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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Batjan

The Navy retained the name that had been assigned to the ship at the time of her acquisition. Given the nationality of the vessel (Dutch), it most likely honored the largest island in the Ternate group of the Molucca Archipelago of the Netherlands East Indies.

(Freighter: t. 6,232; l. 418'; b. 53'6"; dr. 27'9" (mean); dph. 34'7"; s. 11.5 k.; cpl. 63; a. 1 4", 1 3")

When the United States entered World War I in the spring of 1917, Batjan--a single screw, steel hulled freighter built in 1913 at West Hartlepool, England, by William Gray and Co. (Ltd.) and owned by the Dutch steamship company, Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland was seized by United States Customs officials on 20 March 1918 under the right of angary the international law principle that allows a belligerent to commandeer neutral property in case of necessity; taken over by the Navy the following morning; and commissioned at Hampton Roads on 28 March l9I8, Lt. Comdr. Daniel E. Rodick, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), Batjan cleared Hampton Roads on 2 April and carried a cargo of coal to Colon in the Canal Zone. She unloaded there, transited the canal on 14 April and proceeded to the coast of Chile. Loading a cargo of nitrates at Mejillones, Tocopilla, and Caleta Buena between 22 April and 11 May, Batjan sailed for home on the latter day. Retracing her course through the isthmian waterway on the 19th, the freighter reached Philadelphia on the 29th.

After voyage repairs at Cramp’s shipyard, Batjan took on board cargo for her first transatlantic run and received her main battery just before sailing for France. Joining an eastbound convoy on 27 June, Batjan reached La Pallice, France, on 12 July, but a lack of cargo facilities there prompted her to move to St. Nazaire with a small French coastal convoy on the 17th. Over next few days, continuous shifts of stevedores handled her Army cargo. After touching briefly at La Pallice, Batjan cleared the Gironde on 3 August.

Proceeding via New York, Batjan arrived back at Philadelphia on 18 August. After loading cargo there, she returned to New York, whence she embarked on a second voyage to France, one that took her again to La Pallice and St. Nazaire. Winding up her second circuit at Philadelphia on 4 November, Batjan lay at anchor in the Delaware River when the armistice stilled the guns on the Western Front on 11 November.

Remaining at Philadelphia into late December and at New York from then through mid January, Batjan sailed for South American ports on 17 January 1919 and arrived at the La Plata estuary on 9 February. Congestion in the harbor prevented the ship from discharging her cargo until the 15th. After shifting to Montevideo, she sailed for New York on 9 April and anchored off Tompkinsville, Staten Island, on 3 May.

Following voyage repairs at the Atlantic Basin shipyards in Brooklyn, Batjan sailed on the last voyage of her Navy career, bound for the Netherlands, on 20 May. Reaching Rotterdam on 4 June, Batjan was decommissioned on 25 June 1919 and returned to her Dutch owner; her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 7 July 1919.

Robert J. Cressman



28 February 2006