George G. Henry, a 6936 gross ton (10,500 tons displacement) tanker, was built at San Francisco, California, in 1917. In August 1918 Her owner, the Los Angeles Petroleum Transportation Company, chartered her to the U.S. Navy, which placed her in commission at that time as USS George G. Henry (ID # 1560). Late in that month she began her first trans-Atlantic voyage as a Navy ship, taking aviation gasoline and other cargo to France. While returning to the U.S. on 29 September 1918 she engaged in a running gun battle with the German submarine U-152. The tanker was able to escape, although she was hit by one enemy shell and near-missed by others, which set her afire and wounded several crewmen. Later in that trip, on 3 October, George G. Henry collided with and sank USS Herman Frasch (ID # 1617). Following repairs, she made four more voyages from the U.S. to France before being decommissioned and returned to her owner in May 1919.
Employed commercially under the American flag for the next twenty years, George G. Henry was transferred to Panamanian registry in July 1940 and, in mid-1941, steamed to the western Pacific where she transported fuel between the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, the Philippines, China, and Hong Kong. She was at Manila when Japanese attacks started the Pacific phase of World War II on 8 December 1941 (local date), but was able to escape to Borneo in mid-December. During the next two months, as Japanese forces advanced into the East Indies, she mainly operated in northern and eastern Australian waters, providing fuel oil to Allied warships as they fought fruitlessly against the enemy onslaught.
In mid-April 1942, after a voyage to Melbourne, George G. Henry was taken over by the U.S. Navy. Soon renamed Victoria (AO-46), she entered active Naval service in November 1942. She served along the Australian east coast until late August 1943, then shifted to New Guinea, where she supported U.S. and Australian operations in that island's northeastern waters until November. Late in the year Victoria returned to New Guinea and resumed her service there and, on-and-off beginning in April 1944, in the Admiralty Islands. On 2 September 1945, the day of Japan's formal surrender, the old ship steamed into Manila Bay to begin furnishing fuel to U.S. ships in the Philippines. Following brief air-sea rescue service in mid-October, Victoria went home to the United States, arriving at Mobile, Alabama, in late November. She was decommissioned in December 1945, turned over to the Maritime Commission and, in January 1946, stricken from the list of Navy ships. Recovering the name George G. Henry, she was delivered to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in March 1946 and, in April 1948, sold to Panamanian interests.
This page features all available views concerning the tanker George G. Henry of 1917, which was USS George G. Henry (ID # 1560) in 1918-1919 and USS Victoria (AO-46) in 1942-1946.
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
Photo #: NH 65594-A
S.S. George G. Henry (American Tanker, 1917)
On the morning of her trial trip, 3 June 1917.
Built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, California, and owned by the Los Angeles Petroleum Transportation Company, this tanker taken over by the U.S. Navy for World War I service and placed in commission on 23 August 1918 as USS George G. Henry (ID # 1560). She was returned to her owner on 21 May 1919.
The original print is in National Archives' Record Group 19-LCM.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 56KB; 740 x 590 pixels
Page made 18 December 2006
Link added 31 December 2007