An American Indian chief of the Kickapoo tribe who lived on land which is now the site of the city in Doniphan County, Kansas, which now bears his name.
(Freighter: dp. 12,225; l. 417'9˝"; b. 54'0"; dph. 32'9"; dr. 25'6"; s. 11 k.; cpl. 70; a. none)
The first Wathena—a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) in 1918 at Bristol, Pa., by the Merchants' Shipbuilding Corp.—was taken over by the Navy on 1 February 1919 for operation by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), assigned Id. No. 3884, and was placed in commission at Philadelphia on the same day, Lt. Comdr. Percy E. Crosby, USNRF, in command.
Wathena conducted only one round-trip voyage for NOTS. Her holds loaded with 5,754 tons of cargo, she departed Philadelphia on 13 February, bound for the British Isles. After arriving at London, England, on 1 March, she discharged her cargo in the ensuing days, underwent voyage repairs, and sailed on the 17th to return to the United States.
She arrived back at Philadelphia on 3 April and was placed in line for demobilization soon thereafter. Decommissioned and struck from the Navy list on 10 April 1919, Wathena was simultaneously turned over to the USSB. She remained in the ownership of the USSB through the 1920's. Eventually laid up, the freighter deteriorated so much that she was abandoned in 1933 due to "age and deterioration."