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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Martha Washington

 

A merchant name retained.

 

(ScStr.: dp. 12,700; l. 460'; b. 56'; dr. 24'9"; s. 17.2 k.; cpl. 949 (trp. 3,380); a. 4 5", 2 1‑pdr.)

 

Martha Washington (SP‑3019) was launched in 1908 by Russell & Co., Port Glasgow, Scotland; owned by Unione Austriaca di Navigazione; interned at Hoboken, N.J., in 1914; taken over by U.S. Army Quartermaster Department, 6 April 1917; acquired by the Navy November 1917; and commissioned 2 January 1918, Comdr. Chauncey Shackford in command.

 

A former Austrian passenger liner sailing between Trieste and New York, Martha Washington was interned at Hoboken, N.J., at the outbreak of World War I. Entrance of the United States into the war 6 April 1917 brought seizure by the Army and 7 months later acquisition by the Navy.

 

Two months of round‑the‑clock effort restored the ship to seaworthiness and modified her as a troop transport. On 10 February she sailed in convoy with other transports on the first of eight wartime voyages carrying troops to France. Departing either New York or Newport News, Va., and arriving Brest, or ports on the Gironde River, she embarked a total of 24,005 passengers.

 

After the Armistice eight additional voyages, 26 November 1918 to 11 November 1919, returned 19,687 troops and passengers from foreign ports. The seventh voyage she also disembarked 945 interned German aliens at Rotterdam, Netherlands. On her final voyage she arrived Brest, 14 August, and received new orders to transport an American relief mission to Turkey and Russia. Under the leadership of Major General Harbord, USN, the mission spent the first 2 weeks in September at Constantinople and 3 weeks following arrival 18 September at Batum, Russia. In this period of civil turmoil, Martha Washington brought 324 Armenian and Polish refugees to Constantinople. Sailing for the United States 15 October, she called at Malta, Marseilles, and Brest before arriving New York on the first anniversary of the Armistice signing.

 

She decommissioned 18 November 1919 and was turned over to the War Department. Three years later in November 1922 she was sold back to her former owner, Unione Austriaca di Navigazione.