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S.S. Richard Peck as a floating barracks at Argentia, Newfoundland, in 1942
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Class: RICHARD PECK (IX-96)
Design Coastal Pass., 1892
Displacement (tons): 2,000 light, 2,906 gross
Dimensions (feet): 315.0' oa, 303.3' pp x 48.5' x 17.8' depth
Original Armament: Small or none
Later armaments: --
Speed (kts.): 16.5
Propulsion (HP): 4,000
Machinery: 2 screws, triple expansion.
||30 Jan 41
||Harlan & Hollingsworth
||20 Feb 43
||5 Nov 43
||16 Nov 43
||5 Nov 43
||28 Oct 53
FY not assigned (acquired with BuShips maintenance funds). The inland passenger steamer RICHARD PECK was built in 1892 for the New Haven Steamboat Co., which operated her in Long Island Sound between New York City and New Haven. The attractive steamer was designed by the American marine artist Archibald Cary Smith, who also designed the 1881 America's Cup defender MISCHIEF. This twin-screw steel-hulled vessel was a big improvement over the firm's earlier wooden hulled side wheelers. Improved rail service to New Haven ended the steamship service to this port in 1918, but the ship, now operated by the New England Steamship Co. of New Haven, shifted to New London and then worked as a Sound excursion boat until World War II.
In 1940 RICHARD PECK was acquired by the Bureau of Yards and Docks for use as a barracks ship during the construction of the Naval Operating Base at Argentia, Newfoundland. She steamed to Argentia between 10 and 18 January 1941. At Argentia she was operated by contractors, Fuller and Co. and Merritt, Chapman, and Scott Corp. The contractors placed on board two 300 KW turbo generators, which allowing her to serve additionally as a floating power plant. On 28 Oct 42 the Commandant of NOB Argentia reported that, since there were now sufficient barracks facilities ashore and since the permanent power system was in full operation, the ship was no longer needed at the base and should be returned to the United States. On the same date the Commandant, 5th Naval District, requested that S.S. STEEL PIER be purchased and converted for use in the transportation of personnel in Chesapeake Bay. On 20 Nov 42 the Auxiliary Vessels Board concluded that STEEL PIER was in too bad condition to be used for any purpose whatsoever but noted that RICHARD PECK was similar in characteristics and recommended substituting her for STEEL PIER to meet the needs of Com-5. BuShips assigned the hull designation IX-96 at this time -- she had had no designation during her period with the Bureau of Yards and Docks at Argentia.
RICHARD PECK (IX-96) was placed in commission at Argentia on 20 Feb 43. She was given minimal repairs to make her seaworthy, the outside of the ship was boarded up between the main and promenade decks, and she sailed for Hoboken, N.J, where she completed additional repairs at Todd's Shipyard, Hoboken Division, on 28 May 43 before proceeding onward to Norfolk. Placed in caretaker status at the Naval Operating Base there, she was again repaired at the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. between 19 and 28 Aug 43 and between 29 Sep and 5 Nov 43. On 20 Aug 43 the Virginia Ferry Co. and the Pennsylvania Railroad asked to acquire the ship to improve service in the Norfolk-Hampton Roads area in response to requests from the Army and the 5th Naval District. Specifically, she was to replace the VIRGINIA LEE, which the Government had taken over in 1942, in supporting the rail service from New York and Philadelphia through Cape Charles to Old Point Comfort and Norfolk. The railroad planned to spend over a quarter of a million dollars to put the ship in shape. On 23 Sep 43 SecNav authorized BuShips to transfer the ship to WSA for charter to the railroad, and the transaction was carried out on 5 Nov 43. The ship, renamed ELISHA LEE, ferried Pennsylvania Railroad passengers between Norfolk and Cape Charles from 1944 to 1953.
||Ex merc. RICHARD PECK (completed June 1892). Barracks ship. To WSA (MC) 5 Nov 43 and placed in operation under charter as merc. ELISHA LEE. Title transferred to MC by Congress 9 Dec 46. To buyer 3 Nov 53, scrapped before 21 Apr 54.
Compiled: 21 Dec 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010