Hog Island Type A
Two basic designs were to be fabricated at the Hog Island yard, both to be collectively known as "Hog Islanders". Hog Island Standard Fabricated Type A freighter was Emergency Fleet Corporation Design 1022. Hog Island Standard Fabricated Type B passenger ship was Emergency Fleet Corporation Design 1024. The Type A design was a cargo carrier and the Type B was designed to transport troops. Both were simple designs geared toward mass production and aesthetic considerations were ignored. The hulls had no sheer and were syrnmetrical from the sides, resulting in some of the uglier ships to sail the seas.
These ships had old style steam reciprocating engines and generally low speed. Their advantage was they could be built economically, with a structure that was simple, and in a relatively short period of time it was possible to complete a large number of them. After the Great War they continued in production. Many of them were active on commercial routes, but with the outbreak of the Second World War they were returned to military service. Unhappily they were the main force of marine transportation, pitted against the German U-Boat submarine force.
The keel of Quistconck was laid in a half completed berth and plant construction interfered with ship assembly, so that ship carpenters remained idle for weeks until constructions workers had completed the groundwork. First Lady Edith Wilson had selected the Indian name Quistconck for the first of the Hog Island ships. "Quistconck " is the name by which Hog Island was known among the Delaware Indians and from which the present name was derived. In the language of the Delawares " quis-quis " meant " hog " and "unk" or "onk" meant a "place for," hence the word "quistconck" meant "hogs' place," the name which the Indians gave to the swampy or marshy island. On August 8, 1918, the first vessel was launched. Among the 100,000 people attending the christening of the freighter Quistconck were President Woodrow Wilson and his wife. Unfortunately, the Quistconck was not made completely seaworthy until after the war ended on November 11, 1918.
USS Capella was one of 110 "Hog Island Standard Fabricated Type A" freighters mass produced to the Emergency Fleet Corporation's Design 1022 by the American International Shipbuilding Co, Hog Island, Pa. With a displacement of 4,037 tons, she was 401 feet long, had a beam of 54'1", a draft of 24'5", and could make 11 knots. The 77th in the series, she was named Comerant by her owner, the US Shipping Board, given the ID number 4253-W, and completed in April 1920. In October 1921 the President signed an executive order directing the Shipping Board to transfer 15 new cargo ships and 12 tankers to replace obsolete ships then serving as navy fleet auxiliaries. The inactive Comerant was taken over in November 1921, renamed Capella, and commissioned in December 1921 as a replacement for Gulfport (AK-5). Capella completed fitting out as a unit of the Naval Transportation Service in February 1922. She had a complement of 271, and was eventually armed with 2 5" guns and 4 3" guns.
Data on the 9000 ton cargo ship ALA reveal that it was not the USSB ( Hog Island ) design, as widely believed. The American Library Association's World War I activities involved the naming of a cargo ship in honor of ALA. This has been cited in four sources in library literature over the years. Although the references offer certain complementary details concerning the ship and/or aspects of its naming, collectively they fall short of telling the complete story. As chronicled by Arthur P. Young in Books for Sammies: The American Library Association and World War I, ALA was significantly involved in the US war effort in the first great international armed conflict of the twentieth century and its aftermath. By the time ALA's services came to a halt, it had, among other achievements, "raised over $5,000,000 from public donations, secured Carnegie Corporation funds for the erection of thirty-six camp library buildings, distributed approximately 10,000,000 books and magazines, and provided library collections to nearly 5,000 locations. Just over 1,100 library workers served in libraries sponsored by the Association. Although the War Service Committee [appointed in June 1917 to oversee the undertaking] was discharged in the summer of 1920, a number of war-related activities continued well into the postwar decade."
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