Indianapolis, a 8164 gross ton cargo ship, was laid down for the British Government as War Serpent and was then to have been named William Penn as an American ship, but she was renamed a few days before launching to complement the city of Indianapolis for raising a $5 million fund in War Savings Stamps. She was launched on 4 July 1918 by Pusey & Jones, Gloucester, N.J., for the U.S. Shipping Board; delivered to the Navy on 12 December 1918; and commissioned the same day at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Attached to NOTS, Indianapolis carried cargo to Europe (Philadelphia to England and Holland) and returned to Norfolk between 28 December 1918 and 23 February 1919; and then made a voyage from Norfolk to France and back between 31 March and 22 June 1919. She decommissioned on 9 July 1919 and was returned to USSB at Norfolk the same day. She remained in U.S. Government ownership until she was scrapped at Baltimore in 1933.
Indianapolis was the first of a class of large freighters built at Gloucester, N.J. and named for U.S. patriots, the others being Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, John Adams, Ethan Allen, Patrick Henry, William Penn (II), John Jay, and James Otis. The second William Penn, the last of the class to be completed, was built with experimental diesel propulsion. James Otis later became the Army transport Ludington and was briefly listed as USS Ludington (AK-37).
This page features all available views of the cargo ship Indianapolis, which served as USS Indianapolis in 1918-19.
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
Photo #: NH 758
S.S. Daniel Webster (U.S. cargo ship, 1919)
This sister of USS Indianapolis was photographed on 1 November 1919, probably by her builder, Pusey & Jones Co. of Gloucester, N.J.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Page made 8 August 2015