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Photo #  NH 99300:  Tanker Alabama, photographed circa 1918.

Online Library of Selected Images:

Alabama (American Tanker, 1901).
Originally named Northtown.
Served as USS Amabala (ID # 2185) in 1918-1919

Northtown, a 2208 ton freighter, was built in 1901 at South Chicago, Illinois, for commercial employment. Converted to a tanker in 1903, she operated on the Great Lakes until 1906, then shifted her base to Port Arthur, Texas. The ship was lengthened in 1914, increasing her gross tonnage to 2826, and renamed Alabama. The Navy took her over in August 1918 and placed her in commission as USS Amabala (ID # 2185), a rather curious renaming made to avoid confusion with the battleship Alabama.

Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, Amabala steamed across the Atlantic in September 1918 to begin the important work of supplying fuel oil to U.S. warships based at Berehaven, Ireland. She continued in this duty until after the November Armistice ended active combat operations. At the beginning of December the tanker moved to Brest, France, where she fueled American ships until mid-month. Amabala then returned to the United States, arriving in early January 1919. She was decommissioned in late February and given back to her owner.

Her name changed back to Alabama, she had a long subsequent commercial career, under the U.S. flag until 1947 and thereafter under Venezuelan registry. The old tanker was scrapped at Baltimore, Maryland in 1950.

This page features all available views concerning the tanker Alabama (1901) and USS Amabala (ID # 2185).

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photo #: NH 99300

(American Tanker, 1901)

Photographed circa 1918, prior to acquisition by the Navy.
Originally named Northtown, this tanker was taken over by the Navy on 19 August 1918 and commissioned on 21 August as USS Amabala (ID # 2185), with the name change being made to avoid confusion with USS Alabama (Battleship # 8). She was returned to her owner on 27 February 1919.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 51KB; 740 x 380 pixels

Photo #: NH 106595

USS Amabala
(ID # 2185)

In an Irish harbor, circa Autumn 1918.
The original image is printed on post card stock ("KLtd" brand).

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2009.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 70KB; 900 x 535 pixels



  • To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.

  • Some images linked from this page may bear obsolete credit lines citing the organization name: "Naval Historical Center". Effective 1 December 2008 the name should be cited as: "Naval History and Heritage Command".

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    Page made 7 May 2004
    New image added 30 November 2009