APV-1 Kitty Hawk
Seatrain was the brainchild of Graham Brush, a civil engineer and former naval aviator who had spent several years working for passenger liner companies in New York City. He bought a cargo ship and had it adapted it to carry railroad freight cars. Four sets of railroad tracks were laid side by side from one end of the ship to the other on the three lower decks, and a fourth set was laid on the main deck. A mid-ship hatch was modified so that freight cars could be loaded directly onto the tracks on each deck. The new element which Seatrain introduced was its ability to come into port, unload and load in ten hours a cargo which an ordinary ship required six days to handle, and to steam out again. Quick turn-around time allowed Seatrain to spend more time at sea, whereas breakbulk ships, must spend half their time in port, loading and unloading. In January 1929 the Seatrain New Orleans departed New Orleans carrying its first set of loaded freight cars to Havana. The service was an instant success. The Seatrain New York, the first of the two freighters, would be launched at Chester, Pa., on September 14, 1932. The sister ship, Seatrain Havana, was launched on September 24. In their speed and the novelty of their design they indicated how resourcefulness and ingenuity of American designers and operators facilitate the development of ocean borne commerce. Although laid out like the original Seatrain New Orleans, with four sets of tracks on the main and three lower decks, they were larger and faster than the older ship. Each of the new ships could carry 100 loaded freight cars, the equivalent of a train a mile long.
Kitty Hawk (APV-1), formerly SS Seatrain New York, was built in 1932 by Sun Ship Building & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa.; acquired by the Navy 25 June 1941; renamed Kitty Hawk 8 July; converted to an aircraft transport by Tietjin & Land Dry Dock Co., Hoboken, N.J.; and commissioned 26 November 1941, at New York Navy Yard, Comdr. E. C. Rogers in command. After shakedown, Kitty Hawk departed New York 16 December 1941, for Hawaii via the Panama Canal, with aircraft to replace America's losses in the Japanese attack, and arrived Pearl Harbor 8 February 1942. Between 20 February 1943 and 25 June 1944, Kitty Hawk made seven voyages to Hawaii and seven to the Southwest Pacific carrying vital aircraft, fighting men and munitions to be used in pressing forward toward Japan and victory. The ship was reclassified AKV-1 on 15 September 1943. She returned to the West Coast and arrived at San Francisco for overhaul 5 August 1944. Kitty Hawk received news of the end of hostilities 13 August 1945, while at Pearl Harbor. Basing from Pearl Harbor, she carried military cargo to the Marshalls. the Marianas, and the Philippines. She departed Pearl Harbor 24 November for the East Coast. Kitty Hawk arrived Bayonne, N.J., 15 December 1945; visited Norfolk; then decommissioned at New York 24 January 1946; and was returned to her owner, Seatrain Lines, Inc., the same day.
Hammondsport (AKV-2) was built as Seatrain Havana in 1932 by Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa. After operating for Seatrain Lines, Inc. until 1941 she was acquired by the Navy through the Maritime Commission on a (bareboat basis and commissioned at New York Navy Yard as Hammondsport (APV-2) 11 December 1941, Comdr. P. B. Glutting in command. She was reclassed AKV-2 on 15 September 1943. Designed to carry cargo and aircraft, Hammondsport got underway 18 December 1941 for Chesapeake Bay, Va., and a short shakedown cruise. She continued to the Canal Zone, where she arrived 26 December and unloaded five PT iboats transported from New York. Hammonds-port arrived San Francisco 7 January 1942, and began loading cargo and aircraft to be carried to beleaguered allied forces in the western Pacific. Departing 15 January She steamed into Brisbane harbor with her precious cargo 5 February 1942. After unloading her cargo of 120 P-40 aircraft the ship sailed for San Francisco, arriving 17 March. From March until August Hammondsport made four voyages from California to Pearl Harbor with general cargo and aircraft for further transfer to the forward areas. Departing from San Diego 1 September 1942, the ship then sailed into the western Pacific area, carrying cargo and aircraft to Noumea, Espiritu Santo, and Efate, New Hebrides Islands before returning to San Diego 3 November 1942. Hammondsport carried out this vital supply duty for the remainder of the war. She carried not only replacement aircraft for the far-ranging fleet groups of the 3d and 5th fleets, but land-based aircraft as well. In addition, she brought to such staging bases as Espiritu Santo and Noumea spare parts and other vital cargo and carried damaged aircraft back to Pearl Harbor and California bases. The ship departed Eniwetok atoll 21 December 1945 on her final passage, carrying 44 aircraft and 600 tons of cargo to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco. After touching at the latter port Hammonds-port through the Panama Canal to Philadelphia, where she arrived 9 February 1946. There she decommissioned 7 March 1946 and was returned to the Maritime Commission. 'After a short period under charter to United Fruit Co., the ship was resold to Seatrain Lines 10 May 1946 and resumed merchant service as Seatrain Havana.
Lakehurst (APV-3) was built as Beatrain New Jersey in 1940 by Sun Shipbuilding Co., Chester, Pa.; owned by Seatrain Lines, New York City, acquired by Navy under bareboat charter 13 October 1942; and commissioned as LaLchurst at New York the same day, Comdr. H. J. McNulty in command. After loading Army equipment, Lakehurst departed for Hampton Roads 19 October 1942 to prepare for the invasion of North Africa. On 23 October she sailed with units of Task Force 34 and arrived 8 November off Safl, Morocco. After unloading gasoline, ammunition, and miscellaneous military equipment, she departed 13 Novemher for the east coast, arriving Hampton Roads the 24th. Lakehurst sailed to New York 2 December to embark troops and load cargo. Reclassifled APM-1 on 3 December, she sailed 12 December in a convoy to North Africa Redesignated APM-9 on 17 December, she reached Casablanca 24 December and discharged mell and equipment. Departing 29 December, Lakehurst returned to New York 12 January 1943. From 8 February to 28 April she made two more runs out of New York to the North AIrican ports of Oran and Casablanca. Atter a supply voyage from Norfolk to Oran 10 through 23 May, she arrived Gibraltar 30 May and remained there until sailing for Norfolk 6 July. Reaching Norfolk 24 July, Lakehurst decommisaioned 2 August, transferred to the WSA, and was turned over to the Army the same day. Lakehurst received one battle star for World War II service
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|