USS Hermitage (AP-54)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Hermitage.
USS Hermitage
USS Hermitage (AP-54), January 1943
Career
Name: USS Hermitage (AP-54)
Builder: William Beardmore & Co. (Glasgow)
Christened: Conte Biancamano
Completed: 1925
Commissioned: 14 August 1942
Decommissioned: 20 August 1946
Fate: Returned to Italy 1947, scrapped 1960
General characteristics
Displacement: 24,465 tons
Length: 555 ft
Beam: 66 ft 1 in
Draft: 27 ft
Propulsion: Geared turbine engines, twin screws, 24,000 shaft hp[1]
Speed: 20 knots
Troops: 6,000+
Complement: 909
Armament: 1 x 5"/38 caliber dual purpose gun
6 x 3"/50 caliber dp guns

USS Hermitage (AP-54) was a troop transport that served with the US Navy during World War II. Prior to her Navy service, she was the Italian luxury liner SS Conte Biancamano.

Conte Biancamano was launched in 1925 by William Beardmore & Co. Ltd. of Glasgow, Scotland; sailed as a luxury liner for Lloyd Triestino So. Anon. di Nav. of Italy, was interned at Balboa, Canal Zone, when Italy declared war on the United States; converted to a transport by Cramp Shipbuilding of Philadelphia; and commissioned 14 August 1942, Captain Donald F. Patterson in command.

World War II[edit]

Account of Trip From Nov. 1942 to Mar. 1945[edit]

-1-
Sailed from New York, N.Y., 2 November 1942
Arrived Casablanca, French Marrocco, 18 November 1942
Left Casablanca, 29 November 1942
Arrived Norfolk, Virginia, 11 December 1942

-2-
Arrived New Port News, VA, 24 December 1942
Sailed 27 December 1942
Arrived Cristobal, C.Z., 2 January 1943
Sailed 6 January 1943
Arrived Noumea, New Caledonia, 27 January 1943
Sailed 28 January 1943
Arrived Brisbane, Australia, 31 January 1943
Sailed 2 February 1943
Arrived Sydney, Australia, 3 February 1943
Sailed 10 February 1943
Arrived Pago Pago, Samoa, 16 February 1943
Sailed 17 February 1943
Arrived Honolula, T.H. 23 February 1943
Sailed 24 February 1943

-3-
Sailed from San Francisco, 26 March 1943
Arrived Los Angeles, Calif., 27 March 1943
Sailed 30 March 1943
Arrived Wellington, N.Z., 17 April 1943
Sailed 19 April 1943
Arrived Melbourne, Australia, 24 April 1943
Sailed 26 April 1943
Arrived Bombay, India, 11 May 1943
Sailed 17 May 1943
Arrived Melbourne, Australia, 1 June 1943
Sailed 4 June 1943
Arrived Wellington, N.Z. 9 June 1943
Arrived Los Angeles, Calif., 25 June 1943

-4-
Sailed from Los Angeles, Calif., 27 July 1943
Arrived Wellington, N.Z., 12 August 1943
Sailed 14 August 1943
Arrived Melbourne, Australia, 19 August 1943
Sailed 21 August 1943
Arrived Fremantle, Australia, 26 August 1943
Sailed 30 August 1943
Arrived Bombay, India, 10 September 1943
Sailed 19 September 1943
Arrived Melbourne, Australia, 4 October 1943
Sailed 6 October 1943
Arrived Bora Bora, S.I., 14 October 1943
Sailed 15 October 1943
Arrived Los Angeles, Calif., 24 October 1943

-5-
Sailed San Pedro, Calif., 10 November 1943
Arrived Bora Bora, S.I., 19 November 1943
Sailed 26 November 1943
Arrived Fermantle, Australia, 11 December 1943
Sailed 14 December 1943
Arrived Bombay, India, 26 December 1943
Sailed 31 December 1943
Arrived Melbourne, Australia, 16 January 1944
Sailed 20 January 1944
Arrived Bora Bora, S.I. 29 January 1944
Sailed 29 January 1944
Arrived San Pedro, Calif., 8 February 1944

-6-
Sailed from San Pedro, Calif., 14 March 1944
Arrived San Francisco, Calif., 15 March 1944
Sailed 20 March 1944
Arrived Noumea, New Caledonia, 5 April 1944
Sailed 7 April 1944
Arrived Milne Bay, New Guinea, 11 April 1944
Sailed 13 April 1944
Arrived Beli Beli, Good Enough Island, 13 April 1944
Sailed 14 April 1944
Arrived Noumea, New Caledonia, 19 April 1944
Sailed 20 April 1944
Arrived San Francisco, Calif., 5 May 1944

-7-
Sailed from San Francisco, 12 May 1944
Arrived Balboa, C.Z., 21 May 1944
Sailed 22 May 1944
Arrived Colon, C.Z., 22 May 1944
Sailed 23 May 1944
Arrived New York, 28 May 1944

-8-
Sailed from New York, 16 June 1944
Arrived Liverpool, 27 June 1944
Sailed 28 June 1944
Arrived Belfast, Northern Ireland, 29 June 1944
Sailed 2 July 1944
Arrived New York, 12 July 1944

-9-
Sailed from New York, 11 August 1944
Arrived Liverpool, England, 22 August 1944
Sailed 16 August 1944
Arrived New York, 5 September 1944

-10-
Sailed from New York, 29 September 1944
Arrived Southampton, England, 9 October 1944
Sailed 13 October 1944
Arrived New York, 25 October 1944

-11-
Sailed from New York, 5 February 1945
Arrived Le Havre, France, 16 February 1945
Sailed 20 February 1945
Arrived Southampton, England, 21 February 1945
Sailed 22 February 1945
Arrived New York, 5 March 1945

-12-
Sailed from New York, 15 March 1945
Arrived L Havre, France 27 March 1945
Sailed 30 March 1945
Arrived Southampton, England, 31 March 1945
Sailed 31 March 1945
Arrived New York, 11 April 1945

-13-
Sailed from New York, 24 April 1945
Arrived Le Havre, France, 6 May 1945
Sailed 8 May 1945
Arrived Southampton, 9 May 1945
Anchored out 10,11,12 May 1945
Sailed 13 May 1945
Arrived Boston, Mass., 23 May 1945

-14-
Sailed from Boston, Mass., 30 May 1945
Arrived Le Havre, France, 7 June 1945
Sailed 9 June 1945
Arrived New York, 17 June 1945

-15-
Sailed from New York, 21 June 1945
Arrived in Le Havre, France, 29 June 1945
Sailed from Le Havre, France, 2 July 1945
Arrived New York, 10 July 1945

-16-
Sailed 14 July 1945 from New York
Arrived Le Havre, France, 29 July 1945
Sailed from Le Havre, 25 July 1945
Arrived New York, 2 August 1945

-17-
Sailed from New York, 16 October 1945
Arrived Straights of Gilbralter, 24 October 1945
Arrived Marseille, France, 26 October 1945
Sailed from Marseille, France, 27 October 1945
Sailed through Straights of Gibraltar, 29 October 1945
Arrived New York, 6 November 1945

-18-
Sailed from New York, 12 December 1945
Reached Panama, 17 December 1945
Sailed from Panama, 18 December 1945
Reached Pearl Harbor, 30 December 1945
Sailed from Pearl Harbor, 1 January 1946
Reach Nagaya, Japan, 11 January 1946
Left Nagaya, Japan 19 January 1946
Reached Seattle, Wash., 5 February 1946

-19-
Sailed from Seattle, 26 February 1946
Reached San Francisco, 28 February 1946
Left San Francisco, 2 March 1946
Reached Guam, 19 March 1946

Operation Torch[edit]

Embarking 5,600 army troops and sailors, on 2 November 1942 Hermitage departed New York with her skipper acting as convoy commodore. Six days later the North African invasion began, and Hermitage on 10–25 November debarked her passengers at Casablanca to participate in the momentous campaign. Returning to Norfolk, Virginia 11 December, Hermitage next headed for the Pacific with nearly 6,000 passengers embarked. After embarking and debarking passengers at Balboa, Noumea, Brisbane, Sydney, Pago Pago, and Honolulu, the former luxury liner put in at San Francisco 2 March 1943.

Pacific operations[edit]

Hermitage's next swing westward, begun 27 March took her to Wellington, New Zealand; Melbourne; and Bombay. At Bombay she embarked some 707 Polish refugees, including nearly a hundred children, for a voyage back to California which ended 25 June. In the next year Hermitage made three similar cruises through the South Pacific, with battle-bound marines, soldiers and sailors, civilians, and Chinese and Indian refugees among her diversified passengers. Hermitage reached New York 28 May from the South Pacific via Noumea, Goodenough Island, and the Panama Canal.

Operation Overlord[edit]

Departing New York 16 June 1944 with over 6,000 passengers, most of them bound for the invasion of Europe just begun at Normandy, Hermitage sailed to Liverpool and Belfast to debark the troops before returning to New York 12 July. From then until the end of the war she made 10 more such voyages, principally to Le Havre, to bring replacements to the European theater and transport wounded Allied soldiers and prisoners of war back to the States. V-E Day, 8 May 1945, found Hermitage part of the celebration in Le Havre harbor as Allied ships greeted the end of 6 years of war with a cacophony of bells, whistles and sirens screaming through air illuminated by hundreds of signal flares and rockets.

On that ship that day was 23 year old Eileen Mary (Leeburn) Kelley and her 4 month old son. They sailed for Boston. For 68 years I have been searching for our fellow passengers. What are the chances that any are reading these words? Terence Kelley

After hostilities[edit]

War's end did not mean the end of Hermitage's duty as she continued to cross the Atlantic, this time bringing veterans home through December. Departing New York 12 December, the well-traveled transport sailed to Nagoya, Japan to embark some 6,000 homeward bound veterans and return to Seattle 4 February 1946. Assigned to the San Francisco-Marianas run for Operation Magic Carpet, the return of thousands of Pacific troops, she made three further voyages before decommissioning at San Francisco 20 August 1946.

Summary of WWII service[edit]

While serving with the Navy, the former luxury liner had sailed approximately 230,000 miles and transported 129,695 passengers, including American, British, Australian, French, and Netherlands fighting men as well as Chinese, American, Polish, and British civilians and German and talian prisoners.

Postwar career[edit]

Hermitage was returned to the Italian Government in May 1947 and renamed SS Conte Biancamano, after which she served once more as a passenger liner until being retired in 1960. During her 1961 scrapping at the Italian port of La Spezia, her bridge superstructure was disassembled and shipped to the Museo della Scienza in Milano.[2] This three-storey structure was reassembled inside a new pavilion and includes the pilot house, a few first-class cabins, and a circular ballroom.[3]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]