USAT John L. Clem

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USS Santa Ana (ID-2869)
USS Santa Ana (ID-2869) (later USAT John L. Clem) in New York Harbor, bringing home troops from World War I, July 1919
Name: USAT John L. Clem
Namesake: US Army General John Clem
Builder: William Cramp & Sons
Christened: SS Santa Ana
Completed: 1918
In service:
  • Navy: Feb 1919 - Jul 1919
  • Commercial: 1919 - 1941
  • Army: Mar 1941 - 1946
  • PHS: 1946
Renamed: USS Santa Ana (ID-2869) (1919), SS Santa Ana, Guatemala, Santa Cecilia, Irwin (1919-1941); USAT John L. Clem (1941-44), USAHS/USAT John L. Clem (1945-46), Irwin (1946)
Fate: Sold for scrap, 1948
General characteristics
Tonnage: 5,000 gross tons (approx.)
Displacement: 8890
Length: 373 ft 9 in
Beam: 51 ft 2 in
Draft: 22 ft 9 in
Speed: 12 knots
Complement: 204
Armament: Unknown

John L. Clem began her service life as the United States Navy troop transport USS Santa Ana (ID-2869). Between the wars she served as a commercial ocean liner under various names. In 1941 she was acquired by the U.S. Army and assigned the name USAT John L. Clem, about which time she was also briefly assigned a US Navy ID, AP-36. She did not serve with the navy however, and spent most of the war as an army transport until being converted into a hospital ship, the USAHS John L. Clem.

Pre-World War II service[edit]

Santa Ana, a 5,000 gross ton (8890 tons displacement) transport, was built in 1918 at Philadelphia by William Cramp and Sons, as a civilian passenger liner.

She was taken over by the navy upon completion and placed in commission in February 1919. As a unit of the Cruiser and Transport Force, she made four round-trip voyages to bring World War I veterans from France. USS Santa Ana completed this work in July 1919 and, later in that month, was decommissioned and turned over to the U.S. Shipping Board. Between the World Wars she operated commercially under the names Santa Ana, Guatemala, Santa Cecilia and Irwin.

  In World War II, as the USAHS John L. Clem, she sailed from Charleston, S.C. around midnight on May 30, 1944 crossed the Atlantic and entered the Mediterranean Sea on June 6 or 7th, 1944, where she remained until March, 1945 at which time she returned to Charleston, S.C. Her duty was to transport wounded soldiers first from Sicily and then from Naples to either Oran or Algiers.  In August she was the only hospital ship in the invasion of southern France, receiving wounded Allied as well as German soldiers aboard.

World War II[edit]

In March 1941 the U.S. Army purchased the Irwin. Renamed John L. Clem, she was converted to a troopship at New York City, and operated between the United States East and Gulf Coasts and ports in the Caribbean and Central America from June 1941 to September 1943. She was then sent to Mobile, Alabama, where she was converted to a hospital ship.

Upon completion of this work in June 1944, John L. Clem steamed across the Atlantic to begin duty in the western Mediterranean. She returned to the U.S. in June 1945 to begin preparations for service in the Pacific. However, Japan surrendered and the plans were cancelled.

Postwar service[edit]

After the Japanese surrender, John L. Clem was reconverted to a transport and used to carry workers between Jamaica and Florida.

She was turned over to the War Shipping Administration early in 1946 and later assigned to the U.S. Public Health Service. In December of that year she was laid up in the Maritime Commission's National Defense Reserve Fleet at Brunswick, Georgia, under her previous name of Irwin. The ship was sold for scrapping in January 1948.