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USS Argonne (AS-10) on 6 April 1931
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Class: ARGONNE (AS-10)
Design EFC 1024
Displacement (tons): 8,400 light, 11,100 full
Dimensions (feet): 448.0' oa and pp x 58.0' wl x 23.75' mn, 24.7' mx
Original Armament: None on board (1921-1940)
Later armaments: 4-5"/51 4-3"/23 (1941);
4-5"/51 4-3"/50 8<12-20mm (1942)
Complement 376 (1929)
Speed (kts.): 15
Propulsion (HP): 6,000
Machinery: G.E. Curtis geared turbine, 1 screw
||3 Nov 21
||American International SB
||22 Nov 18
||24 Feb 20
||8 Nov 21
||15 Jul 46
||28 Aug 46
||15 Jul 46
||19 Jul 50
On 6 Sep 19, the U.S. Shipping Board decided that the Navy would get four of the twelve Type B troop transports (EFC Design 1024) then under construction at the Hog Island shipyard near Philadelphia while the Army would get the other eight. On 18 Dec 19 the Navy learned that at the beginning of December the Shipping Board had reassigned all twelve Type B ships to the Army because of a bureaucratic misunderstanding, and the Navy was only able to get one back (USS WRIGHT, AZ-1, q.v.). The Army duly took over its 11 ships in 1920-1921 but quickly found that postwar force reductions had dramatically reduced its troop lift requirements. In late 1921 it laid up five of the ships (which eventually joined the merchant marine) and loaned two others, ARGONNE and CHAUMONT, to the Navy which then had only one modern transport (HENDERSON, AP-1) and needed at least one more. The transfer took place at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 3 Nov 21, ARGONNE was commissioned on 8 Nov 21, and on 16 Nov 21 CNO approved the BuC&R recommendation of 10 Nov 21 that the ships be designated AP-4 and AP-5 respectively. Both served as transports from 1921 to 1924 and CHAUMONT continued to do so until converted into a hospital ship during World War II. (See CHAUMONT, AP-5, for her complete listing.)
On 12 Jan 24 CNO informed the Bureaus that he was planning to replace RAINBOW (AS-7) by an efficient tender and that ARGONNE might be selected for this purpose provided her services could be spared from transport duty. On the same date CNO completed a review of the employment and decommissioning of Naval Transportation Service vessels, and on 4 Feb 24 he notified the Bureaus that the Department planned to proceed with the conversion. ARGONNE would be available for conversion in August following a final voyage to the Asiatic Station, and all equipment then on RAINBOW and FULTON (AS-1) would be available for use on ARGONNE. The Bureau of Ordnance on 21 Feb 24 forwarded to CNO a tentative plan for the conversion , which was based upon the vessel acting as tender for nine "S"-class submarines. Material to be transferred from RAINBOW included ordnance and Bureau of Engineering air compressors, turbo generating equipment for battery charging, torpedo workshop equipment, shop equipment, and furniture for officers' quarters. Provisions were to be made for an armament of 4-5"/51 and 4-3"/50 AA guns, it being difficult to fit all 8-5"/51 guns approved for submarine tenders without considerable changes to the ship. Structural changes were held to a minimum to permit the possible re-conversion of the vessel to transport service. On 3 Jul 24 the Secretary of the Navy asked the Secretary of War to transfer ARGONNE and CHAUMONT to the Navy Department, and the transfer was directed by Presidential Executive Order on 6 Aug 24. ARGONNE arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 2 Sep 24, was placed in commission in reserve there as of 11 Oct 24, began conversion on 1 Jul 25, was recommissioned on 25 Mar 26, and completed conversion on 15 May 26. In early 1925 the conversion plans were modified to allow her to support the new large "V"-class fleet submarines, of which there were to be six. In January 1926 the installation of her armament (including the foundations for the guns) was deferred. Upon completion ARGONNE became tender to Submarine Division 20, to which the first three "V"-class submarines were attached.
In 1930 the Navy's destroyer and submarine forces were restructured and some ships were decommissioned, partly as an economy move and partly to comply with the London Naval Treaty of 1930. In 1930 HOLLAND (AS-3) relieved ARGONNE as tender to the "V"-class submarines (of which there were now six), and at the end of the year ARGONNE relieved PROCYON (AG-11) as flagship of Commander Fleet Base Force, PROCYON then being decommissioned. Although now "temporarily" serving as a flagship, ARGONNE was to be maintained in readiness for immediate use as a submarine tender in time of emergency and retained her designation as AS-10. In the early 1930s plans were prepared to fit her with eight (later four) 5"/25 AA guns to be used on a double purpose basis, but this alteration, like the installation of her earlier armament, was deferred. Because 5"/25 guns were not available for the ship, 4-5"/51 and 2-3"/50 continued to be reserved ashore for her throughout the 1930s.
On 19 Jul 40 CNO informed SecNav that consideration had been given as to whether ARGONNE and BUSHNELL (AS-2) should continue on their present duties (BUSHNELL was in use as a surveying ship) or be returned to submarine tender duties. He concluded that "the realities of the situation point to the conclusion that the primary duties of ARGONNE and BUSHNELL are those now being performed by them" and recommended that their designation be changed from AS to AG. SecNav approved this recommendation on 25 Jul 40 and on 9 Aug 40 BuShips informed CNO that the numbers AG-31 and AG-32 had been assigned to the ships. In the meantime, on 12 Jun 40 CNO directed the installation of 4-5"/51 and 4-3"/50 AA guns on the ship. The work was carried out at Pearl Harbor between April and July 1941, although 3"/50 guns were not available and 3"/23 AA guns were temporarily substituted. The forward goalpost mast was probably also removed at the same time, although the removal of its booms and winches had been recommended as early as 1936. Besides an upgrade to 3"/50 AA guns and the addition of some 20mm guns relatively few wartime modifications were made to the vessel.
||Ex USAT ARGONNE, ex unnamed 1920, ex USAT ERIE 1919, ex merc MOUNT URAKA 1919, ex SINSINAWA 1918 (ID-4491B, completed Dec 20). Initially designated AP-4, served as such 1921-24. To AS-10 1 Jul 24. To AG-31 25 Jul 40. To buyer 14 Aug 50, scrapped by 12 Sep 51.
Compiled: 21 Jun 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012