USS Crescent City (APA-21)
|Namesake:||A popular nickname for New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Launched:||17 February 1940|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs M. L. Pedrick|
|Acquired:||9 June 1941|
|Commissioned:||10 October 1941|
|Decommissioned:||30 April 1948|
|Renamed:||TS Golden Bear II, Artship|
|Reclassified:||AP-40 to APA-21, 1 February 1943|
|Struck:||12 April 1946|
|Identification:||MCV Hull Type C3-P, MCV Hull No. 49|
|Ten battle stars for World War II service|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, January 2012|
|Class & type:||Crescent City class attack transport|
|Displacement:|| 8,409 tons (lt),
|Length:||491 ft (150 m)|
|Beam:||65 ft 6 in (19.96 m)|
|Draft:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||1 × General Electric geared drive turbine,
2 × boilers,
designed shaft horsepower 7,800
|Speed:||17 knots (31 km/h)|
|Capacity:||Troops: 58 Officers, 1,102 Enlisted
Cargo: 140,000 cu ft (4,000 m3),
2,300 long tons (2,300 t)
|Complement:||Officers 36, Enlisted 498|
|Armament:||4 × 3"/50 caliber DP gun mounts,
2 × twin 40 mm gun mounts,
2 × single 40 mm gun mounts,
14 × single 20 mm gun mounts.
Crescent City was named after a popular nickname for New Orleans, Louisiana. Originally named the SS Delorleans, the ship was contracted on 16 December 1938 by Maritime Commission as a Type C3 ship hull No. 49. The keel was laid 8 May 1939, by the Bethlehem Steel Company, Sparrows Point Maryland, where she was launched on 17 February 1940, and delivered to Delta Lines on 23 August 1940.
This was the third of a series of six ships designed by the Mississippi Shipping Company, as a modification of the standard C3 design, to carry both passengers and cargo between New Orleans and Buenos Aires on the so-called "Coffee Run". Twenty six staterooms accommodated 67 passengers on the shelter deck.
The US Government requisitioned the SS Delorleans on 3 June 1941. The Navy assumed control on 9 June 1941 and stripped the ship to prepare her for war duty, and she was commissioned on 10 October 1941 as the USS Crescent City. Originally classified AP-40, she was converted to an attack transport at Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding of Mobile, Alabama; and commissioned 10 October 1941, Commander W. C. Calhoun in command. She was reclassified APA-21, 1 February 1943.
World War II
Departing Norfolk, Virginia 15 December 1941 loaded with troops and equipment, Crescent City debarked her passengers in the Panama Canal Zone, then sailed to San Diego to load Navy and Marine passengers for Pearl Harbor. She carried civilian evacuees back to San Diego, returning immediately with workers and equipment to rush repairs of the damaged naval base at Pearl Harbor. Assigned to transport men and equipment to set up the advanced base at Efate, New Hebrides, she voyaged on this mission until arriving at San Diego 22 April 1942 for a brief overhaul.
Invasion of Guadalcanal
On 1 July 1942 Crescent City sailed from San Diego bound for the initial assault landings on Guadalcanal. Landing her troops 7 August under heavy air attack, she splashed at least five of the enemy planes. For two days she remained at anchor unloading the necessary supplies to hold the beachhead, then returned to Espiritu Santo to unload material to set up a new forward base to supply the Guadalcanal operations.
Sailing from Brisbane, Australia, and Wellington, New Zealand to the advanced bases at Nouméa and Espiritu Santo, then dodging enemy forces to deliver men and equipment to sway the balance toward victory on Guadalcanal was Crescent City's mission through the next few months. When the offensive began to swing north through the Solomons in early 1943, she continued her transport duty to the base established on hard-won Guadalcanal. On 13 August, while unloading, she aided in repelling an air attack in which USS John Penn (APA-23) was sunk.
Invasion of Bougainville
On 28 October 1943 Crescent City sortied for the invasion of Bougainville, landing troops at Empress Augusta Bay under air attack 1 November. On the 13th, after helping repel a torpedo bomber attack, she landed support troops brought from Tulagi and Port Purvis. Continuing her inter-Solomons transport and resupply duty, she took part in the assault landings on Emirau Island on 11 April 1944 and reported to Guadalcanal 30 April to prepare for the Marianas operation.
Invasions of Peleliu and Leyte
Crescent City was held in reserve during the assaults on Kwajalein and Eniwetok, then landed her troops and embarked casualties at Guam from 21 to 25 July 1944. She returned to Guadalcanal 16 August for the staging of the Palau operation, taking part in the landings on Peleliu on 15 September. Ten days later she arrived at Humboldt Bay, New Guinea and sailed on 16 October for the invasion of Leyte. After landing troops of the 6th Army at San Pedro Bay on 22 October, she sailed before the outbreak of the Battle for Leyte Gulf. The transport brought reinforcements to Leyte from Hollandia, and arrived at Manus Island on 20 November to embark passengers for the United States.
Conversion to hospital ship
After overhaul, Crescent City departed San Francisco on 25 February 1945 and arrived at Pearl Harbor 4 March. Here she was converted to a temporary hospital evacuation ship, and two weeks later was underway for Kerama Retto, arriving 6 April. Receiving casualties from the beaches of Okinawa and from other ships, she transferred them to USS Hope (AH-7) for evacuation. Crescent City remained at Okinawa receiving casualties and transients until the end of the war.
Aiding in the redeployment of troops for the occupation of China, Crescent City lifted the 1st Marine Division to Taku between 30 September and 6 October 1945, and carried Chinese troops from Hong Kong to Chinwangtao and Tsingtao in November. Returning to Okinawa 1 December she embarked men eligible for discharge and sailed for Seattle, arriving 20 December.
Departing Seattle 23 January 1946 Crescent City arrived at Norfolk on 14 February. She operated from New York and Norfolk on training duty in the Caribbean until 10 October 1947 when she sailed for the west coast.
Arriving at San Francisco 1 November, Crescent City was placed out of commission in reserve 30 April 1948 and transferred to the Maritime Commission 3 September 1948.
Awards and decorations
In May 1971, she was lent by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to the California Maritime Academy who renamed her TS Golden Bear. She sailed on 28 major ocean cruises over 24 years. In 1995 she was returned to MARAD and the Reserve Fleet.
In August 1999, custody was transferred once again by MARAD, to the Artship Foundation of Oakland, California who renamed her Artship as part of a failed art colony project. Artship was sold in 2004 to be scrapped in Texas, but dismantling was halted due to high PCB levels and because she was considered too historic. She is now laid up, and an eventual sale for scrap is possible. People in the city of Berkeley possess interest in saving her.
On 7 November 2012 S.S. Pacific Star (formerly Delorleans, Crescent City, Golden Bear, Artship) was auctioned off for $1 on the steps of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. She departed Mare Island, California 15 January 2012 under tow for Brownsville, Texas where she was eventually scrapped.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- USS Crescent City (APA-21), DANFS Online.
- APA-21 Crescent City, Navsource Online.
- Sawyer, L.A. and Mitchell, W.H., From America to the United States (history of the US Maritime Commission), World Ship Society, 1984, ISBN 0-905617-31-2
- Discovery of PCBs Prevents Bay Area "Artship" From Being Scrapped in China 4 May 2004 commondreams.org/news