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:
Identification Numbered Vessel Photo Archive

Challenger (ID 3630)

Civilian call sign:
Love - Nan - Dog - Sail

  • Built in 1918 by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA for the U.S. Shipping Board's Emergency Fleet Corporation
  • Launched 4 July 1918
  • Acquired by the Navy 4 October 1918 and commissioned USS Challenger (ID 3630) the same day
  • Decommissioned 2 May 1919, struck from the Navy Register and transferred to the United States Shipping Board the same day
  • Acquired in 1937 by the American-South African Line
  • 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
  • Propulsion: Three single ended oil fired boilers, one 2,600shp Curtis geared steam turbine, 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.

    Back To The Main Photo Index Back to the Identification Numbered Vessel (ID) Photo Index

    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster

    This page created by Joseph M. Radigan and maintained by David Wright
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History