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USS Pinckney (APH-2) on 1 January 1943
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Class:        TRYON (APH-1)
Design:        MC C2-S1-A1
Displacement (tons):        8,475 light, 10,885 lim.
Dimensions (feet):        450.0' oa, 420.0' wl/pp x 62.0' e x 23.5' lim.
Original Armament:        1-5"/38 4-3"/50 8-20mm (1942: APH-1)
Later armaments:        1-5"/38 4-3"/50 13<22-20mm (1943: all);
1-5"/38 4-40mmT 6-20mmT (1945: APH-1, 3); 1-5"/38 4-40mmT 9>6-20mm (1945-46: APH-2)
Complement:        369 (1944)
Speed (kts.):        18.2
Propulsion (HP):        8,500
Machinery:        G.E. turbine, 1 screw

APH Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
1 TRYON 29 Sep 42 Moore DD, Oakland 26 Mar 41 21 Oct 41 29 Sep 42
2 PINCKNEY 27 Nov 42 Moore DD, Oakland 3 Jun 41 4 Dec 41 27 Nov 42
3 RIXEY 30 Dec 42 Moore DD, Oakland 6 Aug 41 30 Dec 41 30 Dec 42

APH Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
1 TRYON 16 Jun 54 1 Jul 60 12 Jul 59 MA/T 3 Mar 69
2 PINCKNEY 26 Dec 57 26 Dec 57 26 Dec 57 MA/T 28 Sep 70
3 RIXEY 27 Dec 57 27 Dec 57 27 Dec 57 MA/T 28 Sep 70

Class Notes:
FY 1943. The Navy's war plans called for wartime requirements for auxiliaries to be handled by conversions of merchant ships rather than by new construction. In January 1938 the Bureau of Construction and Repair distributed to the Naval Districts plans for the conversion to naval transports (XAP) of two groups of large passenger and cargo ships built by the Shipping Board during World War I, the 535-foot class (see AP-7 and the APA-2 class) and the 502-foot class (see AP-62). However the Navy then developed a requirement for a Converted Transport Fitted for Evacuation of Wounded (XAPH). BuC&R circulated to other Bureaus on 7 Feb 39 designs for the 535- and 502-foot classes fitted to serve either as XAP or XAPH, and these plans were distributed to the Naval Districts on 3 Jun 39. The Philadelphia Navy Yard delivered to BuC&R what were probably updated XAP/XAPH plans for the 535-foot class (under the name PRESIDENT JEFFERSON) on 9 Jun 41.

On 10 Oct 41 the Bureau of Medicine recommended the acquisition of a suitable vessel for conversion to an evacuation transport (APH). On 25 Oct 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board concurred with this recommendation and suggested that one of the PRESIDENT HARRISON class (the best as determined by inspection) be acquired and converted. The Board recommended that, while adequate medical equipment and space for the care of the sick and wounded should be the governing considerations in the conversion work, advantage should be taken of all spaces not so required to putting in maximum accommodation for convoy-loaded troops. This would maximize the utility of the ship when it was not required for its primary mission.

The seven vessels of the PRESIDENT HARRISON class (EFC Design 1095) were built in 1921 and were 502 feet long. The Board acknowledged that certain features of the class rendered them undesirable, particularly the extensive wood construction in the superstructure with its accompanying fire hazard. The Board felt this risk should be accepted because of the scarcity of suitable merchant vessels and in view of the heavy demands in other services for ships not acquired by the Army or Navy. The Board also recommended that during conversion no attempt be made to remove or replace existing wood structure other than that necessary due to deterioration or incident to planned alterations. It argued that the fire hazard could be minimized by the installation of adequate sprinklers and sufficient fire hose outlets. It also pointed out that one of the ships, PRESIDENT TAYLOR, had been reconstructed at some time during previous years and that most, if not all, of her wood structure had been replaced with steel. It recommended selecting this ship if possible. On 31 Mar 42 the Board was informed that the PRESIDENT MADISON of this class was available and recommended that she be acquired and given a minimal conversion as a convoy-loaded transport. If the Bureau of Ships and the VCNO decided, after inspecting the ship, that she was suitable for conversion to an APH, the Board would make a further recommendation.

On 11 Apr 42 the Board reported that inspection showed that PRESIDENT MADISON was in poor material condition--a situation which her agents refused to correct. However the Board had learned that Maritime Commission hulls 175-177 were having APH features included during construction and recommended that two of them be acquired to replace the previously-authorized PRESIDENT TAYLOR as APHs. If this occurred, the Board recommended that PRESIDENT MADISON not be converted to an APH but instead be purchased for repair and conversion to an AP. She became KENMORE (AP-62) and later served as the hospital ship REFUGE (AH-11). On 17 May 42 the VCNO recommended the acquisition of the third ship of the class, MC hull 177. She was already being converted to an APH at Navy expense and had been earmarked for the Army. On 29 May 42 the Auxiliary Vessels Board noted that the troop carrying capacity of the three MC ships would be somewhat less than the combined capacity of the two ships previously considered for this mission, PRESIDENT TAYLOR (not available) and PRESIDENT MADISON (being converted to AP-62), but in view of the continuing need for transports and the probable urgent need for APHs in the immediate future the Board recommended the acquisition of the ship.

Maritime Commission hulls 175-177 had been ordered for the Alcoa Steamship Co. in 1940, when the Maritime Commission was including in its program ships designed by or customized for individual buyers. These three ships were specially designed to operate on the West Indies bauxite run while carrying around 100 passengers in luxurious accommodations on tropical cruises. They were shorter than the standard C2 vessels, but their main machinery was of the more powerful C3 turbine type. Their clipper bows, sharply raked masts, and oval-shaped solariums around a small tapered funnel made gave them a distinctive appearance. (The funnel evidently did not keep smoke sufficiently clear of the superstructure, and it was reconfigured several times.) The MC assigned the designator C2-S1-A1 to their design. As Navy ships they were fitted with sizeable troop spaces which could be quickly converted into spacious hospital wards for the evacuation of some 700 wounded from combat zones. The MC completed all three ships for the Navy under its Military Program. Not being regarded as hospital ships under the Geneva Convention, they carried full auxiliary vessel defensive armaments. The name HOPE, sometimes reported as the original name of APH-3, was never formally proposed or assigned. The ship was named RIXEY 18 Jul 42 before the other two ships were renamed, also for former Surgeons General of the Navy. APH-2 was severely damaged by a Kamikaze on 28 Apr 45 and remained under repair until October.

In late 1945, after the end of the war, the APH designator was used on a temporary basis for hospital ships serving as troop transports. On 8 November 1945 CNO authorized Commander, Pacific Fleet to use Navy hospital ships in general transport service without changing their special markings, but their designation was to be changed to APH. They would revert to the AH designation upon termination of this duty. Under this scheme RESCUE (AH-18) served in Operation Magic Carpet from November 1945 to January 1946 as APH-118. Similarly the six HAVEN class ships (AH 12-17), with the exception of REPOSE (AH-16, serving as a hospital at Shanghai), were temporarily designated APH 112-117 while transporting servicemen home from the Western Pacific.

In April 1946 the Army learned that these three ships were laid up at Seattle and, because it had an immediate need for APH type vessels, it asked that they be transferred to replace three older and smaller vessels then in use as inter-island transports, CUBA (privately owned), ARROW (1907), and COMET (1909). The transfer was finalized circa early June 1946 and the ships were converted for Army use in the Seattle area. They were to operate initially in the Caribbean and Alaskan areas. On 16 May 47 the Chief of Transportation advised the War Department Memorialization Board that the ships were scheduled for commissioning within the next 30 days and recommended that they be named for Lieutenant Generals Simon B. Buckner, Leslie J. McNair, and Frank M. Andrews. The Board did not consider that the 7,500 ton ships were large enough to appropriately memorialize the generals, and instead it selected by lot the names of three enlisted Medal of Honor winners of World War II. The ships were formerly renamed by Army General Order No. 59 of 27 Jun 47.

Ship Notes:
APH Name MC# Notes
1 TRYON 175 Ex merc. ALCOA COURIER. Ex USS COMFORT 13 Aug 42. Decommissioned 20 Mar 46, stk. 17 Apr 46, to MC 17 Jul 46 and simultaneously to Army. Converted to a peacetime troop and dependents transport by Todd, Seattle, 5 Dec 46 to 25 Aug 47. Renamed USAT SGT. CHARLES E. MOWER 27 Jun 47. Reacq. from Army as USNS SGT. CHARLES E. MOWER and reclas. T-AP-186 1 Mar 50 (on list 28 Apr 50). In USN reserve 1954-59. To buyer 28 Apr 69, scrapped by May 1970.
2 PINCKNEY 176 Ex merc. ALCOA CORSAIR. Ex USS MERCY 13 Aug 42. Decommissioned 4 Apr 46, stk. 1 May 46, to MC 9 Sep 46 and simultaneously to Army. Converted to a peacetime troop and dependents transport at Seattle ca. 1947. Renamed USAT PVT. ELDEN H. JOHNSON 27 Jun 47. Reacq. from Army as USNS PVT. ELDEN H. JOHNSON and reclas. T-AP-184 1 Mar 50 (on list 28 Apr 50). To buyer 2 Jan 71, scrapped by 2 Jan 73.
3 RIXEY 177 Ex merc. ALCOA CRUISER. Decommissioned 27 Mar 46, stk. 1 May 46, to MC 10 Sep 46 and simultaneously to Army. Converted to a peacetime troop and dependents transport at Seattle ca. 1947. Renamed USAT PVT. WILLIAM H. THOMAS 27 Jun 47. Reacq. from Army as USNS PVT. WILLIAM H. THOMAS and reclas. T-AP-185 1 Mar 50 (on list 28 Apr50). To buyer 2 Jan 71, scrapped by 2 Jan 73.

Page Notes:
APH        1942
Compiled:        24 Aug 2008
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2008