Coast Farmer Australian War Memorial photograph captioned "Starboard side view of the American transport Coast Farmer which brought U.S. troops to Australia as part of the Pensacola Convoy in 1941-12. She was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine 15 miles off Jervis Bay on 1942-07-20. (Naval Historical Collection)"
|Builder:||Submarine Boat, Newark, New Jersey|
|Fate:||Sunk by torpedo July 20, 1942|
|Length:||324 ft (99 m)|
|Beam:||46 ft 2 in (14.07 m)|
|Draught:||25 ft (7.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||geared steam turbine|
|Speed:||10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
Coast Farmer, gaining the name in 1937 and previously bearing the names Point Arena (1928) and Riverside Bridge (1920), was a U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation Design 1023 vessel ordered under the name Minnewawa and built as hull #103 by Submarine Boat, Newark New Jersey in 1920 Coast Farmer is noted as being a part of the Pensacola Convoy landing the supplies and troops intended for the Philippines in Darwin, Australia after being diverted on the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The ship became even more notable being the first of only three ships successfully running the Japanese blockade into the Philippines; leaving Brisbane February[Note 1] 1942.[Note 2] Coast Farmer was torpedoed and sunk off Jervis Bay, New South Wales on July 20, 1942.
Commercial to World War II Service
The Gulf Pacific Mail Line operated the ship as Point Arena from 1928 to 1937.[Note 3] The ship was acquired and operated as Coast Farmer by the Coastwise Line, a coastal line associated with Coastwise (Pacific Far East) Lines, until taken for war time service by the War Shipping Administration on 22 December 1941, the date the Pensacola Convoy reached Brisbane Australia.[Note 4]
Coast Farmer was one of three merchant cargo ships in the convoy and largely carried civilian supplies for the shops of Guam and Manila. After arrival the Coast Farmer along with Meigs and the Admiral Halstead were retained by United States Forces in Australia (USFIA) for operations in Australia.
Coast Farmer was provided a gun crew from the 453d Ordnance Company, loaded with military supplies including 2,500 tons of rations and departed Brisbane February 10, 1942[Note 5] for the Philippines where the ship delivered its cargo at Anakan, Mindanao, on 17 February. On departure a member of the gun crew sent ashore to repair machine guns did not return in time and was left behind.
John A. Matson, master of Coast Farmer on this operation, was later awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Medal and the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal. Coast Farmer became one of only three ships, the others being Dona Nati and The China Navigation Company's Anhui, to successfully break the Japanese blockade. The supplies brought by the Coast Farmer were destroyed in transshipment when the smaller ships trying to reach Corregidor were sunk by gunfire from Japanese naval forces off Mindanao.
On her return she was one of seven vessels in the USFIA Army fleet and one of three assigned indefinitely. Subsequently General MacArthur received confirmation the vessel was under War Shipping Administration charter for his use without restriction. The Coast Farmer was engaged in supporting the war effort in coastwise shipping when torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-11 and sunk off Jervis Bay, New South Wales July 20,[Note 6] 1942. One crew member was lost. The ship was hit amidships at about 2 a.m. and sank within twenty minutes with the submarine surfacing and examining the ship by searchlight.
- References, including cited official histories, have differing days of departure in February.
- Charles Dana Gibson notes the food supplies, transshipped from Mindanao aboard two Filipino coasters, with only the Elcano making Corregidor, were largely spoiled and "canned goods had lost their labels rendering their contents a mystery" to the recipients.
- Lloyd's registers for those years shows "Gulf Pacific Mail Line" and "Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd., the operator of GPML ships.
- The Vessel Data Card indicates with TCA a Transportation Corps agreement, thus the effective date upon which the ship entered the Southwest Pacific Area's local fleet.
- Masterson's work was the official Transportation Corps study undertaken under Chief, Military History, and is cited in the subsequent official histories as an authoritative source using primary materials. The 10 February date is also found in other references, though they may actually be based on Masterson.
- Australian and U.S. sources give 20 July date, I-11 page and Australian naval historian Gill give 0200 on 21 July, probably difference in time kept by sources in this area.
- Colton 2012.
- Lloyd's Register (1937–1938): Coast Farmer.
- Morton 1993, pp. 393—397.
- Lloyd's Register (1930–1931): Point Arena.
- Maritime Administration Ship History & Coast Farmer.
- Mayo 1968, pp. 35—38.
- Masterson 1949, p. 8.
- Masterson 1949, p. 27.
- Stauffer 1956, pp. 20—23.
- Gibson 2008.
- Masterson 1949, p. 329.
- Hackett & Kingsepp 2012.
- American Merchant Marine at War.
- Gill 1968, p. 158.
- American Merchant Marine at War. "Chronological List of U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged during July to December 1942". American Merchant Marine at War. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Colton, T. (2012). "Submarine Boat, Newark NJ". Shipbuilding History. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Gibson, Charles Dana; Gibson, E. Kay (July 2008), "Attempts to Supply The Philippines by Sea: 1942" (PDF), Northern Mariner / Le Marin du Nord (Journal of Canadian Nautical Research Society/Société canadienne pour la recherche nautique), XVIII (Issue 3/4)
- Gill, G. Hermon (1968). Royal Australian Navy 1939-1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy. 2. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. LCCN 76454854.
- Hackett, Bob; Kingsepp, Sander (2012). "IJN Submarine I-11: Tabular Record of Movement". SENSUIKAN!. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Lloyds (1931). "Lloyd's Register (1930–1931)" (PDF). Lloyd's Register (through PlimsollShipData). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Lloyds (1938). "Lloyd's Register (1937–1938)" (PDF). Lloyd's Register (through PlimsollShipData). Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Maritime Admoinistration. "COAST FARMER". Vessel Status Card. U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Norman L. McKellar. "Steel Shipbuilding under the U. S. Shipping Board, 1917-1921, Part III, Contract Steel Ships". ShipScribe. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Masterson, Dr. James R. (1949). U. S. Army Transportation In The Southwest Pacific Area 1941-1947. Washington, D. C.: Transportation Unit, Historical Division, Special Staff, U. S. Army.
- Mayo, Lida (1968). The Technical Services—The Ordnance Department: On Beachhead And Battlefront. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. LCCN 79014631. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Miles, Patricia—Curator, Australian National Maritime Museum. "Merchant Navy Losses off the Australian Coast". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Morton, Lewis (1993). The War in the Pacific: The Fall Of The Philippines. United States Army In World War II. Washington, D.C.: Center Of Military History, United States Army. LCCN 53063678. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Stauffer, Alvin P. (1990). The Quartermaster Corps: Operations In The War Against Japan. United States Army In World War II. Washington, D. C.: Center Of Military History, United States Army. LCCN 56060001. Retrieved 1 May 2014.