(Freighter: dp. 11,500; l. 423'0"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24'1˝ " (mean); s. 12.0 k.; cpl. 98; a. 1 4", 1 6-pdr.)
Western Front—a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter, formerly named Nikkosan Ma.ru and Indiana and built under a United States Shipping Board contract—was launched on 15 September 1917 at Seattle, Wash., by the Skinner and Eddy Corp. The ship subsequently proceeded to New York, where she was inspected by the Navy on 16 January 1918 and acquired soon thereafter for duty with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS). Designated Id. No. 1787, Western Front was commissioned on 11 May 1918, Lt. Comdr. John Burns, USNRF, in command.
The cargo vessel soon took on board a cargo of steel rails, ordnance equipment, and 10 locomotives, and got underway for France on 17 May with Convoy HH-69, which was escorted by Galveston (Cruiser No. 17). Six days out, Western Front collided with and sank British merchantman Clan Matheson. She, herself, was forced to turn homeward for repairs at New York.
Western Front got underway again on 6 June and arrived at her original destination, St. Nazaire, on the 22d. She discharged her cargo and returned to New York, this time for drydocking and permanent repairs at the Robbins Drydock, Brooklyn, N.Y. The cargo vessel subsequently made four more voyages carrying cargoes for NOTS to the French ports of Bordeaux, La Pallice, Quiberon, and Brest. On one run, she carried 26 Army tanks and delivered these armored vehicles to New York in the spring of 1919. Returning from her last voyage on 2 August 1919, Western Front was decommissioned on 15 August at Newport News, Va., and returned to the Shipping Board on the same day. She remained in the custody of the Shipping Board until she disappeared from merchant vessel registers in 1922