USS West Haven underway, circa December 1917
|Name:||USS West Haven|
|Builder:||Skinner & Eddy|
|Laid down:||13 Aug 1917|
|Launched:||1 Nov 1917|
|Acquired:||24 Dec 1917|
|Commissioned:||18 Jun 1918 – 21 Jan 1920|
|In service:||18 Jun 1918 – 2 Nov 1942|
|Beam:||54 ft (16 m)|
|Draft:||24 ft 2 in (7.37 m)|
|Depth of hold:||29 ft 9 in (9.07 m)|
|Installed power:||1 × 3-cylinder 2800 IHP Puget Sound Machinery triple expansion|
|Speed:||11 kn (20 km/h)|
|Armament:||(World War I): 1 × 6", 1 × 6-pounder|
USS West Haven (ID-2159) was a steel–hulled freighter that saw service with the U.S. Navy during World War I, and which later saw convoy service during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II.
Originally named War Flame, West Haven completed two supply voyages for the Navy during World War I, and two relief missions in the immediate postwar period before being decommissioned. Between the wars, West Haven was placed in commercial service as SS West Haven and operated for several different companies. In 1929 her name was changed to SS Marian Otis Chandler and in 1938 to SS Onomea.
Following the outbreak of World War II, Onomea was acquired by the British Ministry of War Transport, renamed SS Empire Leopard and placed into convoy service on the North Atlantic, delivering vital supplies from the United States to Britain. In November 1942, while operating with Convoy SC-107, Empire Leopard was torpedoed and sunk by U-402, commanded by U-boat ace Siegfried von Forstner.
West Haven was built as War Flame in Seattle, Washington in 1917 at Plant No. 1 of the Skinner & Eddy Corporation. A product of the United States Shipping Board 's emergency wartime shipbuilding program, War Flame was laid down on 13 August 1917 and launched on 1 November 1917 in what was then apparently a new world keel-to-launch record of just 67 working days (81 calendar days). The ship was completed an additional 43 working (54 calendar) days later on 24 December 1917—a keel-to-delivery time of 110 working days (135 calendar days), establishing a new company record.
When completed, War Flame had a deadweight tonnage of 8,480 tons (8,800 nominal) and a gross register tonnage of 5,520 tons (5,600 nominal). The ship had an overall length of 423 feet 9 inches, a beam of 54 feet and a draft of 24 feet 2 inches. War Flame was powered by a three-cylinder triple expansion steam engine supplied by the Puget Sound Machinery Depot of Seattle, with cylinders of 25, 42 and 72 inches respectively and a stroke of 48 inches, which drove a single screw propeller and delivered a service speed of 11 knots.
After completion, War Flame was handed over on 24 December 1917 to the U.S. Navy, who named the ship West Haven. On 18 June 1918, the vessel was commissioned into service at New Orleans as USS West Haven (ID-2159) for operation with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), with Lt. William M. Tonken, USNRF, in command.
Laden with general Army supplies, West Haven departed New Orleans on 3 July and steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, where she joined a convoy sailing for Europe. She arrived at Bordeaux, France, on 12 August 1918 and unloaded her cargo over the ensuing days. Departing Bordeaux on the 21st, West Haven arrived at New York on 5 September. After shifting to Philadelphia the same day, the vessel there took on board 5,125 tons of general Army supplies before departing on 17 September and steaming to Norfolk, whence she got underway on 23 September in a convoy bound for France.
After discharging her cargo at Brest, West Haven departed that French port on 3 November. While the vessel was steaming home, the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918 ending World War I. However, the return of peace did not change the ship's duties, as there remained the postwar task of reconstructing Europe which had been devastated by the war.
Following a brief layover in New York, West Haven loaded 7,075 tons of general Army cargo at Baltimore and sailed on 5 December, bound for France. The ship made La Pallice on 2 January 1919, discharged her cargo over the ensuing days, picked up a return Army cargo, and sailed for Norfolk on the 26th. En route home, she ran low on fuel and was forced to reduce her speed to three and one-half knots. She finally reached Bermuda on 28 February.
After topping up her bunkers, West Haven arrived at Norfolk on 4 March to load 673 tons of cargo for her fourth and final voyage for NOTS. Departing 28 March, she arrived at La Pallice on 12 April where she discharged her cargo. Moving on to Brest, West Haven loaded 2,306 tons of captured German ordnance, aviation supplies and 375 tons of steel rail ballast for the return journey. Departing for New York on 17 May, West Haven made an intermediate stop on 23 May at Ponta Delgada, Azores, probably to refuel, before continuing on to her destination.
Some days later, West Haven came across the stricken British steamer Beechleaf. The 10,000-ton cargo carrier had been in transit from Baton Rouge to Ireland with a cargo of fuel oil when her engines and steering gear were disabled by a fire which killed one crewman and severely burned another. West Haven took the disabled vessel in tow to Ambrose Light, arriving 7 June, before continuing on to New York where she berthed the following day.
Soon after arriving at New York on 8 June, West Haven was placed in line for demobilization. She was accordingly decommissioned on 21 January 1920, simultaneously struck from the Navy List and returned to the USSB.
After decommissioning from the Navy, West Haven was returned to the USSB and sold in 1920 to the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Steamship Corporation, which appears to have put the vessel into service as a coastal freighter, operating between the west and east coasts of the U.S.
In November 1921, West Haven sailed from the east coast to Los Angeles with the unusual deck cargo of a fifty-ton Lawler racing yacht, Idalia, owned by C. B. Eyer of the Golden State Woolen Mills. At Los Angeles Harbor, the yacht was lifted from West Haven's deck by slings suspended from shear legs at the docks of the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, after which West Haven was moved away and the yacht lowered into the water. Idalia's arrival in this unusual manner was hailed as an innovation likely to give "great stimulus to the yachting spirit" of Los Angeles.
In September 1922, West Haven was repossessed by the USSB after the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Steamship Corporation went bankrupt.No further records of the ship's movements appear until 1929, indicating that the USSB may have laid the vessel up through the 1920s because of the postwar oversupply of shipping.
In February 1929, West Haven was sold by the USSB to the Los Angeles Steamship Company (LASSCO), who at this time were in the process of expanding their line from four ships to ten. 's founder, Harry Chandler, and placed the vessel into service once again as a coastal freighter.LASSCO renamed the ship SS Marian Otis Chandler after the wife of LASSCO
In a repeat performance of West Haven's rescue of the stricken freighter Beechleaf in June 1919, Marian Otis Chandler participated in the rescue of another vessel on the high seas, the USSB freighter West Hardaway, in December 1929. After battling gales for three weeks in the North Atlantic, West Hardaway had run out of fuel and was drifting helpless when Marian Otis Chandler arrived on the scene to tow the vessel 500 miles to Halifax, Nova Scotia. West Hardaway, which had been on a voyage from Grangemouth, Scotland to Norfolk, Virginia, sustained some damage in the episode.
In June 1930, Marian Otis Chandler was placed into service between Los Angeles and Hawaii after the LASSCO liner City of Honolulu was badly damaged in a fire.Marian Otis Chandler continued making runs to Hawaii until early 1931, when she resumed coastal service. Over the next few years she operated from Los Angeles to west coast ports such as Seattle and Aberdeen, Washington; Portland and St. Helens, Oregon; and to east coast ports including Richmond, Virginia and Philadelphia.
By about 1934, Marian Otis Chandler appears to have been shifted back to making regular runs to Hawaii. In 1937, the Los Angeles Steamship Company was wound up and its assets sold to the parent company, the Matson Line. The Matson Line continued to operate Marian Otis Chandler in the Hawaiian trade into the late 1930s.In 1938, Matson renamed the ship SS Onomea.
In 1940, Onomea was acquired by the British Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) in order to help alleviate the shipping shortage caused by losses to German U-Boats. Renamed SS Empire Leopard,the ship would spend the next two years in convoy service between the United States and Britain, during the Battle of the Atlantic. Between February 1941 and August 1942, Empire Leopard completed five round trips across the Atlantic, carrying vital supplies of steel, sulphur and other goods from the United States to the British industrial cities of Liverpool and Hull.
After crossing from Liverpool to the United States in February–March 1941, Empire Leopard picked up a cargo of steel at Baltimore and joined Convoy HX-130 at Halifax, Nova Scotia bound for Liverpool and Hull, arriving at the latter destination in late June. Returning to Hampton Roads, Virginia in July, Empire Leopard loaded a cargo of sulphur and completed her second round trip to Britain with Convoy SC-50, arriving at Hull on 8 November.
Empire Leopard's third round trip was completed from New York with Convoy SC-67 in February 1942, this time with a cargo of general goods bound for the Tyne, England. The fourth was made from Philadelphia to Hull with Convoy SC-82 in April–May 1942 with a cargo of steel and general supplies. Empire Leopard's fifth and final successful round trip between Britain and the United States was completed from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Hull in August 1942, sailing in Convoy SC-95 with a cargo of steel and general goods. Two ships in this latter convoy were sunk by U-boats during the crossing.
Following the discharge of her cargoes at Hull, Empire Leopard made her final voyage to North America via Methil and Loch Ewe, Scotland to Botwood, Newfoundland via St. John's in September–October 1942. At Botwood, the ship took on a cargo of 7,410 tons of zinc concentrates and munitions and sailed for St. John's on 24 October, arriving 26 October. At St. John's, Empire Leopard joined another 44 merchant ships and a small number of escorts preparing to sail for Liverpool as Convoy SC-107. The convoy departed for Liverpool on 30 October.
On 2 November 1942, Convoy SC-107 was intercepted by the German wolf pack Veilchen ("Violet"). U-boat ace Siegfried von Forstner commanding U-402 was the first to score a kill. At around 4:10 am, U-402 fired two torpedoes, sinking the cargo ships Dalcroy and Rinos . U-402 struck again a few hours later, firing two torpedoes at 8:03 am, one of which hit and sank Empire Antelope and the other hitting Empire Leopard, which caused the ship to explode. All the crew on board Empire Antelope were rescued, but of the 34 crew and seven gunners aboard Empire Leopard, only three crew members survived. The survivors from both vessels were picked up by the British rescue ship Stockport and transferred to Reykjavík, arriving there on 8 November. Wolf pack Vielchen would sink more than a dozen ships from Convoy SC-107 (including, coincidentally, Hobbema, a sister ship of Empire Leopard) before being driven off by Liberator aircraft from No. 120 Squadron RAF a few days later.
The SS Empire Miniver was a British steam merchant ship. She was originally an American merchant, launched in 1918 as SS West Cobalt. During a brief stint in the United States Navy in 1919, she was known as USS West Cobalt (ID-3836).
SS Black Osprey was a cargo ship for the American Diamond Lines and the British Cairn Line. She was formerly known as SS West Arrow when she was launched for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) during World War I. The ship was inspected by the United States Navy for possible use as USS West Arrow (ID-2585) but was neither taken into the Navy nor ever commissioned under that name.
USS West Carnifax (ID-3812) was a cargo ship in the United States Navy shortly after World War I. After she was decommissioned from the Navy, the ship was known as SS West Carnifax, SS Exford, and SS Pan Royal in civilian service under American registry.
Seisho Maru was a cargo ship for Mitsui Bussan Kaisho in military service that was sunk by an American submarine during World War II. The ship had been built as SS West Caruth, a cargo ship for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) shortly after the end of World War I. Shortly after completion, the ship was inspected by the United States Navy for possible use as USS West Caruth (ID-2850) but was neither taken into the Navy nor ever commissioned under that name. Before being sold to Japanese owners in 1928, she was also known as SS Exmoor and SS Antonio Tripcovich.
MS West Honaker was a diesel-powered cargo ship of the United States Maritime Commission (USMC) that was part of the "Corncob Fleet" of old ships sunk as part of the "gooseberry" breakwater off Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion. The ship was originally built as SS West Honaker, a steam-powered cargo ship built for the United States Shipping Board (USSB), a predecessor of the USMC. At the time of her completion in 1920, the ship was inspected by the United States Navy for possible use as USS West Honaker (ID-4455) but was neither taken into the Navy nor ever commissioned under that name.
MS West Grama, sometimes spelled as West Gramma, was a diesel-powered cargo ship of the United States Maritime Commission (USMC) that was sunk as part of the "gooseberry" breakwater off Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion. Prior to her diesel conversion, she was known as SS West Grama. In 1919, she was briefly taken up by the United States Navy under the name USS West Grama (ID-3794).
SS Empire Simba was a British steam-powered cargo ship. She was originally an American ship, launched in 1918 as SS West Cohas. During a stint in the United States Navy from 1918 to 1919, she was called USS West Cohas (ID-3253).
SS Mauna Loa was a steam-powered cargo ship of the Matson Navigation Company that was sunk in the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. She was christened SS West Conob in 1919 and renamed SS Golden Eagle in 1928. At the time of her completion in 1919, the ship was inspected by the United States Navy for possible use as USS West Conob (ID-4033) but was neither taken into the Navy nor commissioned.
USS West Corum (ID-3982) was a cargo ship for the United States Navy in 1919. The ship was built as SS West Corum and reverted to that name at the end of her Navy service. During World War II, the ship was United States Army transport ship USAT West Corum, later renamed to Will H. Point.
USS West Lianga (ID-2758) was a cargo ship for the United States Navy during World War I. She was later known as SS Helen Whittier and SS Kalani in civilian service under American registry, as SS Empire Cheetah under British registry, and as SS Hobbema under Dutch registry.
USS West Ekonk (ID-3313) was a cargo ship for the United States Navy during World War I. She was later known as SS West Ekonk in civilian service under American registry, and as SS Empire Wildebeeste under British registry.
SS West Hosokie was a steel–hulled cargo ship built in 1918 as part of the World War I emergency wartime shipbuilding program organized by the United States Shipping Board.
SS West Gotomska was a steel–hulled cargo ship built in 1918 as part of the World War I emergency wartime shipbuilding program organized by the United States Shipping Board.
SS West Cressey was a steel-hulled cargo ship that saw a brief period of service as an auxiliary with the U.S. Navy in the aftermath of World War I.
Norhauk was a 6,086 GRT refrigerated cargo ship which was built to Design 1015 by G. M. Standifer Construction Company, Vancouver, Washington in 1919 as Waban for the United States Shipping Board (USSB). After service with Lykes Brothers-Ripley Steamship Co Inc she was transferred to the Ministry of Shipping in 1940 and renamed Empire Sambar. A boiler-room explosion damaged her in 1941. After repairs she was renamed Empire Beaver. She was transferred to the Norwegian Government in 1942 and renamed Norhauk, serving until she struck a mine and sank in December 1943.
SS Empire Chamois was a 5,864 GRT cargo ship which was built in 1918 by Ames Shipbuilding and Drydock Co, Seattle. She was ordered by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique but was requisitioned by the United States Navy and commissioned as USS West Mount with the pennant number ID-3202 in 1918. She was decommissioned in May 1919 and passed to the United States Shipping Board (USSB) as SS Westmount. In 1927 she was sold to the Dimon Steamship Corporation and renamed SS Pacific Redwood. She returned to the USSB in 1932 and passed to the United States Maritime Commission (USMC) in 1937. In 1940, she was passed to the Ministry of Shipping, passing to the Ministry of War Transport in 1941 and being renamed SS Empire Chamois. She was sold to Astral Shipping Co Ltd in 1946 and renamed SS Granview. In 1949 she was sold to the Compagnia Maritime del Este, Panama and renamed SS Chamois, serving until 1958 when she was scrapped. She was the last Ames-built ship afloat.
Western Maid was a 5,760 GRT cargo ship that was built in 1918 by the Northwest Steel Company, Portland, Oregon, USA. She was built for the United States Shipping Board (USSB), but was commissioned into the United States Navy on completion as USS Western Maid, with the pennant number ID-3703. In 1919 she was decommissioned and returned to the USSB. In 1937 she was passed to the United States Maritime Commission. In 1940 she was transferred to the British Ministry of Shipping and renamed Empire Cormorant, passing to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) in 1941. In 1945 she was scuttled in the North Atlantic with a cargo of obsolete war matériel.
Corvus was a steam cargo ship built in 1919 by Columbia River Shipbuilding Company of Portland for the United States Shipping Board as part of the wartime shipbuilding program of the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) to restore the nation's Merchant Marine. The freighter was operated on international and domestic routes through 1944. Early in 1945 she was transferred to Soviet Union as part of lend-lease program. After several months of operation, the freighter was rammed by another vessel on 31 May 1945 and was beached to avoid sinking. She was subsequently raised and towed to Portland where she was scrapped in 1946.
USS Radnor (ID-3023) was a cargo ship and later troop transport that served with the United States Navy in 1918–19, during and shortly after World War I. The ship later went into merchant service, and in 1948 under Chinese ownership reportedly became the first all-Chinese ship to visit South America. Radnor was originally ordered as SS War Indian by a private company, but with U.S. entry into World War I in April 1917, she was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy for use as a cargo ship. Commissioned as USS Radnor (ID-3023) in May 1918, the ship spent the remainder of the war transporting cargoes for the Navy. After the war, USS Radnor was converted into a troop transport and used to repatriate U.S. troops home from France.
Cansumset was a steam cargo ship built in 1918-1919 by Pacific Coast Shipbuilding Company of Bay Point for the United States Shipping Board as part of the wartime shipbuilding program of the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) to restore the nation's Merchant Marine. The vessel was largely employed on the Pacific Coast of the United States to Europe route until 1921 when it was laid up and eventually broken up for scrap in 1930. Due to frequent breakdowns during her short career the freighter was known as the "Hoodoo" ship of the USSB.