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USS Harjurand (ARS-31) on 23 May 1943
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Class: HARJURAND (ARS-31)
Design Small cargo, 1919
Displacement (tons): 625 light, 812 gross
Dimensions (feet): 188.5' oa/pp x 32.9' x 13.1'
Original Armament: 2-6pdr
Later armaments: 1-6pdr (1945)
Speed (kts.): 7
Propulsion (HP): 490
Machinery: 1 screw, vertical triple expansion (coal fired)
||1 Jun 42
||19 Jun 46
||22 May 46
||22 May 46
FY 1943. This small cargo ship was built at Barcelona, Spain, in 1919 as S.S. OLESA, probably for a local Spanish owner. (The name of her builder is sometimes mis-rendered in Navy records as Astilleros Cordoba.) She then changed hands several time, becoming the Estonian HARJURAND in 1937.
At the request of the Navy Department, possibly agreed to by WSA on 20 May 42, this former Estonian vessel was requisition purchased by WSA in U.S. District Court, Wilmington, Del. on 1 Jun 42 accordance with the provisions of the Act of 6 Jun 41 (PL-101, 77th Congress) and Executive Order No. 9154 dated 7 Feb 42 which authorized taking over foreign merchant vessels located in U.S. ports. She was simultaneously accepted by the Navy at her berth in Philadelphia and was immediately turned over to Merritt-Chapman & Scott. While being moved by the contractor on 4 Jun 42 for conversion to a salvage vessel at Brewer's Shipyard, Staten Is., N.Y., she collided with a barge, leading to a paperwork trail that extended into 1944 and a finding by the Navy's Judge Advocate General that a ship that was operated and manned by persons in the employment of a contractor and that was not a commissioned vessel of the Navy or a naval vessel in the ordinary sense was not covered by the legal term "vessel of the Navy." HARJURAND was formally assigned to Merritt-Chapman & Scott on 9 Jun 42 under contract NObs-36, the contract under which Merritt-Chapman & Scott operated the Navy Salvage Service for the Bureau of Ships. On 18 Jul 42 BuShips requested that the ship be fitted during conversion with 2-6pdr guns for protection against submarines because she was expected to operate in coastal Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf Coastal waters. On 3 Aug 42 the Bureau asked that she also be given 2-20mm guns for protection against aircraft as it had been decided to use her off the southeast coast of Greenland in salvage operations on S.S. MONTROSE, although a 1943 photograph and Bureau of Ordnance records indicate that the 20mm guns were not installed. As of 3 Aug 42 it was estimated that the ship would be ready for service on 10 Aug 42. Navy records state that she received no conversion, presumably because this work was done by the contractor and not by the Navy.
Between March and December 1943 the contractor-operated HARJURAND helped salvage some 4,500 tons of critical metal ore from the wreck of S.S. EDWARD LUCKENBACH, which had been torpedoed near Tampa, Florida, on 1 Jul 42. Between April and August 1944 she operated on five merchant ship wrecks of the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida, and in April 1945 she worked on the wreck of USS STURTEVANT (DD-240) in the Florida Keys. The Navy accepted custody back from Merritt-Chapman & Scott on 7 Sep 45 at Tompkinsville, N.Y., preparatory to disposal. She then served in the Panamanian merchant marine until being scrapped at Jacksonville Florida, in October 1955.
||Ex small cargo ship HARJURAND (Estonian), ex MARGOT 1937, ex TENTO 1934, ex CAMBERWAY 1933, ex PER SKOGLAND 1923, ex OLESA (completed Sep 1919). Sold by MC to Sociedade de Navigacion, New York. Merc. DODECANESE (Panamanian) 1946, scrapped 1955.
Compiled: 31 Mar 2011
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010