Type C2 ship

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Class overview
Name: Type C2 ship
Built: 1938–1945 (U.S. shipyards)
In service: 1938 – c. 1970
In commission: 4 April 1941 (AF-11)
Completed: 173 (23 July 1938 – TBD)
Lost: 8 during hostilities
General characteristics
Tonnage: 5,443 DWT (AF-11)
Displacement: 13,910 tons (AF-11)
Length: 459 ft 0 in (139.90 m) (design)
Beam: 63 ft 0 in (19.20 m) (design)
Draft: 25 ft 0 in (7.62 m) (design)
Depth: 40 ft 0 in (12.19 m) (design)
  • two boilers, two turbines single propeller 6,000shp (AF-11) or
  • diesel engines
  • 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h) (design)
  • 19 knots (35 km/h) (maximum)
Complement: 287 (AF-11)

Type C2 ships were designed by the United States Maritime Commission (MARCOM) in 1937–38. They were all-purpose cargo ships with five holds, and U.S. shipyards built 173 of them from 1939 to 1945. Compared to ships built before 1939, the C2s were remarkable for their speed and fuel economy. Their design speed was 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h), but some could make 19 knots (35 km/h) on occasion. The first C2s were 459 feet (140 m) long, 63 feet (19 m) broad, and 40 feet (12 m) deep, with a 25-foot (8 m) draft. Later ships varied somewhat in size.

In 1937, MARCOM distributed tentative designs for criticism by shipbuilders, ship owners, and naval architects. The final designs incorporated many changes suggested by these constituencies. The ships were to be reasonably fast but economical cargo ships which, with some government subsidies to operators, could compete with vessels of other nations. Building costs were to be minimized by standardization of design and equipment, and the ships were to have sufficient speed and stability that they could be used as naval auxiliaries in time of national emergency.

The basic specifications called for a five-hold steel cargo ship with raked stem and cruiser stern, complete shelter and second decks, and a third deck in Nos. 1–4 holds. Dimensions of the hatches were 20 ft (6 m) × 30 ft (9 m), except for No. 2, which was 20 ft (6 m) × 50 ft (15 m), allowing such cargo as locomotives, naval guns, long bars, etc. Ventilation to the holds was provided by hollow kingposts, which also served as cargo masts. Cargo handling gear consisted of fourteen 5-ton cargo booms, plus two 30-ton booms at Nos. 3 and 4 hatches.

Living accommodations were much improved over previous designs, with crew accommodations amidships, officers quarters on the boat deck, and the captain's quarters on the bridge deck, along with the wheelhouse, chartroom, gyro and radio room. Hot and cold running water was provided throughout.

Many of the ships such as SS Donald McKay were converted by the U.S. Navy for service during World War II. The commercial versions were operated by the government during the war. Beginning in late 1945, the commercial ships were sold to merchant shipping lines, with service until the early 1970s.

Ship in class[edit]

Notable incidents[edit]

  • Highflier a C2-S-B, exploded and sank in 1947.
  • Wild Rover a C2-S-B1, renamed Mormackite capsized in heavy seas and sank off Cape Henry in October 7, 1954. Survivors were attacked by sharks.[1]
  • USS Starlight (AP-175), a C2-S-AJ1, sank in 1970. December 26 with a full load of 8,900 bombs, rockets, shells and mines bound for Da Nang, South Vietnam a bomb went off in rough seas. On January 5, 1970 she sank. 29 members of her crew died.[2]
  • USS Towner (AKA-77) a C2-S-AJ3, renamed SS Guam Bear wrecked and sank in 1967. She was in a collision outside Apra Harbor, Guam. A constructive total loss, the hulk was towed 2 nautical miles off shore and scuttled.[3]
  • American Shipper a C2-S-AJ5. Delivered Dec. 1945. Sank in 1974.


See also[edit]


  • From America to United States: The History of the long-range Merchant Shipbuilding Programme of the United States Maritime Commission, by L. A. Sawyer and W. H. Mitchell. London, 1981, World Ship Society.
  • Ships for Victory: A History of Shipbuilding under the U.S. Maritime Commission in World War II, by Frederic C. Lane. ISBN 0-8018-6752-5.
  • United States Maritime Commission C2 Type Ships