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De Grasse II (AP-164)

(AP-164: displacement 4,023; length 441'6"; beam 56'11"; draft 28'4"; speed 12 knots; complement 206; armament (23 February 1945)1 5", 4 3", 8 20 millimeter; class Kenmore; type EC2-S-C1)

The second De Grasse was named "in honor of Count DeGrasse [sic], French Admiral who rendered assistance to this country in the American Revolution."


The Liberty ship Nathaniel J. Wyeth was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MCE hull 1598) on 31 January 1943 at Portland, Ore., by the Oregon Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 24 February 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Vincent Palmer; renamed De Grasse on 27 October 1943 and classified as a transport, AP-164; acquired by the Navy on 28 October 1943; converted by United Engineering Co., Alameda, Calif.; and commissioned at her conversion yard on 8 November 1943, Lieutenant Commander William Jordon, D-M, USNR, in command.

After loading cargo and embarking construction battalion (CB) troops at Port Hueneme, Calif., De Grasse sailed for Hawaiian waters on 2 November 1943, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 2 December. Along with training assault troops in the Hawaiian Islands, she then carried men and equipment to the Marshalls and Gilberts on two voyages in February and March 1944. On 29 May she departed Pearl Harbor for the invasion of the Marianas, and between 20 and 25 June and again on 2 and 3 July lay off Saipan to land reinforcements. De Grasse returned to Pearl Harbor on 27 July and until the end of 1944 transported troops among the Marshalls, the Gilberts, and the Marianas, in addition to training men in the Hawaiian area for amphibious assaults. During that period, she was reclassified as a cargo ship, AK-223, effective 20 August 1944.

De Grasse sailed from Pearl Harbor on 17 January 1945 to carry troops from Eniwetok, Guam, Saipan, and Majuro to Ulithi, the staging point for the Okinawa operation. De Grasse arrived off Okinawa on 26 April and the following day landed men and supplies at Ie Shima. In late May 1945, after embarking one U.S. Army hospital unit at Noumea (31st Station Hospital) and a second at Espiritu Santo (122nd Station Hospital) and transporting them both to Okinawa, via Eniwetok (8-27 June) and Ulithi (3-15 July), arriving at her destination on 21 July, De Grasse sailed from Okinawa on 5 August for Saipan and Pearl Harbor, and, thence, San Francisco and overhaul. De Grasse was assigned to Magic Carpet duty after the war, transporting returning men from Guam and Saipan. She reached San Francisco on 23 January 1946 and reported to the Commandant, 12th Naval District, for disposal.

Decommissioned on 28 March 1946 and delivered to the War Shipping Administration the same day at Suisun Bay, Calif., De Grasse was stricken from the List of Naval Vessels on 17 April 1946.

Renamed Nathaniel J. Wyeth, the ship was ultimately sold in February 1970 to a New York scrapper and broken up.

De Grasse received three battle stars for World War II service.


Rewritten, Robert J. Cressman, 23 March 2007

Published: Mon Jul 06 13:40:45 EDT 2015