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Western Ocean


(Freighter: dp. 12,185; l. 423'9"; b. 54'0"; dph. 29'9"; dr. 24' ˝ " (mean); s. 12.5 k. (max.) ; cpl. 91; a. 2 3")


Western Ocean (Id. No. 3151)—a steam turbine, steel-hulled cargo ship originally listed as owned by the Compagnie Generale of France, and named Joffre —was completed on 31 May 1918 at Portland, Oreg., by the Willamette Iron Works; was taken over by the Navy on 17 June 1918 from the United States Shipping Board (USSB) ; and commissioned the same day at Portland, Lt. Comdr. J. M. Silversteen, USNRF, in command.


Ten days later, Western Ocean sailed on her maiden voyage, bound for the Hawaiian Islands. Arriving at Hilo on 8 July, the cargo vessel loaded 8,800 tons of sugar and got underway again on the 13th bound, via the Panama Canal, for the east coast of the United States. She arrived at Philadelphia on 15 August, unloaded her cargo, and promptly took on board 6,830 tons of general Army cargo for American troops on the western front. She then sailed for New York to join an east-bound convoy, which sailed for Europe on 10 September.


Arriving in France on 27 September, Western Ocean unloaded her goods and sailed on 24 October for Newport News, Va., on what turned out to be her last wartime voyage. She arrived at Newport News on 11 November, the day the armistice ended hostilities. But the work of supplying United States forces still in France remained, and the ship made two more voyages carrying cargo to La Pallice, France. She arrived at Norfolk, Va., on 18 May; was decommissioned on 22 May 1919; and returned to the USSB on the same day. She remained in the custody of that agency and of its successor, the United States Maritime Commission, until late 1941 when she was transferred to the United Kingdom to serve the Ministry of War Transportation under management of G. Heyl & Sons, Ltd., as Empire Opossum. She served under this name until scrapped in 1949