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Section Patrol Craft Photo Archive

Challenger (ID 3630)

Civilian call sign:
Love - Nan - Dog - Sail

  • Built in 1918 by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA (also listed as the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company at Alameda, California) for the U.S. Shipping Board's Emergency Fleet Corporation
  • Acquired by the Navy, 4 October 1918 and commissioned USS Challenger (ID 3630) the same day
  • Decommissioned, 2 May 1919 and transferred to the Shipping Board the same day
  • Later operated by the American-South African Line, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-155 on 17 May 1942, while in the West Indies en route to Capetown, South Africa. Eight lives were lost with her,
    among them two members of her U.S. Navy armed guard detachment.


    Displacement 16,100 t.
    Length 410'
    Beam 56'
    Draft 30'
    Speed 11 kts.
    Complement 45
    Armament: Unknown
    Propulsion: One 2,600ihp steam engine, one shaft.

    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Challenger 78k Underway, probably during builder's trials, circa early October 1918.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 101390
    Naval Historical Center

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:


    One who issues an invitation to a contest.

    Challenger (No. 3630), a cargo ship, was built in 1918 by Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif., under a Shipping Board contract; transferred to the Navy 4 October 1918; commissioned the same day, Lieutenant Commander G. T. January, USNRF, in command; and reported to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service.

    Challenger cleared San Francisco 9 October 1918 for Mejillones and Antofagasta, Chile, where she loaded nitrates. Sailing on to deliver her cargo at Pensacola, Fla., 11 December, Challenger was next ordered to New Orleans to load cotton and steel for the French government. She was transferred to J. H. W. Steele Co. for operation. After a voyage in January and February 1919 carrying cargo to France to supply the Army of Occupation, Challenger returned to Baltimore, Md. She was decommissioned there 2 May 1919, and returned to the Shipping Board the same day.

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