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Henderson

 

The first Henderson (AP-1) was named for Archibald Henderson, who was born in Fairfax County, Va., 21 January 1783, and was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps 4 June 1806. He served in Constitution during her famous victories in the War of 1812. He was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Marine Corps 17 October 1820. Colonel Henderson served in the field during the Indian Wars and held the post of Commandant for 38 years, longer than any other man. Under his leadership the Corps developed into a formidable arm of the nation's naval forces. General Henderson died suddenly 6 January 1859.

 

(AP-1: displacement 7,750 tons; length 483 feet 10 inches ; beam 61 feet 1 inch ; draft 16 feet 2 inches; speed 14 knots; complement 233; troop capacity 1,695; armament 8 5-inch guns, 2 3-inch guns, 2 1-pounder guns)

 

The first Henderson (AP-1) was launched by Philadelphia Navy Yard 17 June 1916; sponsored by Miss Genevieve W. Taylor, great-granddaughter of General Henderson; and commissioned at Philadelphia 24 May 1917, Lt. C. W. Steel in command.

 

Henderson arrived New York 12 June 1917 and sailed 2 days later with Rear Admiral Gleaves' cruiser and transport force, which carried units of the A.E.F. to France. In her holds she had space for 1,500 men and 24 mules. Reaching St. Nazaire 27 June she disembarked troops and returned to Philadelphia 17 July 1917. Subsequently, Henderson made eight more voyages to France with troops and supplies for the allies in the bitter European fighting. She established two large base hospitals in France during 1917. In constant danger from submarines, the transport was steaming near Army transport Antilles 17 October 1917 when the latter was torpedoed and sunk. Henderson escaped attack by wrapping herself in an envelope of smoke. But torpedoes were not her only danger; and on her seventh voyage to France a serious fire broke out in a cargo hold. Destroyers Mayrant and Paul Jones transferred her troop passengers to nearby transports without loss of life, and determined firefighting crews soon brought the flames under control.

 

Following the armistice, Henderson made eight more transatlantic voyages bringing home members of the A.E.F. She carried more than 10,000 veterans before returning to Philadelphia 27 December 1919. She then took up duty as troop rotation ship for Marine units in the Caribbean, carrying Marines, their dependents, and supplies to bases in Cuba, Haiti, and other islands. She also participated in Marine training maneuvers in Florida before returning to Philadelphia 6 July 1920. After an extended period of repairs, the transport resumed her duties in the Caribbean. This was interrupted 21 June to 21 July as Henderson carried military and civilian leaders to observe the historic bombing tests off the Virginia Capes.

 

During the next few years, she also performed ceremonial duties, embarking a congressional party to observe fleet maneuvers in the Caribbean in the Spring of 1923, and carrying President Harding on an inspection tour of Alaska. The President called at Wrangell, Juneau, and Sitka, reviewed the fleet off Seattle from the deck of Henderson, and departed 27 July 1923, only five days before his death.


During Fleet Problem #3 in early 1924, Henderson participated in a mock amphibious invasion of the Panama Canal Zone. This major training operation by the fleet helped practice assault techniques and led to improved landing craft as well. She carried out many of these important exercises during the inter-war years, helping to develop the techniques which were to insure victory in World War II. The ship also aided in the protection of American interests in the volatile Caribbean states and in the Far East.


Henderson arrived Shanghai 2 May 1927 with Marines for the garrison there, and remained in China for six months protecting American nationals in the war torn country. Here members of her crew became the originators of the "Golden Dragons." Membership in this deep sea organization is

dependent upon cruising back and forth across the international date line. The troop transport was engaged in carrying replacements for the fleet and the Marines in China for the next fourteen years.


With the outbreak of the war in 1941, Henderson took up duty as a transport between California and Hawaii, making over 20 such voyages with fighting men, civilian passengers, and cargo for the Pacific War. On her last voyage she departed Port IHueneme 18 July 1943 and arrived Noumea with 71 much-needed nurses. The transport then sailed to the Solomon Islands with SeaBees before returning to San Francisco 24 September 1943.


Henderson decommissioned 13 October 1943 for conversion to a hospital ship at General Engineering & Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif. She commissioned as Bountiful (AH-9) 23 March 1944, Comdr. G. L. Burns in command.


Bountiful departed San Francisco 1 April 1944 for Honolulu, returned later that month, and sailed once more 1 May for the western Pacific. After brief service at Honolulu and Eniwetok the ship arrived 18 June at the Saipan invasion beaches. She made three passages to the hospitals on Kwajalein with casualties of the Marianas invasions. About this time Bountiful established one of the few blood banks in a Naval ship.


The floating hospital remained at Manus until 17 September when she sailed for the Palaus to bring casualties of the Peleliu landing to hospitals in the Solomons. After November Bountiful operated between Leyte and the rear bases carrying veterans of the Philippines campaign. She departed Manus 24 February 1945 for Ulithi and Saipan to receive casualties of the bitter Iwo Jima assault, and in the next months sailed to rendezvous with the fleet to take on wounded from Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the fleet units themselves. Returning to Leyte Gulf 15 June, she remained until 21 July, and then got underway for California. Bountiful arrived after war's end, sailing into San Francisco Bay 21 August 1945.


Bountiful was then assigned as hospital ship at Yokosuka, Japan, departing San Francisco 1 November 1945. She arrived 24 November to support the occupation forces, and remained until 27 March 1946 when she sailed for San Francisco. After delivering her patients, the ship sailed 26 May for the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, and after providing medical services during the series of nuclear blasts during Operation "Crossroads," she returned to Seattle 15 August 1946.

Bountiful decommissioned 13 September 1946, and was sold for scrap by the Maritime Commission 28 January 1948 to Consolidated Builders, Inc., Seattle.


Bountiful received four battle stars for World War II service.

 

 

USS Henderson (AP-1) at Coco Solo, C.Z., 6 January 1933


08 November 2004