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AP-120 Admiral W. S. Benson P2-SE2-R1

The P2-SE2-R1's were built at Bethlehem Steel in Alameda, California. These ships were intended for trans-Pacific service.Based on US Maritime Administration classification of ship designs the P2-SE2-R1 stands for: P - Passenger; 2 - 500-600-ft water line in feet; SE - Steam Turbine with electric Motors - 2 shafts; and R1 - design number and alteration.

All eight were completed for the Navy as transports and named for Admirals. These eight ships were manned by US Navy and Coast Guard personnel. After WWII, during 1946 all were converted to post-war requirements for operation by the US Army and renamed for Generals. Conversions were completed by Bethlehem and Todd Shipyards. On 1 March 1950, the eight transports were assigned to the Military Sea Transport Service (MSTS) and manned by civilian crews. The unnamed transport, AP-120, was laid down on 10 December 1942 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipbuilding Corp., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 678); named Admiral W. S. Benson (AP-120) on 20 October 1943; launched on 22 November 1943; sponsored by Miss Dorothy Lucille Benson, granddaughter of the late Admiral William S. Benson; accepted from the Maritime Commission on 23 August 1944 and commissioned the same day, Capt. Francis H. Gardner in command. Decommissioned on 3 June 1946, and turned over to the Maritime Commission for disposal, Admiral W. S. Benson was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 3 July 1946. Transferred to the Army Transport Service, the ship was renamed General Daniel I. Sultan in honor of the late General Daniel Isom Sultan, USA. After operating with the Army Transport Service as USAT General Daniel I. Sultan, the ship was reacquired by the Navy on 1 March 1950 and reinstated on the Naval Vessel Register on the same day. Assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), the ship was designated USNS General Daniel I. Sultan (T-AP-120).

Admiral W. L. Capps (AP-121) was laid down on 15 December 1942 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard, Inc., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 679); launched on 20 February 1944; sponsored by Mrs. James Reed; delivered to the Navy on 18 September 1944; and commissioned that same day, Capt. N. S. Haugen, USCG, in command. On 8 May 1946, Admiral W. L. Capps was decommissioned and returned to the Maritime Commission. Her name was struck from the Navy list in June of 1946. The Maritime Commission transferred the ship to the Army which named her General Hugh J. Gaffey (q.v.). She served the Army Transport Service until 1 March 1950 when the Navy re-acquired her. Retaining her Army name, the transport was not re-commissioned, but instead was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service and manned by a civil service crew. USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey (T-AP-121) spent almost two decades carrying men and material to American installations throughout the Far East and the Pacific Ocean.

Admiral R. E. Coontz (AP-122) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 680) on 15 January 1943 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem Steel Corp.; launched on 22 April 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Edwin Kokko, daughter of Admiral Coontz; and commissioned on 21 November 1944, Capt. Montford R. Tawes, USNR, in command. Stricken from the Navy list in April 1946 and turned over to the War Department, the ship underwent a period of repairs and alterations and was renamed General Alexander M. Patch, honoring General Alexander McCarrell Patch, commander of the 7th Army in the invasion of Southern France in 1944. In the Army Transport Service, General Alexander M. Patch carried troops and cargo between Europe and the United States from 1946 to 1950. Reacquired by the Navy on 3 March 1950, the ship operated for the next two decades as USNS Alexander M. Patch (T-AP-122) with the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), later renamed the Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Admiral E. W. Eberle (AP-123) was laid down on 15 February 1943 under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 681) by the Bethlehem Steel Corp., Alameda, Calif.; launched on 14 June 1944; and acquired by the Navy and commissioned on 24 January 1945, Capt. G. C. Carlstedt, USCG, in command. The transport was operated by the Naval Transportation Service and manned largely by Coast Guard personnel. Admiral E. W. Eberle was decommissioned on 8 May 1946 and returned to the Maritime Commission for transfer to the Army. Her name was struck from the Navy list in June 1946. The Army acquired the transport that same month and subsequently renamed her General Simon B. Buckner. The ship was once again transferred to the Navy on 1 March 1950 and assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service.

Admiral C. F. Hughes (AP-124) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 682) on 29 November 1943 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard, Inc.; launched on 27 August 1944; delivered to the Navy on 31 January 1945; and commissioned that same day, Capt. John Trebes, USCG, in command. She was decommissioned on 3 May 1946. She was returned to the War Shipping Administration which, in turn, transferred her to the Army. Her name was struck from the Navy list in June 1946. The Army renamed the ship General Edwin D. Patrick, and she served the Army Transport Service until 1 March 1950 when the Navy reacquired her. Retaining her Army name, she was assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) and was manned by a civil service crew. Operating out of San Francisco, USNS General Edwin D. Patrick (T-AP-124) spent almost two decades transporting troops and cargo to American bases throughout the western Pacific.

Admiral H. T. Mayo (AP-125) was laid down on 21 February 1944 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem Steel Corp., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 683); launched on 26 November 1944; sponsored by Mrs. George Mayo; and commissioned at Alameda on 24 April 1945, Capt. Roger C. Heimer, USCG, in command. She was decommissioned on 26 May 1946 and turned over to the War Shipping Administration, for further delivery to the Army. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 9 June 1946. Assigned to the Army Transport Service, the ship was renamed General Nelson M. Walker, to honor Brigadier General Nelson M. Walker (1891-1944) who had been killed in action at Normandy on 10 July 1944. The ship underwent repairs and conversion at the Todd Shipyard's Erie Basin until September 1946. In July, 1948, she entered the Todd Shipyard at San Pedro for a Safety at Sea conversion and partial conversion as a dependent carrier. This entailed the installation of cabin space for 217 passengers, two lounges, and a children's playroom, well-stocked with toys, and a ship's store, whose foremost item offered for consumption by passengers was a "wierd and wonderful concoction" known as "Coca Cola." Following this face-lifting, General Nelson M. Walker returned to service on 7 December 1948 to resume her transpacific voyages. Her 27th voyage as USAT Nelson M. Walker was her last under the banner of the old Army Transport Service, and on 1 March 1950 she became USNS (United States Naval Ship) Nelson M. Walker (T-AP-125).

Admiral Hugh Rodman (AP-126) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 684) on 24 April 1944 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard, Inc., launched on 25 February 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Sue R. Merriman; transferred to the Navy on 10 July 1945; and was placed in commission on the same day, Capt. Lewis E. Coley in command. She reached New York on 14 May 1946, was decommissioned on that day, and was transferred to the War Department later that month. The ship entered the Bethlehem yard at 56th Street on 3 June to receive the repairs and modifications she would require upon assuming a slightly different role. She got underway again on 1 August and served the Army Transport Service as General Maurice Rose until she and her sister Army transports were transferred to the Navy on 1 March 1950 to serve in the recently established Military Sea Transportation Service. She was given the classification T-AP-126 at that time.

Admiral W. S. Sims (AP-127) was laid down on 15 June 1944 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem-Alameda Shipbuilding Corp., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC null 685); launched on 4 June 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Anne Hitchcock Sims, widow of the late Admiral Sims; delivered to the Navy on 27 September 1945 and commissioned the same day, Capt. Edward C. Holden, USNR, in command. Decommissioned at San Francisco on 21 June 1946, she was simultaneously transferred to the War Shipping Administration. Admiral W. S. Sims was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 3 July 1946. Turned over to the Army for operation with the Army Transport Service (ATS), the ship was renamed General William O. Darby in honor of Brigadier General William O. Darby, USA (1911-1945), leader of the famed World War II "Darby's Rangers" who distinguished themselves in combat in North Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. After operations with the ATS as USAT General William O. Darby, the ship was reacquired by the Navy on 1 March 1950 and reinstated on the Naval Vessel Register on 28 April 1950 as USNS General William O. Darby (T-AP-127).

With the buildup of American strength in Vietnam in 1965, all six MSTS (Atlantic) transports, including General William O. Darby, were withdrawn from the New York-to-Bremerhaven run and assigned to duty in the Pacific. Transatlantic sailings were cancelled in late July 1965. General William O. Darby and her sister ship, General Alexander M. Patch (T-AP-122), carried out the longest point-to-point trooplift in MSTS history when they arrived at Vung Tau, Vietnam, on 13 August 1965 with 3,124 troops embarked between them, having sailed from Boston, a voyage of 12,358 miles.

Admiral D. W. Taylor (AP-128) was projected as an Admiral W.S. Benson-class transport. The ship was laid down on 28 August 1944 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem Alameda Shipyard, Inc., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 686). However, her acquisition by the Navy was cancelled on 16 December 1944. Nevertheless, the ship was completed after the war and redesigned forAmerican President Lines [APL] passenger service long before launching. She was operated by the American President Lines for the Maritime Commission as SS President Cleveland. Sold to Oceanic Cruise Development, Inc. (C.Y. Tung group) February 9, 1973 and renamed ORIENTAL PRESIDENT, the vessel was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1974.

Admiral F. B. Upham (AP-129) - projected as an Admiral W. S. Benson-class transport - was laid down on 27 November 1944 at Alameda, Calif., by the Bethlehem Alameda Shipyard, Inc., under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 687). However, her acquisition by the Navy was cancelled on 16 December 1944. After the war, she was completed and delivered to the Maritime Commission on 27 April 1948. Named SS President Wilson, she was operated in merchantile service for the Maritime Commission by the American President Lines.



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