USS Leonard Wood (APA-12)
USS Leonard Wood (APA-12) off California, 28 April 1944
|Namesake:||Leonard Wood, US Army Chief of Staff, 1910-1914|
|Laid down:||29 July 1920|
|Launched:||17 September 1921|
|Christened:||Nutmeg State, completed as Western World|
|Commissioned:||(Navy) 10 June 1941|
|Decommissioned:||22 March 1946|
|Reclassified:||AP-25 to APA-12, 1 February 1943|
|Struck:||12 April 1946|
|Identification:||United States official number: 222063|
|Eight battle stars for World War II service|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 20 January 1948|
|Notes:||Delivery of Western World marked the end of the Emergency Fleet Corporation and United States Shipping Board's World War I shipbuilding program.|
|Class and type:||Harris-class attack transport|
|Displacement:||13,529 tons (lt), 21,900 t.(fl)|
|Length:||535 ft 2 in|
|Beam:||72 ft 4 in|
|Draft:||31 ft 3 in|
2 x Curtis type turbines, 8 x Yarrow header-type boilers,2 propellers, designed shaft horsepower 12,000.
|Complement:||Officers 67, Enlisted 657|
|Armament:||4 x 3"/50 caliber dual-purpose gun mounts, 2 x twin 40mm gun mounts, 16 x single 20mm gun mounts.|
USS Leonard Wood (APA-12) was built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation and launched 17 September 1921 at Sparrows Point, Maryland as Nutmeg State, an Emergency Fleet Corporation Design 1029 ship intended as a World War I troop transport but redesigned upon the armistice as a passenger and cargo ship and completed as Western World for delivery to the United States Shipping Board. The ship's acceptance on 5 May 1922 and delivery on 9 May 1922 marked the completion of the wartime shipbuilding program of the Emergency Fleet Corporation and the Shipping Board.
After years in commercial service on Munson Steamship Line's South American service Western World was purchased by the War Department in 1939, converted into a transport and renamed to serve as USAT Leonard Wood until transfer to the Navy on 3 June 1941. The ship was commissioned, classified as a transport with hull number AP-25, USS Leonard Wood with a United States Coast Guard crew on 10 June 1941. During World War II the ship was converted into an attack transport during March 1942 and reclassified APA-12 (Harris-class). The ship decommissioned 22 March 1946 and was sold for scrap 20 January 1948.
- 1 Construction
- 2 Commercial service
- 3 Army transport
- 4 Navy commission
- 5 Footnotes
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
Nutmeg State, keel laid 29 July 1920 with yard number 4197, was launched 17 September 1921 and completed as Western World in 1922 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at Sparrows Point, Maryland for the United States Shipping Board (USSB). The ship was an Emergency Fleet Corporation Design 1029 type for delivery to the United States Shipping Board (USSB), known in the commercial trade as "535's" for their overall length, that had been intended as troop transports but redesigned as passenger and cargo vessels.
On her delivery voyage from Baltimore to New York Western World covered the 413 nautical miles (475 mi; 765 km) in 22 hours for an average speed of 18.8 knots (21.6 mph; 34.8 km/h) beating the previous best time of 26 hours.
Delivery of Western World on 9 May 1922 completed the wartime shipbuilding program of the Emergency Fleet Corporation and USSB.
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Western World was allocated by the USSB to its agent, Munson Steamship Line for its South American service, operating as the Pan America Line, making her maiden voyage 17 May 1922 to Rio de Janeiro. Munson operated the ship on the New York to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Buenos Aires route with Santos, added during return voyages along with sister "535's" American Legion, Pan America and Southern Cross.
On 8 August 1932, Western World ran aground at Porto do Boi, Brazil. She had 166 crew and 85 passengers on board at the time. The passengers were taken off by the German ship General Osorio and landed at Rio de Janeiro. She was refloated on 10 September, subsequently repaired and returned to service.
As the USSB sold off its vessels the Munson Line bought the four vessels operating for its Pan America Line service in February 1926. Each ship, including Western World, was purchased for a price of $1,026,000.
Western World was purchased by the War Department in 1939 and renamed after the former Army Chief of Staff Leonard Wood serving as the USAT Leonard Wood. The ship made voyages to Cristobal, Panama until 1940 when she was primarily in service between New York and San Francisco. Leonard Wood made occasional trips to San Juan, Puerto Rico and one to Alaska.
Leonard Wood was acquired by the Navy 3 June 1941 and commissioned 10 June 1941, classified as a transport with hull number AP-25, manned by the United States Coast Guard, Comdr. H. G. Bradbury, USCG, in command.
After training off North Carolina, Leonard Wood departed Halifax, Nova Scotia, 10 November 1941 carrying reinforcements around the Cape of Good Hope to British outposts in the Far East. After debarking troops at Bombay and Singapore, she returned, entering Philadelphia Navy Yard in March 1942 for conversion to an attack transport. She was re-designated APA-12 on 1 February 1943.
Invasion of North Africa
Alterations completed late in April, the attack transport trained in Chesapeake Bay for the invasion of North Africa. She departed Hampton Roads 24 October carrying almost 1,900 fighting men from the 3rd Infantry Division and slipped in close to beaches at Fedhala, French Morocco, on the night of 7 to 8 November. The next morning, she sent her boats ashore and provided gunfire support while also rescuing survivors from torpedoed sister ships.
Leonard Wood remained in the first line of transports, carrying out her mission until 12 November when enemy submarines, which had already sunk or damaged six Allied ships, forced the remaining transports to finish unloading at Casablanca. Departing 17 November, she arrived Norfolk on the 30th for repairs and more amphibious warfare training.
Invasion of Sicily
The transport sailed 3 June 1943 and arrived Mers el Kebir, Algeria, 22 June where she prepared for the assault on Sicily. She sortied with TF 65 on 5 July and 4 days later, began unloading waves of troops in the Wood's Hole sector, some 5.5 miles west of Socglitti, Sicily. At dawn of the 10th, her gunners fired at an enemy bomber which dropped bombs 200 to 300 yards astern, and kept up an antiaircraft barrage throughout the day, helping to splash three planes. With unloading completed and damaged landing craft salvaged, the ship got underway for Norfolk, Virginia on the 12th, arriving 4 August.
Three weeks later, she departed Norfolk for San Francisco, embarked troops, then steamed for Honolulu, arriving 27 September. Leonard Wood spent the remainder of World War II in the Pacific during which she participated in seven amphibious landings.
Invasions of Gilbert and Marshall Islands
The first landing was a part of Operation Galvanic in which the main force was directed at Tarawa atoll but also involved the capture of Makin atoll in order to develop airfields. For the Makin operation Leonard Wood, under the command of Captain Merlin O'Neill,[note 1] USCG, was assigned to the Northern Attack Force, Task Force 52 and was the Task Unit 52.1.1. flagship of the Assault Transport Division (TRANSDIV 20) that also included Alcyone (AKA-7), Calvert (APA-32) and Pierce (APA-50). On 20 November 1943 the forces arrived off Makin with the assault transports joined by one attack cargo ship, Neville (APA-9), the landing ship dock Belle Grove (LSD-2) and three LSTs (LST-31, LST-78 and LST-179) to land 6,500 troops on Butaritari Island. The ship remained off shore, retiring far offshore at night and returning to the transport area at daylight, until 24 November when the larger transports departed for Pearl Harbor with the assault troops embarked.
In the Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands operations, the ship gained experience, especially in cargo handling, which proved invaluable when Leonard Wood later took part in the final push toward victory with the landings at Saipan, Leyte, and Lingayen Gulf.
Invasion of Saipan
Leonard Wood departed Pearl harbor 29 May 1944, bound for the capture and occupation of Saipan, Marianas Islands. Arriving Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, an atoll Leonard Wood had helped to secure just 3 months before, the ship fueled, watered, and provisioned before departing 11 June for her assigned anchorage off Saipan.
Arriving 15 June, Leonard Wood unloaded and cleared all boats in 49 minutes. For the next 9 days, the transport stood off Saipan, unloading cargo and receiving on board casualties for transfer to hospital ships. The transport sailed 24 June for Eniwetok, and then returned to Pearl Harbor 20 July.
Invasion of Palaus
After Saipan, the ship made transport and training runs between Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok and Guadalcanal until she sailed from Guadalcanal 8 September for the capture and occupation of Angaur Island, Palau Island Group. Arriving 7 September, the ship landed troops, and then began unloading cargo and receiving casualties. Leonard Wood completed unloading 21 September, and departed for Manus Island 27 September.
Invasion of the Philippines
Remaining at Manus just long enough to fuel, provision and reembark troops, the transport sailed 12 October to begin the long-awaited liberation of the Philippines. Arriving off the Leyte beachheads 20 October, Leonard Wood debarked troops and cargo in record time and steamed for Palau only 10 hours later.
For the next week, Leonard Wood prepared for further operations in the Philippine Islands, departing Sansapor, New Guinea, 30 December 1944 for the assault on Lingayen Gulf. Many Japanese suicide planes attacked the formation and Leonard Wood helped down one of them.
Arriving Lingayen 9 January 1945, she again unloaded troops and cargo while firing at enemy planes before departing the same day for Leyte. Leonard Wood took part in her last amphibious landing with the Mindoro Island assault 9 February 1945. Debarking her troops and cargo in less than 5 hours, she steamed for San Francisco via Leyte, Ulithi, and Pearl Harbor, arriving 27 March.
The ship's Coast Guard crew debarked 22 March 1946 when Leonard Wood decommissioned and was redelivered to the Army at Seattle, Washington, pending transfer to the War Shipping Administration. The ship was sold to Consolidated Builders, Inc., for scrap 20 January 1948.
- "Marlin O'Neil" is apparently a misspelling in Dyer. USCG Historian's office has biography of Vice Admiral O'Neill who became Commandant.
- Pacific Marine Review May 1922.
- Associated Press, "Last Ship Is Finished", San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Saturday 6 May 1922, Volume L, Number 68, page 1.
- Pacific Marine Review May 1922, p. 331.
- The Marine Review February 1922, p. 52.
- McKellar: Steel Shipbuilding under the U. S. Shipping Board, 1917-1921, Part III.
- Pacific Marine Review August 1922, p. 469.
- United States Shipping Board 1926, p. 89.
- Larsson: Maritime Timetable Images.
- "Liner wrecked off Brazilian coast". The Times (45897). London. 10 August 1931. col F, p. 9.
- "Casualty reports". The Times (45926). London. 12 September 1931. col F, p. 19.
- United States Shipping Board 1926, p. 92.
- Charles 1947, p. 44.
- Dyer; v.2, pp. 624, 629—630.
- Dyer; v.2, pp. 633—634.
- Dyer; v.2, pp. 634—635, 657.
- Dyer; v.2, pp. 669, 671.
- Charles, Roland W. (1947). Troopships of World War II (PDF). Washington: The Army Transportation Association. p. 44. LCCN 47004779. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Dyer, George Carroll (1972). The Amphibians Came to Conquer: The Story of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner (PDF). Fleet Marine Force Reference Publication (FMFRP 12-109-11). 2. Washington: Department of the Navy. LCCN 71603853. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- Larsson, Björn (November 15, 2009). "Munson Line". Maritime Timetable Images. Björn Larsson. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Marine Review (1922). "1921 Construction Record of U.S. Yards". The Marine Review. New York. 52 (February): 52. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
- McKellar, Norman L. "Steel Shipbuilding under the U. S. Shipping Board, 1917-1921, Part III, Contract Steel Ships". Steel Shipbuilding under the U. S. Shipping Board, 1917-1921. ShipScribe. p. 140b. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
- Naval History and Heritage Command. "Leonard Wood". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
- Pacific American Steamship Association; Shipowners Association of the Pacific Coast (1922). "Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Sparrows Point Plant, Sparrows Point, MD". Pacific Marine Review. San Francisco: J.S. Hines. 19 (May). Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- Pacific American Steamship Association; Shipowners Association of the Pacific Coast (1922). "The Last U.S.S.B. Vessel". Pacific Marine Review. San Francisco: J.S. Hines. 19 (August): 469. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- United States Shipping Board (1926). Tenth Annual Report of the United States Shipping Board. Washington. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
- Exterior and interior photos of Western World, Pan America and Southern Cross (Maritime Timetable Images)
- United States Government Ships (Maritime Timetable Images)
- APA-12 Leonard Wood, Navsource Online.