USS Kermoor, a cargo ship, was built at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907 as the 4795 gross ton Austro-Hungarian commercial freighter Morawitz. Upon the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, she took refuge at Galveston, Texas. When the United States seized all German merchant ships in its ports in April 1917 it also acquired all the Austrian merchant ships in its own and other Western Hemisphere ports, although since there was no state of war with Austria-Hungary this was accomplished by purchase. Eight former Austrian freighters thus became the property of the Kerr Navigation Co. of New York. Kerr gave them all names beginning with "Ker," Morawitz becoming Kermoor.
By mid-1918 Kermoor was operating under U.S. Army charter within the European theater. The Navy took her over at Cardiff, Wales, and commissioned her as USS Kermoor (with no identification number) on 1 November 1918. The ship operated in the Army coal trade, carrying coal from Wales to French ports, until 1 March 1919, when she arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, and was directed to load a cargo of Naval aviation supplies and other items for return to the United States. Kermoor left Queenstown on 6 March and arrived at Baltimore, Maryland, on 26 March 1919. She unloaded most of her cargo there, moving to New York between 21 and 23 April to discharge the rest. Decommissioned at Hoboken, New Jersey, on 5 May 1919 and turned over to the Shipping Board, she was simultaneously returned to the Kerr Navigation Co. In 1921 Kermoor was transferred to the Hungarian flag and resumed the name Morawitz. She became the British Purley Oaks in 1927 and was scrapped at Rosyth in 1936.
This page features all available views concerning USS Kermoor (1918-1919) and the civilian freighter Morawitz, Kermoor, and Purley Oaks
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
Photo #: NH 105248
USS Kermoor (1918-1919)
This freighter was built in England in 1907 as the Austro-Hungarian Morawitz and was seized by the United States in April 1917. She served in the U.S. Navy from November 1918 to May 1919 without being assigned an identification number.
Here an unidentified artist depicts her "homeward bound" with a long pennant flying from her mainmast. Her final westward transatlantic crossing took place in March 1919. The same artist probably produced a view of another cargo ship, USS Munwood (ID # 4460), that is in our collection as Photo # NH 103227 and may have similarly depicted other Navy ships.
Donation of Captain Stephen S. Roberts, USNR (Retired), 2007.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 62KB; 740 x 490 pixels
Photo #: None
S.S. Purley Oaks (British cargo ship, 1907)
The former Austro-Hungarian Morawitz and American Kermoor in British service between 1927 and 1936.
Page made 6 August 2007