USAHS Blanche F. Sigman

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USAHS Blanche F. Sigman in port, c. 1944–1946
USAHS Blanche F. Sigman in port, c. 1944–1946
Career
Name: SS Stanford White
Namesake: Stanford White
Owner: United States Maritime Commission (USMC)
Operator: United States Lines, Inc.
Builder: California Shipbuilding Corp.
Los Angeles, California
Way number: 7
Laid down: 9 March 1943
Launched: 5 April 1943
Completed: 17 April 1943
In service: after 17 April 1943
Out of service: November 1943
Fate: transferred to the War Department
Career (U.S. Army)
Name: USAHS Blanche F. Sigman
Namesake: First Lieutenant Blanche F. Sigman, U.S. Army nurse killed at Anzio
Owner: War Department
Operator: Army Transportation Service
Acquired: November 1943
Refit: Todd Hoboken Yard, November 1943 – June 1944
In service: July 1944
Out of service: November 1948
Homeport: Charleston
New York
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 1974
General characteristics
Class & type: Liberty ship
type EC2-S-C1, standard
Tonnage: 7,000 long tons deadweight (DWT)
Length: 441 ft 6 in (135 m)
Beam: 56 ft 10.75 in (17.3419 m)
Draft: 27 ft 9.25 in (8.4646 m)
Propulsion: 2 × oil-fired boilers
1 × triple-expansion steam engine, 2,500 horsepower (1,900 kW)
1 × screw propeller
Speed: 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h)
Capacity: 10,800 long tons deadweight (DWT)
Complement: 41
Armament: Stern-mounted 4"/50 caliber (102 mm) gun for use against surfaced submarines
variety of anti-aircraft guns
Differences as USAHS Blanche F. Sigman:[1]
Tonnage: 7,933 gross tons
Draft: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Range: 17,000 nautical miles (31,000 km; 20,000 mi)
Capacity: 595 patients
Armament: None

USAHS Blanche F. Sigman was a United States Army hospital ship during World War II. The ship was completed in April 1943 as Liberty ship SS Stanford White. When selected for conversion to a hospital ship, she was originally assigned the name USAHS Poppy, but never operated under that name. After being decommissioned as a hospital ship, she became U.S. Army transport USAT Blanche F. Sigman.

SS Stanford White, named in honor of American architect Stanford White, was built by California Shipbuilding Corporation of Los Angeles for the United States Maritime Commission in early 1943. Laid down in March 1943 and launched the following month, the ship was assigned to United States Lines, Inc. for merchant operation by the War Shipping Administration (WSA). Stanford White made her way from California to New York and from that port made one transatlantic round trip to Liverpool.

In November 1943, the WSA allocated the ship to the U.S. Army, which converted her to a hospital ship. Though initially assigned the name Poppy, she was instead named in honor of First Lieutenant Blanche F. Sigman, a U.S. Army nurse killed in action in Italy. The hospital ship was initially based in Charleston, South Carolina, and made multiple voyages to ports in England, the Mediterranean, and France. After her homeport was changed to New York in December 1945, she made several more runs to Europe as a hospital ship, then converted to USAT Blanche F. Sigman in April 1946. As a transport, the ship made numerous trips bringing home nurses and military personnel prior to entering the National Defense Reserve Fleet in 1948. The ship was declared surplus by the Army in 1949, and sold for scrapping in 1974.

Liberty ship[edit]

Stanford White (MC Hull No. 738) was laid down on 9 March 1943 on ship way 7 at California Shipbuilding Corp. (Calship) of Los Angeles as a standard Liberty ship.[2] The ship was launched on Monday, 5 April 1943 (the same day as another Calship-built Liberty, Benjamin Cardozo), and delivered 17 April 1943, taking 39 days from start to delivery.[2][3] The ship was initially to be launched on Saturday, 3 April, but had suffered minor damage from a fire the day before.[3]

Though it is not known where Stanford White spent the first five months of her merchant career, she spent the last two in the Atlantic.[4] She sailed from Galveston, Texas on 12 September 1943 and arrived in Key West on 16 September.[5] The ship departed the same day for New York and arrived there on 22 September.[6] On 28 September the ship, carrying a general cargo, joined a convoy headed to Liverpool, where it arrived on 13 October.[7] Five days later, the Stanford White set out for New York, arriving back there on 4 November.[8]

Hospital ship[edit]

In late November 1943 the ship was transferred by the WSA to the War Department for operation as a Hague Convention hospital ship by the U.S. Army. The ship put into the Todd Hoboken Shipyard at the Port of New York for conversion, remaining there until completion on 30 June 1944. The ship was initially assigned the name Poppy, under the then-current policy of naming Army hospital ships after flowers, but never operated under that name.[1] The ship was instead named after First Lieutenant Blanche F. Sigman, a U.S. Army nurse killed in action on 7 February 1944 on the beachhead during Operation Shingle, the Allied landings at Anzio.[1][9]

After sailing for the Clyde and back to New York in July on its first mercy mission, Blanche F. Sigman moved to its new homeport of Charleston in August 1944. Sailing later that month, the Sigman headed to the Mersey and Liverpool. In October the ship sailed for Gibraltar, Oran, and Leghorn. In December, it repeated its previous voyage but also stopped at Naples as well, eventually making its way back to Charleston in January 1945. Throughout 1945, the hospital ship made six transatlantic treks, visiting Marseille three times, Naples, Oran, Gibraltar, Milford Haven, Wales, Avonmouth, Cherbourg, and Horta. The Sigman '​s sixth mission of the year was a return trip to Cherbourg that ended with a return to its new homeport of New York.[1]

From New York, Blanche F. Sigman made three sojourns, calling at Cherbourg for a third time, Bremerhaven three times, The Downs, and Le Havre. While in Europe during the third trip, the ship was decommissioned as a hospital ship in April 1946 and returned to New York with a load of Army and Red Cross nurses, and members of the Women's Army Corps.[1][10] Throughout 1947 and into 1948, the Sigman made numerous trips for the Army, primarily between Bremerhaven and New York.[11]

On 22 November 1948, Blanche F. Sigman entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) at the James River in Virginia.[12] Loaded with permanent ballast of 600 long tons (610 t) of pig iron and 490 long tons (500 t) of concrete blocks, the former hospital ship sat in mothballs for 25 years before being offered for disposal in late 1973.[13] The ship was awarded to Max Wender for scrapping on 23 January 1974 for $145,115, and was withdrawn from the NDRF and delivered to Wender on 17 May 1974.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Charles, p. 331.
  2. ^ a b Colton, Tim. "California Shipbuilding Corporation, Los Angeles CA". Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Three ships will hit water today". Los Angeles Times. 5 April 1943. p. A1. 
  4. ^ "Port Arrivals/Departures: West Corum". Arnold Hague's Ports Database. Convoy Web. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  5. ^ "Convoy HK.131". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. ConvoyWeb. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  6. ^ "Convoy KN.265". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. ConvoyWeb. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  7. ^ "Convoy HX.259". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. ConvoyWeb. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  8. ^ "Convoy ON.207". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. ConvoyWeb. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  9. ^ "Army names nurses killed near Anzio" (fee). The New York Times. 5 March 1944. p. 17. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  10. ^ "Nurse braves storm to help man at sea" (fee). The New York Times. 22 April 1946. p. 22. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  11. ^ See the "Shipping—Mails" feature in The New York Times on, for example, 11 September and 24 November 1947, and 12 February, 24 June, and 16 September 1948.
  12. ^ a b "Custody Card (front)" (scan of record). Property Management & Archive Record System (PMARS). United States Maritime Administration. 17 May 1974. Retrieved 30 January 2008. 
  13. ^ "Custody Card (back)" (scan of record). Property Management & Archive Record System (PMARS). United States Maritime Administration. 16 September 1949. Retrieved 30 January 2008. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Charles, Roland W. (April 1947). Troopships of World War II. Washington, D.C.: Army Transportation Association. OCLC 1871625.