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Montanan (U.S. Army Cargo Transport)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.

(U.S. Army Cargo Transport: displacement 14,375 (normal); length 428’9½” (overall), 407'8" (between perpendiculars); beam 53'6" (load waterline); draft 28’0” (mean); depth of hold 36’1”; speed 14.85 knots; complement 40; armament 2 4-inch)

Montanan was built as a steel-hull, single-screw cargo ship at Sparrows Point, Md., by the Maryland Steel Co., for the American‑Hawaiian Steamship Co., for service through the Panama Canal. She was launched in 1913 and operated out of New York.

Requisitioned by the United States Shipping Board through the Emergency Fleet Corp. in October 1917 and commissioned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service on the Army account, she was soon afterwards assigned to the Army Quartermaster Department.

While en route to St. Nazaire, France, in the 15‑ship convoy HB-8 on 15 August 1918, the U.S. Army Cargo Transport Montanan was struck by a torpedo fired by the German submarine U-90 (Oberleutnant zur See Helmut Patzig in command). She settled rapidly and orders were given to abandon her. Three members of the civilian crew and two of the armed guard – Sea. Chester O. Eldridge, USN, and Cox. David W. Johnson, USN – perished with the ship. Armed yacht Noma (S. P. 131) picked up survivors.

Montanan remained afloat throughout the night of 15 August 1918, so that the commanding officer and several officers were able to board her briefly the next morning. She sank off the coast of Portugal on 16 August and Noma carried the survivors to France.

Montanan was stricken from the Navy Register effective 15 August 1918.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

22 January 2024

Published: Tue Jan 23 08:34:49 EST 2024