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USS Republic (AP-33) in 1942
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Class: REPUBLIC (AP-33)
Design: Pass. & Cargo, 1907
Displacement (tons): 20,110 light, 29,300 full
Dimensions (feet): 615.8' oa, 599.5' pp x 68.0' m x 32.75' mn
Original Armament: 1-5"/51 4-3"/23
Later armaments: 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 12-20mm (1941-42); 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-40mmT 12-20mm (1943);
1-5"/38 2-3"/50 2-40mmT 4-40mmS 12-20mm (1944)
Complement: 458 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 12.5
Propulsion (HP): 7,500
Machinery: Vert. 4-exp., 2 screws
||21 Jul 41
||Harland & Wolff
||19 Dec 03
||22 Jul 41
||27 Jan 45
||8 Feb 45
||27 Jan 45
||11 Feb 52
No FY assigned. In around 1901 the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast began construction of two ships, SERVIAN and SCOTIAN, for a London-Boston service that a British shipping line planned to establish. The British line, however, was purchased in 1901 by another British firm that already served the Boston market and the order for the two new ships was cancelled. The two hulls were launched in 1903 and laid up until the German Hamburg American line purchased them in 1906. They entered service in 1907 as PRESIDENT LINCOLN and PRESIDENT GRANT. Their appearance was striking, with six masts, one smokestack, and a large gap between the bridge and the rest of the amidships superstructure. Interned at New York in 1914, they were among the 87 German ships whose seizure by the U.S. Shipping Board was authorized by a Presidential Executive Order of 30 Jun 17. Both were operated by the Navy as troop transports, and PRESIDENT LINCOLN became one of the few transports lost in this service, being torpedoed on a westbound voyage on 31 May 18. PRESIDENT GRANT (ID-3014) was transferred on 6 Oct 19 to the Army and on 14 Mar 21 to the Shipping Board, who renamed her PRESIDENT BUCHANAN and laid her up. The Shipping Board then rebuilt the ship, reducing the number of masts to four and filling in the gap in the superstructure, and in 1924 she entered commercial service with the United States Lines under the name REPUBLIC. The Army purchased REPUBLIC in August 1931 and she became the largest troop transport operated by the Army during the rest of the interwar period. Between August and October 1941 she received an armament of 1-5"/51 and 4-3"/23 guns.
In 1935 the Army and Navy agreed that the Army would operate its own ships except where naval opposition was expected, in which case the ships would be Navy manned. However, experience in the first part of World War II indicated that naval opposition by the enemy, in the form of submarines, could be encountered anywhere. In April 1941 the CNO proposed to the Chief of Staff of the Army that a board review the issue. The Board recommended on 28 Apr 41 that the Army "surrender operation of its transport service for the term of the present emergency" following procedures that it enumerated, the first of which was that the Navy would commission the Army transports with Navy crews as soon as possible. (The Army used the term "transports" for all ships in the Army Transport Service, including cargo ships and other types.) On 14 May 41 the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended the implementation of this plan, which then covered 26 Army ships, and on 22 May 41 the Secretary of War approved the transfer of the ships, noting that jurisdiction over each ship was to pass at the time it was manned by the Navy. On 5 Jun 41 the Secretary of the Navy approved names for the 26 ships, all but three of which (AP 21-22 and AK-39) retained their Army names. The hull numbers AP 20-36 (less 23), AK 32-40, and APL-1 (for the barracks ship in Newfoundland) were soon assigned to them. The Navy manned, took over and commissioned AP 20-29 and 31-33 before the end of July, but it then found that it did not have the personnel to man the remaining ships, and ultimately the Navy was able to man only 15 of the 26 ships (all AP's). Five of the ships commissioned (AP-20, 28, and 31-33) were later returned to the Army because of more urgent demands for trained Navy personnel and because the Army wanted to convert them to hospital ships.
REPUBLIC was converted at the New York Navy Yard in July and August 1941. She received one 5"/51 and four 3"/23 guns in August and upgraded her antiaircraft armament to 4-3"/50 guns during a second availability at New York in October 1941. She operated for the Navy primarily in the central and southwest Pacific theaters. On 22 Dec 44 VCNO approved the selection of REPUBLIC and ANTAEUS (AG-67, ex AS-21) as hospital ships to fill a quota that had been levied by the JCS, the first to be manned by the Army and the latter by the Navy. The Army converted REPUBLIC to a hospital ship at Mobile, Alabama, between January and August 1945. The ship was released from hospital service in February 1946 and then served as an Army troop repatriation transport until May 1949.
||Ex USAT REPUBLIC, ex USS/USAT PRESIDENT GRANT (ID-3014) 1920, ex German PRESIDENT GRANT 1917 (completed Sep 07). Converted by the New York Navy Yard. To USAHS REPUBLIC 1945. To MC reserve fleet from Army 9 May 49. To buyer 11 Mar 52, scrapped by 9 Mar 53.
Compiled: 31 May 2009
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009