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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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West Cobalt

 

(Freighter: dp. 12,424; l. 423'9"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'2" (mean); s. 10.0 k.; cpl. 78; a. none)

 

West Cobalt—a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built in 1918 under a United States Shipping Board contract at Portland, Oreg., by the Columbia River Shipbuilding Co.—was taken over by the Navy for use by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) ; designated Id. No. 3836; and commissioned at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., on 29 December 1918, Lt. Comdr. Andrew Patterson, USNRF, in command.

 

Following sea trials, West Cobalt sailed on 11 January 1919 for San Pedro, Calif., where she loaded a full cargo of grain consigned to the Northern Food Relief for a Shipping Board account. On 17 January, the cargo vessel got underway for Norfolk, Va., and arrived at Hampton Roads on 10 February. Nine days later, West Cobalt got underway for Danzig, via Plymouth, England, and the Hook of Holland. She soon discharged her cargo—the needed grain going to feed the hungry in the aftermath of the World War—and sailed for the United States on 8 April.

 

West Cobalt reached New York City on 24 April, was decommissioned on 5 May, and returned to the Shipping Board. Eventually purchased by the Lykes Bros., Ripley Steamship Co., Inc., and homeported at New Orleans, La., and Galveston, Tex., into early 1940, the freighter was then acquired by the British government. Renamed Empire Miniver, she was torpedoed and sunk on 18 October 1940 by U-99—the U-boat commanded by Korvettenkapitan Otto Kretschmer, who went on to become the top-scoring German submariner in World War II.