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West Hobomac


(Freighter: dp. 12,225; l. 423'9"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'1¼" (mean); s. 11.0 k.; cpl. 29; a. none)


West Hobomac—a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built under a United States Shipping Board (USSB) contract—was launched on 27 July 1918 at Seattle, Wash., by the Skinner and Eddy Corp. Acquired by the Navy on 17 August 1918 for operation by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), West Hobomac was assigned Id. No. 3335 and commissioned on the same day at Portland, Oreg., Lt. Comdr. Peter F. Johnson, USNRF, in command.


Departing Portland on 26 August 1918 with 7,928 tons of coal in her holds, West Hobomac arrived at Iquique, Chile, on 23 September. She discharged her cargo there before loading 824 tons of nitrates for shipment to New York. Departing Iquique on 19 October, the freighter steamed north up the Pacific coast of South America, transited the Panama Canal, and arrived at New York on 8 November 1918, three days before the armistice was signed ending World War I. At New York, when the war ended, West Hobomac received repairs to her engines and steering gear; underwent alterations to her crew's quarters; bunkered; and discharged the nitrate cargo.


West Hobomac departed New York on 30 November, bound for France with a cargo of Army supplies, and arrived at Brest nine days before Christmas. The ship discharged her cargo there, loaded 226 tons of Army return cargo and additional ballast, and sailed on 18 January 1919 for home. After making port at New York on 6 February, the ship remained there for nearly two weeks, unloading and taking on board 6,392 tons of cargo for transport to Holland.


Reaching Rotterdam on 11 March, West Hobomac unloaded and departed that port, in ballast, on the 23d, bound for the United States. Following her arrival at New York, she loaded 5,252 tons of foodstuffs and relief supplies and sailed on 23 April for Belgium. She unloaded the cargo within four days of her mooring at Antwerp on 12 May and sailed for the United States on the 16th. Arriving at Newport News, Va., on 5 June, the cargo vessel was decommissioned there on 10 June 1919 and simultaneously struck from the Navy list and returned to the USSB for disposition.


The freighter remained active with the USSB, ranging as far as the Mediterranean Sea, until acquired by the Lykes Brothers, Ripley Steamship Co. in 1933. The vessel was acquired by French interests in 1940— but apparently operated under the British flag—and renamed He De Batz. Torpedoes and gunfire from U-68 sank the freighter off the west coast of Africa at 0635 on 17 March 1942.