USS Henderson (AP-1)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Henderson.
USS Henderson (AP-1)
USS Henderson (AP-1) at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, 6 January 1933
Career
Name: USS Henderson (AP-1)
Namesake: General Archibald Henderson, U.S. Marine Corps
Builder: Philadelphia Navy Yard
Laid down: 19 June 1915
Launched: 17 June 1916
Sponsored by: Miss Genevieve W. Taylor, great-granddaughter of General Henderson
Commissioned: 24 May 1917
Decommissioned: 13 October 1943
Recommissioned: 23 March 1944, as Bountiful (AH-9)
Decommissioned: 13 September 1946
Renamed: USS Bountiful (AH-9), 1944
Reclassified: AP-1 to AH-9, 23 March 1944
Honors and
awards:
4 battle stars for World War II service
Fate: Sold for scrap, 28 January 1948
General characteristics
Displacement: 7,730 long tons (7,854 t) light
12,400 long tons (12,599 t) full
Length: 483 ft 10 in (147.47 m)
Beam: 61 ft 1 in (18.62 m)
Draft: 16 ft 2 in (4.93 m)
Propulsion: Reciprocating engine, single screw, 4,400 hp (3,281 kW)
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Capacity: (AP): 1,695 troops
(AH): 477 patients
Complement: (AP): 233
Armament: (AP)
• 8 × 5 in (130 mm) guns
• 2 × 3"/50 caliber guns
• 2 × 1-pounder guns

The first USS Henderson (AP-1) was a transport in the United States Navy during World War I and World War II. In 1943, she was converted to a hospital ship and commissioned as USS Bountiful (AH-9).

Named for Marine General Archibald Henderson, she was launched by Philadelphia Navy Yard on 17 June 1916; sponsored by Miss Genevieve W. Taylor, great-granddaughter of General Henderson; and commissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 24 May 1917, Lt. C. W. Steel in command.

Service history[edit]

Henderson in camouflage, 1918

World War I, 1917–1918[edit]

Henderson arrived New York on 12 June 1917 and sailed two days later with Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves' Cruiser and Transport Force, which carried units of the American Expeditionary Force to France. In her holds she had space for 1,500 men and 24 mules. Reaching Saint-Nazaire on 27 June she disembarked troops and returned to Philadelphia on 17 July 1917. Subsequently, Henderson made eight more voyages to France with troops and supplies for the allies in the bitter European fighting. She established two large base hospitals in France during 1917. In constant danger from submarines, the transport was steaming near Army transport Antilles on 17 October 1917 when the latter was torpedoed. Henderson escaped attack by wrapping herself in an envelope of smoke. But torpedoes were not her only danger. She sailed for her seventh voyage on 30 June 1918 to France. A serious fire broke out in a cargo hold on 2 July 1918. Destroyers Mayrant (DD-31) and Paul Jones (DD-10) transferred her troop passengers to nearby transports without loss of life, and determined firefighting crews soon brought the flames under control. She sailed again from Philadelphia Tuesday 13 August 1918 and arrived at the port of Brest, France Monday 25 August 1918.

Caribbean, 1918–1923[edit]

Following the armistice, Henderson made eight more transatlantic voyages bringing home members of the A.E.F. She carried more than 10,000 veterans before returning to Philadelphia on 27 December 1919. She then took up duty as troop rotation ship for Marine units in the Caribbean, carrying Marines, their dependents, and supplies to bases in Cuba, Haiti, and other islands. She also participated in Marine training maneuvers in Florida before returning to Philadelphia on 6 July 1920. After an extended period of repairs, the transport resumed her duties in the Caribbean. This was interrupted from 21 June to 21 July as Henderson carried military and civilian leaders to observe the historic bombing tests off the Virginia Capes.

During the next few years, she also performed ceremonial duties, embarking a congressional party to observe fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean in the spring of 1923, and carrying President Warren G. Harding on an inspection tour of Alaska. The President called at Metlakatla, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Skagway, Seward, Valdez, Cordova and Sitka in Alaska, as well as Vancouver, Canada. He reviewed the fleet off Seattle from the deck of Henderson, and departed on 27 July 1923, only five days before his death.

Pacific, 1924–1941[edit]

During Fleet Problem III in early 1924, Henderson participated in a mock amphibious invasion of the Panama Canal Zone. This major training operation by the fleet helped practice assault techniques and led to improved landing craft as well. The ship also aided in the protection of American interests in the volatile Caribbean states and in the Far East.

Henderson arrived Shanghai on 2 May 1927 with Marines for the garrison there, and remained in China for six months protecting American nationals in the war-torn country. Here members of her crew originated the "Domain of the Golden Dragon," having cruised back and forth across the International Date Line. The troop transport was engaged in carrying replacements for the fleet and the Marines in China for the next fourteen years.

World War II, 1941–1943[edit]

Henderson had left Pearl Harbor to transport troops to California not long before the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941. On hearing of the attack, the captain feared that the Japanese flotilla would continue on to California, having eliminated any opposition from Hawaii. Henderson would be a slow, conspicuous, and solitary target in their path. He set course for Alaska to avoid being overcome, maintaining strict radio silence even in the face of repeated attempts by the Navy to contact the ship and verify its survival. Henderson then hugged the Pacific Northwest coast down to San Francisco Bay, arriving several days after it had been presumed missing in action. During the Pacific War, Henderson continued its service as a transport between California and Hawaii, making over 20 such voyages with fighting men, civilian passengers, and cargo. On her last voyage she departed Port Hueneme on 18 July 1943 and arrived Nouméa with 71 much-needed nurses. The transport then sailed to the Solomon Islands with SeaBees before returning to San Francisco on 24 September 1943.

Henderson decommissioned on 13 October 1943 for conversion to a hospital ship at General Engineering & Dry Dock Company, Oakland, California.

Hospital ship, 1944–1946[edit]

USS Bountiful (AH-9) In a Southwestern Pacific port in 1944-45. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph #: 80-G-K-2138 (Color))

The ship was recommissioned as USS Bountiful (AH-9) on 23 March 1944, Comdr. G. L. Burns in command.

Bountiful departed San Francisco on 1 April 1944 for Honolulu, returned later that month, and sailed once more on 1 May for the western Pacific. After brief service at Honolulu and Eniwetok the ship arrived on 18 June at the Saipan invasion beaches. She made three passages to the hospitals on Kwajalein with casualties of the Marianas invasions. About this time Bountiful established one of the few blood banks in a Naval ship.

The floating hospital remained at Manus until 17 September when she sailed for the Palaus to bring casualties of the Peleliu landing to hospitals in the Solomons. After November Bountiful operated between Leyte and the rear bases carrying veterans of the Philippines campaign. She departed Manus on 24 February 1945 for Ulithi and Saipan to receive casualties of the bitter Iwo Jima assault, and in the next months sailed to rendezvous with the fleet to take on wounded from Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the fleet units themselves. Returning to Leyte Gulf on 15 June, she remained until 21 July, and then got underway for California. Bountiful arrived after war's end, sailing into San Francisco Bay on 21 August 1945.

Bountiful was then assigned as hospital ship at Yokosuka, Japan, departing San Francisco 1 November 1945. She arrived on 24 November to support the occupation forces, and remained until 27 March 1946 when she sailed for San Francisco. After delivering her patients, the ship sailed on 26 May for the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, and after providing medical services during the series of nuclear blasts during "Operation Crossroads", she returned to Seattle on 15 August 1946.

Decommissioning and sale[edit]

Bountiful decommissioned on 13 September 1946, and was sold for scrap by the Maritime Commission on 28 January 1948 to Consolidated Builders, Inc., Seattle.

Awards[edit]

Bountiful received four battle stars for World War II service.

References[edit]

External links[edit]