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West Alsek


(Freighter: dp. 12,226; l. 423'9"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'2" (mean); s. 10.5 k.; cpl. 99; a. 1 4", 1 6-pdr.)


West Alsek—a single-screw, steel-hulled freighter built under a United States Shipping Board contract at Seattle, Wash., by Skinner and Eddy Corp.—was launched on 4 May 1918; acquired by the Navy for duty with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service; assigned Id. No. 3119; and commissioned on 4 June 1918, Lt. Comdr. J. S. Gibson, USNRF, in command.


West Alsek departed the Pacific Northwest on 15 June, with 7,067 tons of flour on board, for New York, where she arrived on 16 July. Soon after her arrival, she formed up with Convoy HB-8, eastbound for French ports, and got underway on 1 August. On the 15th, two weeks out of New York, German U-boats U-90 and U-107 singled out Montanan and West Bridge (Id. No. 2888), respectively, and torpedoed them—the former sank the following day, but the latter, after great feats of navigation and seamanship, reached Brest under tow on the 22d. Meanwhile, West Alsek and the remaining cargo vessels in convoy continued on to France —arriving at Verdon-sur-mer on 18 August—and unloaded their cargo before heading back to the United States.


Arriving at New York soon thereafter, West Alsek departed again on 27 October with a slow convoy for Quiberpn and Nantes, France. She remained at Nantes unloading her cargo from 15 November to 30 December 1918 before sailing on 30 December for the American east coast.


West Alsek reached New York on 19 January 1919 and was soon in line for demobilization. On 27 January, the cargo vessel was decommissioned and returned to the Shipping Board—in whose custody she remained until abandoned in 1933.