USSB 502/522 Class
Seventy per cent of the entire fleet of passenger liners under construction for the US Shipping Board (the body that eventually became the Federal Maritime Commission) were ordered from New York Shipbuilding Corporation, which completed all seven of the 522-foot class. The nomenclature for this class is ambiguous, since some sources call them the 522 class after their Length Overall [LOA] of 522 feet, while others call them the 502 class after their Length Between Perpendiculars [LBP] of 502 feet.
United States Lines came into being after the United States Mail Steamship Company had failed to successfully operate Government owned ships on the North Atlantic after World War I. The U.S. Shipping Board took over U.S. Mail Steamship Co operation of surplus ships after it had incurred heavy losses since beginning operation in 1920. In 1922 two "535" class refitted transports were added to the fleet. PENNINSULA STATE and LONE STATE, were renamed PRESIDENT PIERCE and PRESIDENT TAFT, but within weeks they were renamed PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT and PRESIDENT HARDING. The "502s" from U.S. Mail S.S. Co. were renamed PRESIDENT VAN BUREN, PRESIDENT ADAMS, and joined by still more "502s" which became PRESIDENT POLK and PRESIDENT GARFIELD. In 1923, four of the ships were sold and late in 1923 the five remaining "502"s were sold by the US Shipping Board to Dollar Line. In 1923 Robert Dollar purchased seven ex World War 1 "502 President type" liners from the US Shipping Board. In March 1925 Dollar took over an additional eight "535 President type" liners from the Shipping Board but managed by Pacific Mail Steamship Company in Trans Pacific work.
Originally CREOLE STATE [a nickname of Louisiana], she was renamed President Hayes 1922. Purchased by Dollar Steamship Lines from U.S. Shipping Board 1923, she was transferred to APL 1938 and renamed President Tyler (First) 1940. Requisitioned by the Navy in January 1942, she was converted to an Army transport. Conversion to a hospital ship was commenced by Bethlehem Steel Co., Boston, Massachusetts in February 1945 and renamed HOWARD A. McCURDY, but conversion terminated when V-J Day occurred. Renamed President Tyler in 1946, she was assigned to carrying military dependents. Sold for scrapping March 1947.
Originally PANHANDLE STATE [a nickname of Oklahoma], she was operated in the North Atlantic by U.S. Lines 1921-1922. Transferred to Dollar Steamship Lines 1922 and renamed President Monroe, she was sold to Dollar Lines in 1923 where she served in Round-the-World trade. Transferred to APL 1938. Renamed President Buchanan (First) in 1940. Although not listed as troopship, she served as such under War Shipping Administration direction in 1942-1943 until transferred to the U.S. Army in November 1943 for conversion to a hospital ship by Atlantic Basin Iron Works, New York. Renamed EMILY H.M. WEDER July 1944, she was reconverted 1946 to carry military dependents by Consolidated Steel Co., San Pedro, California and renamed President Buchanan. Sold for scrap March 21, 1957.
Originally GRANITE STATE [a nickname of New Hampshire], she was operated in the North Atlantic by U.S. Lines 1921-1922. Transferred to Dollar Steamship Lines 1922 and renamed President Polk, she was sold to Dollar Lines 1923 and served in the Round-the-World trade. Transferred to APL 1938, she was renamed President Taylor (First) in 1940. Although not listed as a troopship, she served as such briefly after being requisitioned by the government in mid-December 1941. Grounded on a coral reef at Canton Island February 14, 1942 where she remained, a total loss.
Originally CENTENNIAL STATE [a nickname of Colorado], she was operated for the U.S. Shipping Board by U.S. Lines in North Atlantic service from 1921 to 1923. Renamed President Adams (First) 1922, she was sold to Dollar Steamship Lines 1923. Transferred to APL 1938, she was renamed President Grant (Second) 1940. While serving as a troop transport the ship grounded on Uluma Reef near Milne Bay, New Guinea February 26, 1944 and declared a total loss on June 17, 1944. There was no loss of life.
Originally WOLVERINE STATE [a nickname of Michigan], she was renamed President Harrison 1922 and operated for the U.S. Shipping Board in U.S. Pacific coast/East coast of South America trade. Transferred to Dollar Steamship Lines 1923, she inaugurated the first Round-the-World service for Dollar Lines January 5, 1924 and was sold to Dollar Lines 1926. Transferred to APL 1938, in December 1941 Harrison was chartered by the government to remove elements of the 4th Marines and Navy personnel from Shanghai. While on her way to Chinwangtao to embark other Marines she was captured by the Japanese off the Yangtze River, December 9, 1941. Renamed KAKKO MARU and later again renamed KACHIDOKI MARU. Sunk while carrying 750 Allied prisoners of war by U.S. submarine U.S.S. PAMPANITO (now at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco) east of Formosa (Taiwan) September 12, 1944.
Originally OLD NORTH STATE [a nickname of North Carolina], she was operated in the North Atlantic by U.S. Lines 1921-1922. Transferred to Dollar Steamship Lines 1922 and renamed President Van Buren, she was sold to Dollar Lines in 1923 and served in Round-the-World trade. Transferred to APL 1938, she was renamed President Fillmore (Second) in 1940. Requisitioned by the Army in December 1941 and used as a troop carrier until October 1943. She was converted to a hospital ship by Seattle-Tacoma Shipyard and renamed MARIGOLD in June 1944. Decommissioned, she was renamed President Fillmore June 8, 1946, placed in the reserve fleet at Suisun Bay, California, and sold for scrapping January 14, 1948.
SS Blue Hen State [a nickname of Delaware] was laid down on 04 March 1920, for the Emergency Fleet Corp., under USSB Contract # 2591, at New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., assigned to the United States Mail Line. Launched on 23 February 1921, she was delivered, 6 July 1921 and laid up until March 1922. She was operated for the U.S. Shipping Board by U.S. Lines in North Atlantic service from 1921 to 1923. Renamed SS President Garfield in May 1922, she was transferred to the United States Lines in August 1922, and sold to the Dollar Line in August 1923. On 3 June 1938 the Dollar Steamship Line Inc. was suspended from operation. On 15 August 1938, the new Federal Maritime Commission took ownership of the Dollar line. On 1 November 1938, the company convened for the first time. At that meeting, the name of the company was changed to American President Lines Ltd. The American President Lines was owned by the US Government.
She was transferred to American President Lines in 1938, and renamed SS President Madison. SS President Madison was chartered by USN to bring the 2nd battalion, 4th regiment of "China Marines" from Shanghai to the Philippines during November 1941. On 27-28 November 1941 the 4th United States Marines were evacuated from Shanghai aboard SS PRESIDENT MADISON and SS PRESIDENT HARRISON, but six men failed to board and were left behind.
Acquired by the Navy from WSA 11 April 1942 for conversion to a troop transport, she was named Kenmore (AP-62), and commissioned at Baltimore, Md., 5 August 1942, Comdr. Myron T. Richardson in command. Following Chesapeake Bay shakedown, Kenmore put in at Norfolk, Va., 6 September and embarked men and equipment of the 13th Marine Defense Battalion and the 18th and 19th Naval Construction Battalions. Departing the 19th, she touched at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 24 September and steamed in convoy for the Pacific 4 October. Arriving off Noumea, New Caledonia, 11 November, she debarked her troops and offloaded her cargo, then reported 19 November to Rear Adm. R. K. Turner, Commander, Amphibious Forces, South Pacific.
Kenmore departed Noumea 28 November as a unit of TF 62, arriving off the beach east of Togoma Point, Guadalcanal, 3 December. There she offloaded troops and cargo for 2 days, thence returned to Noumea 11 December. She next steamed unescorted to San Francisco, arriving 5 January 1943 for overhaul at General Engineering & Drydock Co.
From 8 February until 27 May, Kenmore transported troops and cargo between San Francisco and the Hawaiian Islands. Departing San Francisco 13 June, she steamed for Noumea, arriving 6 July. A call at Tenaru Beach, Guadalcanal, 13 July was followed by a return to Noumea the 20th, with departure for the east coast of the United States 5 days later. She transited the Panama Canal 19 August, took on passengers at Cristobal, and steamed via Guantanamo for Norfolk, Va., arriving there 2 September. She then decommissioned at Baltimore, Md., the 16th, for conversion to a hospital ship by the Maryland Drydock Co.
[displacement 16,800; length 522'8"; beam 62'; draft 26' (limiting); speed 11.5 knots; complement 543)]
Renamed Refuge and redesignated AH-11, the ship recommissioned at Baltimore 24 February 1944, Comdr. M. A. Jurkops in command. After partial fitting out at Baltimore, she steamed 10 March for the Norfolk Navy Yard. Assigned to the Service Force, Atlantic, she commenced assisting in the transport of casualties from the war zones to the United States.
Departing Hampton Roads 20 April, Refuge embarked patients at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, 6-8 May, and returned to Charleston, S.C., 24 May. From 1 June through 29 July 1944, she made two voyages to the British Isles, embarking patients at Belfast, Northern Ireland; Liverpool, England; and Milford Haven, Wales. These patients were returned to Newport News and Norfolk, Va.
Sailing again for the Mediterranean 2 August, she arrived Oran, Algeria the 17th, thence proceeded to the southern coast of France for operations between St. Tropez Bay and Naples, Italy. She departed Naples 16 September with embarked patients, took on additional patients at Oran, then steamed for New York, arriving 6 October.
After overhaul at New York, Refuge departed 1 November for South Pacific duty with the Service Force, 7th Fleet. Touching at Humboldt Bay, Dutch New Guinea, 16 December, she continued on 3 days later for the Philippines. Arriving San Pedro Bay, Leyte, on Christmas Eve, she commenced the embarkation of patients from small landing craft. By June 30th she had made six voyages from that area to deliver her casualties to either Hollandia, New Guinea or Seeadler Harbor, Manus, the Admiralties. She departed Seeadler Harbor 1 July for Manila, where she received patients from various Fleet units through the end of August 1945.
Refuge departed Manila 31 August for Jinsen, Korea, arriving 8 September. She sailed on the 17th, embarked evacuees at Shanghai, China, thence steamed for Okinawa, arriving 2 October. She then made two voyages between Okinawa and Tsingtao, China through 20 October. After embarking patients and troops for return to the United States, Refuge departed Okinawa 22 October, took on additional patients at Saipan, and arrived San Francisco 18 November. Overhaul took her through 9 December, and 2 days later she departed for Yokosuka, Japan, arriving 4 January 1946. After embarking Army troops for transportation to the United States, she departed 7 January and returned to Seattle, Wash., the 28th. Refuge decommissioned at Seattle 2 April 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list 8 May 1946 and she was delivered to the War Shipping Administration 29 June 1946. She was sold for scrap to Consolidated Builders 2 February 1948. Refuge received one battle star for World War II service.
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