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Identification Numbered Vessel Photo Archive

West Gambo (ID 3220)

Civilian call sign (1919):
Love - Mike - Have - Dog


  • Built in 1918 by the Skinner and Eddy Corp., Seattle, WA
  • Launched 4 July 1918
  • Acquired by the Navy 20 July 1918 and commissioned West Gambo (ID 3220) the same day
  • Decommissioned 17 January 1919 and returned to the United States Shipping Board
  • Sold to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. in late 1936/early 1937
  • Sold in 1941 to the Ministry of War Transportation, London, England, managed by Watts, Watts and Co, London and renamed Empire Hartebeest
  • Torpedoed and sunk 20 September 1942 at 5620'N 3810'W by the German submarine U-596.


  • Displacement 12,225 t.
  • Length 423' 9"
  • Beam 54'
  • Depth of hold 29' 9"
  • Draft 24' 2¼"
  • Speed 10.5 kts.
  • Complement 70
  • Propulsion: Three single ended boilers, one 2,500shp steam turbine engine with reduction gear, one shaft.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    West Gambo 159k 4 July 1918
    National Archives photo 165-WW 499 82
    Mike Mohl

    Commanding Officers
    01LCDR Hiram E. Knight, USNRF1918
    Courtesy Joe Radigan

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships: West Gambo, a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built under a United States Shipping Board contract at Seattle, Wash., by Skinner and Eddy Corp., was launched on 4 July 1918, acquired by the Navy on 20 July 1918 for use with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), designated Id. No. 3220; and commissioned the same day at Seattle, Lt. Comdr. H. E. Knight, USNRF, in command.

    West Gambo departed Seattle on 30 July bound for Port Costa, where she loaded a full cargo of flour consigned to the Red Cross. After transiting the Panama Canal, she arrived at New York on 31 August. The ship sailed in convoy for Russian waters on 18 September and reached Archangel on 12 October. The cargo vessel was unloaded by 2 November and, on that day, headed via Glasgow, Scotland, for the United States.

    She made port at New York on 13 December and was soon placed in line for demobilization. Decommissioned and returned to the Shipping Board on 17 January 1919, the freighter remained in the custody of that agency until sold to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. in late 1936 or early 1937.

    Sometime in 1941, the British government acquired the ship and renamed her Empire Hartebeest, in response to the island nation's need for merchantmen to replace ships sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic. On 20 September 1942, while steaming in company with Convoy SC-100, Empire Hartebeest was torpedoed and sunk by U-596.

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