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USS Rochambeau (AP-63) on 5 October 1942
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Class: ROCHAMBEAU (AP-63)
Design: Pass. & Cargo, 1930
Displacement (tons): 10,748 light, 14,242 full
Dimensions (feet): 470.8 oa, 466.75 pp x 63.9 m x 25.2' mn
Original Armament: 1-5"/51 4-3"/50 8-20mm
Later armaments: --
Complement: 452 (1944)
Speed (kts.): 19
Propulsion (HP): 10,300
Machinery: Burmeister & Wain diesels, 2 screws
||20 Apr 42
||Societe Provencale de CN
||14 May 31
||27 Apr 42
||17 Mar 45
||30 Mar 45
||17 Mar 45
FY 1942. Between 1929 and 1935 the French Messageries Maritimes shipping firm built at La Ciotat three passenger and cargo ships for its Indian Ocean service: JEAN LABORDE (1929), MARECHAL JOFFRE (1931), and PRESIDENT DOUMER (1936). Their twin short rectangular smokestacks were of a type favored at the time by Messageries Maritimes for its diesel-propelled ships. In 1936-38 their diesel engines were supercharged to increase their speed from 16.5 to 19 knots and they were reassigned to the Far East service. MARECHAL JOFFRE was at Manila on 7 Dec 41 and was requisitioned there by the Free French and taken under protective custody by the U.S. Navy. The Navy put a crew on her and sent her under escort on 18 Dec 41 to Balikpapan and then to Darwin, Australia, where she was attacked by torpedoes on 23 Jan 42 just before her departure to Sydney. By special arrangement the ship then hoisted the U.S. flag and departed Sydney for the United States on 24 Mar 42 under the command of an American naval officer. In a conference on 3 Apr 42 between representatives of the Departments of Justice, State, Navy, and the War Shipping Administration, it was agreed that WSA would use its authority under an Act and an Executive Order of 6 Jun 41 to take possession of this foreign flag ship upon her arrival in a U.S. port and deliver her to the Navy for operation.
On 18 Apr 42 the Auxiliary Vessels Board noted that it had received information that MARECHAL JOFFRE was in the possession of WSA and would be delivered to the Navy. Accordingly the Board recommended that the ship be purchased from WSA and given a minimum conversion to a convoy loaded transport. The ship arrived at San Francisco on 19 Apr 42 with a cargo of wool and zircon sand, and WSA formally requisitioned the ship on 20 Apr 42 and simultaneously delivered her to the Navy. The vessel was commissioned as USS ROCHAMBEAU on 27 Apr 42 (although the name was only formally approved two days later) and was converted by Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Cal., between 27 Apr 42 and 28 Sep 42.
Between October 1943 and January 1945 ROCHAMBEAU made five round trip voyages between the West Coast and the central and southwest Pacific. In February 1945 she moved from California to New York and on 17 Mar 45 she was decommissioned there and transferred to WSA (MC) for continued use as a transport under the French flag. While retaining control of the ship, WSA delivered her to the French shipping mission for manning and operation by the French Line as a transport for American and British troops. The ship hoisted the French flag at Le Havre on 27 Jul 45. WSA relinquished control of the ship and turned her over to the French on 19 Feb 46 after she completed repairs in the U.S. After use by the French government to repatriate civilians from Indochina and China, the ship was reconverted for civilian service in 1951 with a single large oval smokestack. She was withdrawn from Messageries Maritimes service on 19 Jan 60 and scrapped at Osaka, Japan.
||Ex French MARECHAL JOFFRE (maiden voyage Jan 33). Converted by Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Cal. French MARECHAL JOFFRE 1945. Scrapped 1960.
Compiled: 14 Jun 2009
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2009