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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Walter A. Luckenbach (ID 3171)



Navy call sign:
George - Boy - Jig - Watch



Civilian call sign (1919):
Love - King - Pup - Cast

Freighter:

  • Built in 1918 by the Seattle Construction and Drydock Co., Seattle, WA
  • Launched 19 December 1917
  • Acquired by the Navy 9 June 1918 at Seattle and commissioned USS Walter A. Luckenbach (ID 3171) the same day
  • Decommissioned 28 July 1919 at Hoboken, NJ and returned to her owner, the Luckenbach Steamship Co. of New York, the same day
  • Sold in 1950 to the New Orleans Coal and Bisso Towboat Co., Inc. and renamed A. L. Bisso
  • Sold again in 1950 to the Turkish firm Marsa Ithalat-Ithracat, T.A.S. and renamed Mardin
  • Believed scrapped 1958/1959.

    Specifications:

  • Displacement 17,170 t.
  • Length 469' 3"
  • Beam 55' 11"
  • Draft 30' 7"
  • Speed 14 kts.
  • Complement 70
  • Propulsion: Two 2,000ihp steam engines, two shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    SS Walter A. Luckenbach
    Walter A. Luckenbach 115k Underway on her trial trip, 30 May 1918, after completion of her construction by the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company, Seattle, Washington.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 65040
    Naval Historical Center
    USS Walter A. Luckenbach (ID 3171)
    Walter A. Luckenbach 113k Panoramic photograph of the ship crowded with troops, probably while leaving St. Nazaire, France, in 1919. Photographed from on board USS Mexican (ID 1655).
    Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Lieutenant Charles Dutreaux.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 99396
    Naval Historical Center
    Walter A. Luckenbach 338k At Newport News, Virginia, in 1919, after bringing men of the 323rd Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army, home from Europe.Some of that unit's Soldiers are paraded in the foreground..
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 104733-A
    Robert Hurst
    Walter A. Luckenbach 99k Panoramic photograph of the 323rd Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army unit's personnel paraded on the waterfront at Newport News, Virginia, immediately after their return to the United States from Europe on board Walter A. Luckenbach, 1919. Walter A. Luckenbach is alongside the pier in the left center background. USS SC-414 is seen bow-on, alongside the pier in the right center.
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 104733
    Walter A. Luckenbach 89k Arriving in New York Harbor, loaded with troops she has transported home from France, 1919. Photographed from USS Scranton (ID 3511).
    Photograph from the USS Scranton photo album kept by J.D. Bartar, one of her crew members.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 99456
    Walter A. Luckenbach 123k In port in 1919, while serving as a troop transport. A U.S. Navy collier is beyond her.
    Photographed by McKnight.
    Donation of Gene B. Reid
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 103217
    Walter A. Luckenbach 112k Arriving in a U.S. East Coast port, 1919. Her decks are crowded with troops, homeward-bound from Europe
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2010
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 107055
    SS Mardin
    Walter A. Luckenbach 135k 10 January 1950
    Philadelphia, PA
    Photo caption: TURKISH FREIGHTER GOING TO FORMOSA. The S.S. Mardin, a freighter owned by Marta T.A.S.of Instanbul, Turkey tied up at a Philadelphia pier where tanks and armored cars enroute to the Chinese Nationalists at Formosa are being loaded aboard
    Associated Press wirephoto 31455
    Tommy Trampp

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History: Walter A. Luckenbach (Id. No. 3171), a steamer launched on 19 December 1917 by the Seattle Construction & Drydock Co. for the Luckenbach Steamship Co., was taken over by the United States Shipping Board early in 1918; delivered to the Navy on 9 June 1918 and commissioned that same day at Seattle, Wash., Lt. Comdr. James A. McDonald, USNRF, in command.

    Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, Walter A. Luckenbach sailed from Seattle on 13 June; but an unsuccessful series of trials forced her to put into the Mare Island Navy Yard for further work and repairs. Those modifications were completed on 18 August, and she returned to sea. Walter A. Luckenbach entered Mejillones, Chile, and loaded 10,000 tons of nitrates. She departed the Chilean port on 10 September, transited the Panama Canal, and arrived at Norfolk, VA., on the 24th. After discharging her cargo and completing voyage repairs, the ship cleared Capes Henry and Charles on 7 October and headed for Philadelphia. There, she loaded Army supplies bound for Europe and, on 29 October, headed for France. After a stop at Gibraltar, Walter A. Luckenbach arrived in Marseille on 14 November, three days after the armistice was signed, discharged her cargo, and loaded ballast for the return voyage. She stood out of Marseille on 26 November, stopped briefly at Gibraltar once again, and arrived in New York on 11 December.

    On the day of her arrival, Walter A. Luckenbach was detached from the Naval Overseas Transportation service and was reassigned to the Transport Force. At New York, she was converted to a troop transport to help in the task of bringing home American troops from Europe. By 22 January 1919, the ship was ready to begin her role in that large movement of people. Between late January and early July, Walter A. Luckenbach made five round-trip voyages to France, two to Bordeaux and three to St. Nazaire. She returned to New York from her final voyage on 11 July; was decommissioned at Hoboken, N.J., on 28 July 1919- and was returned to the Luckenbach Steamship Co. that same day. She entered into mercantile service with that company and labored in its behalf until 1950. During that year, she changed hands and names twice. First, she was sold to the New Orleans Coal & Bisso Towboat Co., Inc., and briefly served the company as SS A. L. Bisso. Later in the year, the Turkish firm Marsa Ithalat-Ithracat, T.A.S., bought her and renamed her SS Mardin. She served that firm and under that name for the remainder of her mercantile career. By 1955, her name had been dropped from the merchant vessel lists.

    ***************************************

    Addendum: (The Mardin [ex-ID-3171] was involved in a bizarre incident in 1957 in Germany. The owner of the vessel at that time, according to Lloyd's Register 1958/59, was Hasim C. Mardin of Istanbul, Turkey.

    She arrived at Bremen to take on and discharge cargo in early 1957, but was not allowed to leave after this, as a number of repair bills were not paid for. So she was taken into custody. This lasted for some time, but during one stormy, pitch black night, the vessel left the port of Bremen clandestinely, with no assistance of tugs, blackened, no position lights on and no pilot aboard and headed at full speed all the way down the winding, treacherous Weser River in order to reach the North Sea.

    When the police realized what had happened the vessel was already off Bremerhaven and about to enter the open sea.

    Then they activated a former German Navy patrol boat in the port of Bremerhaven, which was then available for special duties, as it could run at very high speed. This boat rushed out of the port at full speed, pursuing the fleeing vessel, which was already approaching the three mile border. Finally the police reached the ship, entered it like pirates, still running at full throttle and arrested the master on the bridge. They forced the vessel to return to Bremen, where it was put into custody again. Lloyd's Shipping Index dated January 23, 1958 states: Arrived at Bremen Aug 2, 1957.....in Port Oct 1, 1957.

    To my knowledge the vessel never entered active service again after this. As Lloyd's Register of 1958/59 still kept her, I assume scrapping took place either in late 1958 or early 1959, up to now, however, I do not know where
    this happened.

    Gerhard L. Mueller-Debus


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