Naval History and Heritage Command

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Zuiderdijk (Id. No. 2724)


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

(Id. No. 2724: displacement 11,500; length 412'; beam 53'5"; draft 24'1"; speed 12 knots; complement 124; armament 1 4-inch)

Zuiderdijk, a freighter built in 1912 by William Gray & Co. Ltd. at Hartlepool, England, operated under the house flag of the Holland-America Line until 1918 at which time the pressing need of the United States for ships to transport men and material to the front in Europe forced President Woodrow Wilson to order the seizure of Dutch ships in American ports under international law's rule of angary.

Customs officials at San Juan, Puerto Rico, took possession of Zuiderdijk on 21 March 1918 and turned her over to the Navy which placed her in commission on 23 March 1918, Lt. W. F. Reefer, USNRF, in command.

After preliminary refitting, Zuiderdijk departed San Juan on 29 March 1918 and shaped a course for the Canal Zone. She remained at Cristobal for nearly a month before getting underway on 25 April and steaming north. The ship entered New York harbor on 4 May, unloaded the Panama Railroad Co. cargo she had picked up at Cristobal, and replaced it with Army supplies destined for Europe. She departed the east coast in convoy on 17 May and entered Le Havre, France, on 1 June. After discharging her cargo and taking on ballast, Zuiderdijk stood out of Le Havre on 12 June and headed home. She concluded a 20-day crossing when she moored in New York again on 2 July. Eleven days of repairs and cargo loading preceded the ship's second departure for France on 13 July. Arriving at the Gironde on the 28th, Zuiderdijk pulled into St. Nazaire the following day. She remained there until mid-August, trading the incoming cargo for one bound for New York. The cargo ship left St. Nazaire on 18 August and returned to New York on the last day of the month. During the ensuing two weeks, she went into drydock for repairs, took on fuel, and loaded cargo for France. On 14 September, the ship stood out of New York on her third and final wartime voyage to Europe. Arriving at Brest on 29 September, she moved to Verdon the next day and began discharging her cargo. Upon completion of that operation, Zuiderdijk loaded ballast and set sail for the United States on 15 October.

The ship arrived in New York on 28 October 1918. While she was there preparing for the return crossing, the armistice of 11 November ended hostilities. On the 12th, she departed New York on the first of two postwar voyages to Europe. The ship reached Quiberon on 25 November, unloaded her burden, and replaced it with a mixed load of 700 tons of rails for ballast and 500 tons of general cargo for return to the United States. She departed the French coast on 6 December and entered New York harbor on Christmas Eve. After minor repairs, she moved south to Norfolk, Va., where she loaded a cargo belonging to the United States Shipping Board. Late in January 1919, she transported that cargo via the Panama Canal to Guayaquil in Ecuador, loaded a cargo of cocoa and, on 12 February, headed for the canal once again. On 10 March, the ship arrived at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where she received orders to continue immediately on to France. Zuiderdijk entered Le Havre, France, on 27 March and remained there almost a month before heading back to the United States on 24 April.

Arriving in New York on 7 May 1919, Zuiderdijk began loading a Shipping Board cargo for her last voyage as a ship of the United States Navy. She stood out of New York on 17 June, discharged her cargo at London during the first two weeks of July, and continued on to Rotterdam. She reached her destination on 17 July; and, on the 21st, she was simultaneously decommissioned, stricken from the Navy list, and returned to her former owners.

Zuiderdijk resumed mercantile service, first under the Dutch flag with the Holland-America Line and, after 1923, with T. Law & Co. as Misty Law. Her name disappeared from mercantile records in the early 1930's.

Raymond A. Mann

24 November 2015

Published: Tue Nov 24 15:15:04 EST 2015