USS Susan B. Anthony (AP-72)
Susan B. Anthony at Oran, 5 July 1943
SS Santa Clara (1930–42)
|Namesake:||Susan B. Anthony|
|Owner:||Grace Steamship Company|
Grace Steamship Co (1930–42)
|Port of registry:||New York|
|Builder:||New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey|
|Launched:||March 1930, as SS Santa Clara|
|Acquired:||chartered 7 August 1942|
|Commissioned:||7 September 1942, as USS Susan B. Anthony|
|Out of service:||7 June 1944|
|Struck:||29 July 1944|
|3 service stars (World War II)|
|Fate:||mined 7 June 1944|
ocean liner (1930–42)
tonnage under deck 5,440
|Displacement:||8,193 long tons (8,324 t)|
|Length:||483.3 ft (147.3 m)|
|Beam:||63.9 ft (19.5 m)|
|Draft:||25 ft (7.6 m)|
|Depth:||34.4 ft (10.5 m)|
|Installed power:||2,660 NHP|
|Speed:||18 kn (33 km/h)|
|Complement:||158 officers and men|
USS Susan B. Anthony (AP-72) was a turbo-electric ocean liner of the Grace Steamship Company that was built in 1930, became a United States Navy transport ship in 1942 and was sunk by enemy action in 1944.
Building and civilian service
She had six water tube boilers with a combined heating surface of 28,800 square feet (2,680 m2) and a working pressure of 300 lbf/in2. Santa Clara was turbo-electric: her boilers supplied steam to two turbo generators that fed current to electric motors on her twin propeller shafts. General Electric made her turbo generators and propulsion motors, and her power output was rated at 2,660 NHP
Santa Clara gave more than a decade of civilian service before being commissioned into the Navy in 1942. Notable passengers included Walt Disney and some of his staff in 1941. They had been in Chile researching for the film The Three Caballeros, left Valparaíso on Santa Clara on 4 October and reached New York on 20 October.
The Navy chartered Santa Clara on 7 August 1942 and Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's New York yard converted her for war service. The Navy renamed the ship after the women's suffrage and women's rights campaigner Susan B. Anthony, making her one of the few Naval vessels named after a woman. She was commissioned on 7 September 1942 under the command of Captain Henry Hartley.
Invasion of North Africa, 1942
After almost a month of drills and exercises in the lower Chesapeake Bay, the transport — carrying troops and equipment — left the bay on 23 October for the Operation Torch the Allied invasion of North Africa. At the end of a 15-day crossing, she reached the transport area off Mehdia, French Morocco. Early the next morning, on 8 November, the Northern Attack Group opened the assault on Mehdia and Port Lyautey. Despite the general difficulties encountered in handling landing craft, she disembarked her troops and unloaded their equipment in relatively good order. She stayed in the area for a week before sailing on the 15th for Safi, Morocco to unload the rest of her cargo. On 18 November she left Safi for Norfolk, Virginia, and arrived at Hampton Roads on the last day of the month.
Invasion of Sicily, 1943
After a brief voyage to the Gulf of Arzeu ferrying men and equipment, she returned to Oran on 25 June 1943 to prepare for the Allied invasion of Sicily. She embarked men and loaded material on 30 June-1 July, refueled on the 2nd, and left Oran three days later.
Anthony approached the coast of Sicily on the 9th near the town of Scoglitti. She spent the early hours of the next day landing troops and equipment. By 0435 hrs enemy aircraft were attacking the ships of the assault force. Bombs fell close to Anthony but she emerged with only minor damage from bomb fragments. Just before 0600 hrs she started toward the inshore anchorage, but withdrew after shore batteries fired on her. About four hours later she was able to enter the anchorage and send her salvage crew to aid broached and disabled landing craft.
Through that day and the next she came under repeated air attacks. Just after 2200 hrs on the 11th a twin-engine plane commenced an attack run at her, but by the time it had closed within 1,500 yd (1,400 m), her anti-aircraft guns had shot it down in flames. Less than 10 minutes later another enemy bomber met a similar fate.
Late in the afternoon of 12 July Susan B. Anthony left for Oran. There she loaded prisoners; sailed for the US; and reached New York on 3 August 1943.
Atlantic convoys, 1943–44
For the next 10 months Anthony crossed and recrossed the Atlantic moving soldiers and cargo between various ports in the US, England, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Scotland in preparation for Operation Overlord, the cross-channel invasion of Europe at Normandy. On these voyages she visited ports including Belfast, Northern Ireland; Holy Loch, Gourock, and Glasgow in Scotland; Hvalfjörður and Reykjavík, Iceland; Mumbles and Milford Haven in Wales, and Newport.
Sinking off Normandy, 7 June 1944
Early in the morning of 7 June 1944, while cruising through a swept channel off Normandy, Susan B. Anthony struck a mine that exploded under her number 4 hold. Immediately she lost all power, and her rudder went hard left and stuck. By 0805 hrs, holds numbers 4 and 5 were shipping water badly, and the ship took on an 8° list to starboard. In an effort to save his ship, the commanding officer, Commander TL Gray, USNR, ordered the embarked soldiers to move to the port side. This human ballast soon brought Anthony back to an even keel.
At 0822 hrs fleet tug USS Pinto came alongside, prepared to tow the paralyzed Anthony to shallow water. However, fires soon erupted in her engine and fire rooms, and she began to settle more rapidly. The captain now concluded that the ship was lost and ordered her abandoned. With Pinto and two destroyers alongside, the troops were evacuated expeditiously and without resorting to lifeboats and rafts. Anthony's crew followed closely behind the soldiers. By 0905 hrs, the main deck was awash at the stern and she was listing badly. The last member of the salvage crew hit the water at about 1000 hrs, with Commander Gray soon following. At 1010 hrs Susan B. Anthony sank. No one was killed, and few of the 45 wounded were seriously hurt. All 2,689 people aboard were saved, which the Guinness Book of World Records 2000 lists as the largest rescue of people without loss of life.
Susan B. Anthony was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 29 July 1944.
- Lloyd's Register, Steamships and Motor Ships. London: Lloyd's Register. 1933. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Lloyd's Register, Steamships & Motorships. London: Lloyd's Register. 1935. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Vinson, Bill; Casey, Ginger Quering. "S.S. Brazil". Welcome Aboard Moore-McCormack Lines. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Susan B. Anthony (AP-72).|
- Photo gallery of USS Susan B. Anthony at NavSource Naval History
- "USS Susan B. Anthony (AP–72). 1942–1944". Online Library of Selected Images: —U.S. Navy Ships—. Naval Historical Center.