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Artigas

 

Jose Gervasio Artigas (sometimes seen as Fernando Jose Artigas), regarded as the father of modern Uruguay, was born in Montevideo about 19 June 1764, a scion of one of the leading families in that area of South America. Between 1811 and 1815, he led Uruguay's early efforts to attain independence from Spanish and Portuguese rule and eventually became that nation's first native-born governor. However, his authority was later undermined by intrigues fomented in nearby Buenos Aires and within his own followers, and he was forced to seek exile in nearby Paraguay in 1820. He took no part in the ultimate achievement of independence for his native country (1828) and refused to become, in his twilight years, a figurehead in the civil wars that ensued. Artigas died in exile, at Asuncion, Paraguay, on 23 September 1850, in comparative obscurity.

 

(ScStr: t. 4,849; l. 399'2"; b. 53'7"; dph. 27'6"; s. 10.5 k.; cpl. 98; a. 1 6")

 

The steel-hulled, screw steamer Wiegand, built in 1911 at Bremen, Germany, by Bremer Vulkan Vegesack, operated in the years between 1912 and the start of World War I with the Roland Linie Aktienc/esellschaft. of Bremen, Germany. After the outbreak of hostilities, the Uruguayan government apparently requisitioned the ship and renamed her Artigas.

 

As the United States expanded its merchant fleet during World War I to meet the additional demands placed upon it, this country entered into negotiations with several foreign governments to acquire shipping. Accordingly, the United States Shipping Board chartered Artigas from the Uruguayan government at Montevideo, Uruguay, during the summer of 1918 and subsequently turned the ship over to the Navy for use in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS).

 

Artigas was commissioned on 18 June 1918 at Montevideo, Lt. Comdr. John A. Monroe in command, and remained in that port until 1 August, most of that time spent with her engines (damaged by the German crew to prevent the ship's possible use by the Allied and Associated Powers) under repairs. Sailing for Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 1 August, she reached her destination the next day, and over the ensuing months underwent further repairs to her machinery which lasted into the autumn of 1918.

 

After steaming back to Montevideo with 45 tons of steel plate and unloading that cargo on 11 October, Artigas filled her holds with wool and hides early the following month. The armistice, which ended hostilities, found the cargo vessel still at Montevideo.

 

Underway for Brazilian waters on 20 November, Artigas touched at Rio de Janeiro (25-26 November) and Bahia (30 November) before steaming independently to Barbadoes, British West Indies, to disembark passengers on 9 December. She sailed thence for the Virgin Islands and stopped at St. Thomas on 11 December, before getting underway the next day to complete the last leg of her voyage to the United States. The cargo ship made port at New York City on the afternoon of 19 December.

 

This proved to be the only voyage of Artigas under the NOTS aegis, for the Navy decommissioned her at New York on 4 January 1919 and turned her over to representatives of the United States Shipping Board that day.

 

Artigas retained that name through periods of operation by the Shipping Board, the Uruguayan government, and, finally, the Tramp Snipping Development Co., Ltd., of London, England. Sometime in 1927 or 1928, the ship was acquired by E. G. Culucundis and S. C. Costomeni and sailed under the Greek flag as Elias G. Culucundis, homeported at Syra, Greece. Changing hands again, around 1930, to the Atlanticos Steamship Co., Ltd., the ship retained her Greek name until renamed Argentina in 1933 or 1934. She then began operations under the aegis of the Tramp Shipping Development Co., (then of Greece) until 1934 when her name disappeared from registers of merchant vessels.