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Chaumont

 

A French community, site of the General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Force, in World War I. Le Ray de Chaumont was a French citizen who made a major contribution to the American Revolution by purchasing, outfitting, and supplying American ships in French ports. He was a good friend and confidant of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.

 

(AP-5: dp. 8,300; l. 448'; b. 58'3"; dr. 26'5"; s. 14 k.; cpl. 286; a. 4 3")

 

Chaumont (AP-5) was built in 1920 by American International Shipbuilding Corp., Hog Island, Pa.; requisitioned from the War Department 3 November 1921; and commissioned 22 November 1921, Lieutenant Commander G. H. Emmerson in temporary command. On 1 December 1921 Commander C. L. Arnold assumed command.

 

Assigned to transport duty, Chaumont sailed the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean throughout the twenties and thirties. She carried military supplies, Marine expeditionary forces, sailors and their dependents, and occasionally members of congressional committees on inspection tours, calling at ports from Shanghai to Bermuda. One of her most important contributions, when in the Pacific, was aiding in the collection of meteorological information used by the Weather Map Service of the Asiatic Fleet.

 

On 29 November 1941, Chaumont departed Pearl Harbor, carrying sailors, civilian workmen, and cargo for Manila, P.I. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, she was diverted to Suva, Fiji, then sailed to Brisbane and Darwin, Australia, where she landed her passengers and discharged her cargo on 5 January 1942. Chaumont returned to Brisbane at the end of the month, then sailed to Sydney, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand, and Balboa, C.Z., before returning to San Francisco on 29 March 1942. She made two voyages from the west coast to Pearl Harbor carrying men to aid in the buildup of the Pacific war's nerve center, then was assigned to runs between Seattle, Wash., and Alaskan bases, bringing men and supplies to the forces resisting the Japanese in the Aleutians.

 

Chaumont was decommissioned 28 August 1943 for conversion to a hospital ship, and on 2 September she was renamed and reclassified Samaritan (AH-10). The hospital ship was recommissioned 1 March 1944, and between 25 March and 11 May made two voyages from San Francisco to Hawaii, with passengers outward bound and patients homeward bound. Arriving in Honolulu a third time 11 May, she continued to Kwajalein, where from 17 June to 1 July, she treated casualties from the Saipan invasion. On 8 July she arrived off Saipan itself to embark patients for evacuation to Noumea, New Caledonia, from which she returned to Saipan 1 August for two weeks of duty as a receiving hospital.

 

Samaritan evacuated patients from Guam to Guadalcanal, and from Peleliu to the Russell Islands in August and September 1944. After a brief overhaul at Espiritu Santo, she served as base hospital at Ulithi until 16 February 1945, when she sailed for Iwo Jima. She arrived off the bitterly engaged island 20 February, and sailed 2 days later with 606 patients on board for Saipan. On the second day out, eight men were buried at sea.

 

The hospital ship returned to Iwo Jima 25 February 1945 to embark patients for transportation to Guam on the first of two such voyages. She arrived at Ulithi 2 April, and a week later got underway for embattled Okinawa. Arriving 13 April, she received casualties at the beach during the daytime and withdrew at night to the transport areas offshore, alternating her stays at Okinawa with evacuation voyages to Saipan until 1 July, when she sailed from Saipan for Pearl Harbor. Here she took patients from several island hospitals on board, sailed to San Francisco, and on 10 September back to Pearl Harbor thence Sasebo, where she provided hospital facilities to occupation forces until 15 March 1946. She returned to San Francisco 23 April, and was decommissioned there 25 June 1946. On 29 August 1946 she was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal.

 

Samaritan received four battle stars for World War II service.