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West Grama


(Freighter: dp. 12,225; l. 423'9"; b. 54'; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'2" (mean); s. 10.5 k.; cpl. 70; a. none)


West Grama—a steel-hulled, single-screw cargo vessel built at Los Angeles, Calif., under a United States Shipping Board contract by the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.—was launched on 4 July 1918; was taken over by the Navy on 9 January 1919 at San Pedro, Calif., for operation by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS); and was commissioned there on the same day, Lt. Comdr. Eugene McCarthy, USNRF, in command.


After boiler repairs at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, West Grama loaded a cargo of flour and departed San Francisco on 28 January, bound for Norfolk, Va. She transited the Panama Canal on 14 February and, after a four-day layover in the Canal Zone, resumed her voyage on the 19th. Six days later, on the 25th, she sighted a waterlogged vessel, altered course to investigate, and soon found the half-sunken American schooner Nettie Shipman; West Grama passed close aboard, saw no signs of life, and continued her voyage, eventually reaching Hampton Roads, Va., three days later. After undergoing general repairs and replenishing her fuel, West Grama got underway on 13 March and headed for the Mediterranean. She paused at Gibraltar before moving on to the Near East. She discharged part of her cargo of flour at Constantinople, Turkey, and unloaded the remainder at Varna, Bulgaria, before returning via Gibraltar to the United States. On the return passage, she carried a mixed cargo of 13 depth charges and 218 tons of miscellaneous items which she delivered after her arrival at Norfolk on 11 June.


Decommissioned there on 16 June, West Grama was returned to the Shipping Board that same day, and her name was simultaneously struck from the Navy list. After brief active service under the auspices of the Shipping Board, West Grama was laid up in reserve in the mid-1920's. She was later converted to burn oil fuel instead of coal and returned to active service in the late 1930's as a motor ship, under the auspices of the Shipping Board's successor agency, the United States Maritime Commission.


Armed and given a Navy guard detachment during World War II, West Grama supported the war effort into 1944 and received a battle star for her service during the Normandy landings in June 1944. After having apparently lived out her usefulness, the erstwhile NOTS cargo vessel and merchantman was sunk as a block ship at San Lorenzo, France, on 16 July 1944.