Hisko, a 5665 gross ton (12,740 tons displacement) tanker, was completed at Chester, Pennsylvania, in October 1917. Soon transferred to the Navy, she was commissioned as USS Hisko in December 1917. After loading a cargo of fuel oil at New York, she sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, in late December with a Transatlantic convoy. The tanker discharged her cargo into Navy tanks at Devonport, England, returned to the United States, and left Norfolk on her second eastbound voyage at the end of January 1918, this time to deliver fuel to Plymouth, England. Hisko continued to make such voyages during the remainder of the First World War and into 1919, each time transporting a full cargo of fuel oil for consumption by vessels operating in European waters.
During the night of 12 May 1918, while her convoy was engulfed in dense fog, Hisko radioed that she had been in collision with an unknown vessel. This was probably USS Zaanland (ID # 2746), which appears to have collided with Hisko after suffering a steering casualty. Zaanland sank before salvage attempts could begin. A year later, in May 1919, Hisko was detached from the Naval Overseas Transportation Service to support the Transatlantic Flying Expedition, in which the Navy flying boat NC-4 made the first crossing of the Atlantic by an American aircraft. Hisko was one of the tankers that supplied fuel to the three flying boats and to the destroyers involved in this historic operation.
Hisko returned to New York from the last of her overseas voyages at the end of September 1919. Decommissioned at the beginning of October and returned to the Shipping Board, she entered commercial service and was renamed Beta in 1925. The ship was scrapped at Baltimore, Maryland in 1948.
This page features the only view we have concerning S.S. Hisko, USS Hisko (ID # 1953), and S.S. Beta.
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Photo #: NH 104957
USS Hisko (ID # 1953)
Three Sailors pose with a deck gun, May 1918.
A hand-written inscription on the reverse of the original reads: "Creighton & Decker aboard the U.S.S. 'Hisko' enroute from New York to Plymouth Eng. May 3rd to 18th 1918".
The original photograph is printed on post card ("AZO") stock.
Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 63KB; 445 x 765 pixels
Page made 30 April 2008