Arcadia is a picturesque district of the Peloponnesus in Greece, the traditional home of pastoral poetry; hence any region of ideal rustic simplicity and contentment. The motor patrol boat SP-577 and the cargo ship Id. No. 1605 were presumably named for the Peloponnesian district.
However, the destroyer tender AD-23 was apparently misnamed Arcadia in an effort to commemorate Acadia, the name for Nova Scotia before England expelled French colonists from the region of Canada in 1755. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described the plight of these refugees—many of whom settled in southern Louisiana—in his epic poem Evangeline.
(Transport: dp. 7,138; 1. 400'; b. 49'; dr. 25'3" (mean); s. 10 k.; cpl. 198; a. none)
The second Arcadia was a German steamship, originally built at Belfast, Ireland, by Harland and Wolff (builders of the famed Titanic) in 1896, which sought refuge in American waters at the outbreak of World War I. Seized by customs officials and turned over to the United States Shipping Board (USSB) upon the entry of the United States into World War I, Arcadia received a main battery of two 3-inch guns and an armed guard detachment to man them, and operated under the USSB auspices for the duration of hostilities.
After the removal of the guns and the armed guard at Baltimore, Md., on 4 December 1918, Arcadia was transferred to the Navy at Hoboken, N.J., on 20 January 1919 for the service with the Cruiser and Transport Force. Commissioned on the same day—Lt. Comdr. Peter F. Johnsen, USNRF, in command—the transport was fitted out for service and filled with cargo before shoving off for France on 2 February 1919.
Reaching French waters on 17 February, Arcadia put into St. Nazaire on 19 February and worked her cargo over the days that followed. Taking on ballast and embarking returning soldiers, the ship left St. Nazaire on 1 March and, after a rough passage, reached Newport News, Va., on the 17th. Then, after disembarking her passengers, she put into the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, for voyage repairs and alterations.
Upon completion of the yard period on 1 April, she departed the Virginia capes for another voyage to France. Arcadia reached Bordeaux on 20 April where she embarked more troops and a return cargo of "aeroplane and gun parts" before getting underway for New York on the 26th and arriving at the Bush Terminal on 11 May. Arcadia made one more voyage to Bordeaux during late May and early June, returning troops to Newport News for the second time, and one voyage apiece to St. Nazaire and Brest later that summer. In all, she conducted five round-trip voyages to France and back, ending the last two voyages at Hampton Roads and Hoboken, respectively, and bringing home more than 4,700 men.
Winding up her last voyage cycle on 11 September upon reaching Hoboken, Arcadia headed south the next day and proceeded down the eastern seaboard to Hampton Roads where she moored alongside SS West Loquassuck at the Army Base at Bush Bluff, Va., on 12 September. A brief trip to the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. then followed. She soon returned to Bush Bluff, where she was decommissioned on 29 September 1919. Her name was stricken from the Navy list the same day, and she was returned to the USSB. In 1923, the California Steamship Co. acquired the ship.