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USS President Warfield (IX-169) circa 1946
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Class: PRESIDENT WARFIELD (IX-169)
Design Coastal Pass., 1928
Displacement (tons): 2,000 light, 4,273 full
Dimensions (feet): 330.0' oa, 320.0' pp x 56.5' e (58' over plating) x 15.5'
Original Armament: 1-12 pdr, 4-20mm (while British)
Later armaments: None (U.S., 1944)
Speed (kts.): 17
Propulsion (HP): 2,600
Machinery: 1 screw, 4-cylinder vertical triple expansion
||20 May 44
||Pusey & Jones,
||6 Feb 28
||21 May 44
||13 Sep 45
||11 Oct 45
||14 Nov 45
||9 Nov 46
FY 1944. In 1928 the Baltimore Steam Packet Co. took delivery of a new passenger and freight steamer, PRESIDENT WARFIELD, for its service on Chesapeake Bay between Baltimore and Norfolk. The ship, which had been ordered on 22 Aug 27, served on this run until she was requisitioned on 11 Jul 42 by the War Shipping Administration for war service with the British Ministry of War Transport. BMWT had asked for 11 coastal ships to transport troops across the Irish sea and for other auxiliary duties, replacing British cross-channel and short sea passenger vessels that had been lost during the conflict. Of these 11 steamers, 9 departed St. John's, Newfoundland, on 21 Sep 42 with British merchant crews in convoy RB-1 (code name Maniac). One had to turn back before the convoy was attacked on 25 and 26 September by 14 U-boats. Three (BOSTON, NEW YORK, and YORKTOWN) were sunk along with an escorting British destroyer while the other five (NORTHLAND, SOUTHLAND, PRESIDENT WARFIELD, NAUSHON, and NEW BEDFORD) survived to reach Scotland. PRESIDENT WARFIELD evaded a torpedo during the 25 September attack. In Britain she served as a barracks and training ship at Instow near Appledore at the mouth of the River Torridge in North Devon.
On 12 Jul 43 Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe requested that S.S. PRESIDENT WARFIELD, then at Appledore on loan to the BMWT under Lend-Lease, be assigned to the U.S. Navy. The ship was stranded in her present location and could not be moved. ComNavEu desired to continue using her as a temporary barracks at the Naval Base, which was being turned over to the U.S. by the U.K. VCNO on 17 Jul 43 authorized ComNavEu to accept delivery of the ship, and on 20 Jul 43 he asked WSA to agree to this assignment, which it did on 3 Aug 43. On 2 Sep 43 VCNO asked ComNavEu to report when the ship was accepted and stated that she was assigned classification and number APL-16 (Auxiliary, Barracks Ship) and would not be named. On 7 Sep 43 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that SecNav approve this arrangement. On 9 Oct 43 VCNO advised WSA that ComNavEu had just advised that no change in the vessel's status was desired or had taken place, and VCNO cancelled his request of 20 Jul 43. On 22 Oct 43 CNO cancelled all previous instructions, including the 2 Sep 43 assignment of the designation APL-16, and stated that the ship remained on loan to BMWT under lend-lease arrangements.
On 17 Apr 44 Commander Naval Forces, European Waters, requested that the NORTHLAND, SOUTHLAND, and PRESIDENT WARFIELD be acquired for naval use in the European Area. These steamers were owned by WSA and were on loan to BMWT under Lend-Lease. BMWT was reportedly making necessary repairs and reconditioning to make the vessels seaworthy and suitable for the purpose desired, and on 2 May 44 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended that they be acquired by the Navy from WSA on bareboat charter, that they be assigned to ComNavEu for his use, ant that they be manned by naval crews from personnel now in the theater. In this connection the Board formally recommended that the acquisition of PRESIDENT WARFIELD as APL-16, which it had recommended on 7 Sep 43, be cancelled. PRESIDENT WARFIELD was transferred from the British at Barry, South Wales. She served in July 1944 as a station and accommodations ship at Omaha Beach in Normandy and was later used to transport troops short distances. She was assigned to the 12th Fleet (TF 122) on or before 16 Sep 44 and later served on the Seine River. The ship departed the U.K. in an LST convoy on 9 Jul 45 and returned to Norfolk on 25 July.
PRESIDENT WARFIELD was delivered by WSA to her purchaser, Potomac Shipwrecking Co., on 9 Nov 46 for further operation and was resold on 17 Dec 46 to the Weston Trading Co., a front for the Haganah, the Jewish military underground. The ship sailed from Philadelphia on 29 Mar 47, embarked around 4,500 refugees at Sete, France, on 10 Jul 47, and was given the Hebrew name YETZIAT EIROPAH TASHAZ ("Exodus from Europe 1947", shortened on her name boards to "EXODUS 1947") a few hours before being rammed and boarded by British destroyers off Haifa on 17 Jul 47. Taken into Haifa, she burned to the waterline there on 26 Aug 52 and sank. An attempt in 1964 to raise her for scrapping failed.
||Ex merc. PRESIDENT WARFIELD (completed July 1928). To WSA and Lend-Leased to UK 12 Jul 42. Acquisition as APL-16 cancelled 22 Oct 43. To USN at Barry, England 20 May 44 as IX- 169, barracks ship. Merc. PRESIDENT WARFIELD (MC) 1945. To buyer 9 Nov 46 for operation, resold to Haganah agent 17 Dec 46, renamed "EXODUS 1947" just before being seized by British 17 Jul 47. Burned at Haifa 26 Aug 52 and sank.
Compiled: 21 Dec 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010