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USS Great Northern

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Great Northern

USS Great Northern (AG-9), was built by William Cramp & Sons in 1915; acquired from her owners, Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co. 19 September 1917 by the USSB; converted to a transport at the Puget Sound Navy Yard; and commissioned there 1 November 1917, Captain W. W. Phelps in command.

Embarking nearly 1,400 passengers at Puget Sound, including 500 "enemy aliens," women and children as well as men, USS Great Northern (AG-9) sailed for the East Coast 21 January 1918, reaching New York 9 February via the Panama Canal and Charleston. From then until August 1919 she made a total of 18 transatlantic voyages, first carrying troops to the fighting zones and then bringing home the victorious "doughboys." USS Great Northern (AG-9) decommissioned at New York 15 August 1919 and was transferred to the U.S. Army Transportation Service the same day.

USS Great Northern (AG-9) recommissioned at Mare Island 11 August 1921, Captain J. K. Taussig commanding, and sailed almost immediately for the East Coast. After disembarking passengers at the Canal Zone, Santo Domingo, Haiti, and Hampton Roads, she put into New York 7 October. Nine days later, 16 October 1921, Admiral Hilary P. Jones, Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet, and his staff reported on board USS Great Northern (AG-9) to make her the flagship for the Atlantic Fleet.

On 19 November 1921 USS Great Northern (AG-9)'s name was changed by Presidential order to Columbia (q.v.) to honor a name long famous in Navy annals. She remained in New York harbor, functioning as a floating command post, through the rest of 1921. Columbia sailed for the Caribbean to join the annual Atlantic Fleet winter exercises 7 January 1922, reaching Guacanayabo, Cuba, via Charleston and Key West 18 January. Three days later she joined the battleships Wyoming, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Delaware at Guantanamo Bay.

Columbia sailed north 24 February, reaching New York 3 days later. That same day, 27 February 1922, Admiral Jones shifted his flag to Maryland, and Columbia sailed for Chester, Pa. She decommissioned there 4 March 1922 and was transferred to the U.S. Shipping Board. Returning to merchant service, she was renamed H. F. Alexander with Canadian Pacific Lines until 1942, when she was taken over by the War Shipping Administration for use as a troop transport. Renamed George S. Simonds, she served through World War II, was laid up in the Maritime Commission reserve fleet for a time, and then scrapped.

For a complete history of USS Great Northern (AG-9) please see its DANFS page.