USS Artemis (ID-2187)

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USS Artemis ID-2187.jpg
USAT Artemis (U.S. Army Transport, 1917-1919) in port during or immediately after World War I.
  • SS Iowa (1902-13)
  • SS Bohemia (1913-17)
  • USAT Artemis (1917-19)
  • USS Artemis (1919)
  • SS Artemis (1919-41)
  • SS Empire Bittern (1941-44)
Namesake: An Olympian goddess known to the Romans as Diana. Artemis was the twin of Apollo and the patroness of wildlife
Port of registry:
Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast, Ireland
Yard number: 349
Launched: 5 July 1902
Completed: 11 November 1902
Acquired: by the United States Army in April 1917; by the United States Navy 23 February 1919
Commissioned: 8 April 1919 as USS Artemis (ID-2187) at Hoboken, New Jersey
Decommissioned: 18 October 1919 at Brooklyn, New York
Struck: By the U.S. Navy 18 October 1919
  • United States Official Number 215315 (1917-41)
  • UK Official Number 115325 (1941-44)
  • Code Letters LHMG (1930)
  • ICS Lima.svgICS Mike.svgICS Hotel.svgICS Golf.svg
  • Code Letters BCGL (1941-44)
  • ICS Bravo.svgICS Charlie.svgICS Golf.svgICS Lima.svg
Captured: Seized by American customs officials after the United States entered World War I in April 1917
Fate: returned to the United States Shipping Board; later transferred to the British for use as a blockship at Normandy in 1944
General characteristics
Type: passenger steamship
Tonnage: 8,414 gross tons
Displacement: 17,837 long tons (18,123 t)
Length: 500 ft 5 in (152.53 m)
Beam: 58 ft 3 in (17.75 m)
Draft: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Depth: 34 ft (10 m)
Installed power: 814 hp (607 kW)
Speed: 12 kn (14 mph; 22 km/h)
Complement: 329 officers and enlisted

USS Artemis (ID-2187), also known as the USAT Artemis, was a German passenger liner seized by U.S. Customs at New York City at the start of American involvement in World War I. She was built in 1902 as Iowa and was renamed Bohemia in 1912. She served the United States Army as the transport USAT Artemis, and, at war’s end, she was transferred to the United States Navy as a transport for returning American troops and military equipment from Europe.

Postwar, she was transferred to the United States Shipping Board (USSB) (later the United States Maritime Commission (USMC)) and served as a merchant ship until 1941, when she was transferred to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT), becoming one of the Empire ships, Empire Bittern. In July 1944, Empire Bittern was sunk as a blockship in support of Operation Overlord.


Iowa was a steel-hulled, twin-screw passenger steamship built by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast. She was yard number 349 and was launched on 5 July 1902. Completion was on 11 November 1902.[1] Iowa was 500 ft 5 in (152.53 m) long, with a beam of 58 ft 3 in (17.75 m) and a depth of34 ft (10 m). She was powered by a 814 hp (607 kW) 6-cylinder triple expansion steam engine which had paired cylinders of 23.5 in (60 cm), 39 in (99 cm) and 66 in (170 cm) diameter by 48 in (120 cm) stroke,[2] giving her a speed of 12 kn (14 mph; 22 km/h).[1]

Early career[edit]

Iowa was built for the White Diamond Steamship Company Ltd, Liverpool. She was operated under the management of George Warren & Co Ltd. In 1913, Iowa was sold to the Hamburg Amerika Line and renamed Bohemia.[3]

Seized in New York by U.S. Customs[edit]

The outbreak of hostilities in Europe in the summer of 1914 stranded many German and Austrian ships, Bohemia amongst them, in American ports. Because of her German registry, she was seized by American customs officials after the United States entered World War I in April 1917.[4]

World War I service[edit]

Service with the U.S. Army[edit]

Bohemia was renamed Artemis, armed with a main battery of one 5 in (130 mm) and one 3 in (76 mm) gun, and placed in service as an Army transport. She served as USAT Artemis during World War I and for over three months after the war ended. Her battery was removed at Norfolk, Virginia on 30 November 1918, and she completed her last voyage as an Army transport at New York City on 23 February 1919.[4]

Bringing U.S. troops back home[edit]

Turned over to the Navy at Fletcher's Drydock in Hoboken, New Jersey, Artemis, given the identification number (ID. No.) 2187, was commissioned there on 8 April, the second ship to be so named by the U.S. Navy, Commander John P. Jackson in command. Assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Force, Artemis sailed for France on 25 April, and reached St. Nazaire on 8 May. Sailing for Newport News, Virginia on 11 May, she arrived at her destination on 24 May. Shifting that same day to Norfolk, Virginia, she commenced her second transatlantic crossing voyage cycle on 1 June.[4]

Besides her embarked returning doughboys, Artemis brought back a cargo of trucks to Newport News on her second voyage, arriving there on 26 June. Shifting to Norfolk the same day, the ship began her third round-trip voyage on 2 July, departing Norfolk for France. Arriving at St. Nazaire on 15 July, Artemis moved to Brest soon thereafter, and began the return trip from that port on 21 July.[4]

Arriving at Norfolk on 3 August, via Newport News, the ship underwent voyage repairs at Norfolk from 6–9 August. She sailed thence for France on the latter day on her last voyage as a naval vessel, reaching St. Nazaire on 21 August. Sailing for the U.S. on 12 September, Artemis arrived at New York City on the morning of 23 September, mooring at pier 3, Army Base, Brooklyn, New York.[4]


Shifting to steamship pier 2, Army Base, on 8 October, Artemis was decommissioned on 18 October 1919. During her career as a Navy transport, she had brought home 11,760 troops. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 18 October, and the ship was transferred to the (USSB for disposition.[4]

Subsequent maritime career[edit]

The USSB's fourth annual report, for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1920, lists Artemis as being transferred to the France and Canada Steamship Corp. to be operated by that company, but this may never have come to pass, since contemporary merchant vessel registers refer only to her USSB ownership. Likewise, lists of ships operated by the France and Canada Steamship Co. do not contain Artemis.[4]

Laid up by 1923, Artemis remained inactive through the 1930s and into World War II, in the hands of the USSB and its successor, the USMC.[4] Acquired by the MoWT in 1941, the ship was renamed Empire Bittern.[3] Her port of registry was London and she was operated under the management of Royal Mail Lines Ltd.[5] Empire Bittern was a member of a number of convoys during World War II.


Convoy HX 189 departed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 10 May 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 20 May. Empire Bittern was to have joined the convoy, but did not sail, joining the following convoy, HX 190 instead.[6]

HX 190

Convoy HX 190 departed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 17 May 1942 and arrived at Liverpool on 28 May.[7]

On 23 July 1944, Empire Bittern was sunk as an additional blockship as part of Operation Overlord.[3]

Official number and code letters[edit]

Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers. Artemis had the United States Official number 215315. She is recorded as having the Code Letters LHMG in 1930.[2] Empire Bittern had the UK Official Number 115329 and used the Code Letter BCGL.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "1115329"Paid subscription required. Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "LLOYD'S REGISTER, NAVIRES A VAPEUR ET A MOTEURS" (PDF). Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "USS Artemis (ID 2187) ex-USAT Artemis". Navsource. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "LLOYD'S REGISTER, NAVIRES A VAPEUR ET A MOTEURS" (PDF). Plimsoll Ship Data. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  6. ^ "CONVOY HX 189". Warsailors. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "CONVOY HX 190". Warsailors. Retrieved 13 November 2009. 

External links[edit]