was to have 20 30-foot boats and 2 to 4 36-foot landing boats, and AP-25 was assigned 12 to 24 36-foot landing boats. There was no "nested" stowage, boats being carried in the davits and wherever there was room on deck. Two tank lighters and two tanks were carried on the forward deck of each vessel. Practice cruises quickly showed that the original davits and the ships' light cargo booms were not strong enough to handle the landing boats. The Welin davits were fitted during further conversions in March-April 1942, AP-25 (APA-12) getting hers at Philadelphia and AP 26-27 (APA 13-14) getting theirs at the Bethlehem Steel yard at Brooklyn, N.Y. The future APA 15-16 probably received Welin davits during their initial Navy conversions in California, while AP-35 (APA-17) may not have received hers until an overhaul at Alameda, Calif., in early 1944.

TASKER H. BLISS (AP-42) and HUGH L. SCOTT (AP-43) were sisters to the eight APAs of the HARRIS class but were lost before APA hull numbers were assigned; they are therefore listed separately in the transport (AP) section of this reference. Another sister, WILLARD A. HOLBROOK (AP-44) was not acquired and is listed with AP 42-43.

APA-2 was given additional command facilities during repairs at the Destroyer Base, San Diego, in June and July 1943 to allow her to serve as a relief AGC (see the BAYFIELD class, Part 2, for more on this subject). APA-12 appears to have received similar modifications at about this time. In July 1943 the CNO directed that APA-3, whose conversion had been deferred in favor of APA-2, be similarly fitted, but she does not appear to have been modified.

On 16 Dec 44 Com7thFlt reported that the material condition of APA-15 disqualified her for use as an APA either in the combatant area or for training purposes without extensive overhaul. He requested authority to construct immediately office spaces in the hold with the necessary ventilation system and to reclassify her as an AG. The work was to be accomplished at Hollandia. CNO responded by reclassifying the ship AG-90 effective 1 February 1945.

Ship Notes:
APA Name EFC Notes
2 HARRIS 2505 Ex AP-8 1 Feb 43. Ex merc. PRESIDENT GRANT, ex PINE TREE STATE 1922, ex LEOMINSTER 1919 (ID-4577, completed 3 Nov 21). Converted 23 Jul 40-15 Nov 41 by Todd Seattle DD, Seattle, Wash. Commissioned in ordinary 19 Aug 40. To MC as PRESIDENT GRANT 1946. To buyer 20 Jul 48 as HARRIS, scrapped by 7 Sep 49.
3 ZEILIN 2565 Ex AP-9 1 Feb 43. Ex merc. PRESIDENT JACKSON, ex SILVER STATE 1922, ex BAYONNE 1919 (ID-4549, completed May 21). Renumbered EFC hull 2873 under new contract. Converted by Todd Seattle DD, Seattle, Wash. Commissioned in ordinary 19 Aug 40. To MC as PRESIDENT JACKSON 1946. To buyer 4 May 48 as ZEILIN, scrapped by 30 Mar 49.
12 LEONARD WOOD 2507 Ex AP-25 1 Feb 43. Ex USAT LEONARD WOOD (from MC gratis to Army 21 Feb 39), ex merc. WESTERN WORLD 1939, ex NUTMEG STATE 1922, ex STILLWATER 1919 (ID-4644A or 4646, completed May 22). Converted by NYd New York. From Army to MC 13 May 47. To buyer 20 Jan 48, scrapped by 20 May 48.
13 JOSEPH T. DICKMAN 2584 Ex AP-26 1 Feb 43. Ex USAT JOSEPH T. DICKMAN (purchased by Army 31 Oct 40), ex merc. PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT 1940, ex PRESIDENT PIERCE 1922, ex PENINSULA STATE 1922, ex ISLETA 1919 (ID-4693, completed 8 Feb 22). Converted by NYd New York. From Army to MC 22 Jan 47. To buyer 9 Jan 48, scrapped by 1 Jul 48.
14 HUNTER LIGGETT 2506 Ex AP-27 1 Feb 43. Ex USAT HUNTER LIGGETT (from MC gratis to Army 21 Feb 39), ex merc. PAN AMERICA 1939, ex PALMETTO STATE 1922, ex WILLOWBROOK 1919 (ID-4644, completed 25 Feb 22). Converted by NYd New York. From Army to MC 6 Sep 46. To buyer 30 Jan 48, scrapped by 26 Mar 49.
15 HENRY T. ALLEN 1012 Ex AP-30 1 Feb 43. Ex USAT HENRY T. ALLEN (from MC to Army 1 Nov 40), ex merc. PRESIDENT JEFFERSON 1940, ex WENATCHEE 1922, ex NORTH YAKIMA 1919, ex CANONICUT 1919, ex EDWARD N. HURLEY 1919, ex CANONICUT 1919 (ID-4476, completed 3 Mar 21). Transferred to the Navy while under conversion for Army use at Fort Mason, San Francisco, and commissioned in ordinary 6 Dec 41 (turned over by the Army 8 Jan 42). Navy conversion at Moore DD, Oakland, Cal. To AG-90 1 Feb 45. From Army to MC as PRESIDENT JEFFERSON simultaneously with transfer from Navy. To buyer 26 Mar 48, scrapped by 2 Jun 49.
16 J. FRANKLIN BELL 2579 Ex AP-34 1 Feb 43. Ex USAT J. FRANKLIN BELL (from MC to Army 14 Jan 41, also reported as 26 Oct 40), ex merc. PRESIDENT McKINLEY 1940/1, ex KEYSTONE STATE 1922, ex HYPATIA 1919 (ID-4472A, completed 28 May 21). Converted for Army use, then turned over to the Navy and commissioned in ordinary 26 Dec 41. Navy conversion at Bethlehem Steel, San Francisco. From Army to MC 12 Feb 47. To buyer 3 Apr 48, scrapped by 3 Oct 49.
17 AMERICAN LEGION 1014 Ex AP-35 1 Feb 43. Ex USAT AMERICAN LEGION (from MC gratis to Army 20 Nov 39, also reported as 28 Nov and 19 Dec), ex merc. AMERICAN LEGION, ex KODA 1919 (ID-4476A, completed 15 Jul 21). Troop quarters installed by the Atlantic Basin IW, Brooklyn, N.Y. in Jan-Feb 40. Navy conversion at Bethlehem 56th St. Yard, Brooklyn, Nov 41-Jan 42. From Army to MC 23 Apr 47. To buyer 5 Feb 48, scrapped by 6 Dec 48.

Page Notes:
APA        1941
Compiled:        12 May 2007
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2007