West Nilus—a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built under a United States Shipping Board contract at San Pedro, Calif., by the Southwestern Shipbuilding Co. and completed in 1920—was considered for Navy service as a collier and assigned the Navy identification number, Id. No. 4445. However, she was not taken over and soon entered merchant service with the Matson Navigation Company of San Francisco, Calif.
During World War II, West Nilus was armed and received a Navy armed guard gun crew. She earned two battle stars for her participation in convoy and armed guard actions. The first was awarded the merchantman for her part in Russian convoy runs between December 1941 and February 1943. She won the second while operating with Convoy UGS-6 from 16 to 18 April 1943. West Nilus was sunk as a block ship off the San Lorenzo, France, beachhead, on 16 July 1944.