USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42)
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USS Tasker H. Bliss
|Name:||USS Tasker H. Bliss|
|Namesake:||Tasker H. Bliss|
|Ordered:||as SS President Cleveland|
|Builder:||Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock|
|Acquired:||19 August 1942|
|Commissioned:||USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42),
15 September 1942
|Struck:||7 December 1942|
|1 Battle Star|
|Fate:||Torpedoed, 12 November 1942|
|Displacement:||12,568 long tons (12,770 t)|
|Length:||535 ft (163 m)|
|Beam:||72 ft 2 in (22.00 m)|
|Draft:||27 ft 8 in (8.43 m)|
|Speed:||16.5 kn (19.0 mph; 30.6 km/h)|
USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42) was a Tasker H. Bliss-class transport. She was acquired from the United States Army by the United States Navy for use in World War II, and was assigned the task of transporting troops to and from battle areas. Operating in dangerous waters on 12 November 1942, she was sunk after being struck by a German submarine’s torpedo at Fedala Bay, Morocco.
Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42) was built in 1921 as the SS President Cleveland in Newport News, Virginia, by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and was owned and operated as a passenger liner by the American President Lines. The steamship was chartered by the U.S. Army in July 1941 and renamed USAT Tasker H. Bliss. She was converted for troop use and made five Pacific Ocean voyages for the Army before being routed on to Baltimore, Maryland, where she arrived on 15 August 1942. She was named after General Tasker H. Bliss, who was Army Chief of Staff in 1917 to 1918.
There, the ship was transferred to the U.S. Navy on 19 August 1942; was converted for use as a Navy transport by the Maryland Drydock Co., Baltimore, Maryland; and, was commissioned on 15 September 1942, Commander Gerald L. Schetky in command.
North Africa operations
Tasker H. Bliss arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, on 22 September and joined Task Force 34 (TF 34). After loading troops and equipment to participate in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, the ships of the task force sailed on 24–25 October for the coast of Morocco.
Struck and sunk by a German torpedo
The Naval Battle of Casablanca delayed off-loading cargo, and postponed departure from the Moroccan coast. On the evening of 12 November, 1942 she was riding at anchor in Fedhala Roads when the German submarine U-130 commanded by Ernst Kals slipped in among the ships and fired five torpedoes at three transports. All torpedoes hit their targets, and they burst into flames. The victims were transports Edward Rutledge, Hugh L. Scott, and Tasker H. Bliss. All were abandoned and the first two sank shortly, but Tasker H. Bliss burned until 02:30 the next morning and then sank. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 7 December. One of the few survivors of the U.S.S. Bliss is Wesley Charnesky of Salem, Ohio. His wife, Amelia (aka Sis) also served during this time in the WACS.
- Photo gallery of Tasker H. Bliss at NavSource Naval History