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Identification Numbered Vessel Photo Archive

Watonwan (ID 4296)

Civilian call sign (1919):
Love - Nan - Jig - Watch


  • Built in 1918 by the Merchants' Shipbuilding Co., Bristol, PA
  • Commissioned 25 October 1918
  • Delivered to the Navy 4 February 1919 at Philadelphia, PA
  • Decommissioned 14 May 1919, returned to the United States Shipping Board and struck from the Navy list
  • Abandoned in 1931.


  • Displacement 12,200 t.
  • Length 417' 9"
  • Beam 54' 2"
  • Depth of hold 32' 10"
  • Draft 25' 6"
  • Speed 11 kts.
  • Complement 60
  • Armament: One 4"/50 and one 3"/50 mount
  • Propulsion: Three Babcock and Wilcox boilers, one 3,000shp Westinghouse compound steam turbine, one shaft.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Watonwan 234k 14 August 1918
    Post card of launching
    Watonwan 123k Fitting out on 23 December 1918 at the Merchants' Shipbuilding Corp., Harriman, Pennsylvania14 August 1918
    National Archives photo from Shipscribe
    Robert Hurst

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History: Watonwan, a single-screw, steel-hulled freighter built in 1918 for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) at Bristol, Pa., by the Merchants' Shipbuilding Co., was taken over by the Navy for use with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), assigned Id. No. 4296, and commissioned at Philadelphia on 4 February 1919, Lt. Comdr. Arnold H. Lewis, USNRF, in command.

    After loading 7,087 tons of flour, Watonwan departed Philadelphia on 19 February, bound for the British Isles, and arrived in Falmouth, England, on 5 March. After discharging a part of her cargo there, she departed that port on the 12th and called at Plymouth and Gibraltar before sailing from the latter port on 22 March for Italy. Reaching Genoa on 26 March, the ship discharged the last of her cargo of flour there loaded 1,250 tons of stone ballast, and sailed via Gibraltar for the United States.

    Watonwan tarried briefly at Norfolk, arriving on the 26th and departing the next day, before moving on to New Orleans, La. She arrived there on 8 May and was decommissioned on 14 May. She was simultaneously struck from the Navy list and turned back to the Shipping Board. Laid up in 1923, Watonwan was eventually abandoned, due to age and deterioration, in 1931.

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