The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.
(Id. No. 3299: displacement 14,500; length 429'2"; beam 53'8"; draft 29'6"; speed 12 knots; complement 70; armament 1 5-inch, 1 3-inch)
Panaman, a cargo ship completed in September 1913 at Sparrows Point, Md., by the Maryland Steel Co., for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Co., was taken over at New York and, having been given the identification number (Id. No.) 3299, was commissioned into the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) on 12 August 1918.
After refitting she took on a cargo of general supplies and beef, and a deck load of trucks, and departed New York in convoy on 21 September 1918 for St. Nazaire, France, arriving on 27 September. She returned to New York on 7 October, where workers installed 821 stalls for horses. After taking on general and equine cargo, she stood out in convoy on 19 October for Bordeaux, France, arriving there on 6 November. During her time in that port, the Armistice ended the Great War on 11 November 1918.
An eleven-day return crossing ended with her arrival at Newport News, Va. for repairs on 27 November 1918. She departed on 8 December for New York where, upon arrival, a Board of Survey inspection found her suitable for conversion to a troop transport. Detached from NOTS on 10 December 1918, she was assigned to the Cruiser Transport Force, in which status she returned 10,798 men of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to the United States.
Panaman was decommissioned on 18 September 1919 and was simultaneously returned to her owner, who operated her in the cargo trade through the U.S. entry into hostilities in December 1941. Turned over to the War Shipping Administration (WSA) at Seattle, Wash., at 2:00 p.m. on 24 January 1942, the ship returned to private ownership in the North River, New York, at midnight on 1 September 1943, and was operated by general agency agreement until redelivered by the WSA to the American Hawaiian Steamship Co. at San Francisco, Calif., at midnight on 1 August 1946.
After continual service under the Stars and Stripes, the ship that had supported the AEF during the Great War and brought home victorious doughboys was sold to the Italian Government in July 1947.
Robert J. Cressman
6 March 2019