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West Gambo


(Freighter: dp. 12,225; l. 423'9"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'2" (mean) ; s. 10.5 k.; cpl. 103; a. none)


West Gambo—a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built under a United States Shipping Board contract at Seattle, Wash., by Skinner and Eddy Corp.—was launched on 4 July 1918; acquired by the Navy on 20 July 1918 for use with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) ; designated Id. No. 3220; and commissioned the same day at Seattle, Lt. Comdr. H. E. Knight, USNRF, in command.


West Gambo departed Seattle on 30 July bound for Port Costa, where she loaded a full cargo of flour consigned to the Red Cross. After transiting the Panama Canal, she arrived at New York on 31 August. The ship sailed in convoy for Russian waters on 18 September and reached Archangel on 12 October. The cargo vessel was unloaded by 2 November and, on that day, headed via Glasgow, Scotland, for the United States.


She made port at New York on 13 December and was soon placed in line for demobilization. Decommissioned and returned to the Shipping Board on 17 January 1919, the freighter remained in the custody of that agency until sold to the Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. in late 1936 or early 1937.


Sometime in 1941, the British government acquired the ship and renamed her Empire Hartlebeest, in response to the island nation's need for merchantmen to replace ships sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic. On 20 September 1942, while steaming in company with Convoy SC-100, Empire Hartlebeest was torpedoed and sunk by U-596.