Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster. Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive

USS J. Franklin Bell APA-16)
USS J. Franklin Bell (AP-34) (1942 - 1943)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Uniform - Lima - Juliet
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive) Second Row - American Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (7) - World War II Victory Medal
Third Row - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp) - Philippines Presidential Unit Citation - Philippines Liberation Medal (1)

Harris Class Transport:
  • Laid down, 13 May 1919, for the Emergency Fleet Corp., as the passenger/cargo liner SS Keystone State under USSB contract # 2579 at New York Shipbuilding Corp, Camden, N.J.
  • Launched, 5 May 1920
  • Delivered, 28 May 1921, to the Pacific Steamship Co.
  • Renamed SS President McKinley, 9 June 1922
  • Turned over to the Admiral Orient LIne, 21 December 1922
  • Returned to the US Maritime Commission in 1939 for lay up in the Reserve Fleet at Seattle, WA.
  • Acquired by the U.S. Army Transport Service, 26 October 1940
  • Assigned to the A.T.S. Pacific Fleet with homeport at the San Francisco POE, Fort Mason, CA.
  • Renamed USAT J. Franklin Bell, 12 February 1941
  • Transferred to the US Navy, 2 December 1941,
  • Converted to a Naval Transport
  • Commissioned USS J. Franklin Bell (AP-34), 2 April 1942, CAPT. Herbert J. Grassie USN in command
  • Reclassified an Attack Transport (APA-16), 1 February 1943
  • During WWII USS J. Franklin Bell was assigned to Asiatic-Pacific Theater:
    TransRon Twelve, COMO. H.B Knowles USN (17);
    TransDiv Thirty-Four and participated in the following campaigns:

    Asiatic-Pacific Campaigns
    Campaign and Dates Campaign and Dates
    Aleutians operation
    Attu occupation, 11 to 15 May 1943
    Tinian capture and occupation, 21 to 28 July 1944
    Gilbert Islands operation
    Tarawa Atoll capture and occupation, 20 November to 8 December 1943
    Leyte operation
    Leyte landings (Dulag), 20 October 1944
    Marshall Islands operation
    Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, 31 January to 8 February 1944
    Okinawa Gunto operation
    Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 17 to 18 June 1945
    Marianas operation
    Capture and occupation of Saipan, 16 June to 27 July 1944

  • Following World War II USS J. Franklin Bell was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East from 11 to 22 October 1945
  • Decommissioned and returned to the US Army, 21 March 1946
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 12 April 1946
  • USS J. Franklin Bell earned seven battle stars for World War II service
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission by the War Department, 12 February 1947, at Suisun Bay, Benecia, CA.
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 2 January 1948, by the Maritime Commission to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore MD.
  • Withdrawn from the National Defense Reserve Fleet, 2 April 1948, by agent National Steel and Shipbuilding CO (NASSCO) San Diego, CA.
    Displacement 13,529 t.(lt), 21,900 t.(fl)
    Length 535' 2"
    Beam 72'
    Draft 31' 3" (limiting)
    Speed 17 kts.
    46 Officers
    637 Enlisted
    Troop Accommodations
    103 Officers
    1,740 Enlisted
    Cargo Capacity 200,000 cu. ft., 2,300 t.
    four single 3"/50 dual purpose gun mounts
    two twin 40mm AA gun mounts
    sixteen single 20mm AA gun mounts
    Fuel Capacities
    NSFO 25.720 Bbls
    Diesel 375 Bbls
    two Bethlehem Curtis turbines
    eight Babcock and Wilcox header-type boilers, 265psi, 480°
    single Falk Main Reduction Gear
    Ship's Service Generators three turbo-drive 300Kw, 120V D.C.
    two propellers, designated shaft horsepower 12,500

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed
    Merchant Service
    George Clymer 121k Admiral Orient Lines cruise ship SS President McKinley 1923 advertisement for sailings from Seattle to Japan. Tommy Trampp
    J Franklin Bell 43k SS President McKinley 1930 Souvenir Passenger List and post card. Tommy Trampp
    J Franklin Bell 99k
    J Franklin Bell 50k
    USS J. Franklin Bell (AP-34)
    J Franklin Bell 176k

    An Army name retained. James Franklin Bell was born at Shelbyville, Ky., and graduated from the Military Academy in 1878. Frontier duty filled most of his years as a junior officer. During the Philippine Insurrection near Porac, Luzon, 11 December 1899, he "charged seven insurgents with his pistol and compelled the surrender of the captain and two privates under a close fire from the remaining insurgents concealed in a bamboo thicket." His heroism on this occasion won him the Medal of Honor. Promoted to major general in 1907, Bell served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1906 to 1910. He died in New York City 8 January 1919.
    Digital ID: ggbain 03396
    Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
    Bill Gonyo
    J Franklin Bell 860k USS J. Franklin Bell (AP-34) before her February, 1943 reclassification to APA. Note the 5"/51 gun and two 3"/50 guns aft. Another two 3"/50 guns are forward.
    US National Archives, RG-19-LCM photo # unknown, courtesy
    Mike Green
    USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16)
    J Franklin Bell 81k USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16) at anchor, date and location unknown. Russ Padden, courtesy Charles Fitch
    J Franklin Bell 69k Broadside view of USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16) at anchor, date and location unknown. Russ Padden, courtesy Charles Fitch
    J Franklin Bell 62k Stern view of USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16) at anchor, date and location unknown. Russ Padden, courtesy Charles Fitch
    J Franklin Bell 193k USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16) moored pierside, date and location unknown. Darryl Baker
    J Franklin Bell 35k USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16) underway during shakedown cruise, 30 April 1944, after completing a major overhaul and refit at the L.A. Shipbuilding Yards in San Pedro, CA. Refit included a fresh "camo" paint job (Measure 32/41T) along with a new model "SG" surface-search radar installed at the highest point on the ship.  
    J Franklin Bell 220k USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16) at anchor off Saipan, Marianas Islands in 1944. Charles E. Mac Kay

    USS J. Franklin Bell (APA-16)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Commanding Officers
    01CAPT. Grassie, Herbert J. USN (USNA 1916) :RADM2 April 1942 - 2 November 1942
    02CDR. McGovern, John Benedict :RADM2 November 1942 - 22 October 1943
    03CAPT. Ritchie, Oliver Henderson, USN (USNA 1915)22 October 1943 - 31 October 1945
    04CAPT. Walker, Charles Hardin, USN (USNA 1923)31 October 1945 - 20 March 1946
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    APA-16 J. Franklin Bell at Amphibious Forces World War II

    Back To The Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The US Army Transport Photo Index Back To The US Navy Service Force Ship Type Index Back To The US Navy Amphibious Ship Type Index Back To The US Navy Transport (AP) Photo Index Back To The US Navy Attack Transport (APA) Photo Index
    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster.
    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
    Last Updated 26 April 2019