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Photo # NH 52855:  USS Charles loading troops at Southampton, England, 27 Sept. 1918

Online Library of Selected Images:

USS Charles (ID # 1298), 1918-1920.
Briefly named Harvard in 1918 and 1920.
Originally, and later, S.S. Harvard (American Coastal Passenger Ship, 1907)

USS Charles, a 3731 gross ton coastal troop transport, was built in 1907 at Chester, Pennsylvania, as the passenger steamship Harvard. She was taken over by the Navy in March 1918 and placed in commission in early April as USS Harvard, a name that was changed to Charles a few days later. In June 1918, after fitting out at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, the ship transited the Panama Canal and steamed to Hampton Roads, Virginia. She crossed the Atlantic to Brest, France, with a load of troops in July, then went to Southampton, England, to begin service carrying military personnel across the English Channel. Between late July 1918 and early May 1919 she was kept busy in that work. Returning to the U.S. in June 1919, Charles was sent to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was placed out of commission a year later. Her name reverted to Harvard in July 1920 and, though considered for conversion to a seaplane tender, she was sold in October of that year. Returned to commercial employment as the S.S. Harvard, she was lost through stranding on 30 May 1931 at Point Arguello, California, a short distance from the place where seven U.S. Navy destroyers were wrecked on 8 September 1923.

Until 1920 Harvard and her sister Yale could be distinguished by the configuration of the superstructure deck under the front of the pilot house. In Yale it formed a relatively narrow walkway with a ladder slanting down from its front edge to the forecastle deck below, while in Harvard it formed a larger platform with the ladder descending through a rectangular opening in the deck. When the two ships were reconditioned in 1920-1921 the area under the pilot house became an observation parlor and the superstructure deck arrangement of Yale was adopted for both ships. At the same time "B" deck at the stern was enclosed to form a veranda cafe-ballroom, with "C" deck remaining open below it.

This page features all available views concerning USS Charles (ID # 1298) and the civilian steamship Harvard of 1907.

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

Photo #: NH 105914-KN (color)

S.S. Harvard (American coastal passenger ship, 1907)

Color-tinted photograph, printed on a "Phostint" post card by the Detroit Publishing Company circa the 1910s.
This ship served as USS Charles (ID # 1298) in 1918-1920 and was wrecked in 1931.

Donation of Captain Stephen S. Roberts, USNR (Retired), 2008.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 89KB; 740 x 480 pixels

Photo #: None

S.S. Harvard (American coastal passenger ship, 1907)

In San Francisco Bay in 1912.

Source: Shipscribe.

Photo #: None

S.S. Harvard
and Yale (American coastal passenger ships, 1906-1907)

Shown in port at Los Angeles with buff colored smokestacks, a color used by H. F. Alexander's Admiral Line. Both ships were still registered in New York as indicated on Harvard's stern.

Source: Navsource.

Photo #: NH 55080

USS Charles
(ID # 1298)

At the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 1 June 1918.
Note her newly-applied pattern camouflage.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 73KB; 740 x 610 pixels

Photo #: NH 107084

USS Charles
(ID # 1298)

In a European port, circa the last half of 1918. She is painted in pattern camouflage. The original photo is printed on post card stock.
Another copy of this photo is identified on the original print as Charles's sister, USS Yale (ID # 1672), but the configuration of the deck under the pilot house shows her to be Charles. See Photo # NH 105958.

Donations of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2010 (NH 107084) and Captain Stephen S. Roberts, USNR (Retired), 2008 (NH 105958).

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photographs.

Online Image: 68 KB; 900 x 565 pixels

Photo #: NH 52855

USS Charles
(ID # 1298)

At Southampton, England, 27 September 1918, loading troops for transportation to France.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 100KB; 740 x 510 pixels

Photo #: None (color)

S.S. Harvard (American coastal passenger ship, 1907)

Shown after being reconditioned in 1920-1921 in a publicity post card for her owner, the Los Angeles Steamship Co. The same image was probably used on cards for both ships.

Source: Shipscribe.

Photo #: None (color)

S.S. Harvard or S.S. Yale (American coastal passenger ship, 1906-1907)

At the Municipal Pier at San Diego in April 1924, the month in which service was increased from two to three visits a week.
The ships would loop down from Los Angeles to San Diego, a resort town with liquor nearby in Mexico, and then proceed to San Francisco.

Source: flickr, posted by the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.


Related image: Photo # NH 105614 is a halftone reproduction representing S.S. Harvard and her sister ship, S.S. Yale. It is actually a view of the latter, and not of Harvard.


  • 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 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 31 October 2003