USAT Thomas H. Barry

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USAT Thomas H. Barry (AP-45).jpg
USAT Thomas H. Barry, formerly SS Oriente, off Norfolk, VA
United States

SS Oriente (1930–41)

USAT Thomas H. Barry (1941–57)

Oriente Province, Cuba

US Army General Thomas H. Barry
Owner: Agwi Navigation Co, Inc[1]
Port of registry: New York[1]
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding[1]
Launched: 15 May 1930
Completed: 1930[1]
Acquired: for the US Army: June 1941
In service: 1930
Out of service: 1949[2]
Renamed: Thomas H. Barry, June 1941
Reclassified: AP-45 (Never effective)
Homeport: New York
Fate: laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet 1950; scrapped 1957
Status: scrapped 1957
General characteristics
Type: ocean liner, then troopship
Length: 508 ft (155 m)[1]
Beam: 70.9 ft (21.6 m)[1]
Draft: 27 feet 3 inches (8.31 m)
Depth: 39.0 ft (11.9 m)[1]
Propulsion: steam turbo-electric transmission,[1] twin screws
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)[2]
Troops: 3,609
Complement: 50
Notes: sister ship: SS Morro Castle

USAT Thomas H. Barry, formerly SS Oriente, was a Ward Line ocean liner that became a United States Army troopship in the Second World War. She was intended for transfer to the United States Navy and assigned the hull number AP-45, but was not transferred and remained with the Army.

Building and civilian service[edit]

Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company built Oriente for Ward Line as a sister ship to SS Morro Castle. Oriente was completed in 1930, two months after Morro Castle. Each ship was 508 feet (155 metres) long, measured 11,520 gross register tons (GRT) and had turbo-electric transmission, with General Electric twin turbo generators supplying current to propulsion motors on twin propeller shafts.[1] The two liners carried passengers between New York and Havana, Cuba.

In 1934 a fire destroyed Morro Castle, killing 135 people. Oriente remained in Ward Line service until 1941.

Army service[edit]

Oriente was among the ships designated for Army among the twenty-eight merchant vessels (twenty-one for the Navy and seven to the Army) requisitioned by the Maritime Commission's Division of Emergency Shipping announced on 4 June 1941.[4] The ship was purchased and delivered to the US War Department on 14 June 1941 and renamed USAT Thomas H. Barry designated as a troopship.[2] The ship was one of the relatively few transports owned, rather than bareboat chartered, by the Army.[5]

Thomas H. Barry was one of seven transports hurriedly assembled in New York and sailing late on 22 January 1941 (23 January GMT) in what was then the largest troop movement attempted, movement of POPPY FORCE, also designated Task Force 6814, under General Alexander Patch to secure New Caledonia (codename POPPY) on the vital South Pacific link to Australia.[6] The seven ships had a troop capacity of almost 22,000.[7] Task Force 6814 was later organized in New Caledonia as the Americal Division.[8]

On 29 September 1941 the Acting Chief of Naval Operations, Rear Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, sent a memorandum to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, listing a number of Army transports, including Thomas H. Barry, that were to be "eventually taken over by the Navy".[9] Prewar plans had called for the transfer; however, the Army retained the right to obtain additional shipping if required. Delays in Navy manning and conversion and the demands of actual wartime conditions made the mass transfer unfeasable with the Navy concentrating on ships for combat loading, the "attack" transports and Army concentrating on convoy loading.[10] Thomas H. Barry was later given the Navy designation AP-45, but was never taken over by the Navy and remained under Army control through the end of World War II.[9]

The Barry was one of three transports, the others being USS Munargo and USS Siboney, sailing from the New York Port of Embarkation for the United Kingdom on 31 May 1942 implementing "double bunking" whereby two men were assigned one bunk in order to increase capacity up to the maximum allowed by lifesaving equipment and other safety rules.[11]

On the morning of 21 October 1945 at approximately 40.41º north, 67.18º west, about 150 miles (241 km) east of New Bedford, Massachusetts in heavy fog the Barry rammed and cut in two the 233 ton fishing trawler Medford with one person on the trawler killed, six missing and ten survivors picked up by Barry. The transport, destined for Le Havre, France with over 3,000 passengers composed of Red Cross workers, civilians and occupation troops returned to New York with a damaged bow for dry docking. The trawler had recently been one of those acquired by the Navy for offshore antisubmarine patrol and returned to be purchased by a New Bedford company.[12][13]

Layup and disposal[edit]

In the mass transfer of Army ships to the Navy Thomas H. Barry was declared surplus to Navy needs, title was transferred to the Maritime Commission on 12 December 1949 with the ship laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet on the James River, Virginia on 24 January 1950, remaining there until 4 November 1957 when removed by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation which had purchased the ship for $276,780 on 21 October for scrap.[2][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Lloyd's Register, Steamers and Motorships (PDF). London: Lloyd's Register. 1934. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Maritime Administration. "Oriente". Ship History Database Vessel Status Card. U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Lloyd's Register, Steamers & Motorships (PDF). London: Lloyd's Register. 1934. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Pacific Marine Review (1941). "The Maritime Commission Now in Complete Control of Coastwise, Intercoastal and Overseas Shipping—Acquisition of Ships For Emergency". Consolidated 1941 issues (July 1941). 'Official Organ: Pacific American Steamship Association/Shipowners' Association of the Pacific Coast: 45. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Grover, David (1987). U.S. Army Ships and Watercraft of World War II. Naval Institute Press. p. 11. ISBN 0-87021-766-6. LCCN 87-15514. 
  6. ^ Leighton, Richard M; Coakley, Robert W (1995). The War Department — Global Logistics And Strategy 1940–1943. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 157. LCCN 55-60001. 
  7. ^ Matloff, Maurice; Snell, Edwin M. (1999). The War Department: Strategic Planning For Coalition Warfare 1941-1942. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 117. LCCN 53-61477. 
  8. ^ Thompson, George Raynor; Harris, Dixie R. (1966). The Technical Services—The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Mid-1943 Through 1945). United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 206, Note 7. LCCN 64-60001. 
  9. ^ a b Naval History And Heritage Command. "Thomas H. Barry". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History And Heritage Command. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Leighton, Richard M; Coakley, Robert W (1995). The War Department — Global Logistics And Strategy 1940–1943. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. pp. 121–123. LCCN 55-60001. 
  11. ^ Bykofsky, Joseph; Larson, Harold (1990). The Technical Services—The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 74. LCCN 56-60000. 
  12. ^ "The Medford". Out of Glouchester. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  13. ^ USMM. "Chronological List of U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged during 1945". American Merchant Marine at War. USMM. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "USAT Thomas H. Barry (AP-45)". Service Ship Photo Archive. NavSource Online. 

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