USS Willimantic (ID-3549)
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|Namesake:||Previous name retained|
|Builder:||Todd Drydock and Construction Company, Seattle, Washington|
|Launched:||29 May 1918|
|Acquired:||2 November 1918|
|Commissioned:||2 November 1918|
|Decommissioned:||21 April 1919|
|Fate:||Transferred to U.S. Shipping Board 21 April 1919|
|Tonnage:||5,100 gross tons|
|Displacement:||10,690 long tons (10,862 t) normal|
|Length:||396 ft 0 in (120.70 m)|
|Beam:||53 ft 0 in (16.15 m) waterline|
|Draft:||24 ft (7.3 m) aft|
|Speed:||10.5 knots (19.4 km/h; 12.1 mph)|
Construction, acquisition, and commissioning
Willimantic was constructed in 1918 as the commercial steam cargo ship SS Willimantic for the United States Shipping Board by the Todd Drydock and Construction Company at Seattle, Washington. She was launched on 29 May 1918 and completed in October 1918.
On 2 November 1918, the Shipping Board transferred her to the U.S. Navy at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington, for naval use during World War I; the Navy assigned her the naval registry identification number 3549 and commissioned her the same day as USS Willimantic (ID-3549) with Lieutenant Commander Erik G. Froberg, USNRF, in command. The Armistice with Germany ended World War I nine days later on 11 November 1918.
Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, Willimantic completed sea trials, then loaded a cargo of 6,400 tons of flour and put to sea on 14 December 1918. She transited the Panama Canal and arrived at New York City on 9 January 1919. After bunkering, she departed New York on 21 January 1919 bound for Gibraltar, where she was to await further orders.
Still carrying her flour, Willimantic arrived at Gibraltar on 7 February 1919, but remained there only briefly because she immediately received orders to gut underway for Fiume on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. She reached Fiume on 18 February 1919 and unloaded her flour, which was used to relieve hunger in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War I.
After almost a month at Fiume, Willimantic departed on 12 March 1919 for Gibraltar loaded only with water for ballast. From Gibraltar she proceeded to the Azores and then to New York City, where she arrived on 13 April 1919.
Decommissioning and later career
Willimantic was decommissioned at New York on 21 April 1919. The Navy transferred her back to the U.S. Shipping Board the same day. Once again SS Willimantic, she remained in the custody of the Shipping Board and its successor, the United States Maritime Commission.
In early 1942 she was transferred to the United Kingdom for service during World War II. She was sunk by gunfire from the German submarine U-156 under the command of Werner Hartenstein on 24 June 1942.
- Willimantic British Steam merchant Uboat.net
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Department of the Navy: Naval Historical Center Online Library of Selected Images: Civilian Ships: S.S. Willimantic (American Freighter, 1918) Served as USS Willimantic (ID # 3549) in 1918-1919.
- NavSource Online: Section Patrol Craft Photo Archive: Willimantic (ID 3549)