(Freighter: dp. 12,191; l. 423'9"; b. 54'; dr. 24'1½" (mean); dph. 29'9"; s. 11 k.; cpl. 113; a. 1 5", 1 6-pdr.)
West Lianga—a steel-hulled, single-screw cargo freighter built under a contract with the United States Shipping Board—was launched on 22 April 1918 at Seattle, Wash., by the Skinner and Eddy Corp. Taken over by the Navy for use by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), West Lianga was commissioned at Brooklyn, N.Y., on 19 August 1918, Lt. Comdr. Louis Laverge, USNRF, in command.
West Lianga—designated Id. No. 2758—loaded 6,882 tons of general Army cargo and a deck load of 32 trucks at New York and got underway in a convoy for France on the first of what would be four voyages for NOTS. Arriving at Bordeaux, the freighter off-loaded her cargo and returned to the United States, making port back in New York on 16 October. Undergoing repairs there, the ship bunkered and took on 6,685 tons of supplies consigned to the Army Quartermaster Corps for transportation to Europe. Departing New York on 3 November, the ship was at sea on 11 November when the armistice—ending World War I—was signed.
The cargo vessel discharged her cargo at St. Nazaire and took on 1,700 tons of return cargo. She departed France five days before Christmas and arrived at New York four days into the new year, 1919.
Shifting to New Orleans soon thereafter, West Lianga subsequently transported cargo from that gulf port to Brest, France. She loaded steel rails and sand for ballast and returned to the United States, arriving at Newport News, Va., on 21 March. The cargo vessel took on railroad supplies consigned to the Army Quartermaster Corps and sailed for La Pallice, France, on 4 April.
West Lianga returned to the east coast on 10 June, when she made port at New York. On 24 June 1919, the Navy decommissioned the ship, struck her from the Navy list, and returned her to the Shipping Board.
Shifted to the west coast, West Lianga was home-ported at Seattle for a brief period before being placed in reserve and laid up about 1922 or 1923. The Los Angeles Steamship Co. acquired the freighter in late 1927 or early 1928.
West Lianga retained this name until 1938 when the Los Angeles Steamship Company became the Matson Navigation Line. At that time, she was renamed Helen Whittier. Again renamed Kalani in 1940—while under the Matson house flag—the cargo vessel subsequently came under the ownership of the United Kingdom's Ministry of War Transport—in late 1941. Britain's urgent need for merchant vessels had resulted in her acquisition, and she served under the "Red Duster"— the British commercial ensign—into late 1942. During this time, she was twice renamed—first to Empire Cheetah and then to Hobbema.
While sailing with Convoy SC-107 from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to the United Kingdom, Hobbema was torpedoed and sunk by U-132 during the predawn hours of 4 November 1942.