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Civilian Vessel Photo Archive

Wachusett (ID 1840)



Civilian call sign (1919):
Love - Have - Sail - Watch

Freighter:

  • Laid down in 1896 as Suevia by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, Germany
  • Renamed Wachusett after seizure by the United States Shipping Board (USSB) at Manila, Philippines
  • Acquired by the Navy 26 December 1917
  • Commissioned USS Wachusett (ID 1840), 9 January 1918 at Hoboken, NJ
  • Decommissioned 6 October 1919 at New York and returned to the USSB
  • Fate unknown.

    Specifications:

  • Displacement 9,200 t.
  • Length 387'
  • Beam 44' 2"
  • Draft 24' 8"
  • Speed 10.7 kts.
  • Complement 30
  • Armament: One 5" and one 3" mount
  • Propulsion: One 1,700ihp steam engine, one shaft.
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    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Wachusett 87k Naval Historical Center photo NH 105236. Robert Hurst

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History: [The second Wachusett was built as] SS Suevia-a freighter built in 1896 by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg, Germany was seized from the Hamburg-America Line in 1917 by customs officials for the United States Shipping Board; renamed Wachusett (Id. No. 1840); turned over to the War Department on 22 December 1917; chartered to the Navy on 26 December 1917; and commissioned at Hoboken, N.J., on 9 January 1918, Lt. Comdr Roy W. Look, USNRF, in command.

    Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service as an Army account, she was fitted out for naval service as a cargo transport. She put to sea on 19 January, laden with a cargo of general Army supplies bound for Brest, France. On 23 January, urgent need for repairs to her radio and engine forced her out of her convoy and into port at Halifax, Nova Scotia. She completed those repairs on 9 February and resumed her transatlantic voyage that same day. Her convoy arrived in Brest on 24 February, and Wachusett discharged her cargo. On 18 March, the freighter set out on the return voyage and arrived in New York on 1 April.

    Following a brief repair period, the ship loaded another Army cargo and departed New York, bound for Norfolk, Va., and refueling. She steamed out of Hampton Roads on 16 April and headed across the Atlantic in company with another convoy. She arrived at Le Havre, France, on 7 May, discharged her cargo and completed her turnaround on the 19th by putting to sea with a New York-bound convoy.

    Wachusett entered New York harbor on 4 June and simultaneously began repairs and cargo loading. Eleven days after her arrival, she stood out of New York, bound southward to Norfolk where she coaled ship on the 15th before her departure the following day for England. Her convoy entered port at Southampton on 10 July, and she unloaded her 4,300 tons of supplies before heading for the United States on the 20th.

    Back in New York on 8 August, she underwent voyage repairs while also loading cargo. Again, she steamed south to Norfolk to coal ship and join an eastbound convoy. She sailed from Norfolk on 21 August and pulled into Brest on 11 September. Wachusett left Brest on 31 September after a six-day delay during which she awaited the formation of a homeward-bound conloy. She returned to New York on 15 October, underwent the usual minor repairs, and loaded cargo for her last wartime Atlantic crossing. She stood out of New York on 24 October in convoy for Brest, where she arrived on 8 November. Three days later, the armistice ended hostilities. Wachusett remained in France for 10 more days and then headed back to the United States-for the first time unmenaced by the danger of enemy U-boats.

    The end of the war, however, did, not signal an end to Wachusett's Navy career. After her arrival back in New York on 12 December, the cargoman loaded 4,445 tons of supplies and, on 22 January 1919, headed back across the Atlantic. She entered port at St. Nazaire, France, on 7 February and, after discharging her cargo, loaded ordnance material for return to the United States. Departing the French coast on 20 February, she made a brief stop in the Azores en route to New York. Diverted from her original destination, she arrived in Philadelphia on 14 March.

    Wachusett loaded a partial cargo at Philadelphia and then moved to New York where she filled out her cargo and topped off her coal bunkers. On 10 April, she set sail from New York bound for Gibraltar. There, she received orders to continue her voyage-destination: Singapore. She reached the British colonial city in the Orient on 27 April and unloaded her cargo there. From Singapore, Wachusett set sail on 5 June for Java in the Netherlands East Indies. She visited the Javanese cities of Weltevreden in June and Batavia at the beginning of July. On 12 July, she headed back to Singapore and departed that British colony on the 22d. Steaming via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, Wachusett refueled in the Azores on 8 September and arrived in New York on the 21st.

    Following voyage repairs, Wachusett was placed out of commission on 6 October 1919 and was returned to the United States Shipping Board that same day. She was retained by the Shipping Board until late in 1923 or early in 1924, at which time all mention of her in mercantile registers ceased.


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