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(ScStr: t. 2,511; 1. 268'0"; b. 45'2"; dr. 23'6" (mean); s. 10 k.; cpl. 57; a. none)


Alpaca, a wooden-hulled, single-screw cargo vessel, was built in 1918 for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) at Moss Point, Miss., by the Hodge Shipbuilding Co. Taken over by the Navy and earmarked for coastwise service with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), the ship was commissioned at the Navy Yard Dock, New Orleans, La., on 18 November 1918, Lt. Comdr. Nils A. Nelson, USNRF, in command.

However, her trial run, conducted on 3 December, revealed deficiencies in the ship that caused the Navy to condemn the freighter as "unseaworthy." During these trials, carried out with representatives of the Hodge Shipbuilding Co. on board, not only was the ship unable to maintain maximum revolutions for her engines, but a fire broke out in a coal bunker that took a little over 45 minutes to extinguish. The firefighters had to rip off the galvanized sheet iron from the engine room bulkhead to enable them to use their hoses to better advantage. Ultimately assisted into her berth by the tug Underwriter, Alpaco remained pierside for the remainder of her brief Navy career, and she was decommissioned there on 19 December 1918.

Simultaneously returned to the USSB, Alpaco remained in the Board's hands until she was broken up for scrap by mid-1924.

Published: Tue Jun 16 12:57:33 EDT 2015