The Navy retained the name carried by this ship at the time of her acquisition.
(Id. No. 2292: displacement 13,000; length 430'; beam 51'; draft 28'; speed 10 knots; complement 70; armament 1 5-inch, 1 3-inch)
American, a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built in 1900 at Chester, Pa., by the Delaware River Shipbuilding Co., was transferred by the U.S. Shipping Board (USSB) to the War Department early in 1918 for use as a Navy-manned cargo ship. American, assigned the identification number (Id. No.) 2292 was turned over to the Navy on 22 May 1918, and commissioned at New York on 25 May 1918, Lt. Cmdr. Myron P. Schmererhorn, USNRF, in command.
Sailing from New York on the last day of May 1918, American joined an east-bound convoy on 2 June and reached Brest, France, on the 17th. Soon thereafter she proceeded via La Pallice to Bordeaux, where she discharged her cargo. The freighter cleared the French coast on 6 July and arrived at New York on the 22nd. Before the summer was over, she made one additional round-trip voyage to France before departing New York for Bordeaux on 5 August and arriving back home on 6 September.
She commenced her third cycle on 4 October 1918, but, during poor visibility conditions collided with another NOTS cargoman, West Gate, shortly after 0228 on 7 October. American's stem cut sharply into West Gate's starboard side, near the poop. West Gate, mortally stricken, sank swiftly; and seven of her men lost their lives. American and the other vessels in convoy rescued the survivors.
After voyage repairs at Halifax, American sailed for Gibraltar on 27 November 1918 and reached that port on 9 December. After calling at Marseilles, the freighter returned to New York on 8 February 1919. Returned to her prewar owners, the Hawaiian Steamship Co., on 4 March, the ship's name was stricken from the Navy List on 14 March 1919.
Robert J. Cressman
28 November 2017